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Nice restaurants (European 1st-timer)

Denisek Jun 22, 2009 11:57 AM


I will be in New Orleans for only two days in July. I'm from Europe and looking for some nice restaurants (mains around 20-25) or places I HAVE to visit. When browsing this board I get confused because off all the options (mila, commanders, cochon, ONE, snugjazz, stella, eat, brigtsens, mr. john, mahonys, deanies, redfish, croquette, iris). I like restaurants that are just a bit 'upscale' (nothing to posh, so no jackets or anything...) with nice food (not only fried stuff). Please help me out a bit!

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  1. TaTee RE: Denisek Jun 22, 2009 07:02 PM

    Figure you must be a guy since you mention not wanting to wear a jacket. That's too bad, because the MUST visit place, Galatoire's, requires a jacket. Where will you be staying and will you have a car?

    12 Replies
    1. re: TaTee
      Bigrayok RE: TaTee Jun 22, 2009 08:23 PM

      Since you are from Europe I would try something unique to New Orleans or Louisiana. K-Paul's and Cochon may be good options since they do not require jackets. I am not sure a European would be overly impressed with Galatroire's although I do not believe they require jackets at lunch. GW Fins may be a good option for seafood. Mandina's and Louizza's are good casual options with a local flare. It all depends on where you are staying and what you like. One place I like that is about ten miles from the French Quarter is Rocky & Carlo's in Chalmette.

      Bigray in Ok

      1. re: TaTee
        kukubura RE: TaTee Jun 23, 2009 08:36 AM

        Do NOT go to Galatoire's for dinner. NO NO NO!

        Lunch is very civil. Dinner is a frat party. Avoid avoid avoid.

        K-Paul's a great suggestion. The food is very, very flavorful. Also, go to Commander's Palace for lunch.

        Why is everyone afraid of jackets? It's so disheartening to get all dressed up to have a lovely meal in a lovely space and then see slobs dressed like they're at McDonald's. There are places for dressed-down dining. Why can't they just go there instead?

        1. re: kukubura
          Bill Hunt RE: kukubura Jun 23, 2009 06:43 PM

          "Lunch is very civil. Dinner is a frat party. Avoid avoid avoid."

          Have things changed that much? We normally do dinner at Galatoire's, and I've never noticed this. Friday lunch has been a bit of a ruckus, but never dinner.

          We've had too short a string on several recent visits, but just cannot imagine what you describe. Other than one loud table behind us, upstairs (had to have reservations, as we were hosting and time was an issue), all was refined, with ladies and gentlemen having a wonderful dinner. I have a strong feeling that these two couples behaved this way, where ever they dined. One man was a developer, and did want the entire upstairs to know of his projects. I would imagine that were he at the drive-in window at Mc Donalds, he'd have behaved the same way. I'd guess that there were easily 50 other diners, who behaved themselves perfectly. The same can be said for all of the diners that we passed, both ways, in the lower dining room.

          What has changed? Are ladies and gentlemen no longer ladies and gentlemen? This makes me very sad, indeed.


          1. re: Bill Hunt
            ScarlettNola RE: Bill Hunt Jun 23, 2009 06:57 PM

            I have not had a similiar experience. People have behaved as ladies and gentlemen...possibly slightly inebriated ladies and gentlemen, but proper nonetheless. I guess it is a "fraternity atmosphere" simply because of the spirited patrons. In fact, IMHO Friday lunch is the most boisterous of all, but still good fun.

            1. re: ScarlettNola
              Bill Hunt RE: ScarlettNola Jun 23, 2009 09:10 PM

              That has been my personal observation. Not sure what the poor poster was referencing, but does not sound like fun.


            2. re: Bill Hunt
              Hungry4Good RE: Bill Hunt Jun 23, 2009 07:11 PM

              Seems at times the whole Quarter is a big frat party. Gag.

              1. re: Hungry4Good
                Bill Hunt RE: Hungry4Good Jun 23, 2009 09:15 PM

                Now, you do make a good point. It had been some time, since my wife and I had spent much time in the FQ. She was down, doing a lecture to a bunch of healthcare finance folk. We stayed at the Bourbon Orleans. it was a Wednesday night, and we were overlooking Bourbon St. It was also in mid-Summer, and not an LSU-Tulane game weekend. What a scene! I asked the concierge about the revelery on the street until about 4:00AM. "Oh, that's the way it is nowadays," was the reply. OK, so it seemed like Mardi Gras, but it was a mid-Summer's week night. This was another reason that we avoid Bourbon St, for most visits, except for a few restaurants.

