Karen Dalton Beninato

Correspondent

  • New Orleans, LA, USA

Karen Dalton Beninato is a correspondent who lives in New Orleans and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide.com. A former newspaper features editor, she has written for publications including The New Republic, Times Picayune and The Lens and she blogs at The Huffington Post. She and her husband founded the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund after Hurricane Katrina to help musicians replace their instruments and return home. Karen enjoys food, music and the arts — so she lives in the right place.

  • On May 16, 2013
  • On April 29, 2013
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best seafood restaurants in New Orleans?

    GW Fins is the penultimate New Orleans seafood restaurant. From the elegance of its private dining room, sample Chef Tenney Flynn's culinary journey around the world with seafood at each stop. Local seafood is featured in season, but he also offers a wide array of fine dining fins.

    Dickie Brennan's Redfish Grill is a casual seafood restaurant boasting hickory grilled redfish, barbecued oysters or alligator sausage with fresh gulf seafood available every night.

    RioMar, a seafood destination in the Warehouse District, is known for its fresh ceviche but also features a wide array of creations fresh from the Gulf of Mexico.

    Deanie's is a family favorite in the French Quarter and Lakeview, with massive platters of fried seafood rounding the tables, particularly on Fridays.

    Drago's offers a location in the Hilton Riverside, so fans of charbroiled oysters and gumbo no longer need to trek to Fat City.

    Acme Oyster House is the granddaddy of fresh shucked oysters in New Orleans, along with other classic seafood dishes from gumbo to jambalaya.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best concert venues in New Orleans?

    In the city where jazz was born and rock and roll got its sea legs, quality music venues are crucial.

    For overall sound quality and ambience the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts tops the list. The venue consistently offers solid booking of top acts. The theater, named after legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, is located in Louis Armstrong Park.
     
    The Little Gem Saloon is reviving music on South Rampart Street in a club that housed jazz acts almost a century ago. Bookings include the first families of New Orleans music, and local breakout stars. Creole cuisine is also part of the experience.

    The Blue Nile is a prime spot to experience Frenchmen Street's musical renaissance. Originally the Dream Palace, it was one of the first Frenchmen Street establishments to feature live music, and hasn't let up on bringing the sounds of New Orleans to locals and travelers alike.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best concert venues in New Orleans?

    In the city where jazz was born and rock and roll got its sea legs, good music venues are crucial.
    For overall sound quality and ambience the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts tops the list. The venue consistently offers solid booking of top acts. The theater, named after legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, is located in Louis Armstrong Park.
     
    The Little Gem Saloon is reviving music on South Rampart Street in a club that housed jazz acts almost a century ago. Bookings include the first families of New Orleans music, and local breakout stars. Creole cuisine is also part of the experience.

    The Blue Nile is a prime spot to experience Frenchmen Street's musical renaissance. Originally the Dream Palace, it was one of the first Frenchmen Street establishments to feature live music, and hasn't let up on bringing the sounds of New Orleans to locals and travelers alike.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best local dishes in New Orleans?

    Looming over New Orleans in every journalist's bag of metaphors is the word gumbo. It's easy to forget that it's a food until a bowl of seafood and okra riddled gumbo slides up to your spoon and you taste the smoky perfection. There are as many variations of gumbo as there are restaurants, but it's a true classic and you know at first sip when it's right.

    Oyster Po-Boy is a classic not to be trifled with, because you already have the two perfect ingredients: fresh fried oysters and crisp French bread. “Dressed” means garnished with lettuce, mayonnaise, pickles and tomato, so Oyster Po-Boy Dressed keeps the lines moving at diners around the city.

    New Orleaneans are traditionalists, with fish on Friday and Red Beans and Rice on Monday. Legendary musician Louis Armstrong signed his correspondence “Red Beans and Ricely Yours,” that's how iconic the dish has become. Add pork chops or sausage and the meal is complete.

    Bananas Foster, invented at Brennan's Restaurant, is the perfect finish to a New Orleans dinner. The dish is now served at restaurants around the world, but New Orleans is the best place to sample its ice cream, butter, brown sugar, rum, banana liquor-flaming goodness.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best seafood restaurants in New Orleans?

