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Oct 8, 2009 02:28 PM

Dining in NOLA With and Without Baby in October

Hi. We will be in NOLA from lunch on a Sunday in October and departing early on Thursday. A family friend will be babysitting our 10 month old on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night so we have some non-baby time. We have a reservation at Stella! for my birthday. We would appreciate suggestions on (1) where to eat lunches with a baby and (2) where we can dine as a family on Sunday around 5 pm or otherwise order something to go and eat it at our hotel after we put our baby to sleep around 7 pm. This is our first vacation since having our baby and our first real vacation in 2 years so we are super excited! My husband and I have been to NO although not together. We're from NYC and are looking for great local food; not necessarily fancy - we've got plenty of that in NYC. We plan on spending 1 day in plantation country on our own. Thanks for your help!

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  1. I can only assume you haven't had too many responses because NOLA is not full of family-friendly restaurants as they're typically understood, but there are still plenty of places you can take your child without attracting the ire of other diners. (Like anywhere, if your child becomes disruptive and disturbing to other diners, you should take him/her out until the child settles down. But I'm sure you know that!) And don't get me wrong, New Orleanians love kids, and there are plenty of them around, but a lot of the restaurants, particularly in the area of the French Quarter/Warehouse District/CBD, are geared toward fine dining or they are in small spaces so aren't conducive to lively children .

    Not sure where your hotel is, but you could probably dine w/a child on Sunday evening or at lunch on one of the other days at Cochon, Luke, or Domenica. I've been to all with a small child and they've been very accommodating. If the weather is nice, you can dine in the lovely courtyard of Cafe Amelie, and the child will hardly be noticed amongst the gardens and fountains and--esp. if the weather is nice--general good cheer. Your child would pose no problems at Johnny's Po-boy's. Mandina's is not in the FQ/CBD area, but it is a short cab ride or streetcar ride down Canal St. It has "local" food at good prices, is noisy, and your child would not likely bother anyone. I've also been a few times to Willie Mae's for fried chicken with small children, but sometimes the wait there can be long so kids can get antsy. Elizabeth's in the Bywater (cab ride) is another child-friendly option. And Drago's in the Hilton is a big, noisy, child-friendly place--but the only good food there, imo, are the (fabulous) char-broiled oysters and the raw oysters (and the Maine lobster, but you're probably not coming to NOLA for Maine lobster). Go for the oysters, and order some fries for your tot.
    I hope that gives you some ideas.

    6 Replies
    1. re: nomadchowwoman

      I, for one, am appreciate of your suggestions to the OP inasmuch as I avoid children and am glad to have recommendations for places considered to be child friendly. Of course, the major problem in good restaurants is the inattentive/lax parent when the child is only being a child...

      1. re: hazelhurst

        Couldn't agree more. The combination of an unruly child or screaming infant and inattentive (read: selfish) parents can ruin a restaurant experience as easily as--or even more than--bad food.

        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          Thank you for the thoughtful restaurant recommendations! I would think that parents who request such info and have arranged for a babysitter (from 1000 miles away) to care for their sweet baby for almost every evening meal (and are otherwise planning to eat the only family dinner at 5 or in their hotel room) are the choir. Mama's gotta eat! Now we can thanks to nomadchowwoman.

          1. re: bklynfoodfanatic

            And what's worse than "unruly" children, are loud, drunk, obnoxious unruly adults. THAT can ruin a dining experience.

            1. re: Suzy Wong

              Agreed, although I think it is a dead heat between them

            2. re: bklynfoodfanatic

              Yes, and I hope you enjoy every minute--and every bite!

              BTW, my parents loved dining out, and we kids loved it too. We behaved ourselves because we did not want to be denied the privilege. And my parents never gave us the impression that it was ok to run about and "entertain" other diners--an attitude I've often been baffled by when in restaurants. Yet, things can be trickier with very young children. We were on vacation a few years ago and were dining in one of the few "fine dining" establishments in the area, a place we knew and loved. My sister's eighteen-month-old was being perfectly sweet and quiet, but when the food came, she grabbed at a hot plate and burned her finger and started screeching. My sister, very correctly I thought, first dipped her hand in the water and then cradled her daughter in her arms to sooth her and then got up and took her to the restroom to calm her and make sure she was ok. The people at the next table were so angered by my niece's sudden outburst that they made sure we heard their outrage and their complaints to the server about babies being allowed in restaurants. I thought THEY were out of line, wondered if they would have complained had someone suddenly had a heart attack or choked!

              I never mind young diners who are accompanied by conscientious parents sensitive to other patrons, as you obviously are. It's heartening to see kids developing respect for food and dining.

              Oh and I just thought of a place, right in the FQ, where we went once with three adults and three kids (one in a carrier), and enjoyed ourselves with no problems: Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House. It's a seafood place, with everything from raw seafood to po-boys to more sophisticated fish preparations--very "local" food. We sat in the front of the restaurant, which was loud and boisterous, in a fun way (in a booth, I think). We chose the place (and the front part of the resto) precisely because of the kids in tow, and we had a lovely time. So that's another thought.

      2. well, for family friendly, casual spots you might try Acme for oysters, etc; Coops or Fiorella's; Stanley for an early dinner on Sunday, maybe EAT on Sunday as well. You could also grab a to go muffaletta from Central Grocery and walk over to Jackson Square and sit and people watch. Cafe du Monde is a good snack spot, too, if you don't mind a powdered sugar coated baby!

        Have a great time!
        And don't sweat the baby, unless you are going white tablecloth hush hush candlelight, (which obviously you don't plan to do with him/her!) then folks ought to understand that people are all sorts of shapes and sizes and go places together as a family. (small rant over, promise!)