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tripadvisor vs. chowhound - I'm confused!

Hi everyone,
I have the last few weeks on tripadvisor planning our visit to NO in March. I came up with a list of favorite restaurants from the reviews and the forum. Coming to chowhound I was really surprised how different the views are. Many of the "must do's" on TripAdvisor are not even mentioned here on chowhound.

Also, after reading some of the forums here, it seems a bit scary walking around NO at night. My wife and I are pretty reserved and would like to do a bit of night life with music and some drinks - not hard partying though. Are we OK to wander the FQ and check out the night life?

Here is a list of places we thought we would visit (some really casual and some more formal) based on what we read in TripAdvisor. We are there for 8 days so we have time to check out a bit of everything.
-GW Fins
-Napoleon House
-Gumbo Shop
-Muriels also Acme Oyster, Deanies Seafood, Praline

The big ones I hear on Chowhound are Stellas, August, Cuvee, Brigtsens, Dante, Cochan

Why the big discrepancies? Any suggestions? Thanks in advance to all of you!

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  1. So the folks on CH care about the food, whereas TripAdvisor is more general. Who ya gonna trust ya belly to? CH, that's who. Skip NOLA and the Gumbo Shop for sure. But neither list covers some of my favorite New Orleans places, namely: Casamento's, Parkway Bakery, Liuzza's By the Track, the other Liuzza's on Bienville, Mandina's, Angelo Brocato's, Lil Dizzy's, Cafe Reconcile....c'mon y'all, chime in.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Hungry Celeste

      Those places are all fantastic. They are however, a different type of restaurant that the other ones he has heard on CH. Stella, August, Cuvee and Brigtsens are all fine dining spots and truly as good as the top places anywhere. I, personally, would not give tripadvisor much consideration, as it is more of a diluted opinion. This is a message board created for people who love to eat and explore the culinary world.

      1. re: mikek

        By the way, my sister and I walked the French Quarter at night, no problem. You just have to be aware, as you would in any tourist city.
        The outlying areas (Garden District), however, are another story. But about the only restaurant out there that would be familiar to you is Commander's Palace, and there's plenty of other places that you're going to go.
        Just stick to the French Quarter, where all the other people are, and you'll be fine.

        1. re: mikek

          Mikek's right: my list is all casual, no fine dining. The OP's list covered quite a few fine-dining options, so I went in the opposite direction. And add Bon Ton Cafe to that list as well.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Great info everyone -
            so if I take a mix of some of the fine dining ones (Stella, August, Cuvee and Brigtsens)
            and mix with more casual (Casamento's, Parkway Bakery, Liuzza's By the Track, the other Liuzza's on Bienville, Mandina's, Angelo Brocato's, Lil Dizzy's, Cafe Reconcile,Bon Ton Cafe)
            we should have a well rounded "taste" of NO? I am thinking we are more into the casual experience with lots of New Orleans flair and feel.

            1. re: teacherfarmer

              Don't forget, the 2 other "musts" (at least they were for us):
              1. A muffaletta at Central Grocery.
              2. Beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde.

              1. re: aurora50

                I'd add Galatoire's to your list of fine dining, possibly to take the place of August and Cuvee. It's a time-capsule restaurant, so don't expect innovative food, but it's good and well-prepared. Search this board for the numerous posts about it. It will certainly satisfy your desire for New Orleans flair and feel, and despite being on Bourbon St., and widely known the world over, it's still a favorite local haunt.

                1. re: HalfShell

                  I would have to politely disagree, unless it is for Friday lunch. The food at Galatoire's is classic, but does not warrant a visit over August or Cuvee unless seeking out that "old New Orleans" vibe".

                  1. re: mikek

                    I agree mikek. I wonder if non-locals really "get" Galatoire's.

                    1. re: JazzyB

                      I'm a local, FYI, and I "get" Galatoire's fine, if you were suggesting otherwise. If you're referring to the original poster, I don't think it's fair to steer him away from Galatoire's because you think he won't "get" it. The very fact that there's something to "get" means there's something worthy about it, no? He specifically asked for "flair and feel." Would you really send him to August AND Cuvee? Exposed brick overload.

