Israeli Eatery in New Orleans Named Restaurant of the Year

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Chef Alon Shaya recently opened Shaya, an Israeli-style restaurant in New Orleans.
Chef Alon Shaya recently opened Shaya, an Israeli-style restaurant in New Orleans. Credit: Courtesy

Influential food website The Daily Meal has voted Shaya, a New Orleans restaurant launched by an Israeli-American chef, its Restaurant of the Year, thanks in part to the "lasting mark" it's made "on American dining culture."

The chef behind the success, Alon Shaya, only opened the establishment in February.

Launched in partnership with New Orleans celebrity chef John Besh, Shaya serves modern Israeli-style food including fried cauliflower with caramelized onions and cilantro, avocado on rye bread with whitefish, and falafel with cabbage salad and tzatziki, the site noted.

“These are not the dishes that would ever come to mind as must-tries in The Big Easy — until now. And that’s what makes Shaya so special: It’s a sleeper hit from two of America’s very best chefs, a delicious education of the American palate from masters who have demonstrated that they know it well,” states The Daily Meal.

Shaya told the website that the national media attention that the restaurant drew “was completely unexpected.” 

“We are making simple Israeli food like hummus and pita, but we try and make the best it can be,” he added.

Last month, Shaya was named Restaurant of the Year by another influential website, Eater. The restaurant also made Esquire’s list of Best New Restaurants in America for 2015.

Earlier this year, Shaya was named Best Chef in the South by the James Beard Foundation, whose awards are considered America’s top prize for food. The award was for his work as executive chef at Domenica, also launched in partnership with Besh.

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