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Jan 3, 2008 09:46 AM

Need Mardi Gras dining help

Going to mardi gras for the first timewith three buddies. we are 23 year olds but a couple of us are serious foodies and the others certainly love to eat. I have always wanted to eat in new orleans but do not know the scene. We would like to find some places that are in the french quarter that have great true new orleans food. I do not want straight french, i would prefer more of a cajun or creole. No places that require jackets please. I would really appreciate people's help because I am really uneducated on new orleans restauarants. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Two places for you to go:

    Emeril's (a 15-minute walk from the Quarter). I do not normally recommend Emeril's, but a group of 23-year-olds will have a blast here. The place is lively and festive, and the food can be a creative take on Creole cuisine. The execution is not always what it should be, but I don't think that will stop a group of 23-year-olds from having a blast.

    Coop's. While Emeril's is more on the upscale side (but more casual than it used to be; for example, they no longer require jackets), Coop's is a dive bar that serves great classic Cajun and Creole dishes.

    These two places will give you very different, but at the same time very authentic, New Orleans experiences.

    1. My recs will depend entirely on when you're going to be in town. The parade season in Orleans parish is two weeks long. If you're planning to be in town for Mardi Gras day itself, that changes everything, as a whole bunch of places either scale back their hours, reduce their menus, or close entirely (esp if they're directly on the parade route). If you are serious about eating well, get a map of NOLA & check out the official parade routes (available online). Parades bisect the city, and you need to take their movements into account when planning your dining. For example, last MG Day, I ended up at Gordon Biersch (to their credit, the bathrooms were clean & service was great despite the overall chaos).

      Within the quarter, you'll be fine, as the only parade within the quarter is Krewe du Vieux (non-motorized walking krewe). I'd put K-Paul's on your list, as well as the Bon Ton, Cochon, Drago's char-grilled oysters (inside the HIlton Riverside hotel), and the soul food at Lil Dizzy's.

      23 Replies
      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        I will be there feb. 1-4th and we definitely want local flavor, I'm sure emerils and other such places are good but not really what I am looking for. this might be my only trip to new orleans and I want to really experience it. We are an educated group of diners even though we are young. I have eaten at the best (fancy and dive) places in san fran, LA, New York and Paris and the guys I am going with are New Yorkers who dine at gramercy, babbo and the like. I appreciate evryone's help!!

        1. re: samurai221

          You can't really compare New Orleans to places like Gramercy Tavern or Babbo - because NO is most decidedly NOT New York. Its just different - and a total different experience. Emeril's is touristy, but it is constantly mentioned on this board because it is also GOOD and is Creole food.

          Also - you'll need to eat earlyish.

          Commander's Palace is really fun for lunch the Friday before Mardi Gras...they have crowns and balloons and everybody is just really excited. They have $.25 martinis for lunch. It may require a jacket, though - you'll have to look online.

          Arnaud's and Galatoire's on Bourbon Street are just true old New Orleans. The well-heeled have been known to pay people to stand in line for them Galatoire's lunch the Friday before Mardi Gras. Not sure if either require a jacket.

          Bayona is also good. Restaurant August is a John Besh restaurant, and gets consistently high marks on this board. You'll def impress your friends if you take them there.

          Luke (John Besh rest)
          Drago's but only for the chargrilled oysters

          Yo Mamas
          Port of Call (but it will be impossible to get a seat there during just go to Yo Mamas)
          I've never eaten here, but people on this board love Coop's

          1. re: cor

            sorry, i was by no means trying to demean any posters or emrils itself. I was just trying to clarify that I was looking to really experience that unique new orleans experience that you mentioned. The babbo/gramercy reference was just to show that although 23 we like and appreciate good food. I was not looking for the NO equivalent nor would i want that. Sorry if I offended anyone.

            1. re: samurai221

              no offense taken...when I go to NYC I want Babbo, too! Mardi Gras can be so crazy that you might find yourself a bit overwhelmed (I live here and I still feel like I can't get a handle on those two weeks) don't try to do too much

              my advice is to play it by ear...pick a couple of casual/local eateries and have fun at the parades

              I would definately try to hit Cochon, Parkway or Parasols and maybe Herbsaint or'll get a wide variety of the best the city has to offer and not break the bank

              if you make it to Cochon, save room for the abita root beer float, at Parkway or Parasol's it's the roast beef and anything at the last two will make you smile

              have fun, stay safe and enjoy!

              1. re: chef4hire

                Well i looked at Cochon's website and it sounds killer, especially with their love of swine!! with all the positive thoughts on it from the board, I booked that one for a Saturday night reservation since it was casual and I don't think any of us will bring anything other than jeans. perhaps I will try to get a reservation somewhere for Sunday night but I may just make a list of everything I can gather from the wonderful postings and play it by ear once we get there.

                Obviously, I have to try some po boys at lunch is there a good spot for that in the french quarter and is roast beef the way to go?

                is it worth the wait at cafe du monde for beignets and coffee to start the day?

                chef4hire, i just spent new years at B$B in vegas, you must try it if you are there, incredible! I actually don't even go to babbo anymore in nyc, too much of a hassle and there are so many places to try in NYC!!

