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Help build our dream restaurant weekend in New Orleans. Please.

Hi. My boyfriend and I, both foodies from NYC, will be staying in the French Quarter mid-August from Thu-Sun... for an "all expense paid trip" by his company... and we're planning to spend almost every dollar on FOOD :) But with so many great places, not sure where to start?!

We would love suggestions for the can't miss, best-of-the-best places to eat in New Orleans and experience the culture. Everything from hole in the walls, historic landmarks to 4 star restaurants... only requirement, EXCELLENT FOOD! We're huge fresh/raw seafood and wine lovers, but would try pretty much anything (although not too big on fried food).

Where should we go for....
- Dinner (two hi-end places where we can dress up, mid-priced local fave, and a historic location)
- Lunch (oysters/ seafood)
- Breakfast/Brunch (rather do local faves for this meal)
- A glass of wine (somewhere with some ambiance or character)

Help. Thank you!

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  1. Heres two high ends you will like Galatoires and The Palace Cafe

    8 Replies
    1. re: joedontexan

      I haven't been there but I've read ALMOST universally negative things about the Palace Cafe on here and when I peeked in a couple weeks ago I decided to go elsewhere.

      Galatoire's I've actually been to and had a bad experience but most others on here love it. Depending on how chaotic you want your experience to be I'd suggest either going there on Friday night (extremely chaotic) or Saturday night (more relaxing).

      For awesome food and a dinner that you'll be proud to dress up for (even if some of the other diners won't) I'd DEFINITELY suggest K-Paul's. (I have a ton of thoughts in my '7 Nights in NOLA (looooong trip report)' thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/633414

      )

      I also really like the Pelican Club for a dressy dinner.

      For brunch I have two suggestions, both will be memorable experiences:
      -Commander's Palace. I've only be for lunch (I went to their late restaurant in Las Vegas for brunch) but it's seriously one of my favorite places on Earth. Get all dressed up and ride the St Charles Streetcar to it.
      -Lil Dizzy's, the one in Treme, not the hotel location. A really great local brunch joint with astonishingly high food quality.
      -For a regular breakfast I'd suggest omelets at Clover Grill, a Quarter greasy spoon that makes insane pillow-like omelets.

      Lunch:
      -Napoleon House is a great inexpensive place with a ton of history and character. Plus they are known for their Pimms Cup drink.
      -Mr. B's Bistro- Not everything on the menu is good but, for real, go and both of you order the BBQ Shrimp. It's a shockingly good dish. Go for that and for the $1.50 lunch cocktails (although be warned: The bloody mary has beef broth in it, in case you don't eat beef)

      Drinks:
      -Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone (also in the Quarter)
      But don't get wine, get a real NOLA cocktail: Vieux Carre (invented at Carousel), Sazerac, French 75

      Also, not food but find out what night the Preservation Hall Jazz Band or one of their combos is playing at Preservation Hall and go there.

      1. re: kukubura

        Palace Cafe is a solid place to dine. I had great expereince there, but it doesn't really fall into the category of "Dream Dinning."

        I'd look into Stella, very upscale and phenomenal food.

        Galatoire's is absolutley lovely, but I'd go with Commanders over it. Commanders is an expereince in every possible way. Food is excellent, the service is outstanding, and it doesn't get anymore traditional New Orleans than Commanders!

        Here is a recent thread with some good info:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/633292

        Avoid Felix, NOLA, Antoine's, and Mothers.

        1. re: FoodChic

          Oddly enough, I don;t think of Commander's as being as traditional as I do Arnaud's , galatoire's or Antoine's--although I agree with you that Antoine's is shaky...but I still love the place for lots of good memories and wonderful parties and they are great folks,too. I recall Commander's before the Big Whoop of the 1970's and the so-called "haute creole" stuff. It has, for me, run hot-and-cold. regardless of kukubura's bad experience, I stilla rgue for Galatoire's as The Classic. It is not innovative..it is simply good food prepared in teh basic way. As Ihave implored before, if you want to be amazed at your ability to discern the one cumin seed in a gallon of exotic soup, go somewhere else.

