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Need suggestions for New Orleans Restaurants for Surprise Birthday Weekend

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I'm planning a surprise weekend trip to New Orleans for my husband's birthday in 6 weeks. I usually to do alot of research but am finding it difficult to plan this on the sly. So PLEASE help.

We'll be arriving on a Friday night in time for dinner and will be leaving Monday night before dinner. So I need dinners for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. What do you suggest? We'll be staying in the French Quarter without a car and while we're willing to take taxis to restaurants, I'm not real keen on spending tons of money for taxi fare. I'd rather spend the money on the meal itself. I figure a $20 fare each way is the absolute max and less (or none at all) is preferable.

We've been to New Orleans before and I remember having dinner at Commanders Palace which we loved and brunch at Brennan's which we thought was highly overrated. We also loved the oysters and crawfish at ACME and muffalettas at Central Market. While we liked Commander's Palace, we would prefer eating somewhere new. However, we will definitely need to return to ACME for the crawfish and Central Market. He also needs to go to Mothers-probably for lunch (I've been there but he wasn't able to.)

So where should we go for our three nights? Price isn't an issue but as you can see we like things from all price ranges. We live in Los Angeles so we have good restaurants at home. What we really want is something we can't get at home. Any other special places similar to ACME, Central Market and Mothers that we should try? Who makes the best oyster po' boys?

Thanks so much. And shhhhh..... Please keep it a secret as it's a surprise!

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  1. It's too early for good crawfish. The ones we had last week were scrawny and hard to come by. Stick to what's fresh and readily available.

    My new favorite po boy place is Domilise's about 15 minutes uptown. The half and half is half shrimp and half oyster cooked to order. What a dump. What a dive. What a long line of locals waiting to get in. What a joy.

    I think the oysters this year a better than ever because the season was closed last year post Katrina. They just seemed plumper and more flavorful.

    Just my two cents: After a 20 year love affair with K-Pauls, it has been scratched off my list of places I eat when in NO. My wife and I were looking for a late night snack when we walked by, saw many open tables, and decided to order a talk away from the bar. The hosted was nice. She handed me a menu and said to just tell the bartender what I wanted and by the time my drink was done, they'd have it boxed up and ready to go.

    After sitting at the bar for 10 minutes watching the bartender (who was no farther than arms lenght) ignore us, I got up, handed the menu to the hostette,and walked out. For a place that was half empty on a Friday night, she acted like they could care less. I'm not demanding, I'll just take my business somewhere where they appreciate it.

    1. I've just spent four days here, and had first rate meals, with fabulous food and lovely service, at Bayona and Stella. I would recommend either one -- or both -- for lovely meals. HOWEVER, neither served what I would call traditional New Orleans cuisine, so maybe they're not exactly what you're looking for this visit ... though I'm from NY, and I thought they offered something special I hadn't exactly seen at home.

      My other favorite meal was at Acme. Horrible seat, right outside the women's restroom, but the oysters were to die for.

      1 Reply
      1. re: asm_ny

        Bayona and Stella! were two I was going to suggest in the quarter as well, along with Peristyle. They do use local, fresh ingredients, so it may be things you don't get all the time. Cuvee in the CBD would be in this category as well. You could try Tommy's, which is a New Orleans Italian place -- lots of fish, good oyster apps. You might check out Herbsaint as well.

        I love K-Paul's, never had anything but a good time there (and great food, of course). It is extremely rich food, though, be forewarned.

        Crawfish season should be in full swing 6 weeks from now, so you should be good on that. I like to get them from Big Fisherman on Magazine St, though you'll have to find somewhere else to eat them. The Bulldog across the street fenced in their patio last year, so I'm not sure if you can sit there anymore. Also on Magazine is Casamento's, really great oyster spot. I also like their gumbo.

      2. If Mr. B's gets open by then, I'd highly recommend it (at least it was great two years ago). A lot probably has changed since 2005, but K-Paul's was great when I visited and the staff was extremely accomodating to me, my wife and our year old son. In fact he threw up at the very end of the meal (all over the table) and the server acted so quickly no one else was even aware of it----though I was still horrified.

        If you like Commander's, go for lunch on Monday when they have .25 (.75 now?) martinis and a great lunch.

        1. Please stay in the Quarter as they need the business. Stella, Bayonna, Broussards, Pelican Club, Opera singers Saturday night at Cafe Giovanni. Irene's, Bacco, Red fish grill,Borbon House for raw oysters, Eat for breakfast or lunch. Bon Ton just outside the quarter is very authentic but not open Saturday night, Cuvee outside is also terrific as is Restaurant August. But I can not mention enough how important it is to support the Quarter. All the businesses are teetering on the brink of extinction without tourists. Also,Arnaud's and Antoinnes, which is said to have a great Sunday brunch. Ask about specially priced dinners because many restaurants are having special pricing for three or more courses or drinks and appetizers. Hope this helps. Mums the word. try nomenu.com for times, days open, serving lunch or dinner or both, and some reviews.

          1. OK, I've snuck in some researching while at the office today.

            I'm thinking of Upperline on Sunday night (one of the few that seem to be open) and Herbsaint on either Friday or Saturday. Any comments?

            What do you think would round out our itinerary? I'm thinking of Dick & Jenny's, Cuvee, Cochon, or Galatoires. I'm looking for something different than what we get get in Los Angeles.

            And could someone please tell me about Bon Ton Cafe? They don't have a website and I can't really begin to fathom what it is about. Certainly sounds intriguing.

            Thanks.

            2 Replies
            1. re: siam

              Upperline is very good, but a cab ride, so is Dick and Jenny's and they don't take reservations. If you don't get there when they open it can be a long wait, but they will allow you to eat at the bar. Herbsaint is also very good, again a cab ride and so is Couchon same chef owns both. Couchon is Cajun food some people love it, I am look warm, but have only been once. Prefer Herbsaint. Bon Ton is old time New Orleans. Ettouffees, crab dishes, bread pudding, and always packed lunch or dinner.

              1. re: siam

                Dick & Jenny's is really good. And the staff is just amazingly friendly and helpful - I really love it there. Problem - they don't take reservations. But they have a great little bar area to tide you over.

                I've never been to Bon Ton - it's on my to do list.