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Quintessential New Orleans

  • BuckyE Oct 24, 2009 09:05 AM
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Loie and I have been to New Orleans twice. We've eaten at most of the old time places, and a few of the new ones. (It's been about five years since we were last there.) We are going again, with friends this time, in April 2010. I'd like to help our friends sample the most traditional New Orleans meals, from breakfast through the wee hours.

Note this question is not necessarily about the *best* eating, although certainly we want good eating. We can try all kinds of more modern, contemporary places if we like, and probably will. Just now, I'm asking specifically about the meals, dishes and atmosphere that are unique to, and characteristic of, old time traditional New Orleans. Of course I've been reading, both here and elsewhere, a lot. But I'd like any thoughts y'all might have about what's *currently* the best representation of classic New Orleans.

We'll be there Monday afternoon through Saturday afternoon, so will have plenty of opportunities. Will probably rent a house in the western edge of the Faubourge. Perhaps one day we'll try and drive out to see some plantations. Certainly walk around the Garden District, and go across to Algiers. Don't at all mind using public transportation. So, opportunities are rampant, right?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have!

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  1. The TImes-Picayune today (Sunday) has its restaurant guide and, apart from the style of writing, I have no complaints about the comments on places I know. You can find "quintessential" used therein. I have my own view as does goddamn-near ever'one else as to what "quintessential" is. I DO draw the line at the "penultimate" restaurant. [Don't start....don't even try to...]

    1. For me, this would mean the following and in no particular order:

      Galatoire's
      The Bonton
      Restaurant August
      Brigtsen's
      The Original Coffee Pot (breakfast)

      Obviously, that does not cover spots like Stella!, Bayona, MiLa or The Grill Room at the Windsor Court, but hits some of the high spots.

      Enjoy,

      Hunt

      1. It certainly wouldn't be considered "fine dining", but a late night chili dog from one of the Lucky Dog vendors would certainly be quintessential New Orleans. Don't know how long they have been around, but at least as long as I can remember- and that goes back to the late 60's.
        I've had two within the last year, and despite their reputation, they are actually really good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Clarkafella

          Pass on the "Yucky " dog.

          1. re: Clarkafella

            +1 lucky dog. its vienna beef, chili and onions -- whats not to love?

            if people are afraid of street food here, just wait till they try it in china..

          2. Don't forget Camelia Grill and Cafe Du Monde.

            1. Certainly lunch at Commander's.

              1. Apart from the Warhorses you know, the places I run back to when I have been away are Liuzza's, Mandina's, R&O, Dom's, ...then there are the little Uptown bars, inckluding Mayfair, Miss Mae's (in its "new: location) the Milan Lounge, ...too bad you are coming in April or you could go to Da Track and follow up with Crescent City Steakhouse..that's always a fun, local kinda day.

                1. Thanks to you all! I'd never use the word penultimate in a chowhound discussion. Heck, I don't even know how to *spell* penultimate.

                  Here's another kind of related question. If, purely for research purposes, we wanted to eat the kind of New Orleans typical meals people ate an hundred years ago, would that be possible? I imagine Galatoire's comes close to being almost unchanged from the ancient days. Any others?

                  Note again, that experience isn't by any means the **only** we want to have. But it would be interesting to experience some New Orleans food history.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: BuckyE

                    Other considerations not already mentioned:

                    Parasol's - neighborhood bar in Irish Channel w/ roast beef poboys
                    Casamento's - oysters
                    Pascal's Manale - oysters & the original bbq shrimp (though, other places have improved upon this dish)
                    Rivershack - lunch specials
                    Clancy's - Uptown neighborhood bistro w/ "clubby" feel
                    Surrey's - breakfast

                    1. re: BuckyE

                      As recently as 25 years ago we still had quite a few places thaat would fit the order but now I think ANtoine's is the only other one with those late 19th/earl 20th century items still more-or-less intact (Oysters Foch/rockefeller come to mind at one, the pompano en papillote, etc.) Delmonico's and Commanders of 50 years ago would hav ebeen OK but they are different places now. Brennan's is too recent for your purposes. Even many of The Classics that one sees now are goosed-up with some sort of signature that the chef wants to use to make it his own. You would not have a cajun influence, of course. The place that would have come through perfectly was Maylie's but it is long gone.

