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holes in the wall

coming down the NO with a few other yankees and are looking for breakfast/lunch/dinner holes in the wall that only the locals know about. want to experience the "true" new orleans and not the overpriced / under quality drivel that gets shoved on tourists. any suggestions?

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  1. "not the overpriced / under quality drivel that gets shoved on tourists." WOW!
    have you been to NOLA before? we're a lot friendlier and tastier than that.
    will you have a car or be relying on public transportation?
    what part of town will you be staying?
    what time of year? we have 4 seasons: shrimp, oyster, crawfish and crab.
    so once you can post more about your travels, you'll get more defined suggestions as to our dirty little secrets.

    3 Replies
    1. re: edible complex

      "what time of year? we have 4 seasons: shrimp, oyster, crawfish and crab." We're thinking early to mid-November. What will we be missing that time of year?

      Thanks for any help in getting the trip planning wheels in motion.

      1. re: Beverator

        If you're coming in November, you'll miss crawfish season which is February to July. But you'll be in perfect time for oysters!

        1. re: nikinik

          Thanks, "perfect time" is what I wanted to hear about oysters! This Chicago Chowhound will probably be back with more questions as trip planning progresses. This will definitely be a eatin' vacation.

    2. Breakfast: Elizabeths or Surrey's
      Lunch: Parkway, Parasol's, or Cooter Brown's
      Dinner: Lola, Dick and Jenny's, Jacques-Imo's, Elizabeth's

      As far as the overpriced / under quality bit, I would take the worst of New Orleans' dishes before eating what is considered average in many other cities. That being said, visitors to New Orleans can make better choices with a bit of research.


      1. I don't think there any places that "only the locals know about." The two classes of people today are those that read sites like chow and those that do not. Those that do read know what the locals know. There are no secret joints now. As soon as a new one opens up, it's all over the web. General rule, avoid most restaurants in the quarter. Most of them are bad. Also, there aren't many holes in the wall that are worth eating at, in the city anyways. I guess Franky and Johnny's would qualify as a decent hole in the wall and so does Parasol's.

        That said, there's too many good restaurants to name. Mandina's, Parkway, Blue Plate Cafe, Brigtsen's, Boucherie, etc. etc. My suggestion is just read the board for good recs. If it's out there it's on here, and if it's bad, the posts will let you know.

        6 Replies
        1. re: N.O.Food

          Coops place on decatur street in the quarter is a good dive bar with excellent cheap new orleans food and across the street fiorellas has great fried chicken and other new orleans fare.

          1. re: N.O.Food

            Wait...avoid all restaurants in the Quarter?? That's a lot! Isn't Galatoire's in the Quarter? Acme, Felix's, Coops, Napoleon House?

            1. re: peachacid

              If you'll read my post a little closer, you'll see that I didn't say "all," I said "most." Big difference.

              1. re: N.O.Food

                True. What would you recommend, then, for people who are staying in the Quarter w/out a car? We've made reservations at Commander's Palace, and then a surprise fancy lunch on Friday (I don't know where). We're probably going to eat at Felix's, Central Grocery, and Coop's. Anywhere else you recommend that's close enough to the Quarter to get there easily?

                1. re: peachacid

                  August, Herbsaint, Cochon, Bennachin, Stanley, Stella, Rio Mar, La Boca, Bayona, Salt n Pepper, El Gato Negro, The Store, Luke, Cafe Bon Ton, Galatoire's are all good. Palace Cafe, Bacco, Brennan's, Rib Room are also ok. I'm sure there's others, but they're slipping my mind.

                  1. re: peachacid

                    Take the free ferry over to Algiers Point and try Vine and Dine for great take out sandwiches and entrees + beer and wine to go or walk a couple of blocks to Aunt Linnie's for a relaxed dinner with friendly people

            2. Breakfast: EAT!, Petunias, Huevos, Tout de Suite (a ferry ride to beautiful Algiers Point)
              Lunch: Magazine Street Po-Boys, New Orleans Food & Spirits
              Dinner: Jacques-Imo, Lola, Feelings Cafe

              2 Replies
              1. re: nikinik

                +1 to NO food and spirits. Will require a car rental or a cab ride to get there though.