                      1. re: HalfShell

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                        1. re: HalfShell

                          Halfshell, may I suggest a drink before you blow a gasket? I wasn't referring to you, nor did I recommend August/Cuvee. I've taken several visitors to Galatoire's that didn't "get" it. They found the simply prepared seafood bland and uninspired, much preferring CP, Brigtsen's, Herbsaint etc. I now refrain from taking visitors there. Why take a chance when there are sure fire crowd pleasers?

                          1. re: HalfShell

                            Halfshell, may I suggest a drink? I wasnt't referring to you, nor did I suggest August/Cuvee. The post referrred to Galatoire's, and while I feel it is the quintessential New Orleans resto, not everyone "gets" it. I've taken several visitors who thought the simply prepared seafood bland and uninspired, much preferring Brightsen's, CP, Hersaint etc. I now refrain from taking guests there. Why take a chance when there are sure fire crowd pleasers?

                  2. re: teacherfarmer

                    Skip Lil Dizzy's , NOLA, Muriel's. Try Commander's Palace for lunch, Cochon (all appetizer lunch), Riomar (tapas lunch). Parkway, Liuzzas by the track both good but basically poboy joints so I'd pick one. If you're not an adventurous diner, skip Stella and probably August. Herbsaint is another excellent fine dining choice. BTW, Brocatos is not a restaurant (gelato, Italian pastries etc).. I wouldn't discount tripadvisor. Although I'm local, their tastes may better reflect your own, so roll the dice and enjoy!.

              2. re: Hungry Celeste

                I meant all of HC's places are fantastic.*

              3. Walk the Quarter @ will and without fear, anywhere else just cab it to be safe. Don't take unncessary chances, but honestly the majority of crime doesn't happen to the average Joe. I'm a Paramedic with New Orleans EMS, so I do have a fairly good perspective on the subject. Check out the whole city, don't relegate yourself to the Quarter out of fear. Any establishment will be happy to call you a cab 24/7. Enjoy! :) Oh, and CH definitely knows food better than TA.

                1. The discrepancy comes from the fact that there are hundreds of restaurants in the city, and there are lots of factors that go into creating a "best of" list. My list may be very different from someone else's, but it may just mean there are more than 10 great restaurants in the city.

                  Another reason for the discrepancy: Chowhounders tend to be more adventurous and knowledgeable about food (many of us are locals), while TripAdvisors are overwhelmingly tourists who stick to restaurants in the Quarter and immediate surrounding areas. These places tend to advertise to tourists, and some are patronized almost exclusively by tourists. I think you've put together a pretty decent list, but of the places you named, only Coop's could be considered a "find." The others are on the well-worn visitor path.

                  As for your trepidation about safety: there is crime in the city, and there always has been. The French Quarter is one of the safest, most heavily trafficked areas in the city, and you should feel perfectly at ease walking through it at night. You should feel safe exploring other parts of the city like Magazine Street and the Garden District as well, though at night you should be on alert if there's no one else around. Take cabs door to door if you're nervous. Brigtsen's is far from the FQ, but I think it's a must-do. I also love Herbsaint and Cochon. Trust Celeste's list of casual restaurants.

                  1. The French Quarter will be safe for you, just don't get too drunk or get involved in conversation with strangers on the street. Same as any city. Generally, if you stay between Bourbon St. and the river, it's cool. If you're going to a specific spot past Bourbon, like Bayona on Dauphine, no problem. No real reason for tourists to venture over to Burgundy or Rampart unless it is something specific. Follow the crowds.

                    1. I would skip over G.W. Fins if you're looking for a true New Orleans experience. Their food is good, but I feel like it is one of those places you could find in any city in America.

                      If you want to go to an Emeril restaurant, I would sub Emeril's or Delmonico for NOLA.

                      1. go to Cochon. They are many threads about it on this board and you'll see that is is supurb.

                        1. Also, take a cab to Cafe Degas, on Esplanade avenue...geez, so many great options...

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: jeffchow

                            I am revising our list - but have come to a bit of a catch 22. Either we stick with more of the "touristy" FQ places and save on cabs or try to venture out - but get stuck with cab rides.
                            I know the streetcar will gain some cheap access to a few places, but I guess it is a decision we will have to make.
                            We will try a couple of the "ritzy" style (stella,august,cuvee, - need to find out more on galatories, sounds like the vibe is great, but food is more old school)
                            The rest will be good food and cold beer type joints. Canadians love their beer you know!

