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Most Unique NO Restaurants

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I'm a Sommelier and big foodie - my girlfriend and I will be going to NO over the Christmas week, and we're looking for the most original and unique places to eat at.

Never been to NO - we're staying in either the French Quarter or Garden District, so spots in that area would be great, though if there's something wonderful out of the way, please recommend.

Great wine spots are a plus (not American) and we love hole in the wall spots with great food - really the most unique is the best - any cuisine. And great recommendations on bars are good as well.

Never been before and we're looking forward to it - thanks for the help!

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  1. I would recommend Dick & Jenny's, near the Garden District. It's a neighborhood restaurant with upscale N.O. comfort food. Wine list might not be as exciting to you (being a Sommelier) but you can scope it out on their website. It's a hidden gem IMO. http://dickandjennys.com.

    1. Uptown:
      Martinique Bistro, Mila, Sara's in the Riverbend, One Restaurant, Clancy's, Patois, Bistro Daisy, Lilette, Ciro's Cote Sud, Gautreau's, Mat & Naddie's, Jamila's Cafe

      Stella, Iris, Galatorie's, Cafe Amelie, Bayona, Cafe Sbisa, Luke, Rambla, 1179, Cuvee, Cohon, Herbsaint, La Boca, Riomar, Irene's, August

      Elsewhere around town:
      Arabesque, Cafe Degas, Lola (BYOB), Parkway Bakery, Rivershack (lunch specials), Le Parvenu, Da Piero, Ristorante Pellicano, Tony Angello's, Chateau du Lac, Laurentino's, Vega's, Crabby Jack's, Clementine's, Kim Son, Galley Seafood

      for bars:
      French 75 at Arnaud's, Carousel at Hotel Monteleone, Absinthe House, Lafitte's Blacksmith, Tommy's Wine Bar, d.b.a., St. Joe's, Jin Jean's Lounge, Johnny White's, LOA, Grapevine, Hookah Cafe, Vaughan's Lounge, Helix at Lee Circle, W.I.N.O.

      that should get you started...have fun!

      1 Reply
      1. re: edible complex

        EC, Have you been to Sbisa yet? I asked in another thread, and I never heard back. I've seen you recommending it a lot, and I just wanted to know how it is.

      2. If you’ll be here on a Saturday or Sunday, brunch at Commander’s Palace is a one-of-a-kind experience, as much for the celebratory atmosphere as for the food. The wine list should interest you, as well.
        Other than that, I’d suggest you try to sample the full range of New Orleans’ very diverse cooking. Here’s my list:
        Galatoire’s for the quintessential French-Creole meal. Don't miss the oysters and bacon en brochette, shrimp remoulade, crabmeat maison and sauteed trout meuniere.
        Brigtsen’s for the best collection of traditional, down-home south-Louisiana dishes in the city. Roast duck is as good as it gets. And oysters Rockefeller soup -- the original, never-duplicated one.
        Parkway Bakery for a classic New Orleans roast-beef poor boy (but tell ‘em to hold the gravy; otherwise you’ll need a spoon). It’s in Mid-City, about a 10-to15-minute cab ride from either the Quarter or the Garden District.
        Gautreau’s (Uptown, dinner only), with the city’s most exciting contemporary menu (this year the young chef was chosen one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in America).
        Wherever you go, I hope you have a very enjoyable trip.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Honore Melmoth

          Hold the gravy??????

          If you don't use at least 10 napkins while eating a Roast Beef Po Boy there's not enough gravy on that baby!

          I had one at Parkway 2 weeks ago & it was just right!
          We also split an oyster po boy too. Heavenly!

        2. A footnote to my previous post:
          The wine list at Gautreau's is short on volume but very long on quality, with quite a few wines that are hard to find elsehwere in the city.

          1. The hole-in-the-wall would be Mandina's, it's on Canal St at S Cortez (I think). See my profile, and enjoy the turtle soup.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mycrofth

              With all due respect, Mandina's is hardly a hole in the wall! It's a very large restaurant.

