Best of New Orleans
I just booked a trip to New Orleans in a couple weeks, but kind of lost with what to eat. There seems to be so many great places. It's my first time there and want to experience the best of New Orleans. If you were to pick the best places that really define the cuisine and character of the Big Easy what would it be? Restaurants and lounge/bar recommendation? So far I think August is a definite for a really nice dinner. Thoughts?
Restaurants - (in no particular order) Brigstens, Herbsaint, Upperline, Gautreau's, Cochon
Bars - (in no particular order) St. Joe's, Carousel Bar @ Hotel Monteleone, Bombay Club (Prince Conti Hotel - live Jazz - not the fake Bourbon Street stuff), Apple Barrel Bar, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, R Bar........
Too many things to list, and not sure what you're looking for...have fun!
August is a wonderful restaurant, but it could be in any city in America.
If it's your desire to experience the restaurants that have defined the character and cuisine of this city, I would direct you to the iconic French Quarter places, if for no other reason than to be able to say that you've been.
Since this will be your first time here, go to Antoine's, where you will experience history and "Old School" New Orleans hospitality. At Arnaud's, the same thing. At Galatoire's, you'll experience a lot of "old money" locals having a great time partying with friends and bantering with "their waiter."
And no first trip to New Orleans would be complete without a meal at the ultra-iconic K-Paul's.
Just keep in mind that, at these places, you may not receive the best food or service that's available in the city, but at least you will get a sense of our culinary history, where it began, how it's evolved and where it is now...IF that's what you're after.
IMO, Antoine's is not very good at all. Gal's seems to be the only old name restaurant in the quarter that keeps the traditional fare alive while executing the food and service quite well. I highly recommend doing Gal's. Arnaud's is a distant second. Antoine's has rested on their name for far too long.
If you want to do brunch, do Commander's. Far and away better than Antoine's.
Mandina's is another good option. Cochon will give you an idea of what cajun food is like. Geegee's restaurant recs are all good. Mrs.Fury has a good call with Bon Ton.
I agree, Antoine's is not good and I've had even less to say about Arnaud's. Avoid them both, along with anything related to Emeril.
If you must stay in the quarter you need to go to Galatoire's. Mr. B's is pretty good also. A bit off since Katrina, but was definitely better my last visit...brunch there is very good. GW Fins is excellent.
Outside the quarter my favorites are August, Brigtsen's, Clancy's, Upperline, and Cuchon.
If you're looking for the ultimate New Orleans experience I'd suggest Commanders Palace.
hi, i want to jump in here and thread-jack a bit...we're going to nola soon also, and it's my husband's first time, although i've been there before. like the op, we want to go to a place that 'defines the cuisine and culture' of the place, but my hubby is seriously picky about his food...if we go to antoine's or arnaud's, are we risking less-than-stellar food? he definitely wants creole/'local' cuisine, and we'd prefer a great food hole-in-the-wall to a fancy bad-food experience...i was leaning towards antoine's, but don't want him to be disappointed.
Definitely Antoines, I have never tasted a single item there that was not authentic New Orleans nor that wasn't prepared perfectly. Make sure you get the puffed potato appetizer (not sure of the name), oyster's foche, escargots bourgignon, crabmeat ravigat, shrimp remoulade, salade combinaison with roquefort dressing, pompano ponchartrain, and order ahead the baked alaska! You will LOVE it!
If your read though some of the threads on this message board, you'll soon realize that you always stand the risk of a disappointment at any restaurant you choose. Two people can go to the same restaurant on the same night and have completely different experiences.
My favorite restaurant with what I think is the best food is Rio Mar, but I would not recommend that the original poster go there because it's not one of the restaurants that put New Orleans cuisine on the map.
For first timers, go do the icons; see where it all began, but go with realistic expectations.
re: Absinthe Minded
You have made a point worth noting. I did Restaurant August and reviewed it in very favorable terms. Seems that another CH'er was there that same night, sitting not far from me and had a really poor experience.
Same thing happened when a CH'er reviewed Stella! and another was in the same room on the same night, and had a horrible experience.
Kinda' like my good review of Brennan's for Sat. Brunch. I expected to have to apologize to my wife, for making the reservations. What WAS I thinking? We both knew Brennan's from years before. Still, our meal and the service were excellent and worth the $. Others have taken me to task, but MY experiences were in the review. Do not know if any of the detractors were there that day, but obviously, they have had opposite experiences.
I wish that one could ALWAYS count on our favorite restaurants to be 100%, especially if we've just given them a glowing rec. Still, that is all that we can base our reviews and recs. on - OUR experiences.
This is in light of both your post, and that of the OP.
Though I no longer live in NOLA, my wife, a native, has a large extended family there, so we visit often. Factor in a couple of business trips, and we’re in town quite a bit. I’ve done New Orleans dining for almost 5 decades. Most of this was fine-dining. In the ten years, that I did live there, we did everything. We’ve been fortunate to work in three post-K trips, and have dined around, as much as was possible. Again, most of this was fine-dining, with a few exceptions.
Now, the recs for the ultimate NO experience for one, who has never been. Some of these will ruffle a few feathers, but so be it. I’m giving you MY preferences. The order is how they come to my keyboard.
