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mdn Jan 7th, 2019 01:27 PM

New Orleans, Easter weekend - Restaurant and hotel recommendations
Happy New Year!
My wife and I (in our late 30's)will be in New Orleans over Easter weekend - arriving Thursday pre-dinner. We have not been to New Orleans in almost 20 years. We are foodies, well traveled; i.e. we have been to a variety of good restaurants that are holes-in-the-wall as well as upscale but the food is the focus. Definitely want to make the most of every meal in Nola and also try some pre-dinner oysters & other small bites over cocktails etc. We will have 3 dinners and 3 lunches + opportunities to try some good bars. My wife has celiac and I understand this will limit her options.

I've read great things about Cochon, Brigtsen's, Herbsaint and Clancy's. Of course, the classics like Commander's Palace, Galatoire's, Arnaud's, Antoin's.... So if you could only do 3 dinners and 3 lunches, what would you recommend for Cajun and Creole cuisine. Not looking for great French, Italian etc. We have a flex on food budget. Will it be repetitive to try the old classics like Commander's, Arnaud's etc. if we try two such places?

Finally, would you still recommend a hotel in the French Quarter? Which one? We don't want to splurge on a ritzy place but up to $200-$250 could be okay. THANKS!

LizTD Jan 14th, 2019 06:00 PM

I am traveling to NOLA this week with my husband and friends. My husband also has celiac and Cochon, Dominica, and Petite Grocery are on our reservation list. (We went to Petite Grocery several years ago and the shrimp and grits were a revelation!). These obviously aren’t Cajun/Creole,but if you are interested, I’ll let you know how they go. We are staying at a Stay Alfred apartment - Carondelet Street, Factors Row, 822 Perdido Street, which was recommended for location and quality by another Fodorite. Favorably priced compared to hotels with the benefit of some self made breakfasts! Will report back on that too if you like. I hear Ruby Slipper is a fabulous venue for breakfast or brunch for those with celiac and there is one near the Perdido Street apartment we are staying at. If you go to Commander’s palace, do lunch. It was not a favorite last time we visited food wise (we also seek out excellent food) but it is a place to see, but not to waste on a dinner IMHO.

mdn Jan 15th, 2019 06:54 AM

Thanks for your reply LizTD! I would truly appreciate any insights after your trip there. I have a lunch reservation at Commander's Palace on Good Friday. Also have dinner reservations at Cochon, Brigtsen's and Compere Lapin. Lunch on Saturday and Sunday is open and may do something simple like Poboys (Liuzza's by the Track or Mother's?) and appetizer plates at a few different places as we stroll around. Maybe I should include a stop at Petite Grocery during one of these... Holding a room at Hotel Monteleone, but will check out Stay Alfred Apartments. Thanks for your input! Have a fantastic trip!

travelgourmet Jan 15th, 2019 02:29 PM

I can confirm that Herbsaint and Cochon are both excellent, with Herbsaint being the more “fancy” of the two. La Petite Grocery is also worth a look. There are other great places, but those spring to mind if trying to keep it to Cajun and creole.

mdn Jan 17th, 2019 06:10 AM

Thanks Travelgourmet! I picked Cochon as it's more casual and since we already have somewhat formal places like Commander's, Brigtsen's and Compere Lapin on agenda.

mdn Apr 23rd, 2019 01:50 PM

We had a FANTASTIC trip to New Orleans!!!! This is not quite a trip report, but a summary versions of one if you'd like.
I had not been to New Orleans in 15 years. A lot has changed a for the better. It felt less dangerous and perhaps a bit more polished... understand that we were there over Easter weekend and largely in the Garden District, Uptown and in the Quarter.

We arrived at around 7:30 pm and checked into Hotel Monteleone. The Carousel Bar and the restaurant were already buzzing with activity. The room wasn't fancy, but had everything one needs and adequate space. As we left for dinner, we rolled the dice and popped into the Carousel Bar just in case Lady Luck was on our side. Voilà! Two patrons left just as we entered and we were lucky to score those seats and fend off two other parties. Two Vieux Carrés later, we were ready to "laissez le bon ton roulet" (let the good times roll)!

After our spinning apéritif, we rushed to Cochon for our dinner reservation. It was packed and we had to wait for 15 minutes to be seated despite our reservation. We has the charcuterie plate, alligator, wood-fired oysters and the pork. They were all outstanding! Service was friendly and prompt in a casual way. Highly recommend.

The next day, we walked around the French Quarter, and then headed to Commander's Palace for our Good Friday lunch. We were lucky to get a table in the Garden Room! Boy oh boy, despite all the hype, from the moment we entered until we left, this was a uniquely amazing experience -- service, food, ambience and view! Note: (i) must request the garden room (ii) must order $0.25 martinis (and they aren't tiny by any means!). Being Good Friday, several patrons were guzzied up in all their finery: fascinators, men in pastel jackets and some even has dainty Easter Eggs for boutonnières! :) A grand party was already underway and it was barely noon... the martinis definitely help. Several tables around us seemed to know each other and were happy to socialize with others. I had the renowned turtle soup along with the stuffed quail and my wife has the pork tostada and the pork. Delicious with so many flavors!! When asked, our waitress was able to enlighten us about the main differences between Creole and Cajun food -- largely boils down to Cajun being more country style food where various cheap cuts/innards etc. are used frequently and Creole food often has tomatoes as they were a new-world ingredient that was expensive once upon a time.

We walked around the Garden District and Magazine street after lunch and dropped by Galatoire's Bar in the Quarter for a late afternoon drink before taking a nap. We wanted to go to the World War 2 museum and the Civil War museum but were too full and drowsy for it. Dinner was at Compere Lapin. This is upscale, contemporary dining in a beautiful room devoid of cliché items like jambalaya and gumbo, but the food is par excellence! I had the popular goat curry and my wife had the fish -- both were oozing with flavor and were perfectly cooked. But the star was the Copper Bunny cocktail which comes in a bunny-shaped copper vessel that weighs at least a pound!

The next morning, we went around the bayou, did some site-seeing and found our way to Mr B's for lunch. Of course, we has the acclaimed bbq shrimp, which were as messy as as delicious as everyone else reports. I did manage to splatter my shirt with some of the sauce (beware!). Overall, the gumbo was very tasty as were the shrimp, but the atmosphere is a bit staid and dated. Following lunch, we headed to Frenchman street past the French market where there are some decent jazz and music venues. The Spotted Cat was casual and perfect for what we needed.

Dinner that night was at Brigsten's where the food is just spectacular. The duck, rabbit and the soft shell crab were particularly well-made. Being a smaller restaurant, it has the feel of dining in someone's house with its 3-4 dining rooms within. A more quiet and romantic experience compared to lunch at Commander's. Following this, we went to some bars like French 75 and Sezerac bar. Sezerac bar at the Roosevelt hotel was a bit of a let down.

On our last day, Easter Sunday, we has just enough time for lunch before our flight back. We started with an apéritif at Brennan's in their courtyard -- spectacular people watching on Easter Sunday followed by lunch at August, which isn't ordinarily open for lunch on weekend except Easter. The food at August was lovely and a contemporary twist to classic flavors and ingredients.

Overall, we came back from this trip 5 lbs happier! :)

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