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Jun 22, 2009 11:57 AM

Nice restaurants (European 1st-timer)


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. 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

      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

        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

          "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

            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

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


            2. re: Bill Hunt

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

              1. re: Hungry4Good

                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

              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

                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

                  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

                  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

                    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. 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. 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

                        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

                          - 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

                            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

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


                            2. 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. 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

                                  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.