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Food recommendations for a first time visitor

Going to NOLA in a little over a week. I searched for a few of these topics but wasn't finding what I was looking for.

We'll be staying in the French Quarter, looking to venture out some, but it's our first trip so not looking to go too far afield

I love seafood...and when I get it fresh I'm a pig. I don't like anything fancy...just simple preparations where the meat stands on it's own.

Wanted to get your opinions on the following:

1) Good places for plain ole, cheap shellfish - crawfish, shrimp, oysters, maybe some lobster or crab etc. Could be boiled, could be fried could be fresh...but I'm talking quick serve, simple, maybe even hole in the wall place.

2) Jambalaya...

3) For a non-seafood option - Crepes?

4) Nicer sit down place $20-$30 per plate before tax/tip/drinks...again classic seafood simple preparations with high quality ingredients

5) Cajun/Seafood buffets???

6) how is dining in the casino?

7) Place to buy fresh shellfish to take home...looking for good price/quality ratio

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  1. Um, no buffets.

    Avoid casino dining at all costs.

    Try Casamento's, Acme, Big Fisherman...you won't find lobster here as a rule....need to go North for that.

    Go to Central Grocery for a muffaletta.

    Try Fiorella's for good fried chicken.

    There are a lot of wonderful seafood places in the 20-30$ range...look back at some of the threads and you will have a ton of options...personally I love Mr. B's BBQ shrimp.

    1. Crepes: Muriel's shrimp and goat cheese crepes are a must. Other crepe options at Crepe Nanou, but get there early as it gets very crowded.

      Jambalaya: Coops; most people cook this at home, so it is not often found on menus.

      Seafood: Galley Seafood, Perino's Boiling Pot, Big Fisherman for take out and go across street to Bulldog for some beers, Mandina's

      Nicer options for seafood dishes: Brigtsen's, Galatoire's, GW Fins, Mr.B's, Bourbon House, Redfish Grill

      1 Reply
      1. re: edible complex

        I agree with your comment on jambalaya 100% (cannot comment on Coops b/c I have not had it). If anyone does have a retaurant jambalaya that I can refer friends to I would be glad to hear of it but you are dead-on in that it is mostly homemade..ceertainly when it is worth shooting it is. I've had dreadful piles of needle-gauge rice with dessicated sausage and God-Knows-What served in Respectable Places.

      2. For boiled seafood, check out the Big Fisherman. You won't go wrong. Or try Frankie and Johnny's. It is a bit of a dive but wonderful just the same. I love the jambalaya at Coop's Place and IMHO is one of their best dishes. Any mid-range to upscale Nola restaurant will have a plethora of seafood dishes. I would try Galatoire's, Brigtsen's, Commander's Palace or Bayona. Perrino's Seafood Market is just a short drive away and has great prices on take home seafood. They will pack with dry ice for the drive/flight home in a shipping container. I get medium sized shrimp for 2.99 a lb there which is a great deal for head on shrimp of this size. The casino dining is passable, but only barely. John Besh's has pretty good steak, but unless you are highly intoxicated and it is 3 a.m., steer away from the buffet. If you can get it for free-fine. If not, would try to stay away. Ruth's Chris at the casino/hotel is not my favorite either, but will work in a pinch. The other location is much better. The Asian restaurant inside the casino is pretty good and we have had a huge meal there for a reasonable price. Some dishes were great, others entirely too seasoned and salty. Best of luck!

        1. There are so many options - how many days are you in; are you renting a car; do you mind walking & are you street savvy; are you a couple - any kids; how are you traveling with the take home Cfood; are you a cocktail person; what truly is your budget.

          Seriously you cannot think buffet and a New Orleans meal IMO.

          1 Reply
          1. re: savory south

            the only buffet I've eaten at is Jazz Fest!
            so if there is a fest of interest when you're in town, that can be a great way to try much local fare.

          2. Thanks for the GREAT recommendations....I'll do some more research and narrow it down.

            Casino is out...I kind of figured that. Never really done the casino thing and figured it would either be great or completely horrible.

            Buffets are out too..I just remember as a kid always travelling to the seaside and finding great seafood buffets. For some reason, I thought if there was a good seafood buffet it'd be in a city like NOLA...but mybe I just need to resign myself to the fact that as a kid all you can eat is good, but here really are no good buffets :-)

            A bit more about our travel...going with a couple 30 something friends going for 3-4 days. It's our first time and we're planning to leave the FQ, but not looking to run all over the city...probably a couple focused jaunts outside the FQ area. We're all very street savvy being Chicago natives. All of us are drinkers... True budget is really open, but looking for good values.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cpfoutz

              you could take the ferry across the river to the Dry Dock for seafood.
              not sure if they still do bucket night, which is a huge bucket of boiled/steamed seafood.
              call first to be sure.

