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Mar 9, 1999 08:07 PM

Eating in New Orleans

  • s

So, my husband and I moved here a year ago from Los
Angeles and expected to find ourselves in the land of
fabled never ending wonderful dining. Warning to
Californians: Visit New Orleans and eat yourselves
silly. Then go home to LA or San Francisco or wherever
and count yourselves lucky. The problem with New
Orleans dining (for an ex-West Coaster) is, there's not
much variety: most everything is fried and/or drenched
in heavy sauces. Finding broiled or grilled fish or
non-iceberg lettuce is not easy. We have no real
Mexican food, not much Thai, the Chinese is generally
of 60's quality, fresh veggies and good salads are hard
to find. Our only real ethnic food is Vietnamese. The
best upscale restaurant we've tried is Susan Spicer's
Bayona, which is also one of the few places where they
don't overcook the duck. Mike's on the Avenue is good,
but it's California-type food (Asian influenced) and if
you're visiting here you probably want New Orleans
specialties instead. After several visits we have
decided we won't go back to Commander's Palace. For
really good Cajun, you have to go outside the city to
the small towns and eat in little restaurants nobody
has ever heard of. However, we've been exploring the
local dining scene so if anyone comes this way we'll be
glad to offer our opinions and suggestions. (oh I miss
Noodle World!)

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  1. I don't know, Susan. I had a mighty good lunch in
    Nola's the day before yesterday.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Elliot Brown

      Unfortunately we haven't been able to get out of the
      city much so far because we are renovating an old
      house in Algiers Point and it consumes all of our
      time. (But it is close to good Vietnamese
      restaurants.) I did have a good meal at Enola
      Prudhomme's restaurant (Cajun Cabin) in Carencro, just
      north of Lafayette, and Prejean's in that same area is
      pretty tasty although very commercial. A few miles
      east on Highway 190 we've enjoyed King's Truck Stop a
      couple of times for good gumbo, shrimp po-boy and the
      like. Several years ago on a visit to the area we ate
      at Le Rosier in New Iberia, a fairly upscale
      restaurant attached to a nice B& B -- but don't know
      how it is these days. We've stopped in some little
      Dairy Queen-like places, no idea of the names, in some
      small towns and had pretty uniformly good experiences
      with the gumbo/po boy/etouffe genre. I never order
      etouffe here in N.O. anymore, because I've had too
      many indifferent experiences. We haven't tried NOLA
      yet but have heard good things about it. We ate at
      Emeril's once and weren't overwhelmed. It's not that
      you can't get good food here, just that the variety is
      somewhat lacking.

      1. re: Sarah

        I know I'm late with this, but I just discovered this site. I lived in New Orleans from '89-94 and I couldn't resist a suggestion. Your absolutaley right that vietnamese is the best of ethnic dining in NO. Living in Algiers you must have had a few meals at Kim Som.

        We won't go to Emeril's anymore. After Emeril became a star things were never the same. Our favorite now is Peristyle. Give it a try.

        1. re: Jim Benzian

          We did try Peristyle once, but still like Bayona best.
          However, reading the Chowhound reports of restaurants
          in San Francisco area just reminds me that we have
          nothing of that calibre here. Also miss the great
          artisan breads of California -- i.e. La Brea Bakery in
          LA area. Susan Spicer's bakery is turning out some
          good breads, but they're not widely available.

          1. re: Sarah

            So, Jim, aren't you lucky that you now live in
            Southern California, with all the richness of cuisines
            that Los Angeles and its surrounds offers. Think of
            the Vietnamese offerings in New Orleans, and then
            think of the Vietnamese offerings in Southern
            California. And welcome to ChowHound!!!

            1. re: Tom Armitage

              Tom, I have to thank you and your wife for introducing me to chowhounds. Yes I do feel lucky, at least while I'm in L.A. for the year. Now we just need to find some inspiring food in our home of Santa Barbara.

            2. re: Sarah

              Sarah, can't argue much about Bayona. Perhaps my favorite sweetbreads anywhere. Have been a big fan of Susan Spicer since she was at the Maison de Ville.

      2. I know what you mean, Sarah. While soulfood, cajun, and
        creole are among my favorite cuisines, I can certainly
        see how the food scene down there could get monotonous
        after a while.

        Absolutely right about getting out of N.O. for serious
        cajun...what are some of your favorite backwater haunts
        for that cuisine?

        Also, have you checked out Robin's in Henderson yet?