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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.