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        That was our impression last time we were there. But OK, Galatoire's and Antoine's; a po-boy lunch or two; Casamento's I want to try; all for research purposes. Everything else is lagniappe, right?

                        And of course cajun in New Orleans is a bit off, but that would be extra for fun. I don't think we'll be down long enough to get out to Lafayette.

                        -----
                        Casamento's Restaurant
                        4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

                        Galatoire's Restaurant
                        209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                        1. re: BuckyE

                          The South LA influence is why I mentioned the BonTon. As you know, Cajun and NOLA cuisine are not the same, but are not mutually exclusive. NOLA cuisine is a real mixture of many different cultures, hence its place in culinary history.

                          Good luck with the "history tour." At least in NOLA you will not go too far wrong, regardless of the exact roots - Cajun, Creole, Spanish or French.

                          Enjoy,

                          Hunt

                      2. re: BuckyE

                        Tujagues. Order at the bar and drink beer...

                        -----
                        Tujague's
                        823 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

                        1. re: thursby

                          Now that's an interesting recommendation. I seem to remember Tujagues having set price meals. And a very short menu. Why at the bar?

                          -----
                          Tujague's
                          823 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

                          1. re: BuckyE

                            The bar is more fun by a long shot. The food there, which was once a classic, basic offering, has bene up-and-down. Once upon a time the brisket was almost as good as Maylie's but the last couple of times I had it , it was merely OK..nothing bad.

                            1. re: BuckyE

                              The prixe fixe menu at Tujague's is for dinner in the dining room only. The dining room is very "New Orleans", but the food is rather ordinary. The bar, however, is a great place to have a few drinks. You can get their boiled brisket (poboy or alone w/ horseradish sauce) at the bar throughout the day. Makes for a fine lunch.

                              -----
                              Tujague's
                              823 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

                              1. re: BayouTeche

                                OK, I get it. We'll make that a possible lunch or cocktails stop.

                                1. re: BayouTeche

                                  yes, the "standing bar" at Tujague's is quite historic. and the mirror behind the bar is even older, it was imported from paris maybe a 100 years ago. popping by for a cocktail, chatting with friends and occasionally getting a beef brisket poboy is the way to go.

                                  tho the bartenders are grumps.

                                  -----
                                  Tujague's
                                  823 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116

                              2. re: thursby

                                Glad to see this. I had not read down the thread, when I posted. My experiences with Tujaque's goes back about 3 decades, and we loved it then. It was a bit limited, with the prix fixe menus, but quite good then. It was also very rooted in history, and I give extra points for that.

                                Never dined at the bar, but always in the main dining room. It was the pure historical aspect that directed me to make the same, or very similar, rec.

                                Hunt

                              3. re: BuckyE

                                The three that leap to my mind are: Tujaque's (not a big fav. of CH's recently, and my last vist WAS some time back), Galatoire's and the BonTon. Now, I have to admit that I was not dining in NOLA 100 years ago, though was doing so more than 50 years ago, so I get some "points" for longivity.

                                Antoine's and Arnaud's would get a nod, but then how many do you want? Kolb's is gone, as are a few others.

                                Most of all, enjoy and dine well,

                                Hunt

                                -----
                                Galatoire's Restaurant
                                209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                              4. If your plantation tour involves the West Bank (Oak Alley, etc.), let me recommend that you stop by Mosca's on your way back into town. It's on highway 90 not far from the Huey Long bridge (about 5-8 miles I think, outside of Boutte?). It doesn't look like a place you would ordinarily stop at without a police escort, but you just have to trust me on this. I first ate there in 1976, last time in June, and I can honestly say it has not changed one bit. I know that's not a 100 year history, but it is about as funky New Orleans traditional as you can get. They serve family style; gotta have the crab salad, chicken la grande, oysters Mosca, spaghetti bordelaise, or whatever else sounds good. Incredible amounts of butter and garlic (sort of Creole/Italian, if there is such a thing - who cares what you call it if it's good!) so prepare with a dose of Pepcid or two. It's a true experience.

                                -----
                                Mosca's Restaurant
                                Hwy-90 W, Westwego, LA 70094