              1. re: cpfoutz

                You will have a great time exploring the Quarter, but also try going Uptown. It's easy to get "stuck" in and around the Quarter if yo are a first time visitor. Taking the St. Charles Streetcar is a fun, cheap, beautiful way to see a different part of the city. There are tons of great restaurants out that way...

                Pascal's Manale
                Dick and Jenny's
                Jacques Imo's
                and many more

              2. Thanks to everyone who responded...while we didn't do many of the recommendations on here, it gave me great ideas to start doing searches and narrowing down what I want. Here's a report of what we did....

                Thanks to all of you for your advice....

                Here's what I did and our thoughts for future travellers:

                - Wed night - started on Bourbon Street then went to dinner with a buddy in the Garden District. We were a bit too drunk to remember how good the food was or the name of the place. Then went to Bulldog, which we enjoyed IMMENSELY!!!

                Thurs lunch - Cooter Browns - Best. Shrimp. Ever. cheap oysters, great seafood sandwich and a huge beer list to boot. The only bad part of our experiance was an entitled cashier who yelled at us for not leaving a tip in his tip jar. Do we now have to tip cashier's at McDonalds????? What he does is no different.

                Thurs. Dinner - Coops - Jambalaya was perfectly spiced but a little overcooked. I'd believe this is the best Jambalaya you can get in a restauraunt and it was good. Just don't think Jambalaya is my thing.

                Fri. lunch - Mr. B's - BBQ Shrimp was one of the best meals I've had in my life and those 1.50 drinks helped us nurse our hangover from the night before. I dind't do enough looking into this one so I'll let you learn from our mistake...Mr. Bs is not a casual dining place...dress appropriately. The staff was very gracious despite our not-so-up-to-par dress.

                Fri. dinner - Deanies - Portion sizes are HUGE!!!! We were disappointed by the lack of in season seafood and were disappointed it wasn't worthwhile to do the seafood boil...I knew crawfish were out of season but expected crab, the server said we are in the middle of a lull and the bodies are undeveloped. Potatoes were great. Got fried shrimp and oysters...good but certainly not memorable. Cooter Brown beat them hands down.

                Thanks to all on this board who provided their insights...I won big points with my buddies for making sure we were fed well!!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: cpfoutz

                  The guys at Cooters have been doing that for years. As I know most of them, their bark is worse than their bite. But they do more than someone at McDonalds, those tips are split with the kitchen staff and they bust ass compared to anyone at a fast food place, and I am willing to bet they don't have any insurance plans like they do at McDonald's.

                2. I just got back from New Orleans on Sunday - hot and humid but the weather is changing, suppose to be cooler and less humid - more fall-like so the weather should really be nice for your visit. This was my first trip back since Katrina. For first time visitors (this may sound like a broken record) I would definitely have a muffalleta from Central Grocery - whole one is ~ 8" diameter so 1/2 a muff is plenty for one person (already cut in half, whole muffs come cut in 1/4) and head to Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait. Forget about the casino for food - too many great choices out there. Deannie's , Acme and Felix's can have long lines at peak lunch and dinner on Fri. & Sat. so you may want to plan accordingly. All 3 streetcar lines are running (St. Charles, Canal St. & Riverfront) some can be a little crowded with us tourists but at least they run frequently vs. the buses (check http://www.norta.com/ for schedules) For a po'boy I took the Canal St. streetcar up to Parkway Bakery and Tavern, it's on Hagen about 4 blocks from Canal and Jefferson Davis Parkway trolley stop - safe walk, great po'boys and really friendly service (can get crowded at noon time). If you feel like taking a trip up St. Charles to the Riverbend (~40 minutes on the streetcar) I would recommend either Brightsen's or Dante's Kitchen on Dante (across the street from each other) You can have a great dinner at either restaurant and ride the streetcar back to the Quarter - the Garden District will be all lit-up - very pretty view. I had a very good lunch at Lil Dizzy's on Poydras (Camp St.) in the Whitney Hotel - great gumbo and fried chicken. Would also recommend the BBQ shrimp at Mr. B's ( can be messy but worth the "work") and crawfish ettoufe at the Gumbo Shop. Also soft shell crabs have "arrived" so keep a look out on the daily specials for them. Many of the restaurants have websites with menus listed and you can always count on the New Orleans Chowhounds for great tips. Enjoy your visit!