            2. martinique, clancy's, pascale manales, tommys cuisine

              1. To me personally, restaurants that ooze NOLA are: Galatoire's, Pascal's Manale, Mandina's, Crabby Jack's, Irene's, Commander's and Bayona

                1. The one wine list that made an impression on me was the New Orleans Grill at the Windsor Court. Great FR selections and really fairly priced, all things considered. (I live in and travel to many resort cities in the US and Europe, so "fairly priced" might not play in Cleveland... ) [Grin]

                  How unique the dining is, might be argued, but the murals adorning the walls are all worth a long look. Ask for the "fact sheet" on each one and be prepared to see a bunch of New Orleans/Louisian history, with some artistic license. The individual stories are worth the price of dining, IMO.

                  Food is good, and much is highly reflective of New Orleans and its environs. Recent rewiew: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/570653

                  Remember, NOLA is not a real "wine town," but is getting better every year, so long as no major hurricane strikes it.


                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Thanks so much everyone - I've done a ton of research off your suggestions, and need a bit more help...

                    We have 3 dinners (1 which is Christmas Eve - need some help with this one - this will be the BIG evening) and 3 lunches - none of which are on weekends.

                    I'm thinking so far:

                    Dinner: Stella or Mila / Dick and Jenny's or Bayona / Need 1 more
                    Lunch: I'd like to find a classic po' boy and a classic NOLA lunch - should we hit Luke?

                    I'd like to do Tasting Menu's at the dinner spots - do you know if any of these spots would not do that if I call ahead?

                    Also - who's got the best sweetbreads in town?

                    I haven't been able to find a web for 1179 - is it worth it? The reviews are outstanding, but it's a bit off our path....

                    Also - Tapas are my fave - I want NOLA cuisine but is Rambla that good that's it's worth it?

                    Lastly - if you've got ideas on entertainment - please share.


                    1. re: evoo

                      When we last dined at Stella!, the tasting menu was listed. Wife cannot do bi-valves (scallops, mussels, clams or OYSTERS), and they did a great job. I had called ahead, just to alert the kitchen staff, and all was taken care of. There were two scallop dishes, IIRC, and they had options for her, in the plan. The "tasting menu" is a bit new to the New Orleans restaurants, but more chefs seem to be doing these.

                      In very general terms, we love these and most often go with them. The latitude is usually appreciated by the kitchen, and the diner usually reaps the benefits. Though a wine "geek," I also enjoy a well-thoughtout "sommelier's pairing," as I often do not know the chef/kitchen intimately, and that can make a major difference.

                      Sorry, but I do not know 1179, or Rambla. We are "small plate" folk, but most of our real tapas have been in London, or Barcelona. Wish I could help more.

                      Back to "tasting menus," for a moment. While these are a bit new to NOLA, I also find that many chefs love to do these, even if they do not appear on the menu. A call, might yield more, than a Website, or the printed menu will. On a recent trip to Maui, we did three, that were not listed anywhere, but the restaurants (and the chefs) accommodated us beautifully. Much, however, will depend on the chef. If he/she is really working on some new, and wonderful concoctions, they usually want warm bodies to share these with. I'm about 95% pleased at being that "warm body."

                      Most of all, enjoy. New Orleans is unique (as per your topic's title). Most chefs love to "spread their wings," and will reward the diners, who ask for such.

                      Of the places, in your most recent post, I'd say that Stella! has the best wine list.


                      1. re: evoo

                        Bayona always used to have good sweatbreads. Lilette would be a good choice.

                        1. re: evoo

                          I think Stella! would be the best choice for a tasting menu, but you can't go wrong with MiLa either.

                          As for sweetbreads, I second Bayona and also offer up MiLa's sweetbreads with truffled grits as one of my current favorite dishes.

                          Luke does it's best work at lunch (here is our latest review: http://blackenedout.blogspot.com/2008...), but Galatoire's would be the most "classic New Orleans" lunch you could have.

                          For a po-boy, I would venture over to Parkway Bakery if I could, but if you need to stay in the Quarter than hit up Johnny's on St. Louis.

                            1. re: evoo

                              I visited last year for the Sugar Bowl and my favorite (upscale) restaurant was Bayona. The staff was so friendly and Susan Spicer was on hand to autograph her new book. This restaurant has tons of charm and sweetbreads is considered their specialty. I understand that you are a sommelier, but sometimes the best meals we had were at total hole in the walls. Also, the city has amazing bakeries. Croissant D'or on Dauphine is fabulous. Go on Saturdays for the royal brioche. It's a custard filled brioche. Have fun and maybe I'll unknowingly see you there. We loved the food so much that we decided to celebrate Christmas in the Big Easy again!