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Lower-priced casual dinner for group of tourists...

as a replacement for Herbsaint.

Is there anything in a lower price range (e.g., entrees topping off at $15-20) that is nice and casual but doesn't make me pine all night for Herbsaint's pork belly which I've read so much about?

We're a group of friends from all over the country coming to New Orleans for the first time. I had pitched a dinner at Herbsaint during our short stay, but the probability of this plan is looking bleaker so I'm fishing for a backup. I'd like to have a short list of restaurants just as delicious and well-received, but at a lower price point. Suggestions are greatly appreciated!

(My current long list of food for the trip consists of very inexpensive eats and upscale casual, but little in between)

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  1. Unfortunately, I would say there is little in between inexpensive and upscale when it comes to local fare. I would say Mandina's or Jacques Imo's are a good bet. Are they as good as Herbsaint? No way, but I would put Herbsaint in NOLA's highest price point - on par with commander's, brigtsen's, cuvee, etc. Taking it down a price point also takes the food down a notch.

    1 Reply
    1. re: N.O.Food

      I tend to agree with you. Cochon is a "notch" down, price-point wise, and is still very good. Do not know if it would fit within the offered budget.

      Were I a tourist, on my first trip to NOLA, I'd take out a second-mortgage, but that's just me.

      Hope others, who are still local, can chime in with some recs.


    2. The Delachaise has upscale food at a lower price but it is a bar and smoking is allowed. You'd have to go when they open at 6 to avoid a loud, smoky restaurant.

      1. How about a neighborhood restaurant like Mandina's, Liuzza's, Ye Olde College Inn, R&O's, etc? Down a bit on the price scale, but still very much a part of our local culinary landscape. All of these choices will require a car or a cab.

        Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar
        3636 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70119

        Liuzza's By the Track
        1518 N Lopez St, New Orleans, LA 70119

        Mandina's Restaurant
        3800 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119

        Ye Olde College Inn
        3000 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

        R & O Restaurant
        216 Metairie Hammond Hwy, Metairie, LA

        1. Martinique Bistro, Cafe Atchafalaya, Arabesque, Sara's in the Riverbend, Sidecar, RioMar, La Boca, Dante's Kitchen

          2 Replies
          1. re: edible complex

            Good calls, but I think OP wants local cuisine. You're right though. When we want a mid priced meal, we usually turn to "foreign" - for lack of a better term - food. Lola's, Jamila's, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. Dante's is a good idea and maybe Matt n' Naddie's would work also.

            1. re: N.O.Food

              my last meal for 2 at Mat & Naddie's was close to $200! the lunch buffet is $10pp; I haven't been, but have heard good things.

              I'm also hearing good things about:
              Chef's Corner. 710 S. Carrollton Ave. 504-865-0090

              You might also try Il Posto, J'Anita's, Stein's Deli, St. James Cheese Company, Ignatius Eatery, Crabby Jack's, Franky and Johnny's, Parkway Bakery, Two Sisters Kitchen, Li'l Dizzy's Cafe (on Poydras), or take the Canal St. ferry across the river and walk the 1/2 block to Dry Dock Cafe (it is worth it for the ride and view of the city)

          2. Or Thai.
            Some restaurants have three course dinner specials Palace Cafe comes to mind, but it might be $25.

            1. I think Jacques-Imo's would be your best bet, and they take reservations for parties of 5 or more.

              Otherwise, I would consider Eat New Orleans on Dumaine. Its also BYOB, which really helps the bottom line.

              10 Replies
              1. re: pilaf

                Thanks all!!

                N.O.Food is right, I'm trying to keep our dining to local cuisine as our party has people from Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, among others. But there certainly is no lack of good eats in New Orleans!! I'm still crossing my fingers for Herbsaint but these suggestions will keep me busy and help churn out a 2nd option.

