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Irene's or Mandina's?

Headed to Nola this weekend and I've got the selections narrowed down:
Commander's for Sunday brunch (thoughts?)
Upperline
Liuzza's (because I can't find a time that Parkway will be open)
Herbsaint for lunch
Brigtstens

I like the idea of Mandina (light on the pocketbook, locally loved) but a local just tried to convince me to go to Irene's instead. Are they both Italian Creole comfort food?
Thoughts would be appreciated!

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  1. Irene's is a little heavier on the Italian, but is good. I would unequivocally say Mandina's. It is one of my absolute favorites and I love everything on the menu. I eat there frequently but never grow tired of it. Hope this helps. (All of your choices look great : )

    9 Replies
    1. re: ScarlettNola

      Thank you! Long time reader, first time poster; I've always enjoyed your input on Chowhound. Do you have a favorite on Mandina's menu?

      1. re: eugenegirl

        Thanks so much! I really like the gumbo, trout or crab meuniere, crispy onion rings, the oyster loaf, and like NO Food says, the daily specials are always tasty such as the creole catfish (I think on Weds??) and the Creole Eggplant. They also mix a mean martini. I really like Mandina's for lunch. Irene's is good and would be great for dinner.

        1. re: eugenegirl

          turtle soup w/sherry, oyster po boy and a cold Dixie.

          1. re: edible complex

            The last 2 times I had the turtle soup it was HEAVY!!! on the sherry, but in general I really like it. I hate to say it, but to me it is comparable to Commander's in quality and flavor (minus the overly generous use of sherry, resulting in a very tangy bite and alcoholic taste which smothered the flavor and richness of the soup itself) but it is worth a try. It truly is good!

            1. re: ScarlettNola

              They are very different restaurants. Irene's is much more upscale -- even though the food is "comforting" (rich, earthy Italian), it is not comfort food. Mandina's is a neighborhood joint.

              Do not get anything meuniere or amandine at Mandina's. They just take fried fish and put this gross-looking brown sauce on it. Even if it tasted good, which it doesn't, it looks really unappetizing. (The best preparations of those dishes are at Galatoire's) At Mandina's, I would stick to simpler things, like poboys (I love the meatball poboy dressed, which may seem like a "hoagie" but it's far better) soft shell crabs (if they have them -- get them fried without any sauce or simply sauteed), any other fried seafood. Or a blue plate special like red beans. Mandina's is one of my favorite places in the city. Just skip meuniere or amandine anything.

              1. re: HalfShell

                Total agree with this. I made the mistake of getting the trout amandine last time and I spent the whole night drooling over my friends' poboys.

                The spaghetti and meatballs is really good and will feed you for a week. I also think their gumbo is the best in town.

                Haven't tried Irene's yet.

              2. re: ScarlettNola

                I always add my own sherry, so I can control the pour.

                1. re: ScarlettNola

                  I've had the turtle soup there when it was so thick that you needed to put a cup of sherry in it to make it soupy...this is not tosay it tasted bad. It is one of the better turtle(or whatever they put in it) soups in town, I would not compare it to Commander's, though, but Commander's version has been problematic in recent years (but never bad). Don't know why this is so...the formula is basic.

                  I used to love the bruccialone (braccaluna is another spelling among many) on the weekday specials, served over shell macaroni. Admittedly, it has been a long time since I had that but it has never been the same for me since Miss Hilda died...someone is taking shortcuts somewhere.

                  I'm glad they are back but I miss the pre-K front room. Well, live long enough and such things will happen....

                  1. re: ScarlettNola

                    I had turtle soup at Mandina's on Monday. I always pass on the extra sherry because that's how I like it there. It was delicious, and not too thick. My friend and I also had crab claws, red beans with panee veal, and shrimp salad. We then went for a long walk in the park.

            2. It just depends on the atmosphere and the type of food you're looking for. Irene's is small and romantic, and they serve fairly upscale italian dishes. Mandina's is a more open space, casual, and louder. They also serve a wider variety of food, from trout menieure and poboys to spaghetti and meatballs. I like em both, but they're pretty different. At mandina's we like trout or softshell menieure, turtle soup, spaghetti, veal parmesan, poboys. Their daily specials are usually good, too.

              1. We have been to both and enjoyed each. However they are each different.
                Mandina's a nieghborhood type place with lots of activity going on around you. We enjoyed the shrimp remoulade and spagetti and meat balls.
                Irene's is more upscale and quiet and relaxing. I had the rosemary chicken and loved it.
                I don't think you can go wrong with either

                1 Reply
                1. re: zach623

                  Used to I would say Mandinas but I havent ever gotten used to the new mandinas post katrina loved the funky older style its too damned nice now. so Im going with Irenes.