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First Trip to New Orleans - Recommendations?

My fiance and I will be visiting New Orleans from October 19th-25th. We will be staying at the International House and are looking for some nearby recommendations as well as any other suggestions you may have about where we should try! We definetaly want to try all of the local food (we are coming from Los Angeles), we are open to upscale and casual recommendations, anything romantic (we are newly engaged!!).

I have been doing some research on the Boards, so far I definetaly want to try August, and am interested in: Cuvee, K-Paul's, Herbsaint, La Petit Grocery, Cochon, Cafe du Monde...

We are also interested in good bars and jazz clubs/lounges with good food, I was thinking about: Polo Lounge, Snug Harbor, Columns Hotel Bar, Spotted Cat...

Please let me know what you think about the places I have listed so far or if you have any other recommendations! Also, what kind of apparel is appropriate in the more upscale restaurants? I'm not sure what the weather will be like, so if anyone knows, let me know!
Thank you so much in advance, I can't wait to visit your beautiful city!

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  1. The guys from Cuvee (a personal fav.) have just opened...like last week, a tapas rest "Rambla" in the International House. I will probably try it this weekend. Go to Commanders ( reserve the garden room) for lunch M-F. Love August and Herbsaint (although in our experience they have not been consistent). Cochon for an all app. meal (their best offerings).Haven't been to La Petit in a while. K-Paul's is not the same as when Paul was in house but still offers a good example of local flavor. Cafe Du Monde's beignets are quite similar to zeppolis. Cafe Giovanni has a "feed me" which is quite good. Opera (think Broadway) singers on Wed, Fri. and Sat. add a nice touch. Food is Italian with a distinct local twist. Check offbeat.com for weekly music listings, nola.com for 5 day forecast.. Get some cocktails in a go cup and enjoy a private carriage ride. Ride the streetcar uptown for a glimpse of the garden district, uptown mansions, Audubon Park, universities and Riverbend. The Canal St. line will take you to the art museum in City Park Congratulations and thanks for coming!

    1. Although I live in San Francisco, I visit NOLA once a year...mostly to eat. I would add One Restaurant and Lounge and Brigtsen's to your list. If you're interested, One has a food bar where you can eat and talk to the chef(s). Frank Brigtsen is a great guy and his restaurant is well known. Both places are in the Riverbend area. I usually take the streetcar back and forth from the FQ.

      I loved Cuvee last year, especially the spiced shrimp napolean appetizer and the cornbread. (However, if you're into wine, Cuvee's wine list was quite overpriced.) I was very disappointed in K-Paul's and would not go back.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Lives to Eat

        Go to restaurant.com to purchase ($10) a $25 gift certificate for ONE. Lives to Eat has good recs. although ONE can get loud and Brigtsen's is in an old has which has seen better days. Not a concern for me but some have complained.

        1. re: Lives to Eat

          Thank you all so much for the recommendations! Lives to Eat, what did you find dissapointing at K-Paul's? I love the streetcar and private carriage ride ideas! JazzyB, please let us know how you like "Rambla," if you go this weekend! Are any of these places (besides Rambla, obviously) within walking distance of my hotel? Thanks again!

          1. re: gourmetgal1

            Not walking distance. I can see what Eats means re: K-Paul's especially if you had ever experienced it when Paul and Kay ran it. Many dishes do not come close to the originals. Food sang. It seems to have been touristized. Many "wow" meals. Not so these days. You will still get a taste of local flavor but there are better choices. Same with Emeril's rests. I guess there are some things you just have to do when visiting.NOLA.

            1. re: gourmetgal1

              Like "Lives to Eat," I, too, live in the San Francisco Bay Area and go to New Orleans at least once a year, mostly to eat . . . always stay at the International House (both pre- and post-Katrina). Anything in the Quarter -- even Cafe du Monde, on the far side of the French Quarter from IHouse -- is walking distance from where you're staying, as is Restaurant August and Herbsaint.

              I would pass on K-Paul's, and I was a bit disappointed in my last visit to La Petite Grocery. I'd definitely do August, Herbsaint, Cochon (to which we generally take a cab), and, of course, Cafe du Monde is a must. I'd think about adding Bayona to your list (n the French Quarter), as well as Lilette (on Magazine).

              Brigtsen's was very good when we were there, but to be honest, that was before Katrina (so many places, so little time!) so I don't know how they are now.

              Restaurants I'll be visiting for the first time next month include Gautreau's, Iris, MiLa, and possibly Patois.

              And don't forget to stop at Central Grocery and get a muffaletta for the flight back to LA!

