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First trip...need some advice!

OK...so next week is our 25th Anniversary so I am surprising her with a long weekend trip to New Orleans. I had this romantic ideal in my head where I just "kidnap" her from work and don't tell her where we are going. Well, reality has set in and I'm not really prepared. In addition to having to pack all our stuff (I'm a guy remember), I haven't really planned anything or know what to do. I need some help...Please!

This our first trip to New Orleans. I got a room at a Bed and Breakfast (Grand Victorian), so that is taken care of. Beyond that, that is it. Not sure where to eat, what to see, or what to do. I want it to be fun. I would like to eat somewhere where we can make reservations (so not waiting around), but not too stuffy (or outrageously expensive) so don't have to bring a coat and tie. My wife isn't the most adventurous eater (no strange meats), but I do what her to experience the food down there. I thought about doing one of those cocktail tours, but not sure if they are worth the money or not. Also we are both HUGE Tennessee Titans fans, so Sunday we will have to find a sports bar to watch the game (it's the Colts!), so any recommendations there would be great.

I am so freaked out and overwhelmed. I want to give her a great trip and don't want to be down there just wondering what do to.

Thanks in advance for any help and for the patience. I'm a guy, so I need to be told what to do....

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  1. Vol,

    You'll probably get lots of great advice, but I'll chime in with one...Brigtsen's. It's at the end of the St. Charles streetcar line, and you're right on St. Charles if I am right. Please see their menu at: http://www.brigtsens.com/

    It's too bad that you're set on the game. Sunday jazz brunch at Commander's Palace, just a couple of blocks from your B&B. Both are, in my opinion, not to be missed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Monch

      Brigsten's isn't at the end of the St Charles street car line, the end is at Carrolton and Claiborne, but he would get off at St Charles and Carrolton.

      I totally agree with the recommendation.

    2. Places I like:

      The zoo
      Walking along the river near the quarter
      Napoleon House
      City Park's Celebration in the Oaks http://celebrationintheoaks.com/
      There are not many places that require a jacket and tie so you'll be ok there. I'd look over the many restaurant suggestions on this board then go on line and look at menus so you know what to expect.

      1. Places near you:

        Upscale: Commander's, Coquette, Lilette, Gautreau's

        Casual: Joey K's, Parasol's

        Dessert: Sucre, La Divina

        All these places are either on or close to Magazine Street. I recommend walking around the Garden District and Magazine Street. Check out the cemetery across from Commander's. Definitely hit Parasol's for a roast beef poboy. Wander around the quarter and people watch. Eat at cafe du monde. Wander through the Marigny (east of the quarter). Definitely check out the WWII Museum. Check out the Audubon Zoo and/or park. Go behind the zoo and wander along "the fly." For the game, go to Bruno's, Cooter Brown's, or the Rendezvous, which is within walking distance. Also, ride the st. charles streetcar. Agree with all the other recs, too.

        1. For a sports bar with some NO charm (in a loosely interpreted sort of way), I would take the streetcar down St Charles to Cooter Brown's, go up on the levee to see the river briefly, then settle down at Cooters, order at least a dozen raw oysters and maybe some hot food - a po boy or fried oysters and watch your Titans play and hopefully beat the Colts. ( It would sure be sweet to have the Saints as the only undefeated team.)

          If you can, get a current guide book of NO, and let your sweetie choose places & things she wants to do and see. (Being surprized is nice but being in control is better. )
          I would highly recommend some shopping on Magazine street - there are a lot of small unique boutiques, antique stores, and coffee shops, cafes in various clusters all a long the length of Magazine.

          Hopefully the weather will be nice durning your visit & congrats on your 25th anniversary!!

          1. One thing about your post struck me: my husband isn't an adventurous eater, either. I might be jumping up and down about a new restaurant, but he's loyal to the ones he likes.

            For what it's worth, his favorites in New Orleans have been Domenica (authentic, contemporary Italian); MiLa (nouvelle New Orleans); and Taqueros (upscale Mexican tapas). They each had straight-forward dishes that appealed to him, and I think they're all fantastic, too.

            I've never been on a cocktail tour, so don't know if it's worth it. You might consider some sort of pairing dinner, so you can sample drinks & food at the same time. A few months ago we went to a great 5-course Abita beer tasting dinner at Delmonico's (you could check out the Abita website and see where they might be doing it next)

            I think one of the Brennan restaurants, Bourbon House, also does frequent pairing dinners.

            If you're looking for an upscale bar with a great drinks list, I've heard a lot about Cure. (Haven't made it over there yet)

            As for football, Cooter Brown's is a local favorite.

            We found another one called Squeal, just a few blocks further up the St Charles streetcar line; get off at Oak St. and walk a few blocks (it's a charming, "Main Street" atmosphere with shops and restaurants along the way) Squeal doesn't have as many flat-screens as Cooter Brown's, but it does have great BBQ.

            I hope all this helps, and happy anniversary! A very thoughtful gift!!

            1. For sure take her to Commander's Palace for lunch. Both of you get dressed up real spiffy and get a table in the garden room. It's a good place to make someone feel special. You don't need a tie but a coat wouldn't hurt. It makes the experience better anyway. And it can be had for under $20 a person (not including tip, of course)

              Also, do you think she's adventurous enough to eat shrimp with the shells and heads still on? Because the BBQ shrimp at Mr. B's Bistro is seriously one of the best dishes you can have. And at lunch it's pretty inexpensive.