                1. re: nikinik

                  Other restaurants offer Po Boys that are far superior to those at the Magazine Street Shop, IMHO. Although Ray and Al are nice guys (and my former landlords), I found their Po Boys to be average at best.

                  Go to Guy's up Magazine for Catfish Po Boys; Parasol's for Roast Beef; Frankie & Johnny's and Domilise's for shrimp and oysters. Don't forget to get 'em dressed!

                2. well, im not sure id say "true" new orleans food can be found just at holes in the wall. many of the meals i love most in new orleans are found in nicer restaurants, which carry a higher sticker place. such is life...

                  but for holes in the wall, what i usually look for are good poboys. on a good day Parasol's has the best roast beef in town -- messy, gravy-laced, dozen napkins. wash it down w/ an abita amber.

                  i know several folks are ga-ga for Coops, a true hole in the wall...but im not one of 'em. always seems bland & mushy to me.

                  while its not really new orleans food, i do love the drinks & burgers at Port of Call; as dank a hole in the wall as there ever was. those monsoons go down easy & will knock you flat. lovable staff behind the bar.

                  1. Tout de Suite in Algiers Point really is a true hidden gem and a hole in the wall. It was converted from an old corner store. The woodwork and character of the place is amazing. Also...if you go on Sunday morning, there are 2 old guys in there playing the banjo. A lot of people don't think of Algiers Point when they come to New Orleans, but it really is incredible and quaint and is the oldest area of New Orleans second to the French Quarter....and only a ferry ride across. The cafe is walking distance from the ferry.

                    1. We loved Coop's, Elizabeth's and if you get to Frenchmen try "13". Also, don't forget Mona Lisa's and if you like Middle Eastern please try Attiki on Decauter

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: zach623

                        "13" is definitely a winner. One of our many trips to NO we stayed in a condo right next door. Red beans and rice and potato and poblano pepper quesidillas were wonderful. Weird combo on the quesidilla but it was delicious!! Go to Frenchmen Street!!!!

                      2. For Breakfast, try Slim Goodie's on Magazine Street.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dianalily

                          ughh...when was the last time you had breakfast at slim goodies?

                          lunch is OK but the last two breakfasts I've had have been horrid- ultra bad- something is not right when the entire plate is swimming in a puddle of oil and cheese grits consist of a lump of crunchy grits (not cooked) with congealed shredded cheese on top

                          it's a shame, too...because the place is in the top of the cool dive category- they just need a better short order cook

                        2. Nola Grocery is actually a hole in the wall. I have only had lunch there. Fabulous boudin, roast beef, bbq beef, fried shrimp, green onion sausage, jalapeno sausage... I could go on. Prices very reasonable.

                          1. It's possible "holes in the wall" doesn't accurately describe what you're looking for. There is a whole class of casual, neighborhood "joints" that other posters are not mentioning, perhaps because it seems from your post that you're looking for the most downmarket.

                            The best are:

                            - Parkway for poboys
                            - Mandina's, for fried seafood, poboys and Louisiana favorites
                            - Liuzza's By the Track
                            - The aforementioned Frankie and Johnny's, Uptown, for boiled seafood (crawfish, shrimp, crabs. Call ahead to see what they have fresh boiled.)
                            - Bozo's in Metairie. It's so far off the tourist map I tend not to recommend it, but it's TRUE New Orleans (or at least Metry) and the fried seafood is delicious there. It's in a squat brick building near the Lakeside Mall.
                            - Jacques Imo's has its detractors, but I like their rich food and funky decor. You can wait for a table at the Maple Leaf next door, and afterward hit a show. (Rebirth on Tuesdays is recommended, as is Bonerama, Johnny Vidocovich or Anders Osborne if they're playing.)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: HalfShell

                              +1 jacques imo's. always a good time.

