New Orleans Food Plans
My wife and I will be visiting New Orleans starting Friday and staying through Tuesday evening. In general, we prefer hole-in-the-walls with excellent food over first class establishments (though we're obviously making a couple of exceptions for this trip). Our proposed food itinerary is below. Any places on the list you in the know would skip or that we're absolutely missing given the above?
Café Du Monde
Mandina's on Canal Street
maybe Camellia Grill
Felix's in the French Quarter or Acme Oyster House
(we're planning to be out of New Orleans for one lunch)
Mr. B's in the French Quarter
Central Grocery on Decatur Street (for the plane ride home)
I've been meaning to close the loop on our trip for some time. We had some good restaurant experiences as well as some misses that i'd like to share.
We ate as follows (and roughly in order)
Café Du Monde (twice)
(1 lunch out in Plantation country at a hole-in-the wall, don't remember the name, but it was fantastic)
Of that list, I think our favorites by far were (roughly in order), Parkway Tavern (excellent Roast Beef and Gravy po'boy), Commander's Palace, Central Grocery (that was one amazing sandwich), Cafe du Monde (obviously), Camellia Grill (touristy, but fun), and Jacque Imos (good but not better than that). Commander's Palace probably had the best cuisine of any of the places we ate, but then we weren't looking for haute cuisine during our trip.
Our misses were Mandinas and, at least for my wife, Mr. B's. She did not enjoy her food there at all, though we both agreed that the service was excellent. I had the barbecue shrimp, and though I thought they were good, I think the barbecue shrimp I had at Commander's Palace later in the week were better. There was nothing wrong with Mandinas, but nothing special about it either. We did not have Po'boys, so perhaps that was the issue.
Cassamentos was fine; the oysters were good. But, the experience was not as memorable as I was hoping it would be. I probably wouldn't return.
Overall, we had a good food trip, and I'm looking forward to returning to trying some of the other resaturants I've learned about and returning, at the very least, to Parkway Tavern and Commander's Palace.
Thanks again for all of your help.
In fairness to Mandina's I think it shouldbe said that it only represents itself as a neighborhodd restaurant and the fun for out-of-towners is to have things you don;t get at home, such as the remoulade or turtle soup. The wop salad used to be one of the best in town. Lots of people love trout over there. I usually have the lunch specials such as bruccialone but I admit it has not been what it was when Miss Hilda was alive(thirty years ago).
Your Plantation country hole in the wall intrigues me--what did you have? I was thinking you might have gone to Hymel's in Convent, near some grain elevators?
I agree that you should try to work in Cassamento's for lunch. I dream about the loaf all summer. I prefer Felix's over Acme and you should stand at the bar and have an Abita with your oysters!
My husband LOVES Jacques Imo's - i think if will fit your critera well. I think some may be missing your point about avoiding first class restaurants - it is not always about the cost, but simply a preference. Enjoy!
I'll third or fourth the NO on Coop's--as a late night place, it may be great--but it never was a go-to place for me when I was living in FQ. It's not awful, but it's not worth taking up a dinner slot on your food dance card.
Some places that might be considered hole-on-the-wall(ish)--using the term loosely, Folks-- with good food: Parkway Tavern, Mandina's, Liuzza'a by the Track, Willie Mae's Scotch House, Cafe Reconcile (lunch only).
Now if your objection to first class establishments is price and not atmosphere, many of NOLA's finest have bargain prices for lunch--as many have noted on these boards, you can have an awesome three-course lunch at August for $20; Emeril's and Bayona also have great lunch deals.
You might also add The Coffee Pot as a breakfast possibility.
The hole in the walls you've chosen do not have excellent food. Felix's for 1/2 shell only (stand at the bar). Mr. B's strictly for Gumbo Ya-Ya and bbq shrimp. Skip Jacques-Imos and Coops. You'll find our better rest. quite reasonably priced. For not much more you will get considerably better food and service. Khakis and a button down will get you by at most.
Mandina's does not serve breakfast, so I would move that to the lunch in place of Johnny's, but that's just because I think there are much better poboys, at least roast beef po boys to be had. R&O's being top on my list.
I would also consider Cassamento's for lunch as well as opposed to Felix's or Acme.
I can't speak for the food at Coop's, I lived in New Orleans for 40 years and have never been there, and can honestly say that until I started visiting Chow that I never really heard of it.
I would also throw out the following suggestions for dinner:
Dante's Kitchen and Dick and Jenny's.
I lived in New Orleans off and on for 25 years and never went to Coop's either, it has the reputation of being a locals place but seems to be a word-of-mouth visitor place. It's a pity so many places haven't come back after Katrina on Decatur 'cos it used to have wonderful restaurants.