New Orleans Food - real food!

Old Sep 29th, 2013, 04:12 PM
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New Orleans Food - real food!

Traveling to NOLA in early November. Staying at JW Marriott - convention location. On my own it probably would be a quaint hotel. But...
I want to have some memorable food but am dubious about all the "usual suspects." (And if I am wrong about Commander's Palace or an Emmirele location - excuse the spelling -please disabuse me.) Looking for suggestions.
First night something late night, easy, casual and not too far from the hotel. Thereafter, some French influenced and local not-to-miss. Tips on reseravtions or not would be most welcome. DH and i are food lovers. Thanks Fodorite Friends!
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Old Sep 29th, 2013, 04:38 PM
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We are going same time. I am looking at Commanders Palace; Brigtsen's; Boucherie; Clancy's so far.
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Old Sep 30th, 2013, 10:53 AM
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Funny, we'll be in NOLA for the first weekend in November.

Emeril - Emeril LaGasse.

Mulate's is near the convention center, IIRC - it is what it is and a lot of it (had a cajun fried seafood platter there nearly 20 years ago and it's still the biggest meal I've eaten). Functional and fun and cajun - as casual as you'd like.

We're not foodies willing to pay beyond the Boucherie price range, so we don't drop $150 on dinner only to be underwhelmed. Generally, it tends to be hard to get real crap food in NOLA, but if your expectations are stratospheric, your disappointment level could be high.

Now, if you want REALLY good stuff at a ridiculously low price, go to Jacob's Andouille (www.cajunsausage.com) and buy a ton of stuff to take home.
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Old Sep 30th, 2013, 11:07 AM
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Commander's Palace has lunch as well as dinner and is worth it. Early reservations are necessary.

Depending on what you mean by "late night", you might try Drago's Seafood in the Riverfront Hilton that nite (and definitely try it at some point.) Order charbroiled oysters (and nothing else--if you're still hungry, get another dozen). No reservations and it's a pretty big place. We always eat there when in NOLA
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Old Oct 1st, 2013, 10:14 AM
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We're going next week. Here are my choices:

Monday: Dominica -- recently listed as one of the top 15 Italian restaurants in the world.
Tuesday: Le Petit Grocery, the chef, Justin Devillier, will be cooking in the upcoming season of Top Chef Masters.
Wednesday: G W Fins - "Top Seafood Restaurant in NOLA"--Zagat's, "Award of Excellence"--Wine Spectator.
Thursday: Bourbon House: Dickie Brennan's (of the famed Commander's Palace Brennan family) ode to Creole seafood and bourbon.
Friday: Bayona: Chef Susan Spicer is a James Beard Award winner and Top Chef judge. Her 200 year old cottage in the French Quarter looks as amazing as her menu.
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 11:21 AM
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Many thanks everyone, and especially for the itinerary TC. Would love to get your reviews when you return!
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 01:01 PM
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Will post back upon return, Liz. One local spot that is always on my list is "Mothers" for breakfast. Nothing like it anywhere.
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 01:40 PM
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LizTD, I assume you mean the Marriott on Convention Center Boulevard, not the JW Marriott, which is on Canal Street, right?

In that neighborhood, I really like Cochon, which is at the middle level of chef Donald Link's little mini-empire. Lately I definitely like Cochon more than Herbsaint, which is Link's flagship place. Make a reservation at Cochon if you're going at peak hours. Around the corner is deli-style Cochon Butcher, more commonly known as just "Butcher," which is open very late, and has incredible sandwiches (I'd recommend sticking to the ones that contain pig products). Butcher gets incredibly crowded at lunch time, but at night it should be a quick and easy way to get excellent food.

Another good place whose kitchen is open late is Root. On Friday and Saturday nights, their kitchen is open until 2 AM. They are also very close to the Convention Center Marriott.

I don't think anyone could have possibly ranked Domenica as one of the top 15 Italian restaurants in the world. That must have been a mistake. I would say it's one of the top 15 Italian restaurants in the Central Business District. It is good, though. I like the pizza and pastas there, and they have the advantage that the kitchen is open until 11, whereas 10 is a more common closing time. One great thing about Dominica: every day, from 3 PM to 7 PM, they have a "happy hour," with half-priced pizzas, wine, beer, and well drinks.