                After one gets a block in either direction from Bourbon St., things do change, and in a hurry. We were moved to a courtyard room, and all was good.


            3. re: kukubura
              pikawicca RE: kukubura Jun 23, 2009 07:02 PM

              What on earth are you talking about? Dinner at Galatoire's is a frat party? I eat there regularly on my visits to the city, and as a single female, I have to say that I have never encountered louche behavior.

              1. re: kukubura
                KateMW RE: kukubura Jun 26, 2009 12:42 PM

                Really? I've never been to a dinner there that was a "frat party". Now, Friday lunch is a different, yet fun experience all together.

                1. re: kukubura
                  thew RE: kukubura Jun 27, 2009 06:40 PM

                  why do people always argue from the extremes - surely there is room between "all dressed up" and "slobs dressed like they are at mcdonald's", isn't there?

                  to get back to the OP
                  i loved August, and recommend it heartily

                2. re: TaTee
                  ScarlettNola RE: TaTee Jun 23, 2009 02:30 PM

                  You can borrow a jacket from Galatoires, but have heard they are quite worn. I would try Commander's, Cochon and Brigtsens or Vizards. I would not recommend Redfish, as it is good, but not when you are wishing to try the best.

                  1. re: TaTee
                    pikawicca RE: TaTee Jun 23, 2009 06:58 PM

                    I'm surprised that a European would balk at wearing a jacket, since most male diners at upscale European restaurants wear jackets as a matter of course. I agree with TaTee -- Galatoires is a must for old-time NOLA vibe.

                  2. Bill Hunt RE: Denisek Jun 22, 2009 09:34 PM

                    We are fortunate to dine in Europe/UK very often. New Orleans (many will have a Euro-feel, but will be unique to NOLA) has some great restaurants.

                    Now, when you mention "mains around 20-25," do you mean US$? That will rule out some great ones, like Galatoire's (a not-to-be-missed, IMO), but will definitely help.

                    If that is the case, I would recommend Cochon, out of your list, and based on personal opinion.

                    Some of the ones on your list are slightly above that, though worth the $, or £, or €.

                    As for the "jacket," I have found that most Europeans don these for even informal restaurants. Tip: take a jacket, and wear it on the flight. If you're not in BC, or FC, then turn it inside out, pulling the shoulders. Fold it neatly, and place in the overhead, atop your briefcase, or laptop. As one, who travels with a jacket, even to Hawai`i, it works great.

                    Enjoy, and travel safely,


                    1. d
                      Denisek RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 01:15 AM

                      Thanks for the suggestions.
                      @TaTee: I'm a woman in fact, but mentioned the jackets because off the men in my family. It's just that I find the places that require jackets are to 'formal' during my holidays (when it's all about relaxing!)

                      I will probably be staying at the French Quarter. And we'll have a car.

                      Cochon seems really nice, as does GW Fins. I don't mind if a restaurant is pricier than what I proposed, as long as it's worth it... What do you think about snugjazz (for evening with music, other suggestions?), redfish and Mila?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Denisek
                        edible complex RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 06:36 AM

                        Galatorie's has jackets at the door if no one is traveling w/them, and the place is not too formal. If you've been to the Grand Colbert in Paris, they remind me of each other in atmosphere w/casual elegance, yet fun. If you make it there, stick to ordering from their house specialty list. I've never had a bad meal or time there.

                        1. re: Denisek
                          kibbles RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 08:13 AM

                          - i believe you mean "Snug Harbor", which is a jazz joint on Frenchmen in the marigny neighborhood. it is not really known as a food destination, other than really good cheeseburgers. probably not what you have in mind tho, right?

                          - Red Fish Grill is not considered a great restaurant; i like it for work lunch or happy hour, but its not really an upscale place to go to for dinner.

                          - for the same reason i would avoid Rocky & Carlo's which someone mentioned, its a dive-y cafeteria.

                          - Deanies in the quarter, while somewhat attractive, is more of a tourist trap version of local boil seafood.

                          if you want *nice* restaurants, that are not 100% "fine dining", then i would recommend these: Lilette, Coquette, Brightsen's, Green Goddess, Bistro Daisy, GW Finns, Iris, Eleven 79, Mila, Cochon (for lunch)... you will find a nice balance between upscale and very good food.

                          I have purposely left out some really excellent destinations due to price and formality: Stella!, Bayona, August, Commander's Palace (for lunch), Galatoire's...

