Group dining for youth
I will be taking a group of 22 high school aged kids w/ 9 adults to NOLA for 9 days. We are on a HUGE budget, so I am looking for places to take the kids to dinner each night that is walking distance from our hotel (New Orleans Marriott- 555 Canal). Since we will be there for a youth gathering with 36,000 people, I definitely need to find places that I can make reservations, BUT are not expensive. Even $50/person for 8 nights is out of our price range-- that would be $12,400 just for dinner for 31 people for 8 nights. I know NOLA pretty well, so I know that most of the known restaurants do not fit this request. Please help w/ any suggestions!!
Wow! That is a tough one. A few quick questions-1. Are you open to taking the streetcar (1.25 per person each way) to any dining locations 2. What is your budget per person, per day? I am assuming that maybe the youth gathering provides a lunch, but if not there are lunch suggestions as well. Let us know and I am sure you will get plenty of options.
My first thought is that if you are bringing high-schoolers here, you MUST get snowballs. They will really enjoy that. Plus, coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde.
What area are you coming from--someplace with a lot of culinary diversity, or regular whitebread America? Any especial cuisines/ethnic groups you want to try?
"We are on a HUGE budget..." Did you forget the "NOT"? What do you want to spend per person? The streetcar option opens up a lot of possibilities and it would be fun for the teenagers. On the St. Charles Avenue line, or nearby, are: Superior Grill, Zia, Vincents, Camelia Grill, Jaqueimos, Cannon's, Slice, VooDoo Barbecue, to name a few. You might want to check out this web site for restaurants on Canal Street and in the FQ: http://www.nomenu.com/RestaurantsOpen...
All great suggestions. The only problem with places within walking distance is that barring eating fast food-most restaurants in the Quarter are relatively small, and unless very upscale, do not take reservations. Uptown, Jacques Imos takes reservations for parties of 5 or more so that may work. In the Quarter, you could try Louisiana Pizza Kitchen and as much as I hate to do this, some of the chain restaurants such as Hard Rock, House of Blues, and Landrys would probably accomodate your group as they are large restaurants with lots of seating. If you want authentic LA cuisine and like me, would prefer to stay out of chains, you should consider taking the streetcar Uptown. If you called some of the places on this list and wanted to set aside some tables, they may be able to do this. Another consideration would be to get takeout muffalettas at Central Grocery and eat them on the Riverfront somewhere, or to split into two groups that would be more easily accommodated at places such as Cafe Maspero, Acme, Felixs, Coops and Clover Grill.
G W Fins has a private dining room that accommodates 30-35 people - right in your ballpark. They tell me that 40 can fit, but it's very tight. They can configure the tables to suit. Great seafood and mostly NOLA dishes, or heavily NOLA-influenced dishes. Well within the walking distance.
Had a wonderful meal for 10 out in the main dining room last week.
808 Bienville St., New Orleans, LA 70112
If you can get transportation, on the more inexpensive side is New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company - They have huge dining rooms and could feed your group for a reasonable price. They do seafood, burgers, po-boys, salads and pasta dishes. There is one in Metairie and in Kenner and I think on the Westbank. With ~ 30 people you might want to call ahead.
Another tip - if you are willing to dine during off hours (3p-5p for example) more options might be available cause there are plenty restaurants around town that remain open between lunch and dinner.
First off: what, exactly, IS your budget? Poboys are inexpensive, accomodate lots of personal taste variations, and are definitely local cuisine. Try Johnny's in the FQ; not too terribly far from your hotel. If you're truly on a shoestring budget, you need to know about Rouse's supermarket on Royal: it is always cheaper to make sandwiches yourself for an impromptu picnic at the MoonWalk than to eat in any establishment.
Other very cheap options (though not necessarily with eat-in space) include VertiMart, the buffet at Lil Dizzy's on Esplanade , the Popeyes on Canal St. (yes, a chain, but locals definitely eat Popeyes fried chicken)....Golden Wall in the 900 block of Canal used to be a decent, ultra-cheap ghetto chinese joint, but it's been a few years since I needed to eat lunch for a week for $4 (price of a quart of veggie lo-mein at the time).