In my opinion, Mother's is quite awful.

I do like Le Petite Grocery. In the same neighborhood and at a similar price point, also sort of "French-influenced," there's also Coquette, Dominique's on Magazine, and Lilette. I like them too. I would make reservations at any of these places.

Closer to the Quarter, I like the "high-end" food at August, the classic flagship of John Besh's group, which also includes Domenica. I also like R'evolution, which is much newer, and is actually in the Quarter. You'll want a reservation if you want to eat in the dining room at either of these places. Both have large bar areas that don't take reservations. There's always a free table in the bar area at August, but there often isn't at R'evolution.

I tried eating the food at Mulate's once, and it was pretty much inedible. But I do love Cajun music, and sometimes I go there to choke down a bad drink or two while I watch the band.

I went to Bayona only once, several years ago. I wasn't the slightest bit impressed, and I haven't been back. I also schlepped out to Brigsten's once and only once, also a few years ago. It was fine, but not worth the trip.
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 01:43 PM
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Commanders is the real deal, maybe the best restaurant in NOLA.

Galatoires is old school and worth every penny. Just because it is well known in NOLA does not mean it is not worth it.

For good down home check out Liuzzas on the Tracks.

Casamentos is great for oysters and atmosphere.
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 03:47 PM
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Here are the ones we enjoyed on our trip last fall:
R'Evolution (dinner) - a bit newer, mostly hits and a few misses but one of our favorite desserts of the trip - Banana Foster soufflé
Bayona (dinner) - Susan Spicer - great meal, lovely restaurant
Restaurant August (dinner) - John Besh - our first night, all around great
Galatorie's (dinner) - favorite dinner of the trip, souffled potatoes amazing stuff
Mr. B's (jazz brunch) - across from hotel and perfect eggs benedict
Brennan's (breakfast) - OMG the original Brennan's Bananas Foster, also perfect eggs benedict with salmon
Red Gravy (breakfast) - excellent breakfast, not fancy just really yummy
SoBou (lunch) - best gumbo of the trip (in my opinion), it had just been named one of the best new restaurants
Mureil's (lunch) - really relaxing, terrific food
Camelia Grill (lunch) - not for everyone but we really enjoyed our burger
Commander's Palace (jazz brunch) - wonderful, worth the trip, order the Turtle Soup (and see the lovely Garden District houses and stop at Sucre on magazine street, for chocolates or other treats like macarons or gelato)
Emeril's (we just went for the banana cream pie)
Cafe Beignet (Beignets)
Cafe du Monde (Beignets)
I have a trip report around here somewhere if you want more details (and hopefully my summary here is consistent, the trip report was much closer to the actual trip).
You might also consider The New Orleans School of Cooking, I quite enjoyed my afternoon class. Plan to walk alot to account for all the amazing food!
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Old Oct 5th, 2013, 04:52 PM
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I'll definitely second the recommendation for SoBou! Good call! And also Cafe du Monde, which is a well-known tourist attraction, but still really good at what it does.

I've eaten at Galatoire's twice. The food, I thought, was bland and poor. But it's a really interesting and fun glimpse into real New Orleans culture. Note that: (1) jackets are required for gentlemen, (2) if you make a reservation you'll be seated upstairs, where the tourists are. For the true old-time New Orleans experience, you have to sit downstairs, where they don't take reservations.

Another place I like that has recently opened up in the Quarter: Kingfish. And I'm really looking forward to trying Broussard's for the first time. It reopened in September, after it was bought and renovated by Zeid Ammari's company, Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts. That's the same company that did a great job opening Kingfish. To their credit, they hired two legendary and brilliant New Orleans bartenders to run the cocktail programs at both places. So consider at least stopping in for a drink.
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Old Oct 6th, 2013, 04:18 PM
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Wow folks! I just printed the comments because they are so wonderfully detailed. And my husband really loves to cook so the cooking class is a great idea and I would never have thought of that (my daughter and I are glad her dad is our private chef - people always say he should open a restaurant but what fun is it being away from the people you love every night??). Will look for your trip past report POlson and report-to-come TC.
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Old Oct 6th, 2013, 05:06 PM
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CP is one of my all time favorites not only in NOLA, but anywhere.
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Old Oct 10th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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Hawksbill or POIson, How loud is SoBou? Thinking of dining there instead of Bourbon House. Dominica was fab food ("15 Most Heavenly Italian in America".....my mistake) but it was ungodly loud. Couldn't converse in a table of four.

