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Help me avoid tourist traps!

Will be in town for a convention in November and am looking for some AUTHENTIC restaurants that represent New Orleans best. Any suggestions?

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  1. Because NOLA is a tourist city, many great restaurants will have tourists. Still, I would never define any of these as a "tourist trap," in any sense.

    Galatoire's - one of the "grand dames" of New Orleans dining. Crowded, but worh the effort, or wait, if one wishes to dine downstairs. Between just you and me, I opt for upstairs and a reservation, 'cause I love the food and the service. Others have differing ideas.

    Restaurant August - Chef John Besh's upscale dining in the CBD (Central Business District), and it features heavily NOLA influenced fresh, local ingredients.

    Brightsen's - Chef Frank Brigtsen's wonderful NOLA "home cooking" restaurant in the River Bend Area, a streetcar ride from the CBD, or FQ (French Quarter).

    Bayona - Chef Susan Spicer's lovely restaurant in the FQ.

    Cochon - less NOLA, specifically, but definitely "local" to the environs, in the CBD.

    The Bonton - Creole restaurant in the CBD

    GW Fins - FQ seafood restaurant, that does local takes on local seafood. Most have never heard of it.

    Now, you'll likely see more tourists, but that is not at all bad:

    K-Paul's - Chef Paul Prudhomme's great restaurant in the FQ.

    I also have enjoyed Emeril's, but there is a heavy tourist quotient. Still, worth the effort, if the tourists are well-behaved that night.

    Note: these are mostly higher-end restaurants, and many will have some more downscale recs. for you.



    1. New Orleans is an authentic town where you won't find many chains or traps.
      Here's a list I posted last week:
      My favorite restaurants in the French Quarter are:

      Galatoire's (jacket required for men at dinner): oysters rockefeller, oysters en brochette, seafood stuffed eggplant, lamb chops béarnaise, crabmeat au gratin, fried soft shell crabs w/crabmeat, godchaux salad, soufflé potatoes.

      Mr.. B's: great gumbo Ya-Ya, BBQ shrimp, any fish of the day plank grilled, and profiteroles for dessert.

      Irene's: the duck is amazing, and the chicken rosemarino is a classic Creole Italian dish.

      Muriel's at Jackson Square: good gumbo, goat cheese and crawfish crepes, puppy drum, and double cut pork chops.

      Iris in the Bienville House for veal cheek ravioli, mussels, foie gras, duck confit, sunchoke and cauliflower soup, scallops and skate wing.

      Go to Cafe du Monde (riverside of Jackson Square) for beignets and coffee any time of day.

      Check out Stanley on Jackson Square for breakfast or lunch. Scott Boswell also has Stella!, but this is his casual restaurant that cranks out some good food too:

      For raw oysters: Desire Bar in the Royal Sonesta, Bourbon House, Acme or Felix's in the Qtr., Luke in the CBD on St. Charles Ave., Pascal's Manale and Casamento's Uptown.

      For good drinks: Carrousel Bar at the Monteleone (a must visit), French 75 Bar at Arnaud's, Lafitte's Blacksmith, Absinthe House, Napoleon House, Hermes Bar at Antoine's, Chart Room on Chartres, Sazerac Bar at (recently reopened) The Roosevelt.

      Central Grocery for muffalettas. These are great for the plane ride home. Be sure to check their hours, as they may be closed when you fly home. They pack well, so you can buy a day before flying. If you like your muffalettas warmed (which I do), then eat at Napoleon House or heat up the CG when you get home. I find it opens up the flavors of the meats, cheese and olive salad.

      Green Goddess is the newest and most talked about in the Qtr.
      Menu looks amazing:

      If you have a car or will take the streetcar, head Uptown for J'Anita's, Martinique, Clancy's and Patois.

      J'Anita's in the Avenue Pub on St. Charles Ave. for great BBQ for lunch. They also have the best fish sammich ever!

      Martinique Bistro on Magazine has great food and a beautiful courtyard.

      Clancy's on Annunciation is terrific; get the oysters w/brie, sweetbreads, the smoked soft shell crab and the veal chops. and their frozen Brandy Alexander's are good for dessert.

      Patois on Laurel for rabbit, moules frites, and pork belly. This has become one of the best new restaurants and well worth trying. Open also for Friday lunch and Sunday brunch, if that fits in your schedule.

      Or, head to Mid-City for Mandina's on Canal St. for turtle soup, oyster po boys, and trout or Parkway Bakery and Tavern for the best roast beef po boys.
      (Mandina's is cash only.

      In the CBD, across Canal St from Fr. Qtr., try Rambla in the International House Hotel for great tapas, Luke on St. Charles for oysters at the bar, duck and rabbit pate, choucroûte maison, and moules and frites, Domenica in The Roosevelt for goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms, grilled radicchio, and any of the pastas and pizzas. If you are in town for lunch Friday, Restaurant August has a 3 course for $20.09 that is stellar. Other places: Herbsaint and Cochon (both Donald Link restaurants), Rio Mar and La Boca (both Adolfo's restaurants). Adolfo just opened a Mano, which is getting great reviews.