                Though I didn't find a recent menu for Jacques-Imo, hopefully that will be affordable enough for the group... EAT looks to be a good option too. I wish Mandina's accepted credit cards! Time to search through the chowhound threads for these places. And call Brigtsen's to make a reservation (on a very hard-earned consensus). ;)

                1. re: gsmoose

                  ask if they are doing their weeknight 3 course special; seem to remember it was $25 last year for their "early bird" dinner. the timing of that special was generous though, but be sure to ask about the times.

                  Jacques Imo's does not have their menu posted on their website right now. But most meals range from $15 to $22 and include two "healthy" portions of sides. Apps run about $5 to $10. You also get some yummy cornbread muffins and usually a fried oyster on a spinach between courses.

                  With NOLA cuisine, it has its roots in just about everything. Post-K has seen some great ethnic influences on the local scene. Even at what may be thought to be "foreign" restaurants, you will likely find "local" dishes and "local" ingredients and will experience something perhaps not found elsewhere but unique to NOLA. That's the beauty of this gumbeaux!

                  1. re: edible complex

                    LOL Brigtsen's early bird. Nonexistent post K. The pre K was a bargain...3 courses $16, available before 6:30 Tues.-Thur.

                    1. re: JazzyB

                      remember seeing it advertised since the "thing"...usually in the summer time.
                      many other restaurants are starting their summer menus to encourage dining in the slower months.

                2. re: pilaf

                  Are you coming to sample our best or our mediocre? Jacques Imos is only cheap if all you order is an entree. The bill adds up quickly with apps. and drinks. Sure the portions are large and you'll probably have leftovers, but when all is said and done, you've spent almost what you would have at Herbsaint and not gotten anywhere near the quality. If you're on a budget, skip the drinks and share the apps. If you want good food, Jacques ain't it.

                  1. re: JazzyB

                    In general, we're more of the entree-only-no-drinks type. ;) So my first inclination is to look at the prices of entrees. Spending more than $20 on a meal is a rarity for most of us in the group... but I am indeed looking for great food in New Orleans so I'm trying to suck it up when it comes to my wallet. :P

                    The good news is I think we're going to Herbsaint! Thanks to all again for the suggestions... they'll be useful for people in a similar situation.

                    1. re: gsmoose

                      Good call. Most of the recs above aren't anywhere near Herbsaint. There's some good recs for second/third tier restaurants, but Herbsaint will be better. And just so you know, I wouldn't consider Herbsaint "casual" dining.

                      1. re: N.O.Food

                        Re: casual dining, I wouldn't go to Herbsaint in shorts and a T but khakis/jeans and a polo will do.

                      2. re: gsmoose

                        Glad you talked the crew into doing Herbsaint. Can't wait to read your reviews.


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Cannot go wrong with Herbsaint. Donald's gumbo rocks. Enjoy

                  2. You should try LUKE at 333 St. Charles Ave.

                    The menu is awesome! and the entrees are very reasonable. They brew their own beers and have a fantastic seafood selection.

                    1. Check the SUMMER MENUS topic on this board. Pick up a free weekly Gambit and check for rest. summer specials. Redfish Grill and Palace Cafe may be just what you're looking for.

                      1. Speaking as a tourist who recently coordinated the dining efforts for a group of friend in NOLA, I would just say that Herbsaint was delicious, but our service experience was so terrible that it ruined the whole dining experience. I'm hoping this was an isolated incident, but it was disappointing that our big expensive meal was overshadowed by bad management.

                        On the other hand Cafe Atchafalaya isn't as expensive, it's in a beautiful location, and the food is delicious and I think (natives will correct me) a nice interpretation of NOLA cuisine (creole in particular). Oh, and our service was excellent!

                        1. Try Adolfo's in the marigny above The Apple Barrel great time for a crowd and they take reservations for 6 and above. Food is good atmosphere is worth the price of admission, and the entree's are all under $20.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ABgBdWlf

                            If you're bringing a New Yorker and a Philadelphian, skip Adopho's...they get MUCH better Italian at home.