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Restaurant with best design?

I'm headed into town next week with my wife who is an interior designer. I'd like to find a few spots that might impress her with a stunning dining room or anything else distinct: lighting, art work, general concept, etc. Would definitely prefer casual/atmospheric over formal. Great food is certainly a bonus (decent food a must), but I've got a good handle on where I want to hit for my must eats. Based on my research so far, it looks like MiLa might fit the bill for new spots? Funky/folky suggestions welcome too, like Avenue Pub perhaps? Cochon? I know it's a bit broad, but really anything that strikes you personally would be great advice. It's a challenge to figure out from most websites. Thanks for the help.

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  1. to get your funk on, head to Rivershack Tavern or Jacques Imo's.

    Jacques-Imo's Cafe
    8324 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118

    Rivershack Tavern
    3449 River Rd, Jefferson, LA

    3 Replies
    1. re: edible complex

      Is Rivershack Tavern worth it if I don't have a car? Looks very cool.

      1. re: BostonRag

        the weekday chef does fantastic lunch specials. but get there early, as they always sell out. otherwise, the debris roast beef is killer, as are the tex mex burgers. I also like to get the seafood platter as a shared app. you would have to cab it there and back if you don't have a car. if you want to go there for a casual dinner, their shows start early, so you could hang on for some music.

        another option, head to Ye Olde College Inn and catch some music at Rock n Bowl next door.

        Ye Olde College Inn
        3000 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

        1. re: BostonRag

          No, it's not worth a cab ride. I like the place, it's just not worth going out of your way.

      2. I really like the atmosphere at Muriel's and I second Jacques-Imos for funky atmosphere and good food.

        1. Cochon has an interesting interior: clean lines, a contemporary feel, but still folky. The food also happens to be great there.

          I find the room at MiLa to be a) too big for the number of seats usually occupied and b) sort of heavy.

          Jacques-Imo's interior is interesting -- very haphazard folk-arty, but funky and fun. It's a bit of a schlep from the Quarter.

          The interior at the Swizzle Stick Bar in the Loew's Hotel is beautiful, in my opinion. The food at Cafe Adelaide next door is serviceable.

          If you're looking for more old-fashioned interiors, I second Muriel's. Galatoire's interior is classic old New Orleans. I think Lillette's decor has an understated charm. The Upperline is in an old airy Uptown house and has interesting art on the walls.

          Design taste is perhaps more subjective than food taste. I'm just spinning ideas off the top of my head. I suggest going to some of these web sites and looking at pictures to zero in on the place.

          1. do plan to visit The Roosevelt to see its $145million renovation. The Sazerac Bar is a great place to stop for a drink and Domenica is nice for a quick bite. You should also go to the Carousel Ber at the Monteleone Hotel. I also like the bars at August and Luke. International House Hotel (Rambla) and Renaissance Hotel (La Cote Brasserie) are also nice renovations.

            are you looking for modern or historic interiors?

            Monteleone Hotel
            214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

            Restaurant August
            301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

            217 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

            La Coté Brasserie
            700 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130

            5 Replies
            1. re: edible complex

              Thanks. All good suggestions. Ideally, I'd like to check out something historic, something modern, and something uniquely New Orleans (although that may qualify for the others as well). I also like the idea of bar hoping some of these spots vs. committing to dinner! More spots with more money in my pocket....maybe

              1. re: BostonRag

                Check out Domenica--it's in the Roosevelt hotel, so it's easy enough to enter on the street side and walk through the restaurant into the hotel's lobby without being too obtrusive. It has a menu with lots of small plates and several pizzas in the under-$15 range, if you like the decor enough to stay for a bite to eat. The space is broken up by steel mesh curtains, with a revolving selection of art from Arthur Roger's gallery (a nice Francis X Pavy caught my eye recently). The walls are a charcoaly-graphite color, but without being dark.

                1. re: BostonRag

                  Coquette also has a nice bar w/small plates. The food is amazing, as are the drinks.

                  you won't lack for architectural significance in NOLA.