                1. re: samurai221

                  As Cafe du Monde is open all day (is it still 24-Hrs, post k?), you don't have to start there. You can go anytime. Just don't make the mistake of the tourists who are waiting to be seated by a maitre d'. One time I tried to tell a couple that no one is going to seat them, and they didn't believe me. Believe me, you must find a group leaving and sit down. Otherwise, you will never get a table.

                  1. re: cajungirl

                    any good places in the french quarter for shrimp etoufee, i feel like i can't visit NO without having it.

                      1. re: Blumie

                        This coops sounds awesome and the type of place my friends will love, what time of day is best to go there do eat and have some brews?

                        1. re: samurai221

                          My favorite time is to go late -- 10 or 11 (I'll often go that late on my way out to a club to see a band) -- and I like to sit at the bar, which is where you'll find a lot more of the local color (including the self-described hillbilly bartenders, and a lot of other locals who come for a drink, or 12, after getting off work at other restaurants in the Quarter). The kitchen serves food for as late as the demand holds out, which is almost always until at least midnight.

                          Speaking of which, I see that Morning 40 Federation is playing at the Hi-Ho Lounge on Feb. 1. An outrageously great night would be to start at Coop's at 10:00 or so, and then grab a cab for the 10-minute ride over to the Hi-Ho Lounge for Morning 40 (who are unlikely to go on before midnight). Now THAT would be a NOLA experience you won't soon forget.

                          Here is the Morning 40 myspace page:

                          1. re: Blumie

                            that sounds like an awesome night, the only problem is we are not getting into NO until like 11 on friday night feb. 1 so I really have no idea how we will handle that night.

                            1. re: samurai221

                              Really only one option: go directly to the Hi-Ho are start drinking heavily.

                  2. re: samurai221

                    Funny you should mention it- we are leaving for Vegas on Weds and I've been studying that B&B I'm definately making a reservation

                    For po'boys (I might get flamed for this) but I don't like anything in the quarter. I'm pretty loyal to Parkway Bakery & Tavern - I take a friend and order 2 to split (roast beef w/american and a shrimp w/butter & pickles)

                    CDM I don't do for breakfast. I go late afternoon or around midnight for a coffee fix. Beignets sit better with me for dessert- who can get anything accomplished after a breakfast of fried dough and sugar? The cafe au lait is great- the only description I can give you is that it's a chewy cup of coffee (in the best way possible).

                    Check out Napolean house for drinks/lunch and KPaul's for dinner if they're open.

                    1. re: chef4hire

                      Chef4hire, i agree with the beignets, should i do a cafe au lait or the famous coffee with chicory? I do love my cafe au lait's after spending a summer in paris.
                      K-Pauls sounds pretty good, is the blackened fish still the thign to get? Do they have a good shrimp etoufee there?
                      Is Parkway walkable from FQ?

                      as Far as B&B, i will give you my recommendations based on what we had.

                      appetizers-grilled octupus is absolutely incredibly, the house made charcuterie plate is great(I love cured pork though and I really appreciate that they do their own)

                      pasta- we had 5 the bolgonese and wild boar ragu were average. The orrechiette with sausage, sweet potato lunes, and beef cheek raviolis were phenomenal but i liked them in that order. Although the sweet potato lunes are so interesting and original that it adds some interest there.

                      meats- I had the barbecued squab over beet sauced fromanti, i thought this was great but you have to be ago with a bit of gamy taste and dealing with the squab. we sat in the wine cellar so I just ate it with my fingers since no one else was in there. The braised short ribs are also very good.

                      we drank a wine from campania which was great and then an amarone. Italian doughnuts for dessert were very good and i do not even like dessert.

                      1. re: samurai221

                        the au lait is made w/chicory coffee

                        I like just about everything at Kpauls...the blackened fish is usually drum and it is the epitome of what this dish should be (IMO) be warned that Kpaul's is heavy on the butter/calories and you might need a nap afterwards and the breadbasket just kills me

                        email me if you need some more info- we'll be in town that week and I'd be happy to help you get some good po boys


                        maybe we can get a goup together for a poboy excursion

                      2. re: chef4hire

                        This is in no way meant to dis Parkway Bakery. It IS worth the trip. Heck, I'd even walk. But, Frank's, on Decateur, across from DdM, used to have the #1 roast beef po-boy in the city (Acy's Pool Hall, now long gone was #2). Tell Little Frank, of Philly, or Anna, that you want it, just like their grandmother used to make it. It might take a moment, or two, but should be as good, as you'll get in the FQ.

                        For breakfast, I'd walk over to St. Peter St., next to Pat O'Brien's, and go to The Coffee Pot.


                        Coffee Pot Restaurant
                        714 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                        Frank's Restaurant
                        933 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                  3. re: samurai221

                    No offense taken - I'm 25 and the same ;) Though I still stand by Emeril's.

                    My fave in NYC is Ocean Grill.

