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2 meals in NoLa

We will be traveling to New Orleans in about a week for a couple of days.
I would like to make reservations for dinner two nights and am looking for recommendations.
We will be coming from NYC, not that it necessarily matters, except that we are used to pretty good restaurants and aren't totally easily impressed.
We are definitely looking for "regional" inspired cuisine and quality of food is primary factor in picking places (atmosphere, service, etc. are somewhat important, but the food comes first).
We are believers in the idea that you spending lots of money does not always mean you're going to get a great meal, but we dont mind spending some money if it is worth it (but probably not $150 a person).
Also, we are happy to eat somewhere like Emril's if Emril's has really good food, but we won't be impressed with a place ONLY because it's owned by someone famous on the TV.

So, if you could have dinner at any two restaurants in New Orleans, what would you recommend?

Also, we are open to any suggestions to more casual lunch or breakfast places (I'd love to get a great po' boy).

One of the things I'm really looking forward to in New Orleans is getting some amazing meals, so I appreciate any suggestions I might get.
Thanks in advance!

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  1. Go to Cochon (open at lunch, too), because it is intensely regional...not the sort of food you'll find many other places, and it definitely won't run $150 pp.

    1. Restaurant August, definitely. 301 Tchopotoulis Street. Chef is John Besh. Wonderful atmosphere, outstanding food, unusual and elegant. http://www.rest-august.com/

      Stella! - located in the French Quarter, 1032 Chartres Street. Chef Scott Boswell. Intimate dining atmosphere, asian fusion food. www.restaurantstella.com

      As far as Emeril's restaurants go, I prefer the more laid-back NOLA, located in the French Quarter at 534 St. Louis Street. www.emerils.com/restaurants/neworlean...

      Restaurant Cuvee, 322 Magazine Street; "Creole Continental" menu; www.restaurantcuvee.com

      Also, Gambit Weekly just came out with their restaurant guide, which will give you TONS of ideas. http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispa...

      Finally, check out this food blog: http://www.appetites.us/

      1 Reply
      1. re: wendigo

        I'd vote for August, absolutely.

        And please eat at Brigtsen's, too. http://www.brigtsens.com/ His pan-roasted chicken is one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life and if he has the chocolate cake for dessert, have that. The restaurant is funky and casual and you will love it.

        I wish Chez Helene was still there. Chef Austin passed in Atlanta right after Katrina and I miss him. But I have his recipes if anyone is ever looking for them!

      2. My vote for dinner is K-Paul's. We had a phenomenal dinner there last month. We also enjoyed Cochon immensely. We stopped in Emeril's on the way to Cochon and were blown away by the cocktail prices - $13 for a Cosmo!! -- in a small martini glass with no garnish! If that's any indication of their food, I'd stay away.

        1. I would go to someplace really upscale and delicious like Stella or Herbsaint for my first choice and then for the second, someplace really funky and fun (but also really delicious) like Jacques-Imo's or Dick and Jenny's.

          1 Reply
          1. re: boltz2000

            Second that on Herbsaint...I'll be dining in N.O a bit soon and CAN NOT WAIT to get the Green Chile Grits Cakes w/Tasso Cream Sauce...it was the best bite of food I put in my mouth in 2007

          2. Lunch, Cochon, definitely -- and Central Grocery for a muffaletta.

            Dinner, as others have said -- August.

            OTOH, I grant you everyone raves about Stella!, but I had the worst experience there -- with responsibility at the feet of the kitchen (bad food), service staff (ill-tempered and unattentive waitstaff), AND management, I will never go back.

            1. You have received some great recs. so far. I would definitely second Brigsten’s, though it’s a bit up-river from where you will probably be staying. Make reservations NOW. Do not wait another day.

              Next, I would add one of the old grand-dames of NO cuisine: Galatoire’s http://www.galatoires.com/ to your list. However, you have two choices: make a reservation and dine upstairs, or stand in line to dine downstairs with the locals. It all depends on your time frame. Downstairs is worth the wait. Take the recommendations of your server on all counts. You will not go wrong.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                I'm in New Orleans 30 to 40 nights a year. Here is my two cents. If you take the level of cooking at Del Posto or Felidia as a comparison, they you are talking about August or Gautreau in New Orleans. I have not eaten at Stella! since before Katrina so I don't know how it is, but it gets enough great mentions that I'm going to eat there at Jazzfest. I eyed the menu a week ago and it's really imaginative. If it lives up to its potential, then Stella! is up there, too.