                  Luke Restaurant
                  333 St Charles, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  2800 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115

                  1. re: BostonRag

                    historic - many choices, but Galatoire's hasnt changed in a century.

                    modern - MiLa looks very L.A. trendy modern; Delmonica is perfectly tacky-modern.

                    unique to nola - Jacque-Imo's

                    1. re: BostonRag

                      I think Tujaque's bar would be a fun "old" place and you certainly could poke your head in at Antoine's--go by their new little bar. The Annex, which is also known to some as The Barn is the usually preferred seating area and it is surprisingly dull to first-timers. Arnaud's has been prettied-up nicely and, again, they'll let you have a look even if you are not eating. It has a swell little bar.

                      As a point of reference, Galatoire's is the local version of Locke-Ober's and, while the decor could not be more different, they are in many ways the same place. The room is essentially unchanged: some details, such as the floor and the chairs, are different than they were fifty years ago but that is about it. (And it finally went to alternating current 25 years ago)

                  2. From a design standpoint, I am impressed with MiLa, August, The Grill Room and Stella!

                    Each offers something totally different, but each fills the bill for interesting design, from the "Deep South, great-aunt's parlor" fell of Stella!, to the slightly avant garde look and feel of Mila. Each is unique. Only Mila might fit into the MOMA display, but each does a great job, IMHO.

                    Also, each backs up the design with their food, unlike too many restaurants in SF, LV and NYC, that are all show, and no go.

                    Being a commercial designer (not interior, but photograph many) by background, the entire package makes a big difference to me - probably more than to most diners, that they are aware of. Still, it needs to be a total package, like Miramoto's in Philadelphia. The design does play a part, but that is only one aspect of the evening. Others need to play into it. The design need not be something eye-popping, so long as it is a great example of the theme. We dine at too many places that might make Architectural Digest, that just do not convey the theme with the food. Been to many of the "in places with the "bells," the "whistles," the "wine angles," and in the end, it's about the theme and the total package. Gotta' get it all correct.

                    Now, this might not be what you are looking for, but is my list of suggested decorating packages, including the food.



                    1. Sorry, but did not see that you are from Boston. For us, Excalibur was a good example of interesting design, that fit with their theme and also provided great meals, and wines (been about 5 years now). The elevator ride through the wine cellar was an example of this. We felt that we were in for a great selection of wines for our meals, and were not disappointed.

                      Point of reference,


                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Thanks Bill. I appreciate the perspective, and I'm guessing my wife would be in agreement. As for Excelsior (I assume that's what you meant, unless there's another place with an elevator through the wine collection!), they've unfortunately just closed this year.

                        1. re: BostonRag

                          I'm not a fan of MiLa's decor. It's generic hotel modern. The food, however, is great.

                          You might want to stop by Cure: An excellent Uptown cocktail bar with good bar food. The decor is a modern update on an early 20th c. firehouse. The structure behind the patio used to be the stables.

                          1. re: Frolic

                            Cure sounds interesting, and not one on my radar screen. Thanks for that.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Here is the website (with some great photos of decor and drinks).


                              Avoid the place on Fridays and Saturdays, when the crowds are thick. You want to be there any other day of the week (including Sunday), when you can comfortably chat with the bartenders. Everyone there is really knowledgeable and passionate about cocktails.

                              4905 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115

                            2. re: Frolic

                              La Cote Brasserie might also be interesting for the decor. It's inside the Renaissance Arts Hotel, which used to be a warehouse. A local gallery filled the hotel with contemporary art. If nothing else, it's worth stopping in for a look while checking out the galleries on Julia street.

                              In general, though, we just don't have a lot of splashy restaurants in New Orleans. The style here is to not spend so much on the build out. There are, however, lots of nicely renovated historic structure (Coquette is another in that vein that comes to mind).

                            3. re: BostonRag

                              "Excelsior" Big DUH! here. Of course you are correct. Maybe too much wine on my part?