The Original Coffee Pot
Ralph’s on the Park
Brennan’s (this will light a fire, but it is based on our last trip - review online CH)
This does not cover any of the wonderful smaller, more casual or neighborhood spots that are out of this world.
Most of all, enjoy your stays.
Commander's' (preferably lunch in the garden room). Brigtsen's, Herbsaint, K-Paul's and Galatoire's will give you a taste of local flavors. IMO,Cochon is overrated. If you must go, have an all appetizer meal. I find their entrees disappointing. Pick up a muff from CG to take home.
In ALPHABETICAL order, I've had "very good-to-excellent" meals at:
On my upcoming (October) trip, I'm planning on returning to some of the above, and trying some of the following:
Dante's Kitchen (brunch)
Let's not forget Central Grocery for a muffaletta for the flight home.
The only place I wouldn't go back to because of the food is Vizzard's, and La Petite Grocery was a bit disappointing but that could have been just an "off" night.
Wow, our upper lists are similar - not identical, but similar.
We want to also do MiLa and Iris in October. Have done Dante's and it was very good, though I'm not sure that I'd expect it to be in your top tier, after your trip. Well worth doing, please do not misunderstand, just not as good as the 1er Cru spots.
have not been post-K. had always enjoyed the food there pre-K. a friend is a huge fan and is a frequent diner there. but she did mention just last week that she was not as enchanted as of late. any place can have an off moment and any diner can order wrong (as they may not like it, but someone else would). there has been no reason for my not going back post-K, other than so many restaurants, so many pounds...
I spent most of my life in nola since the mid 60's though mid 90's. I no longer live there, but our best friends do and we are there frequently. I feel August is greatly overpriced and "over-recommended". Lillette is basically a nice sandwich lunch establishment - it can be found in any city. Commander's is an old nola establishment, (the first place I ate in nola), it has been great and not so great through the years - however, I would definitely recommend it over Antoine's. I think Upperline is good, Brigtsens is excellent, Clancy's is basically an overrated public club for the uptown crowd, Bayona is excellent, I will agree to avoid Emerils, Cochon is very good, I actually had a good experience at Bacco, Stella is a hit or miss, Galatoire's is an institution - fun just to experience the show, etc., if you venture across the lake I like La Provence. Haven't visited many of the new bars in town - Have fun and enjoy yourself -
Lilette is far from being a sandwich lunch establishment. I recently ate there for lunch and started w/Escargot with garlic parsley butter, then had the Braised veal cheeks with mixed greens and horseradish vinaigrette, followed by Braised pork belly with tomato-cucumber-basil salad and garlic bread, and finally Quenelles of goats cheese crème fraiche with poached pears, pistachios, and lavender honey.
Maybe you have it confused with some other restaurant:
I recently was in NOLA and ate at Brigstens and Stella! The service and the people at Brigstens was excellent and it was not at all stuffy. The food was very good. Stella! is a beautiful place and the service is formal. I would not return though as the service was boardering on rudeness. I am a middle aged lady with a solid education and resent it when I am spoken down to. My waiter was a twenty-something snob who really just didn't understand what excellent service is about. In addition during the meal a manager came into the room and had a fit because the "wrong" server delivered food to a table. It was a turn off for me.
Thanks everyone for your recs. I just got back from my trip and had a great time, so great my jeans don't fit me anymore. I didn't go everywhere I wanted to but it will be saved for next time.
I went to Bayona, Cochon, Galatoire, August, Amce Oyster, Drago's, Bombay Club, cafe du monde, and Zoe's.
I didn't think I was going to love charbroiled oysters since I'm such an enthusiast for raw ones but I was dead wrong. they are soooo good.
Cochon was very good but I don't think I ordered correctly...most of our dished ended up being fried...3 out of five and I think it was a little too oily for my taste. I would definitely go back and change up the selection next time.
Had Bayona as soon as we arrived for lunch. Great experience and intro to NO, the $0.18 martinis definitely gave me a jump start.
Galatoire was an experience, we got the last table...so lucky. I think food was ok, but don't think I'll be going back next time.
August so delicious.
Acme, was better than I imagined...very homey type of place and food, was disappointed by the raw oysters, kinda bland.
Really good beignets at cafe du monde, and surprised that there were so many vietnamese servers...
I have to say Bombay Club was not good at all. Went with a friends recommendation for live jazz, but it was horrible. the singer looked like Elvis and was out of tone. The food was wanna be gourmet. would not go there again.
One thing I was lacking on the trip was fruit and vegetables. i was thinking that the south would be full of fruits and veggie bc of the warm weather. But it was no where to be found.
Extremely disappointed that i didn't get to have a muffeletta at Central Grocery. they ran out one day and closed on sun. and mon.
So for next time:
And some other rec here.
I'm surprised no one mentioned Dick & Jenny's. I've had several locals who work in the NO restaurant industy tell me that's their favorite place to go, and we were going to try it this trip.
I've tried K-Paul's, Galatoire's, Commander's Palace, Brennan's and Mr B's. Looking for some place different this trip.
What's the story on D&J?
Question on Galatoire's. They take ressies for the second floor dining room and the first floor is FC-FS. Is the second floor Siberia? Is the real "show" on the first floor?