                            1. re: teacherfarmer

                              There are a lot of good restaurants in walking distance of the quarter that are not "touristy."

                              I really find that there are very few really touristy restaurants - the locals go to many of the same restaurants that tourists do because those restaurants are good.

                              1. re: teacherfarmer

                                The French Quarter is quite walkable, and the Central Business District (the downtown area) is compact and adjacent to that is the Warehouse District. I understand not wanting to spend big bucks on cabs, but you can expand your horizons beyond the FQ without having to use a cab. Emeril's, Lil Dizzy's on Poydras, Drago's in the Hilton Riverside, Ernst Cafe, Grand Isle, Luke, Cafe Adelaide, Tommy's Cuisine, Restaurant August, Cuvee, MiLa, Palace Cafe, and many others are within walking distanct of the FQ.

                                The St. Charles streetcar ($1.25 each way) brings Delmonico and Commander's Palace within easy reach, too. For dive atmosphere and decent food, try St. Charles Tavern or take the streetcar all the way to Cooter Brown's (large beer selection and raw oysters). The Magazine St. bus will get you easily to Casamento's, too.

                                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                  good points. i also consider all of magazine accessible by streetcar, as it's such a short walk from st. charles to magazine, usually a very nice walk, too. for example, to get to casamento's, take the st. charles streetcar to napoleon and walk down napoleon to magazine. casamento's is right there on the left.

                            2. There is a difference, between the two fora. On TripAdvisor, you are likely to get a broader view of a city, but food is down the list. On CH, it is about the food. Balance the two, and, if food is your main object, look here.

                              From your list, I can second GW Fins and K-Paul's. It's been too long, since we dined at Gumbo Shop to comment. Muriel's was a let-down, on two special food-oriented event dinings. Some here (who obviously have dined there on a regular, non-event basis, seem to really like it. Maybe they just fail with "events.") really like it, so maybe my experiences were not normal.

                              Napolean House is fun, if not great food. I'd not miss it, but would plan on drinks and something light to tide me over, until real dining takes place, later in the evening.

                              Of all of the Emeril places, we have yet to dine at NOLA. This board has not been kind to it. I have been a fan of Emeril Lagasse's food, and his other restaurants, though I am NOT a fan of his "live" TV program. Still, without actually dining there, I cannot comment on NOLA (the restaurant). Maybe next time.

                              Now, I must comment that these are not the best, of the best. Any list, that does not include Brigtsen's is remiss.

                              I have done a recent review of August, Brigtsen's, Cuvée and Cochon. These were from the perspective on one, who once lived in NOLA, married a native, but has moved away and does not get to visit, as often as he'd like, just to dine. All are good, but they are different restaurants. Each offers a great meal, but the basis is different at each. If you added Delmonico (my other major restaurant on the last trip), I'd urge one to do each and to sit back, and enjoy. All of that said, wife, who is a NOLA native, choose GW Fins, as her favorite on that trip, even over August and Brigtsen's. She grades hard! Still, her favorite was down the normal list, and one of the least expensive restaurants for a dinner meal, of the trip. Again, it's all about the food.

                              Now, to your mention of safe walking, etc.. Back in the days, pre-K, I used to get a gross of maps from the NO Tourism & Convention Board. I'd mark off the good places, and deliniate the bad places, for my friends, who were coming to NOLA for meetings, and conventions. Post-K, I'll guess that the scene has changed a great deal. If you have reservations (not the ones that you make on the phone, or on OpenTable), mention them here. There are a lot of natives, who still live in NOLA, who will steer you clear of trouble. NOLA, at night, always had a few elements to be concerned about. Now, it might have gotten a bit worse. Going back decades, I used to photograph in the reaches of the Quarter (and across Rampart) and the cemetaries from dawn to after dark. I never had a problem. However, I doubt that I'd do any of that nowadays. Ask here first, then with the concierge at your lodging. If they say "cab it," then cab it. Do not chance anything. One block towards the Lake, or down River, can make a ton of difference - one block!

                              Most of all, enjoy the food, the heritage, the history and the wonderful people of New Olreans. There is no city in the world, quite like it.