Voted Best Answer
Dec 06, 2020 - 11:49 AM
I'm just a student like you, so hopefully Andy or Emilie will chime in if my answer is incomplete or misleading. But I think I might be able to help you with this.
It's not a rule issue, it's a meaning issue. The word "ce" means "this" or "that" (for masculine nouns not starting with a vowel or an 'h'). So "Je vais à ce nouveau restaurant" means "I'm going to that new restaurant". "à" means "to" and "ce" means "that". Whereas, "Je vais au nouveau restaurant" means "I'm going to the new restaurant". (Au, which is actually a contraction of "à le", means "to the" for masculine nouns. À la, as you noted, means "to the" for feminine nouns").
So, which one you use depends on what you want to say!
For a feminine example, "Je vais à la boulangerie" means "I'm going to the bakery." "Je vais à cette boulangerie" means "I'm going to that bakery."
Hope that helps!