              Iris Restaurant
              8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

              Restaurant August
              301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

              930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

              430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

              Brigtsen's Restaurant
              723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

              701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

              Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand
              800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

              3637 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115

              817 Common Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

              International House Hotel
              221 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA

              Gautreau's Restaurant
              1728 Soniat St, New Orleans, LA 70115

              6078 Laurel St., New Orleans, LA 70118

              1. re: zin1953

                Zin, be sure to call ahead about Iris; not sure if they will be open in their new location in the Bienville House. Iris was one of the best, if not the best, food I had locally in the last year. I hope you get to experience it.
                If they are not open yet, check Bacchanal's guest chef schedule, as Chef Ian often cooks there on Sunday nights.
                You may want to try Martinique Bistro as an alternative as well.

                1. re: edible complex

                  We've really enjoyed Martinique Bistro in the past -- glad to know it's still worthwhile!

                  1. re: zin1953

                    I went to Brigsten's for the 1st and only time after Katrina and it was great.

          2. Petite Grocery lost its chef a while back, and they revamped the menu into a more casual type place. Not as good as it used to be, in my opinion. Still decent though. The chef is currently at Bistro Daisy, fyi.

            1. you may not be able to get there for a sunday brunch, but by all means have a lunch at commander's palace. it is divine! don't miss napoleon house on chartres in the quarter for a pimm's cup or bloody mary. (their food is nothing special.....) and central grocery on decatur for a muffaletta. have a wonderful trip!! i'm sure it will be the first of many!

              1. I would definitely add Bayona to that list. Try their staple Goat Cheese Crouton appetizer, it's my favorite. And listen to their waiters if they recommend something - they know what they're talking about. I think they know my husband better than he knows himself!

                1. No one's answered you about jazz spots. After dinner, go into the french quarter and hit Preservation Hall for Trad NOLA jazz, playing nightly now from 8 til 11, then stroll down bourbon on your way to Frenchman street. Maybe make a stop at Fritzels. Eventually get to Frenchman street and go into Snug, then cross the street to my favorite, The Spotted Cat. It's small and you might have elbow wars with the dancers as well as the band, but it's a super local feel and not a bit stuffy. The music is alive there and the drinks potent. One of my all time favorite bars anywhere. This is coming from someone who spent years as a touring musician. I've seen more bars than just about anyone, and that one is a gem. You should walk down frenchman and peek in some doors though. Lots of good music there. Check out dba as well.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: artchick

                    This is about food not music and the Chowhounds will edit your posts

                    1. re: Tonto

                      Only if YOU hit the "Report" button, Kimosabe . . .

                    2. re: artchick


                      Posts that are about places where you can find great chow/drinks and great jazz are fine, but posts that are just about the latter, without any discussion of the former, are beyond the scope of the board.


                    3. Oh boy...sorry to lead you guys off course, but I really appreciate all of the great suggestions! I will add Bayona and Martinique Bistro to my list of possibilities (wish I had time to try them all!) How far in advance do you recommend I make reservations for August, Bayona, Herbsaint, Cochon, etc.? Thanks again for all of the help!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gourmetgal1

                        For weekend reservations, I would make them now. FWIW, Martinique Bistro is one of my favs, too, but it isn't representative of New Orleans food.

                        1. re: gourmetgal1

                          go to Martinique and ask for a courtyard table. should be a nice weekend to eat out, and the food here is fantastic.

                        2. I've done some reviews of a few of these:

                          I am a fan of both Cochon and Restaurant August (with reservations, and I do not mean the ones that you make over the phone, or on OpenTable - think wines!). Though it appears in the earlier review, I have to cast a vote for Brigtsen's.

                          Sipping Mint Juleps in a rocking chair on the porch of The Columns is a wonderful pastime. I could also see a cheese plate and a bottle of white Burgundy.

                          Unfortunately, I have not done K-Paul's in far too many years. They seem to get polarized reviews on this board. Half love 'em, and then there is the other half. Decades ago, they were quite good. Have to get back.

                          I do not envy you your choices. Even in very small geographic areas, there are lots to choose from.

                          Just did MiLa and it was good - also with reservations (noise level). Review in progress, but possibly not soon enough to help you. Let's just say that we hit them on a "noisy night," and then they would have a great review.


                          PS other links on the above referenced reviews, so only MiLa appears here.

                          817 Common Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

                          1. Do not miss Rambla in the IH. I reviewed our recent meals. Peeked into IH bar and it looks worth a stop.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JazzyB

                              Granted, I always stay at the International House, but I do enjoy Loa (the bar there) . . .

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Zin, you should check out their sister property. Loft 523. Huge loft style rooms around the corner from IH

                            2. Wow, thank you so much for all of the feedback! I am so excited to get to New Orleans this Sunday. Bill Hunt-I love your recommendations (August and Cochon are at the top of my list, the Columns sounds lovely, we will have to go there for a drink and appetizers). Jazzy B-I will definetaly be trying Rambla! I have put together a list (Central Grocery, Bayona, Brigsten's, Cafe du Monde, Cuvee, Herbsaint, Stella, Martinique Bistro, Patois and a few more options) and will try to get to as many of these places as possible, and I will report back! Thanks again.

