Couple looking for fun/food/plentiful drinks in the French Quarter
We're visiting in early December for a weekend and are looking for some great restaurant ideas. Ideally, traditional favorites that won't break the bank as I'm sure our cocktail budget far surpasses our food budget. Anything overlooking Bourbon street might be a plus, but I'm totally open to suggestions! Have been to the biggies like Emeril's and Commander's Palace- so am looking for smaller more intimate locales for the true NOLA experience.
Bars I'm making a must-see are: Napolean house, the Blacksmith's bar, Pat O's- but I know there are plenty I'm leaving out- help!!
Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
Galatoire's and Arnaud's are both on Bourbon St, if that's really what you want. Bayona is on Dauphine.
I might suggest Irene's-- it's Italian, but the New Orleans kind of Italian. They don't take reservations, so we go, put our names in, then walk around the corner to Decatur St. to one of the bars for a few pre-dinner cocktails.
An acceptable cheaper place is Remoulade, right on Bourbon, has all the New Orleans standards. Napoleon House serves food, also. Really cheap and divey, but I think very good, is Coop's Place. Muriel's is very decent, and not too expensive. On Jackson Square.
I second Coops. Best food I had in the Quarter. The Jambalaya was the best rendition I have had anywhere (admittedly that may not be saying much because I don't live there). Otherwise I second the recommendation to try and get out of the quarter at least during the afternoon/early evening.
If you value a true locals experience over a view of Bourbon (you can always go later...things don't pick up until after10/11), I will reccomend these places right outside of the Quarter, where you will get better food/price ratio:
Adolpho's- good Italian (many veal dishes) for a good price, the reason I mention this place is because they have a 5 dollar cokage fee which is a nice cheap start to any good night on Bourbon or Frenchman.
It is located in the Marigny (south of the Quarter in the Marigny on Frenchman, which is a short walk to Bourbon and what many consider to be the locals Bourbon...dba, spotted cat, apple barrel, and snug harbor are all great bars on the street with live music, most for free...just be aware walking there, take decateur past esplanade then left and you will be on the street safely and easily.
Cochon- refined cajun, small plates...please do not eat at Mulate's, it is terrible.
Herbsaint- awesome, small plates
Tommy's Cuisine- much better than Irene's (Tommy's ex-wife), 1 block from Emeril's.
All three are reasonably priced with websites, and are frequented by locals more than any Quarter restaurant, except Galatoire's.
These are all a short walk from the Quarter and shorter walk from the CBD in the Warehouse District which is where many younger, wealthier locals live, eat and play. The World War II Museum, the Ogden Museum and the Confederate Museum are all great to hit up pre-dinner in the Warehouse District. Warehouse District has local bars as well.
I second the recommendation for Remoulade. Not only is it some of the best value for the quality of the food, and one of the most authentic menus available, but the bar has all the classic New Orleans drinks and they mix them exceptionally well (which is rare for a Sazerac especially). While in the quarter, I'm a fan of Maspero's. I could take or leave the food at the Napoleon House, but the ambience and the Pimm's Cups are great.
Going local for food requires a certain courage that few tourists have, as many places are in neighborhoods that, while in reality not very dangerous during daylight hours unless you're involved in drug trafficking, are often perceived as such. A good example is Dookie Chase's. If, for peace of mind, you want a well lit, highly trafficked route, take Canal St. up to Claiborne, then head east 'til Orleans Av.
If it's cocktails you like, go to the hotel that invented half of them: The Fairmont, just west of Canal on Baronne St, across from one of the most underrated churches in the city.
You should break the bank at least once. Antoine's, Galatoire's, Commander's Palace (if it's open again), Arnaud's, The Court of Two Sisters, or even Brennan's (less expensive than the others) are the establishments on which New Orleans' gastronomic reputation was founded.
I was in the Quarter last weekend and we ate on the balcony at Tony Moran's overlooking Bourbon. It's above the Old Absinthe House and I thought the meal was great. I had a New Orleans first timer with me and he thought it was the best time he had ever had.
Another good place is Port of Call for burgers or steaks. It's right outside the quarter, on Esplanade.
Be sure to go to Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (Bar) after sundown. It's lit strictly by candlelight and is so much fun, of course it's great during the day as well. Of course when I go there when I'm in the Quarter I usually start there when the sun's up and am still there well after sundown!
I second Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, its really pretty at night in the candlelight, always our first stop when we get into town. I highly, HIGHLY recommend Molly's at the Market on Decatur: http://www.mollysatthemarket.net/
Try their frozen irish coffee, you'll keep going back for more and more and more, like my husband and I do. The bartenders are the greatest, lots of fun to talk to. Then you can hop next door to Coop's for the best gumbo in New Orleans.