                All of those are white tablecloth restaurants.

                Next, I'd throw in Galatoir's and Arnand, both very old-fashioned places.

                Then I would add Cochon. It's been open a year and I have been there half a dozen times. It's interpreted Cajun food and extremely inventive and good. It's comfortable and the winelist has improved a lot since they opened (many restaurants have had short winelists when they opened as a cost control--all the wine that was in New Orleans before Katrina got "cooked" after the storm because the power was off for months).

                After that I'd say NOLA, Emeril's less-formal restaurant in the Quarter.

                And now it's anybody's guess. There are a lot of restaurants that are good including Upperline, the Rib Room, and others. I have been to NOLA twice in the last six months--once very good and once disappointing though they were slammed the night I was disappointed.

                If you want a unique informal lunch then you should try Casamento's for oysters or an oysterloaf or softshell or shrimp sandwich.

                The most interesting new place is definitely Cochon. They're up for best new restaurant in the country by the Beard Association.

                By the way I strongly disagree with Brightsen's as a first-time suggestion. It's an out of the way spot frequented by locals and I ate there recently but was sorry I had gone. It's stuck in a style of cooking that came out of Commander's and K-Paul 20 years or so ago. It has not evolved at all. They did ok cooking, but the recipes were not imaginative at all. I'd not waste a meal in New Orleans there.

                One other place that's close to the Quarter that'w worth considering is Rio Mar, a seafood place owned by Alex Garcia. It's very good latin-influenced fish. He also owns an Argentine steakhouse called La Boca but I haven't been there yet. Friends say it's really good.

              2. thanks to everyone for the suggestions. they all sound great. i went ahead and made reservs at August for one night, still deciding on the other. August will be for my gf and I, the second night we will be joining some other friends, so I'm thinking maybe someplace a little more casual and "fun", atmosphere-wise.

                Cochon sounds great, but it sounds like it might be a place to try for lunch.

                thanks again.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Get In My Belly

                  I might add that one of my favorites, Mr. B's, is finally scheduled to reopen April 16.

                2. I know I'll get flamed for this...but SKIP August...sooooo overpriced/overrated...I live here and have tried this place 3xs in the last year and have been consistently disappointed...

                  do try Cochon...it's by far the best I've had in ages...and very reasonably priced (and the LA citrus mojitos are very good) my second choice would be KPaul's or Besh Steakhouse or Cafe Giovanni...all are fantastic

                  have fun and happy dining

                  1. I am a local and would recommend:
                    1.Port of call for the best hamburger and baked potato. I usually get mine cooked medium because they grind their own meat daily. Also, they have really strong but tasty drinks. They are located at 838 Esplanade (the back side of the quarter). This is about the best burger you will ever have.
                    2.Fiorella's Cafe for anything but especially the fried chicken. Plus they have good poboys and breakfast. They are located between Decatur and the french market (about 1300 block).
                    3.Cafe Masparo for any basic local food. I love their french onion soup with a catfish sandwich and an abita amber beer. If you like muffuleta sandwiches, you will have to get one here. They are located approx. 600 block of Decatur.
                    4. Deanie's Seafood for anything seafood. This is a new location in the quarter right off of bourbon st. I think it was 300 block of bourbon st.
                    5.Mr. B's will open on the 16th of april. This is a bit more upscale compared to the other places I mentioned, but just as great.
                    6. Trolly Stop right off of the street car line on St. Charles. They are open 24 hours and have great breakfast.
                    7. Commander's Palace is another must stop on St. Charles. This is upscale as well. They have a great wine list (They keep about 10000 bottles on hand).
                    8. Drago's is great. I would recommend the char broiled oysters. You will eat a dozen before you realize it. They are located at 3232 N. Arnoult.

                    Almost all of these locations will cost about 6-12 dollars per person depending on how much you eat and drink. I hope these few recommendations will help. I also agree with chef4hire. I would of included his recommendations but he beat me to it.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Tonto

                      Yes, to put it in perspective, a dozen charbroiled alone at Drago's is 16 bucks...

                      In reality, every one but the last two mention will run about 15-20 bucks with a beer, tax and tip.