          I think I'd suggest Brightsen's , too.

          1. re: hazelhurst

            Yeah Commander's is operating on a slightly different time-stream from Arnaud's, Antoine's and Galatoire's. Since I've been to all four here's how they shake out for me:

            Commander's: I will go there for lunch every time I'm in NOLA and if I'm ever lucky enough to move to the region I'll go there at least once a month.
            Arnaud's: I went for brunch once and thought it was absolutely fantastic. It's expensive, but I thought the food was worth the price. I do go to their cheapee branch Remoulade more regularly.
            Galatoire's: I had a bad experience that we discussed in great detail (and then Chowhound thoughtfully deleted the entire discussion) HOWEVER I would give it another chance for lunch. Just not on a Friday. They need to earn my Friday business back again.
            Antoine's: I'm really glad I went for the history etc but afterward I found myself kind of wishing I could have put that money towards two or three other meals elsewhere.

            1. re: kukubura

              Just ignore Friday--that's what I have done for years.

              1. re: kukubura

                "Antoine's: I'm really glad I went for the history etc but afterward I found myself kind of wishing I could have put that money towards two or three other meals elsewhere."

                I agree on those exact sentiments, and I hate it. I knew them "way back when," but they have not delivered for me on two pre-K visits. It saddens me more than I can express. I will go back on the next trip and my hopes are with them. I'd love to recapture that forgotten charm and cuisine. I hope that I can find it again, Thomas Wolff be damned. Still, I cannot recommend them - yet.

                Hunt

              2. re: hazelhurst

                I do agree. We just did CP and it was good, but lacked the charm that we once found. Things went well, but not to the level that I expect from them.

                While we've had great meals (some rather private and intimate, and some with larger groups) at Arnaud's, I left them off my list down thread. They would make my Top 20, but not my Top 5.

                Galatoire's did make the list, but then everyone on this board knows my feelings. I hope that history and my experiences from decades, are not tainting my objectivity. I do not think they are.

                As for Antoine's, well I wish they were in the Top 5. They are not, and it's based on the last few (pre-K) trips there. It's time to get back and keep an open mind. Still, I cannot recommend a place that has let me down, regardless of how they performed 30 years ago.

                Chef Frank Brigtsen made my list, but this should surprise no one here.

                I tried to put together a list of different dining establishments, that would, en toto, capture the essence of dining in NOLA, at a "white linen tablecloth" level.

                I omitted many great, funky and lower-scale places, as I am not current on these. Once, I could name dozens, but not any longer. I kept my recs. to the upper-end of things, and at places that have impressed me on several levels.

                Hope that what I offered will help the OP. Mine is not the ultimate list, other than for me.

                I also tried to make recs. based on our dining in NYC at Per Se, Le Bernadine, etc., but with a NOLA influence and ambiance. Each was different, in its own respect, but with great food (and wine) in mind.

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Now, I readily admit that it has been awhile since I've been to CP; however, I have a coworker that just had is first trip to NOLA and CP was his favorite meal of the trip.

        2. Skip Palace Cafe. Commanders for lunch in the garden room m-f. Fine dining: August, Cuvee, Emeril's Herbsaint Iris, Coquette. Most are open lunch/dinner. Lunch at a better rest. with quality ingredients is usually far better than what a hole in the wall puts out. Many offer sandwiches in addition to regular entrees. K-Paul's has a self serve lunch Thur, Fri., Sat. Gumbo and po boys are good. Oysters 1/2 shell, Felix's. Stand at the bar and wash them down with an Amber.