    GW Fins is the penultimate New Orleans seafood restaurant. From the elegance of its private dining room, sample Chef Tenney Flynn's culinary journey around the world with seafood at each stop. Local seafood is featured in season, but he also offers a wide array of fine dining fins.

    Dickie Brennan's Redfish Grill is a casual seafood restaurant boasting hickory grilled redfish, barbecued oysters or alligator sausage with fresh gulf seafood available every night.

    Rio Mar, a seafood destination in the Warehouse District, is known for its fresh ceviche but also features a wide array of creations fresh from the Gulf of Mexico.

    Deanie's is a family favorite in the French Quarter and Lakeview, with massive platters of fried seafood rounding the tables, particularly on Fridays.

    Drago's offers a location in the Hilton Riverside, so fans of charbroiled oysters and gumbo no longer need to trek to Fat City.

    Acme Oyster House is the granddaddy of fresh shucked oysters in New Orleans, along with other classic seafood dishes from gumbo to jambalaya.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best neighborhood restaurants in New Orleans?

    The best neighborhood restaurants in New Orleans offer everything from seafood to soul food to Italian dining to a legendary barbecued shrimp dish. They are distinguished by warm service and a crowd that's happy to meet a new friend or see a regular.

    Dooky Chase Restaurant is not just a dining experience, it's a chance to meet Chef Leah Chase who fed the original Freedom Riders on their trips to New Orleans. She was the inspiration for the princess in Disney's The Frog Prince, and is as much a part of the fabric of the city as her famous Gumbo Z'herbs.

    Elizabeth's is a hot spot in the Bywater for good reason – they live their slogan Real Food Done Real Good. From their popular weekend brunches to everyday dining, it's a must-stop for visitors and locals alike.

    Mona Lisa's offers cozy Italian dining on a popular stretch of Royal Street off Governor Nicholls Avenue. Whip out the crayons and draw your own homage to the Mona Lisa on  your paper tablecloth, or customize an order for a calzone as big as your head with ingredients ranging from shrimp to eggplant.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is nightlife like in New Orleans?

    Nightlife in New Orleans can be magical. Combine a city where there are no open liquor laws for pedestrians, subtropical weather, a bohemian sensibility and a talent pool from around the world and you have the recipe for Anything Can Happen.

    The nightlife is also ever-evolving. The hot spot of Bourbon Street has given way to Frenchmen Street which is now the grandaddy of new establishments in the Marigny and Bywater. Year to year the city changes, which regular visitors can catch up on during their regular visits to music festivals, Mardi Gras or just their favorite season.

    Visitors should exercise caution when planning to check out an unfamiliar area, and a hotel concierge or old friend are the best people to ask when you're not sure whether it's pedestrian friendly.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the most romantic restaurants in New Orleans?

    Restaurant R'evolution fits the bill for a romantic dinner, and falls under the category pampered. From a caviar tower to a separate tufted stool for the lady's purse, the relative newcomer helmed by Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto pulls out all the stops for a memorable dining experience.
                         
    Susan Spicer's flagship restaurant Bayona offers a classic menu in a 200 year old French Quarter cottage, complete with a romantic courtyard perfect for toasting to your evening. Murals on the walls echo the theme of rustic ingredients prepared by chefs at the top of their game in the Forbes 4 Star-Rated Restaurant.

    World Class artwork adorns the walls of The Grill Room, which also boasts a well-earned Forbes 4 Star designation. Chef Kristin Butterworth now helms the fine dining establishment and her attention to fresh ingredients prepared in an evolving menu is taking the storied restaurant to new heights.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best clothing boutiques in New Orleans?

    To channel your inner Tennessee Williams diva, browse the handmade creations of Fleur de Paris milliners on Royal Street. Nearby Goorin Brothers offers stylish counterparts in classic fedoras.

    Hemline has several local locations including its flagship Chartres Street shop in the French Quarter and on Magazine Street uptown. Browse its boutiques for the locally-designed including Jolie and Elizabeth, and on-trend treasures curated from around the country.
     
