Neophytes in NOLA
My wife and I will be in your town for a few days right after Memorial Day. I'm attending a conference, so we're staying at the Riverside Hilton. Neither one of us has been there before, and I'm seeking the gentle guidance of you natives so that we can enjoy the kinds of culinary thrills I've been looking forward to.
I'm a very eclectic eater, but my wife is a vegetarian (although the occasional shrimp or clam will enter her mouth from time to time). We both love spicy food. I've been dreaming of oyster po' boys, crawfish, and all the other things that make New Orleans famous. My wife wants to be sure to grab a decent beignet before she leaves.
The beignet is easy. Walk from your hotel to the area of the French Market.Before you get to the market from the Hilton you will see the open air Cafe DuMonde. Get the beignets and coffee au lait (with cream).
For restaurants, try Bayona, belonging to Chef Susan Spicer. Make a reservation. If it is a nice night ask to be on the courtyard.
good and very New Orleans and reasonable--Petunia's
inexpensive and good--The Old Coffeepot
Other nice places in the French Quarter with good food--
Acme Oyster House for raw oysters and po boys
The Palace Cafe
The Redfish Grill
For Haute Creole-- Commander's Palace-jacket required
For Cajun--Alex Patout's
For a good muffaletta--The Central Grocery
If you want to see Cajun dancing and eat Cajun food, try Mulates, right down from your hotel.
The tour desk at the hotel can locate all of this for you.
You might try a riverboat cruise and a swamp tour to get the flavor of the city from a different viewpoint. Again, the tour desk can arrange all of this for you. Crawfish are scarce this year, but the crabs are running well this season. Any lump crabmeat dish would be good. Crawfish Etouffee you would enjoy, and Crawfish Monica if you can find it.
Order your po boys "dressed" which means with lettuce tomato, onions etc.
All restaurants in the city cater to vegetarians. I know this, as I have been a reservationist at Commander's Palace, The office manager at Smith & Wollensky, and worked in the office at House of Blues.
I would recommend the turtle soup at Commanders and the bread pudding soufle and the crabmeat ravigotte-also any of their fish specials that evening or for lunch. They do a good jazz brunch on Sat. and Sun.
If you have any questions, just ask me. I have been in the hospitality industry in the city for about 13 years. Have fun, Susan