              One word of advice that I always give: Do NOT eat at Pere Antoines. (I'm not talking about Antoine's, but rather another restaurant called Pere Antoines) Seriously. Don't. Do not.

              Also, take her for cocktails at the Carousel Bar and sit at the bar. They have a piano lounge performer wed-sat (I think) which is fun.

              Just have a great time. You'll love it!

              4 Replies
              1. re: kukubura

                How can you get out of Commander's for "under $20 a person"? Or am I misreading you?

                1. re: N.O.Food

                  soup + entree combo specials often run $16-$19, coupled with 2 .25c martinis... and you're good to go!

                  Granted, I always get a couple of full-priced cocktails and dessert as well, but if you're on a budget it can be done! I've said this before but seriously lunch at Commander's might in fact be the best deal in the country.

                2. re: kukubura

                  Pere Antoine's = worst meal ever, anywhere.

                3. I second (or third) the recommendation of Cooter's to watch the game on Sun. Also, I wouldn't miss a visit to Camelia Grill...close to Cooters and also along the streetcar line. Amazing for b-fast, but great late-nite as well.

                  1. I've gone to some great places in the last week, and all but Commander's were with no reservation:

                    --Casamento's--get there at 11 a.m. [opening] for lunch [raw oysters, followed by oyster loaf] so you don't have to stand in line.
                    --Commander's--I went for Thanksgiving dinner and it was perfect from the time we walked in the door until the time we left
                    --Green Goddess--on Exchange Alley, wonderful brunch!
                    --Luke [probably should make a reservation, but we went on a Sunday night]--I got the mussels and fries, wonderful! And creme brulee!

                    1. I agree with kukubura regarding Commander's, and further 2d the idea of a jacket (and tie) --it does not take up much room in the luggage and ou'll feel more comfortable. It just opens your options. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard disparaging comments about even locals eating in the Old Guard places when said locals are not dressed (as in clothes, not tomato/lettuce).

                      I think a Saerac is in order. Certtainly the bar at the Roosevelt is a good option. Also under-sund for an afternoon (but not evening) is the venerable pat O's...the drinks are not expensive and the place is rather fun in the mid-to-late afternoon. They make the classics all the time. Not the best martini but a servicable Sazerac.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        is anyone else put off by the Sazerac bar's prices? $13 for a saz and $15 for a ramos.. ouch!

                        this pretty much prices out locals and turns it into a tourist/zoo bar ("zoo" as in, "lets go to this bar that's supposed to show us local history and peer thru the bars".. as opposed to an "in the wild" bar)

                        1. re: kibbles

                          I always expect to pay more at hotel bars, though...but to be honest I do not remember what we paid for the Sazeracs in the old days when they used 101 rye...did not seem that bad. On the other hand, the Waldorf Junta has always been proud of its stuff..try getting a Coca-Cola at the Head Office in NYC

                          1. re: kibbles

                            I expect to pay more or less depending on the quality of the location, atmosphere, and pour. every time I've been to the Sazerac, I was surrounded by locals.

                            1. re: edible complex

                              really? every time ive been there (i work nearby) its been a definite tourist crowd. tee shirts, cackling convention hens, etc..

                              my friends & coworkers enjoyed it, but again at the price (and the fizz goes down *quick*) its just not a practical option and they wont go back. cant blame em. bummer.

                              as for the pour and atmo.. while i like the space, i find their choice of muzak programming curious, sometimes awful. Russ is my bartender there and hes great (his gin fizz sports a mushroom of meringue overflowing the top), but pour on the saz...imo certaintly not a $13 pour. this is not a huge cocktail class w/ many ounces of martini.

                              i wish them well but it seems a novelty zoo bar.

                              1. re: kibbles

                                Muzak? Oh, dear..that is not good. I had hoped the lack of televisionwas going to include lack of piped in noise. I have deliberately avoided going until things settled down. I might stop in after Xmas, though. Still, the muzak is discouraging...

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  i *do* like the lack of tv! big big fan of this, wish more would follow suit -- if we needed tv/sports everywhere we could just sit in our living rooms all day.

                                  which is why i have this.. >:)


                        2. very few places of any quality will require a coat and tie.

                          the place that lingers in my memory in NOLA, albeit expensive, is restaurant august.

                          also elizabeth's and stanleys are good breakfast places

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: thew

                            It is true that the coat & tie regualtion has faded in refent years, and especially the newer places never gave a damn. But there are many locals who would never go into Antoine's, Arnauds, Commander's, Galatoire's or even Clancy's without C&T. I think being prepared pays off but, then, I still wear a suit to steakhouses in New York City because that is what men do.

                            1. re: hazelhurst

                              The only place in NOLA that I've been to that REQUIRES a jacket is Galatoire's. However, I've found that I enjoyed wearing a jacket at many more places. I think the service kicks into high gear when you show that you respect the place.

                              1. re: kukubura

                                You are quite right about the respect. Loud cheers!

                            2. re: thew


                              We've removed a couple of posts from this subthread that discussed dress codes generally, rather than at New Orleans restaurants, as that discussion is beyond the scope of this board. Posters are welcome to start a thread on the Not About Food board if they wish to discuss the general topic.


                            3. It's Papa Noel and Reveillon Dinner time there! Google Papa Noel or go to neworleans.com and see what's happening - it's a wonderful time of year to go.
                              Many restaurants have pre-set Reveillon Dinner specials that are out of this world.
                              Happy Anniversary and Go Titans!