                          1. re: Denisek
                            Bill Hunt RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 06:53 PM

                            While we have not had the pleasure to dine at all locations, but would hazard to say that all, or most of the recs. are well worth the price difference.

                            If you've seen some of my reviews, you'll see that I attempt to give some indication of what we've paid. As we both love wine, I also try to report on these, since they are reflected in the total price. One can dine at the same places, and have the same food, and get by for less $ than it cost us, because of a couple of US$250 bottles of wine.

                            As for the jackets, I always travel with a blazer, regardless of where we're headed. It usually gets me by, unless I also need a tux, or dark suit for some other reason.

                            Not all restaurants in NOLA are "jacket" sorts of places, but some are. I think that this reflects their European heritage. Nowadays, most do not "require" jackets, but most gentlemen will be more comfortable with them. May be wrong, but I do not believe that any place, outside of a private club, will require a tie. Back in my youth, many did, and there was no special dispensation for the age of the gentleman. All were required to wear a tie - no exceptions.

                            Whatever you decide - enjoy!


                            1. re: Denisek
                              Bill Hunt RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 07:00 PM

                              BTW, where in Europe do you live? Maybe someone can draw some good comparissons with restaurants in your area and NOLA.


                            2. l
                              lexpatti RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 04:56 AM

                              We just got back from our trip (we've missed Nola for the past 5 years - report soon) but we absolutely loved Cochon and can't wait to go back - it's now on my "have to" list!! It's very New Orleans and I would call it casual/upscale. Drinks were excellent, hip! Just to give you an idea: started with fried boudin (fantastic) and fried alligator (again oustanding - this had a nice red pepper sauce), hubby got an excellent rabbit stew and I'm still in heaven over my head-on shrimp and grits with chili oil. I just wish I had gotten two of them.

                              My only negative was our waitress - she didn't ruin it but it was close. The young gentleman waiter with longer hair was floating around us, he was my kind of waiter, great personality, very professional - ours belonged in a fast food diner where no- personality is ok when you're just craving a cup of coffee.

                              Look for my report, we found a great local breakfast joint on this trip too.

                              1. l
                                lexpatti RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 05:43 AM

                                If you love great oysters, skip Acme and the long line to get in (sorry if I offend anyone) and go next door to Dickie Brennans Bourbon House - sit at a wonderful upscale bar and enjoy fantastic oysters (they put up on the board where they are from that day). Fantastic. We hit it during happy hour - $1 oysters.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: lexpatti
                                  kibbles RE: lexpatti Jun 23, 2009 08:17 AM

                                  i also prefer Bourbon House and Red Fish Grill for oysters. no lines. RF has nice little oyster, clean. BH has a happy hour too tho i dont remember what it is.

                                2. Hungry4Good RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 07:15 PM

                                  I think K-Pauls is the perfect introduction to New Orleans. For some reason, this place has been off my radar for about 20 years but they really continue to deliver. This was my visiting "dining club's" favorite this month and we went to some heavy hitters.

                                  1. j
                                    jamy RE: Denisek Jun 23, 2009 09:36 PM

                                    Never been and you've got only four meals. (This is like a fun parlor game for New Orleanians.) I'm saying you've got to go for classics, not the reinterpretations.

                                    Day 1 lunch: Galatoires
                                    Day 1 dinner: Brigtsens (a stand in for every other small 'house' restaurant in New Orleans, plus some Cajun influence.)
                                    Day 2 lunch: Mandina's (to experience the neighborhood "bar and rest," and Creole Italian; could also substitute one of the two Liuzzas.)
                                    Day 2 dinner: Commander's

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jamy
                                      hazelhurst RE: jamy Jun 23, 2009 09:54 PM

                                      That is a thoughtful and balanced plan...it could be switched a bit but I like the progression as you have it.

                                    2. d
                                      Denisek RE: Denisek Jun 24, 2009 12:35 AM

                                      Thanks, got some thinking to do and will keep you updated (i'm from Holland btw)!

                                      1. The Chowhound Team RE: Denisek Jun 28, 2009 06:11 AM


                                        We've removed a number of posts that discuss dress codes generally, and not places to eat in New Orleans. If posters want to discuss the former, they are welcome to do so on the Not About Food board, where there are a number of threads on that subject.

                                        Thank you for helping us keep this board focused on local chow.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team
                                          The Chowhound Team RE: The Chowhound Team Jun 28, 2009 02:28 PM

                                          Because discussions about what and how to post on the boards aren't on topic for our regional boards, we've split some posts about posting of non-food issues to our Site Talk board. You can find that thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/632333

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