                    1. re: cor

                      Though all of my experiences have been pre-K, I also have had great meals and a lot of fun, at Emeril's. Their wine program is as good, as it gets, in NOLA, or was. With only a recent visit to Delmonico, I'd "guess" that they are still doing things well.

                      Gotta' do Coop's and Stella! in March, as there has been far too much traffic on this board, to ignore.

                      For FQ dining, I'd also recommend Bayona, for the higher-end and very innovative food.

                      Most of all, get a map of the city, mark off the parade routes and times, and do not plan on crossing a parade route, or doing much on a tight timeline. Large parts of the City just plain shut down. My studio was on St. Charles, and we'd basically close it for two weeks - could not get in, or out during most of that time. Heck, that's how I learned to ski, by heading to CO for two weeks!


                      430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                      Emeril's Restaurant
                      800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                    2. re: samurai221

                      PS - For the love of God don't get lured to Mother's.

                    3. re: cor

                      I mostly agree with these recommendations. As for Galatoire's, the Friday before MG, the tables are now auctioned off- no more paying people to wait in line anymore.

                      If you want to eat lunch somewhere that Friday (or Monday) make your reservations now. Also, many places aren't open MG day- some are even closed on Mon & Wed (try restaurants in a hotel, such as Cafe Adelaide or Luke- their hamburger would be perfect that Tuesday or any other day- and their Friday special is great too). I understand that in the past, Brennan's has been open for breakfast/brunch on MG day.

                      For a most upscale experience for dinner, I recommend Commander's, Stella, Bayona, Restaurant August, Brigtsen's, and Lilette. Herbsaint might be fun on a parade night, too.
                      I also really like Cochon, for lunch or dinner (if you are dining at any of the others listed above, I would choose this as an alternative- it's more casual; really fresh flavors and still Louisiana cuisine).
                      Cafe Adelaide is fun for lunch (they also have the .25 martinis M-F).
                      For casual, I do like Coop's and Fiorella's.
                      If you are Uptown, I also like Ignatius on Magazine (for lunch). A little pricey for what it is, but the portions are huge.
                      As for specific music recommendations, besides the Hi-Ho Lounge, I think you'll find great music anywhere in the Marigny (esp. at d.b.a.), Tipitina's, and sometimes there are late night shows at Howlin' Wolf (in the Warehouse District).

                      1. re: diningismyhobby

                        Sat night after the parades end, Howlin' Wolf has Rebirth Brass Band and Papa Grows Funk -- both of whom are phenomenal -- for a free show!

                        1. re: diningismyhobby

                          Never in my right mind would I go to Galatoire's on the Friday before Mardi Gras---and I'm a regular. It's OK to stop in and say "hi" but it the most loud day of the year. I was forced to take some Russian friends there on that day many years ago. The Krewe d'Etat mob had come over from the Monteleone and joined Everyone Else and I practically had to use sign language with my waiter. It is fun when you know everyone but God! is it loud.

                      2. re: samurai221

                        Didn't mean to condescend with the Emeril's rec. It's not my favorite place, but it can be fun with a group of buddies. I stand by the Coop's rec, though; it's a board favorite, with good reason.

                        You might also consider Dick & Jenny's, a great mostly-locals place not far from where many of the parades start. You'd have to take a cab out there, and might have to navigate around closed streets, but it's a great place, and you could walk to or from the parades. You should confirm that they'll be open, though. Also note that they do not take reservations, but having a drink while waiting on the patio is part of the place's charm (although many would find it more charming, I'm sure, if the waits were not so long!).

                    4. Most of the Mardi Gras parades start mid-uptown and go downtown. There are a lot of fabulous restaurants Uptown that you can go to and avoid the traffic. They have great contemporary-creole dishes and have lots of character. Most of the places have websites if you want to check them out yourself.

                      I would suggest the following:


                      Lilette is also great, but it is a little more french than the others.

                      1. For years I have been going to the Rib Room at the Royal Orleans Hotel, I think that is the hotel. Good food some original and some not, but it is in the heart of the Quarter, great people watching, casual, costumes accepted, and a great place to spread out from after eating. But make a reservation yesterday they book out well in advance. Patrick is the dining room manager.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Tonto

                          Gosh, The Rib Room. I have not been there in decades. Glad to hear that it is still good. Fond memories of great service and excellent food. It was jacket-required then. Has that changed?


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            re: Rib Room, no jackets required. Food remains the same. Samurai, uptown suggestions: Brigtsen's (reservations a must), Dick and Jenny's (no res. accepted, opens 5:30). CBD: Herbsaint. Metairie: Bozos (IMO best oyster poboy) , Dragos (chargrilled oysters...much better than Hilton location). CP for lunch would be fun, don't miss their turtle soup.

                        2. Great joints would be Brgisten's Uptown, KPaul's in the Qtr, Galatoire's on Bourbon, Cochon in the Warehouse district.

                          Don't miss Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait, but more importanly don't miss the scene there.

                          Jacque Imo's can be fun, but Crabby Jack's on Jefferson Hwy would be even mo betta.