                      And Commander's is a great value at lunch, but will still run $30 with tax and tip, which is a steal for a restaurant of that quality and reputation.

                      1. re: bbares81

                        OKay so you admit your post was inaccurate $6-12 gets you nothing by your own admission. That was my point.

                          1. re: Tonto

                            I was agreeing to the invalidity of the previous post....if Commander's cost that little, I think I would eat there twice a day.

                        1. re: Guido_B

                          In addition to being more expensive, Commander's is not on St. Charles.

                          1. re: Guido_B

                            Trolley Stop is NOT open 24 hours any more. Not sure what their hours are, but they are closed in the evenings for sure.

                            1. re: Guido_B

                              You sound like we share a similar chow perspective.Your thought please on Lil Dizzys,Buffas,N'awlins Flavor and Monicas.I love old beat up places where the focus is on the food.Any other must visit spots I'm missing?I'm heading to N.O soon and really looking forward to dining well and obscurely

                              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                Lil Dizzy's is a nice example of a neighborhood joint....all buffet, with good fried chicken, very good gumbo (esp if it has crab in it), and average sides. I love that bread pudding with fruit cocktail or canned pineapple mixed in...it isn't fancy, but it is a textbook example of a particular genre of NOLA food.

                                Why not visit Willie Mae's Scotch House? I guess after all the renovations, it doesn't really qualify as a beat-up place anymore, but the focus is certainly on the food. Where else can you have a 90+-year-old James Beard award winner cook for you?

                            2. I have not been to NOLA since Katrina, but one of my favorites was Central Grocery for a muffuleta. The best one in town IMHO.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: phneale

                                I know exactly what they cost. I still have their receipts in my wallet from the last two weeks. I lived in New Orleans for over 21 years. I went to college in NO. Of course the more some of the restaurants such as Mr. B, Commanders Palace , Drago's cost more, but most of the ones that I have listed are 6-12$ (entree price without tip). Most of the restaurants that I listed are casual. Do you live in NO?. I know some of you do. How much do you pay for a poboy? The places that I have listed are places that locals eat at and tourist don't know about unless a someone informs them. All of the more expensive places are easy to find, just ask the hotel where you are staying. They will have a pamphlet for almost all of them. Yes, Commanders Palace is just off of St. Charles. That was my typo. Commanders Palace is on Prytania or Washington, which is just off of St. Charles. I agree that Central grocery has a great muffuleta, but not much seating. That sucks that Trolley stop is not open 24 hours anymore. I did not pay attention to their new hours. This is not a hate reply, so don't be crazy with angry replies.

                                1. re: Guido_B

                                  Say what you will now, the way you posted was extremely misleading...as three of the restaurants you listed are WAY above the amount you stated. I would hate for someone to take your reccomendation and go to Drago's only to find out that he will have to spend double or more than what you stated.

                                  To answer your question directly....I pay the same amount for a po-boy as anyone else who frrequents Parkway Bakery, Parasol's or Johnny's does, and $0 at Domilese's as many of Ms. Dot's friends do.

                                  I have lived in New Orleans my whole life for the record.

                                  Furthermore, touting Mr. B's, Commander's, and Maspero's as local eateries that tourist "don't know about unless someone informs them" is simply the most absurd thing I have read on this message board. Commander's?? I mean, you can't be serious...can you?

                                  1. re: bbares81

                                    Lots of worthwhile suggestions from lots of worthy sources. But the suggestion you must remember is to HAVE LUNCH AT GALATOIRE'S. Friday lunches are especially lively, and just ask the locals seated next to you for suggestions. Perhaps Oysters en brochette for a starter. Consider the Grand Goute next. Take your time, have a mimosa, chat with everyone near you--it is not a quiet place.

                                    But you'll remember it forever and ache until you can visit again. Really...

                                    1. re: bbares81

                                      I think you missed the part where I said most of them cost X$. Also, yes 3 of the 8 happen to have tourist frequent them but that is not the majority. You would be surprised at that about 80 percent of the people that go to Commanders Palace are locals, just talk to Ryan Andre (one of the chefs there). I spoke to the bar manager at Maspero's about a week ago and he said that most of his customers are locals. I have not spoken with anyone from Mr.B's for a while, so I cannot comment about their customers. How about you just read my restaurant suggestions and say if they are good to eat there or not.