Lil Dizzy's Cafe
1500 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116
511 Saint Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130
701 Royal St, New Orleans, LA
Golden Wall Restaurant
914 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Oh, I never said it was GOOD, just barely passable. I don't think I ever ate the meats, just shrimp fried rice and/or veggie lo mein. But it is CHEAP...if the youth group is truly on a tiny, tiny budget, you could feed lots of teens on shrimp fried rice for one meal and go have something decent later in the day. I have a vivid memory of 5-gallon buckets of chicken wings being dumped straight into the fryer...taa--ssstttyyy
If there's one day you're going to be super short on time, you should consider having the kids order hot dogs and cold drinks from a Lucky Dogs cart. There are several in the Quarter, and they are an institution; the kids don't have to know that most adults prefer to wash them down with more grownup libations.
I'd definitely do po-boys at least a couple of times, muffulettas and Lucky Dogs once. (If you can eat cheaply several nights, maybe you can splurge on one or two others.) Cafe Maspero is also a good suggestion. And there's a decent taqueria (Felipe's) on Decatur. But those obviously aren't reservations places.
You might also call ahead and try to make arrangements to get in pre-rush at Mandina's, but you'll have to take the streetcar down Canal Street. Another possibility is the Gumbo Shop.
I've never had an inexpensive meal at G W Fins, but if you have, say, $25 per head and since high-schoolers won't be drinking, they ought to be able to eat some things at Palace Cafe or even Mr. B's. I think Bacco is currently running a three-course special for $25.
The suggestions for some of the uptown places are also good ones. Get everybody on a streetcar and venture out.
I'm seconding on Johnny's, Gumbo Shop, Cafe Maspero, Central Grocery and Acme. Just split into three or four tables at the places you actually sit down..
If you get on the Canal streetcar, you could also consider Liuzza's on Bienville, Cafe Venezia (pizza) the taqueria next to Cafe Venezia (blanking on the name here...)
The St. Charles streetcar suggestions are pretty good. Also consider Trolley Stop. Camellia Grill and Jacque Imos are WAAAY uptown by streetcar. Fine if you can kill the whole evening, but not if you have to get back for an evening event. Could also pose an obstacle for the Canal suggestions, though not as serious.
You might consider the Bon Ton, on Magazine by Poydras.
It's true that Camellia Grill and Jacques Imo's are way uptown, but the are on the historic St. Charles line, so by riding the trolley you get to combine dinner with a must-do tourist experience. Once you get the kids on the streetcar, the chaperones can relax--you've got 'em captive for about 45 minutes. Plus, when you get that far from the CBD, your large group is unlikely to encounter other large crowds.
There are several places near the intersection of Carrollton and St. Charles where kids could split up for pretty cheap eats--Jazmine Cafe for Vietnamese [the Vietnamese po'boys are cheap and good], Hana for sushi and Japanese, China Orchid, Camellia Grill [the whole party wouldn't fit in there, but a few lucky people will], Madeleine's for sandwiches and pastries, and I think there's a pizza place on Hamson. Because you're in such a large group, waiting for the streetcar at this well-trafficked intersection should be pretty safe.
A few blocks up Carrollton [and also on the streetcar line] is Oak Street, where Jacques Imo's is. Mona's, which has good and very cheap Lebanese food [hummus, grape leaves etc.], is just around the corner on Carrollton. At the corner of Carrollton and Oak is Rue de la Course coffeehouse on one side and Curry Corner on the other. Also on Oak are Squeal BBQ, Gelato Pazzo [which serves great panini as well as gelato] and the Oak Street Cafe. For dessert, the kids can get gelato or snowballs from Queen of the Ball.
If you are taking the street car and venturing off of St. Charles Avenue or Canal Street for a restaurant, it is safest to eat early and still have plenty of daylight to navigate your way back to the streetcar line. Safety first.