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: gourmetgal1


                                  Don't forget that you are now obligated to do a review of your trip and the dining!

                                  My general thought is that one almost has to have horrible luck (I''ve had my share lately), or that the phases of the Moon (must have been that danged Moon) are just wrong, to not get good food in NOLA.

                                  Remember folk, such as myself. We knew NOLA dining once and still try to stay current, but do not get over often enough. Things change, so reports from the field are greatly appreciated.

                                  Also, you might well be stopping in on some spots that locals might by-pass. For other visitors, your reports are invaluable.


                                2. Another vote for Brigtsen's. It's a $15 plus tip cab ride from the French Quarter, located on Dante off St Charles, and you'll need reservations, but DO IT! We go to N.O. a couple of times a year, and we just now visited Brigtsen's. It's now at the top of my list. Why did we wait so long?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Remander

                                    it's $1.25 on the street car. way cooler than a cab.

                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      Newly engaged?? Romantic?? Upscale??...I'd go with August. It's just lovely and the food and service are terrific!

                                  2. REVIEW of my First Trip to New Orleans

                                    I had a wonderful time in your beatiful city! Did not get to as many restaurants as I would have liked, but enoyed all of the ones that I tried. I found myself saying, on several different occasions,"I guess this is what food is supposed to taste like!". The flavors and combinations were great. Thank you again for all of the recommendations, I can't wait to return!

                                    Cafe du Monde: Great place for breakfast (filled me up until dinner!). The half and half coffee with chicory was great and the begniets were delicious-warm with tons of powdered sugar. My fiance and I ordered our own plates the first time, and shared one the second time. Worth every calorie, will definetaly go back next time we are in New Orleans!

                                    August: Absolutely amazing. Walked from our hotel for an early dinner, were seated immediately. The decor was beautiful and the ambiance was warm and elegant. Ordered the tasting menu with wine pairing, which was perfect-amuse bouche, four courses with dessert and cookies and macarons at the end. We loved the ravioli with farm egg in a brown butter sauce with mushrooms and shaved cheese. We found ourselves savoring each bite. The Kobe beef was great as well as the course of lobster with sweetbreads. Wonderful dinner, great, unobtrusive service- we would go back in a second.

                                    Rambla: Great tapas restaurant that was located inside of our hotel (the International House). We had drinks at Loa followed by dinner at Rambla. Ordered the Medjool dates stuffed with bacon, a marcona almond and Valdeon cheese; sauteed mushrooms with sherry and almonds; flatbread with serrano ham with fig and cabrales; chorizo; and paella Andalucia. Everything was great, the paella was flavorful and traditionally prepared. Would definetaly return.

                                    Emeri's: Wasn't on my list, but my fiance told his boss he would go to try the banana cream pie. Started with the barbecued shrimp, small portion, but they were delicious. I ordered the pork which had a great rub and two delicious sauces over sweet potatoes, fiance ordered the filet of beef. Both of us loved our orders, though my boyfriends came out medium when he ordered medium rare. For dessert we went all out and had pecan pie and banana cream pie. Both were great.

                                    Cochon: Absolutely loved this place. Minimalistic interior with great ambiance. The biscuits were delicious. We timidly ordered the fried alligator with chili garlic aioli-it was great! I ordered the brisket which was warm and comforting with a great flavor. Fiance ordered the cochon which was also delicous. Can't wait to return, wish we had somewhere like this by us!

                                    Southern Candymakers: We were lured in from the street from the delicious scent of freshly baked pralines. The pralines and fudge were delicious, we took a box home. Would definetaly stop in next time we are in town.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: gourmetgal1

                                      Thank you for reporting back. It's nice to know that a traveler enjoyed the recommendations that so many make from their heart (and their stomach). You made the day for many, who chimed in and your review is appreciated.


                                      1. re: gourmetgal1

                                        Glad you had such a great time! My wife and I (generally) go there every year for our anniversary -- this year's trip got delayed a bit, and we aren't leaving until November 13th, a month late (normally we'd be at the International House the same time as you were!).

                                        As Bill says, thanks for reporting back! Glad to hear you had such a great time . . . I know the city appreciates your visit, and both New Orleands and the International House will welcome you back with open arms and an open heart . . .


                                        1. re: gourmetgal1

                                          Hurry Back! We'll still be here. Thanks!

                                          1. re: edible complex

                                            Coming for my second trip to NO on Christmas Day for 4 nights. Ive been missing NOLA and cant wait to come back and try many of the restaurants I didnt on our last trip. I also have a list asking for advice...will post seperately!