New Orleans restaurants (from a Yankee)
I've had reason to be in New Orleans quite a bit for business during the past year. In my opinion, Stella's has been consistently the best restaurant I've eaten at in the city. I'd put it up against the top restaurants around the country. I never hear much local love for Stella's, and I think (a lot of) you are missing out on a treasure.
My second favorite has been Clancy's. The food is solid (although always, strangely a little too salty). But the atmosphere and location is great. For an out-of-towner, it feels like a "discovery."
Other places I have enjoyed quite a bit:
Po Boys at Hank's Market on St. Claude
Jacques Imo's (food was eh, but atmosphere is fun)
Peristyle (feels like dinner at Miss Havisham's)
Commander's (talk about not living up to a reputation)
Most other Brennan-clan endeavors (with the exception of lunch at Mr. B's)
I'd be intersted in anyone else's recommendations given the list above. I've never gone to K-Paul's, but still feel like I would/should.
I think there is plenty of local love for Stella!, but I feel the high price point limits its clientele. My top restaurants along with Stella! would be Restaurant August, Cuvee and Galatoire's.
Commander's has a new chef and from the two times I have been there sicne he has I was very impressed. This has and always will be Commander's downfall, but I feel this chef is doing the best since Jamie Shannon left us.
I would try out Upperline, K Paul's, Eleven 79, Domilese's, Bayona, Ralph's on the Park (this is another exception to your Brennan's rule).
Some of our finer dining favorites:
Cheaper lunch type places:
Not so cheap lunch:
Bon Ton Cafe
Dirt cheap places for poboys/gumbo/salad:
We will be doing Stella soon. I can't wait. Never been to K-Paul's so can't help ya there.
Definetly try Upperline and K-Paul's if you haven't yet. Also, had an excellent experience recently at Bistro Daisy. Also, there is a new chef at Marigny Brasserie - had dinner there last week. Food was much improved and very good - lighter and cleaner but flavorful and prepared with local ingredients. You might give it a try if you're going to hang out on Frenchmen for music.
Many enjoy Stella. IMO it's "the emperor's new clothes". K-Paul's puts out food that in no way matches what was served when Paul P. was running the show. August, Cuvee, Herbsaint, Brigtsen's, La Boca are all very good to excellent. Agree about most Brennan rest. although, we enjoy Commander for lunch rather than dinner. Galatoire's for quintessential NOLA. The experience surpasses the classic food. Poboys at Parkway or Johnnys. Bozos in Metairie has by far (IMO) the best oyster poboy. Worth the trip. Also agree about Jacques Imo's unless, you're getting the fried chicken. Took my Jersey niece to Cafe Giovanni for the "feed me". While it in no way resembles Yankee Italian, she loved it.
A couple that haven't been mentioned yet, that I've had fantastic meals at (including recently) are La Petite Grocery and Lilette. Both on Magazine St.