                              1. re: HalfShell

                                +1 to all of these recommendations, adding Parasol's to the Parkway rec for poboys.


                              2. If you're staying in the Quarter, I would say Acme for raw oysters (go for a late lunch to avoid the line and sit at the bar for the shucking show) and Coop's for jambalaya. Also Alibi on Iberville for late night big burgers, a huge beer selection and an interesting crowd.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: moaner

                                  Wow, I forgot about Alibi, a cool place to hang out and the late night food is great

                                  1. re: zach623

                                    Do the strippers still go to Alibi when they get off work? I assume that's what you meant by "interesting crowd"

                                    1. re: roro1831

                                      Yup. Late night at the Alibi you can always count on strippers, burgers and cheese fries. What a combo huh?

                                      1. re: nikinik

                                        I spent many a late night there, couldn't attest to the food though. lol

                                2. One breakfast place where many locals and tourists go is Camellia Grill . . . it's a local institution that all of my out-of-town friends [admittedly on their first trip] have enjoyed, and it's on the streetcar line. Actually, whenever any of my friends visit, I use it as an excuse to go there.

                                  Hint: Don't call yourself a Yankee. This isn't really the South; it's New Orleans. We're our own distinct geographical location.

                                  1. Compared to northern (over)priced points, even our fine dining restaurants are reasonable. Where is this "under quality" coming from?

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: JazzyB

                                      JB, "warped" has either not replied or had time to reply to the many fine suggestions here.

                                      1. re: JazzyB

                                        I think the poster may be referring to places like Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. I can't tell you how many of my Yankee neighbors ask about that place when I say I'm going to the French Quarter.

                                        1. re: moaner

                                          is that place even still open? have never been and can't say I've ever had a desire to go there. I thought it went the way of the Fashion Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock, et al in the chain of theme restaurants. who needs a contrived theme when you live in one of the greatest food cities with a theme all its own.

                                              1. re: edible complex

                                                yeah its still open, as is hard rock. some people just dont know any better...i know this because years ago i was one of 'em! got into town late and had no idea where to go. nothing like chowhound existed to show strangers lacking in personal connections what was what.

                                                i did luck out w/ our b&b (bed & beverage!) recommendation about Irene's...

                                                1. re: kibbles

                                                  My shame is that we went to Landry's in the FQ once. We didn't really know our way around, there was a wait everywhere, we were hungry... I mean, it wasn't awful, but I hate to waste an opportunity.

                                          1. I am of two minds on the hole in wall question: i.e.: there are assuredly places that "only the locals know about"; some of those still exist. As many as in the past? No; anyone who gets a chance should look through a copy of the early 70's NOLA Underground Gourmet and coult how many of the smaller restaurants are still in business. It tears at my heart.

                                            That said, thoough, if you find yourself on the West Bank, try Donewar's, corner of Burmaster and Hancock.

                                            PoBoys are the specialty' I've had their meatball(as good as any) chicken fried steak (ditto) roast beef(also superb) and Italian Sausage(exceptional). They also have some plate specials every day; they gave me a sample of the shrimp stew and it was delicious. One interestign fact: all of their ground meats--not only hamburger and meatballs, but their several sausages--Italian, hot, smoked, cajun and green onion--are all prepard on premises, to their own receipes. (Likewise the potato salad; one young man came in and asked if he could sub french fries for potato salad in the special, bringing the sharp retort: "any food can fry potatotesstick with the potato salad." which looked great--I'm saving that pleasure for another trip.)

                                            Almost all the po-boys are quite reasonable--around $5.00. Definitely check this out. Any by the way: if you happen to kill a deer on your way down, they can process the dressed meat into stuff like sausage.