          1. My recommendations:

            Dinner:

            Bayona (everything is good but I am partial to the goat cheese crouton with mushrooms in madiera creme as an appetizer and the salmon with gewurztraminer sauce as my favorite main course)

            Galatoire's - Go heavy on appetizers and salads, skip or share an entree and save room for cafe brulot

            Lunch -
            Johnny's po boys for oyster and or shrimp poboys
            Central Grocery for muffelatas

            Breakfast or snack
            Cafe Du monde for beignets and cafe au lait

            1. If you have a car or don't mind a $20 taxi fare, I would suggest Drago's in Metairie for the chargrilled oysters. They are phenomenal!! There is a Drago's in the Hilton downtown but I have not heard good things about the oysters cooked at that location. You need a really hot grill to perfectly cook them. The raw oysters are good too, but August is not the best time to eat oysters. Check with the server before ordering any because in the summer the oysters are sometimes milky and not as salty.

              7 Replies
              1. re: foodophyle

                since you havent heard anything....i think the chargrilled oysters at the hilton's Drago are identical as the metry location :). there is fire, butter, garlic and cheese.. a dozen w/ bread are damn tasty at either spot.

                1. re: kibbles

                  I pray to God that Metaire is better. We did the Hilton and were 100% disappointed. It was a very bad joke on tourists, and we had two NOLA natives returning, plus me, from the Coast. Our fourth was from Transylvania, and she agreed on how bad they were. It could have been the "night from hell" for them, but they missed on every count, including their oysters.

                  Though we stayed at the Hilton last month, we refused to even consider the Hilton location, and wheeled M-I-L's wheelchair 10 blocks to keep from dining in the lobby of our hotel. That is how dreadful they were. I was so embarrassed that I had chosen this restaurant on a previous visit.

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    interesting. what specifically about the oysters was different than the metry location? i make no claims to the rest of the restaurant or service, because i only eat the oysters at either.

                    1. re: kibbles

                      Sorry that you have missed it, though I think I have now said it at least a dozen times over several threads. Here it goes again. Please pay close attention: I have never dined at the Metairie location. I have no earthly idea how they compare. I have only been to the Hilton location and everything about that meal, especially the oysters, was horrible with a capital H. I would not return under any circumstance and would have to be dragged to the other location, predicated on my one excruciatingly bad experience at the Hilton. I know good food, and I know bad food. Drago's married bad food with bad wine service and no more than mediocre service.

                      There are just too many restaurants in NOLA, and I love many of them, if not most where I've have had the pleasure to dine.

                      Some seem to prefer one location to the other. You will have to ask them, as I have, and will have, only one excursion. With zero to redeem themselves, there is just no reason to darken their door again.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I've never had anything other than the Fat City location oysters and they can vary wildly..BUT, if not cremated, they can be decent...I have been there on occasion when Ebehardt-Faber pencil erasers would have been better but, in the Pre_k days, there were guys grilling who knew their timing. They are NOT as great as Antoine's Rock always were---that is a separate category---but they were fun.. I would not drive out-of-my-way to get them, though.(I used to get more garlic added...I wonder if they do that anymore?)

                2. For dinner, I would either do Brigtsen's or Gautreaux's; both uptown. If you want to stay downtown, I highly, highly, highly, highly recommend Restaurant August. Cuvee is also phenomenal. The Upperline is also really nice and often overlooked, and you can get there by streetcar; super-cool artwork on the walls; locals only; very friendly owner who makes the rounds during dinner. Feelings is also very good, and it's near the Quarter. For Brunch, I would either go to Cafe Degas (mid-city; off Esplanade) or Patois (secretly tucked away in uptown). Mandina's is a good place for hearty Italian fare, but it's cash only; however, someone will call you "dahlin'." If you're into desert, check out Brocoto's for some truly fantastic Italian pastries and gelato (also on the streetcar line).

                  Drinks: Napoleon House, Preservation Hall and Lafitte's Blacksmith's Shop. Maybe Pat O'Brien's just to say you did.

                  Tip: IF you go to Commander's ask for the Garden Room. They put the tourists downstairs.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CL10

                    Regarding Pat O'Brien's: since this trip is being planned for August, It might be important to note that Pat O's has some of the best air conditioning in the French Quarter. Fortunately, the bar serves drinks other than Hurricanes. One of those per lifetime is plenty.