                              As for their closing - bogus. I wondered why I had not received an e-mail recently. Sorry to hear that. We enjoyed two great meals there, and the elevator ride set each one up. I still get e-mails from one of our guests, wondering when we can go back. Now, I know that we cannot. Thanks for the update, and sorry for my poor choice of names. Maybe I can blame spell-check? No, it was my mistake. Sorry.


                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Next time you're in town, check out Lydia Shire's (who opened Excelsior) newest spot, Scampo. The food isn't quite as over the top, but it's a fun place, and more notably it's in the Liberty Hotel which was recently a jail with lots of elements left in tact. Worth popping by a drink at least.

                                1. re: BostonRag

                                  I'll echo that one...as far as dropping by. It was still the Charles Street Jail in my youth and I found the new spot lots of fun when I was there a few years back. I'm glad they didn't rip it down.

                                  Ms. Shire is lots o' fun and deserves our support.

                                  1. re: BostonRag

                                    Thank you for that rec. We should be doing another trip to Boston in the Spring, but do not know if it will be all events, or if we'll have time to pick a few locations. I will definitely give this one a go!



                            4. A great place for a drink in the quarter with a very historic atmosphere (over 200 years old, former residence of new orlean's mayor who offered his home to Napoleon as refuge) is The Napoleon House, one of my favorite spots in the Quarter. Not where you want to eat your meal, but they are known for their warm muffuletta. To quote the website... "it's a place that suspends you in time, where you can hear Beethoven's Eroiqua, which he composed for Napoleon, and the music of other classical masters, while sipping a Pimm's Cup, and basking in an ambiance that could only be New Orleans."

                              1. Avenue Pub is certainly an old N.O. bar interior except for its barback. There are many great barbacks around town (I heard the family saved the barback from Nick's). For modern I've heard the bar in W Hotel is supposed to be flashy. I like the small glass bar at Bar Uncommon and you can also get a great drink there. There are a number of decent restaurants in converted homes, particularly the good restaurants in Riverbend.

                                And I second going to the River Shack for something funky and fun. A roadhouse with a twist

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: collardman

                                  Has anyone mentioned revolving The Carousel Bar in the Monteleone Hotel? That shouldn't be missed! (Even though it is not a restaurant per se)


                                  The bar at Antoine's Hermes Bar

                                2. I thought the French 75 Bar inside Antoines right off Bourbon on Iberville (IIRC) was a gorgeous historic place; I enjoyed it more than the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt. And for modern, I thought Bar Uncommon in the Perre Marquette hotel on Common was stunning.

                                  3 Replies
                                    1. re: Suzy Wong

                                      Thanks for the correction; didn't have my crib sheets with me. At any rate, it's really a beautiful, historic looking place!

                                      1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                        Heya Niki, Easy mix up.....New Orlans has fantastic and eccentric architecture in design and food!

                                        I have a close friend in Columbus, I am dying to try the Worthington Inn, have you been?

                                  1. I enjoy the understated look of Cochon. Great food to boot. Someone said Cure I think and I would back that up. Contemporary interior within an old firehouse. The lighting and artwork give it a bit of NYC vibe that I like every now and then. They serve up good, and often creative, cocktails and their bar food is actually pretty good. Loved the short ribs last time I was there. If you're in the mood for pizza Slice has two spots in town. The one on Magazine street has a decent (though not particularly interesting) interior with three great porthole windows on the side of the building. The Green Goddess has a funky feel to it in a very small space with excellent food. La Crepe Nanou has a great bistro vibe and has good food.

                                    It's interesting, even as an architect, the food always takes such center stage I don't always remember my feelings on design when eating out. When I started typing I figured I'd come up with more than 5...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                      While I do enjoy the food, the service and the general feel of Cochon, I'd grade the decor down somewhat. I found it "homey," but then the chairs were uncomfortable. Had they been on someone's deck, I might have overlooked things a bit, but for an indoor restaurant, I found them to be ergonomically challenged. The general feel was just OK, though noting but the chairs struck me as being off. OTOH, the food and service easily allowed me to overlook those chairs.

                                      Just my observations,