La Petite Grocery was excellent last night. THE MOST welcoming staff anywhere. Whole restaurant was watching first episode of Top Chef NOLA with contestant, LPG chef Justin in attendance. That was fun. Crab Beignets were amazing. Mains of turtle and rabbit were so-so. Crafted cocktails were a delight.

GW Fins tonight.
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Old Oct 11th, 2013, 10:57 AM
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TC, at SoBou, I have always sat near the bar. It does tend to get very crowded and noisy there, especially late at night and on weekends. Their kitchen is good and their cocktail program is fantastic, but I get the sense that they get a lot of guests who are just people staying in the W, and who head to their cocktail bar for a drink or two before going elsewhere I don't think those folks tend to make it to the dining room. I've only been in the dining room transiently, as I've walked through to get to the bar, but I think it would be much quieter there, and you'd probably be able to carry on a conversation without any problem. Also, I've walked by SoBou a few times this week, and for some reason it seems unusually empty. So even the bar might end up being okay for you. Perhaps that will change, as this weekend is a very heavy convention weekend in New Orleans.
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Old Oct 11th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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Thanks. SoBou tonight with a reservation to dine. GWF was wonderful last night. Soft shell crab...OMG! Scallops with mushroom risotto and salty mud pie to end. Yum! Excellent service. Only bad part is walking down Bourbon to get there. Yikes!
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Old Oct 11th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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I agree with you about Bourbon Street. It's horrible! I make every effort to avoid it. Although I'm glad that so many people seem to like it there, because then they don't go to the places where I like to go, and we can all be happy.

I hope you like SoBou! When you get there, you may want to look into what goes on in the little courtyard they have behind the back of the restaurant. There's some sleek-looking, W-style loungey outdoor furniture back there, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone sitting on it. Maybe it's possible to have dinner and/or drinks out there. I've always been curious.
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Old Oct 11th, 2013, 07:40 PM
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We really enjoyed Deanie's for seafood in the Quarter. It is a locals kind of place, not fancy, but good. Good crawfish, good baked oysters, good crab claws, good drinks, everything was good and we ate nothing fried. We sat at the bar and ate there twice last April during our Jazz Fest trip. Met some nice people at the bar both times.

When we stay near the Convention Center, we like to get oysters on the half shell at Grand Isle. Big oysters there at a good price at the bar. also, the Wharehouse District between the Convention Center and the WWII Museum ( which is great btw) has some cool and very good cares and smaller restaurants to check out.
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Old Oct 11th, 2013, 07:41 PM
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Oops, cafes, not cares!
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Old Oct 11th, 2013, 08:06 PM
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Dinner at SoBou tonight. I wouldn't give it high marks. Great little watering hole if you are just looking for a good, stylish bar. Dinner was more like nibbles. Nothing outstanding. Sorry...I don't consider a side of spicey cotton candy a dinner choice. The signature yellow fin tuna cones were so so. The tuna was overwhelmed by the avocado basil ice cream. Such a waste of tuna. The house special foi gras burger was just a greasy mess. So sorry I can't give it high marks. I wouldn't return although the staff was very welcoming. Noise level is very high.

Hawksbill....the garden is the courtyard of the W Hotel. We ordered drinks at the SB bar and took them into the garden to sit. The restaurant GM said this is quit aceptable and they often use the garden for events. That part was lovely. Quiet, tranquil, romantic. We should have quit while we were ahead.

Amazing street musicians on our after dinner stroll. Two young ladies...(Tanya and Dorse???) one violin, one guitar. Absolutely outstanding. Shop keepers say they often play on Royal Street.

Tomorrow night Bayona.
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