      Have a great trip!

      7 Replies
        1. re: edible complex

          Edible, please excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is/are veal cheeks? I'm thinking the obvious, cheeks of the veal critter. Am I right?

            1. re: Proud2BWLVRebel

              Yes. You have it correct. Same for Pork Cheeks.


            2. re: edible complex

              I was just wondering if Deanie's Seafood is still a good place to go?

              1. re: neblanc

                I never liked it much; too many better places for seafood.

                1. re: edible complex

                  We're splurging for brunch at Commander's Palace and a dinner at Galatoire's. I'm looking for more moderately priced (cheap) places to get other great meals. We'll probably go to Acme one night for the chargrilled oysters????

            3. Court of the Two Sisters is the Dog With The Bad name. Unless you have overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I'd stay away from that one. Only lukewarm comments about Brennan's on royal these days--other offerings in the Brennan Empire (administered by various Viziers within the family) are rather good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hazelhurst

                I was treated to brunch at Court of the Two Sisters. If you like all you can eat and don't care about quality this is for you.

              2. All of the suggestions here are great!

                Avoid Mother's!

                1 Reply
                1. If at all possible you really must go to Willie Mae's Scotch House. No direct web site but google it and you'll find plenty of articles praising it. The fried chicken is particularly famous. It's a bit off the beaten path and you will have to drive through a neighborhood that looks a little sketchy. But go during the day and it's really easy to find and you won't have any problems. If you're looking for a local lunch experience there's none better. You won't be sorry.

                  1. I personally would not recommend Clancy's on Annunciation to someone who is not a regular.
                    Willie Mae's Scotch House is not worth the trip in my opinion. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/430623
                    Here is a review of several restaurants by a fellow chowhound.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: speyerer

                      Ralph & Cacoo's is a tourist trap as well as Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. In some ways, I think Antoine's is an expensive tourist trap although I enjoyed my one lunch visit in the front room there. Many consider Mulate's to be a tourist trap but I have never been there. The House of Blues is a tourist trap also.

                      Bigray in Ok

                      1. re: Bigrayok

                        Going back some years (decades?), Ralph & Cacoo's was a bit different. When they moved into NOLA from Lafayette (?), they were more "local," than tourist. Things change with the times. Last visit confirmed what you say, and I was disappointed, though not totally surprised. This is just to say that it was not always the way, but that is history.


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          The original Ralph and Kackoo's was on False River. I think the first other location was Baton Rouge, which was fairly good for a while. Haven't been in a number of years.

                          1. re: cajungirl

                            Going back many decades, their NOLA/Metairie locations used to be good. Never dined at the original though.

                            Last stop in the FQ was a disappointment.

                            I can say that even in NOLA, they were once quite good.

                            Thanks for the history.


                        2. re: Bigrayok

                          I forgot all about Ralph & Kacoo and about Mulate's...agreed as to the desirability of giving those a WIDE berth.

                        3. re: speyerer

                          Re: regulars at Clancy's, I think that much depends on the patron's attitude/manner of comportin himself. One can "get on the inside" of a maiden voyage to a restaurant but I don't know that there is a textbook on How To Do It. But a newcomer can do fine there...I've seen it done.

                        4. Am I missing it or has no one mentioned Commander's Palace? That's crazy. It's on the short list of places that you must not miss on a trip to New Orleans. Go for lunch when the deals are extremely good... You can easily have a soup, and entree and two martinis for under $20. Make sure to dress up though, and try to sit in the garden room, although the whole place is great. Also, if you're staying in or near the Quarter ride the St Charles streetcar out to it for the best experience.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: kukubura

                            I am so happy that Kukubura brought up Commander's Palace. I am agonizing over a Sunday brunch decision between Commander's Palace and Arnaud's. I've been to New Orleans a dozen times, but have NEVER been able to work in a jazz brunch. Please help me decide.

                              1. re: neblanc

                                Also, for anyone looking for a non-touristy brunch (but not a jazz brunch) I highly recommend Lil Dizzy's in Treme (not the one in the Whitney hotel). It's very local, very inexpensive and very very good. It's BYOB so bring champagne and make mimosas.

                                1. re: kukubura

                                  thank you kukubura. i like it that you are so resolved in your decision. Commander's it will be.

                            1. We had an anniversary dinner at the Pelican Club and found it to be a hidden gem. It seemed to be more geared towards locals than tourists. The food was great, the service was impeccable and the atmosphere was classy and really welcoming.

                              1. We had dinner at the Green Goddess this evening after reading the tip in this thread. Excellent, creative menu -- obviously a labor of love for an imaginative chef. Pumpkin stuffed with roasted quinoa was a big hit, as was the sweet potato biscuit with chocolate sauce for dessert. The quarters are a bit cramped and the space could use some loving care, but it's a charming place where you can experience the work of a gifted chef.

                                Green Goddess
                                307 Exchange Place, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: misterz60

                                  if you think the space could use some TLC, you should have seen it before they remodeled it -- was a taco counter.

                                  i kinda like the space. its small, but nice tables, funky vibe.