    The Shops at Canal Place offer a multi-boutique location with a Starbucks for caffeine-fueled browsing. Stars from the Hollywood of the South are spotted regularly everywhere from Anthropologie to Coach.  Paris Parker Aveda Salon and the Theatres at Canal Place for patrons 18 and over (including upscale snacks) offer strategic shopping breaks.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best art galleries in New Orleans?

    Antieau Gallery on Royal Street features not only the work of Chris Roberts-Antieau, but also top works by local and national artists. On a gallery row, it stands out with a distinct creative voice and has become a regular shopping stop for celebrity art lovers. Music and cocktails are often included in the mix.

    The Contemporary Arts Center offers every medium from theater to mixed media under its Warehouse District roof. The front window exhibit is always a pause-worthy stop in the heart of the Central Business District.

    Jonathan Ferrara Gallery is the grandaddy of the Julia Street arts scene. Ferrara curates works from paintings to photography to metalwork by both local and international artists.

    The Front is part of the burgeoning Bywater arts scene, the St. Claude Arts District in particular. The artist-run collective nonprofit gallery is leading the way in the development of New Orleans' contemporary arts scene.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best museums in New Orleans?

    Photo Courtesy of The National World War II Museum The Ogden Museum of Southern Art houses the most complete array of Southern art in existence. The Ogden celebrates Southern culture, from Mardi Gras Indian costumes to Ogden After Hours which features musicians performing and discussing their work for a very engaged membership.

    Tucked away on Royal Street in the former home of French Quarter preservationist General L. Kemper Williams, the Historic New Orleans Collection contains documentation of the early life of New Orleans, both literary and historic. A series of concerts in the courtyard is a popular stop for locals.

    The National World War II Museum has evolved into a Pacific pavilion, a 4-D movie experience, Stage Door Canteen and a John Besh restaurant with further expansions underway. On any given day, you'll run into many World War II veterans touring the museum and have the chance to thank them for their service.


    The New Orleans Museum of Art presides over City Park as its culturally significant landmark. Exhibits range from pre-Columbian works to modern art. Of special note is the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden to the rear of the museum. It's an impeccably curated collection of over 60 sculptures, from Pierre Auguste Renoir to modern masters.

    The Cabildo in Jackson Square is not only a museum curated by the State of Louisiana, but is also living history as the location where the Louisiana Purchase was signed and the former seat of government in New Orleans.
  • On March 29, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best outdoor activities in New Orleans?

    The best outdoor activities in New Orleans involve sights, sounds, and ideally some of the better smells. For some of the best sounds in the city, stroll Royal Street in the French Quarter and you can hea street musicians all the way from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue. Remember to bring singles as a tip for performances you enjoy and film.

    As a feast for the senses, it's hard to beat the mighty Mississippi River. Book a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez and enjoy tunes from its calliope carried on the wind as the Natchez heads downstream.

    The Audubon Zoo offers a full day's worth of outdoor activities from its Jaguar Jungle exhibit to the Cool Zoo slash park which ecomes wildly popular in the Louisiana heat.

    And for old fashioned outdoor fun, hike the elegantly landscaped City Park in Midcity, or float through the great outdoors by booking NOLA Gondola's tour of the park's lagoons.
  • On March 28, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    Where is the best architecture in New Orleans?

    The best modern architecture in New Orleans can be found in the ever-expanding World War II Museum complex on a large scale, and at the Make It Right sustainable neighborhood in the 9th Ward launched by architecture buff Brad Pitt. MIR developments include a tethered home designed with the ability to float;  sidewalks porous enough to absorb floodwaters; and homes built above crypts to collect grey water; making it a living laboratory for new frontiers in architecture.

    For classicists, the historic French Quarter offers prime examples of Spanish, French and and Creole architecture, and the Garden District boasts antebellum homes up and down St. Charles Avenue including the storied Wedding Cake House at State Street that can be admired on foot or from the streetcar. Architecture tours may be scheduled in advance online, or booked at kiosks throughout the French Quarter.