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Jan 6, 2010 08:51 AM

Group of 12 heading to New Orleans 2/11-2/14/10 need restaurant/parade/low key ideas?

I am spearheading a surprise trip for my husband and his buddy who both turned 40. We are kind of a louder bunch so no super fancy, highly romantic venue will probably work. We do appreciate great food though. I need ideas for supper reservations on that Friday the 12th. Also would you recommend the grandstands to watch a parade or just fend for ourselves. We also need ideas for lunch and drinks on Saturday. Any help you can give is great.
We have ordered a King Cake for delivery to the hotel for the birthday celebration.
I have looked at Dickie Brennans and RedFish Grill. They have to be within walking distance of Embassy Suites New Orleans. Thanks!

Can't wait to get down there!

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  1. A lot depends on your "style of Carnival." You are arriving at the exact moment the city fills up. Friday night you'll have Hermes which is lots of fun especially if you plan to see Thoth on Sunday (same floats, different theme crammed onto it). If you intend to stay in teh Quarter or on Canal throughout then you'll have a cheek-by-jowl experience everywhere. Good luck getting any reservations at this late date (but stranger things have happened).

    Now, if you go Uptown, it is a different show. Except for Bacchus on Sunday, the Uptown crowds are more manageable...if that is the right word. Most places up there..Clancy's and Upperline and so forth..are open. I have even had dinner at Commander's on Bacchus Sunday (a long time ago). I think you get a better sense of the show when you are on the street. For that, it is best to get a sandwich of whatever description--poboy or muff..I used to get the Steamboat (just a big meat-laden sandwich) from Martin Wine Cellar because it was filling and can be carried in a bag hanging from the belt. If you have access toa freezer you can take your canned beer of choice, freeze it until it almost bursts, then carry it through the day and consume it as it thaws--again, a belt passed through the empty loop from the first beer of a six-pack works great. For this forgoing Uptown excursion I recommend you go up to Napoleon Avenue and work the parade down the street. there are day parades up there on Saturday and Sunday(the aforementioned Thoth). Sunday night will be bedlam. In that area you have Fat Harry's, the Milan Longue, Miss Mae's, Tipitina's...a whole bunch of places and they will be jumping.

    So, you might do Dickie's on Friday or Mr B's, something along that line, grab a Central Grocery muff in the AM and head Uptown on Saturday. Or you can just camp out in the Quarter. But I don't think stands are a good idea for a first timer (barring mobility problems,of course) and really the best way to do a reviewing stand is if you get an invitation to one of the clubs on the route. Even then, you should work the street some.

    1. My wife and I have done the grandstand at Michaul's on St Charles a couple of times for a number of different parades. All of can eat and drink for as long as you are there and most important use of the bathroom all the while you are there. Prople are friendly and we had a great time

      4 Replies
      1. re: zach623

        The bathroom is an excelent point and definite advantage. Of course, if you buy a beer at anyplace Uptown you cna use the head..not always the _cleanest_, especially after a brutal day....

        1. re: hazelhurst

          If watching on St Charles down by Fat Harry's the church across the street has a lot of porta potties available for a very low cost, and the kids clean them after each use so they are very clean.
          I would recommend watching on St Charles like hazelhurst suggested. No matter where you watch it, eating options will be packed, but at least if you watch it around St Charles and Napoleon, you can catch the streetcar down toward the Riverbend area and grab a bite to eat up that way.

          1. re: roro1831

            That's a good point---I have my regualr "go-to" places for plumbing but I have never heard a complain about those port-a-potties. I suppose we should point out that the streetcar service below Napoleon is abandoned on teh weekend but Uptown, as you suggested, is still running.(For streetcar enthusiasts you can often see the little track grinder car standing there....the last Ford,Bacon & Davis streetcar in operation.] Another advatange to watching up there is seeing the parades form up. And prior to the start you can hear the bands practicing. Lots of fun.

            1. re: roro1831

              We have been taking out of town Mardi Gras newbies to Zeas on St. Charles for the weekend day parades. Park, have lunch (food is decent) have a bathroom and the parade right outside the door.

              We have even gotten larger groups of our local friends into it. It is a low hassel alternative for those who have reached the age of parade rat burnout.

              However, for your "youthful" group (I can still remember being 40!) you may want to be more in the center of things below Lee Circle or below Poydras . Check to see if your hotel has any tie-ins to pay-to-watchnpee places

        2. Is this the first Mardi Gras trip for the group? The reason I ask is that I tend to stay away from downtown unless I have a first timer, because it's something that they should see, or want to most of the time. Left to my desires, I would stay by Fat Harry's and walk inside and grab a beer between floats, or during a stop in the parade. The downtown area, Canal Street, St Charles are just too packed for my tastes as is the French Quarter before and after the parades. If it is your first time I would plan on going to the French Quarter one of the nights and seeing if that is your cup of tea, problem is, if it isn't you can get stuck down there. There's always food to be had along the parade route, regardless of where you watch it, the level of that food will vary greatly, but after a few adult beverages I rarely care.

          2 Replies
          1. re: roro1831

            But you gotta admit that watching the cops shut down the Quarter at midnight Tuesday is lots of fun...if staying down there it is no problem (allowing that one has been moderate in imbibition throughout the day).

            1. re: hazelhurst

              That is a sight to behold, but I can't tell you the last time I saw that happen in person, maybe 1984 or around there.

          2. If you want to go into the Quarter durign the trip, I would recommend going early friday evening (3pm-6pmish) and have some drinks at any of the bars down there (Pat O's, Lafitte's, etc). Early Friday evening is the only time that I venture into the Quarter during Mardi Gras as at that time its busy enough to be fun, but not miserably packed the way it is the rest of the weekend. After pre-dinner drinks, eat dinner at a restaurant in the Quarter (the suggestions you made of Dickie Brennans or RedFish would work, you may also want to look into Bombay Club or Orleans Grapevine). After dinner, catch the parades somewhere on St. Charles near Canal. We often catch the Friday evening parades around St. Charles & Gravier and its never been packed and a restroom of some type can be found. Krewe D'Etat rolls on Friday night and its one of my favs -- a great satirical parade.

            If you dont' care about seeing the quarter, another option would to be to dinner closer to your hotel (Ugly Dog Saloon, Sun Ray Grill, etc.) and then catch the parade around Lee Circle. Lee Circle has tons of porta-potties and on Fridays they are still in pretty good condition.

            On Saturday, I would recommend as others have, and take a cab uptown near Fat Harrys and see the parades out there.

            1. Myself and one other person on the trip have been to Mardi Gras. I went with my girlfriends the February before Katrina and it was extremely fun. My husband called me every night and was extremely jealous of all the fun we were having. The other individual has been down the earlier weekend before Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras Lite) and he was at a convention during the week. We enjoy partying and want to take in as much as possible but also want to enjoy it.
              Both my husband and the other 40 year old have this on their bucket list. I just want to be sure everyone has fun and gets the French Quarter experience I had. We took a cruise out of New Orleans 2 years ago with our kids. And my husband loved it then but it was late spring and he was still envious of the Mardi Gras experience.
              We will have Beignets, King Cake, Catch Beads, maybe earn some beads, have a hurricane, watch a parade, go out for some crawfish/oysters, enjoy the shopping, dance to some music. No matter what we do we tend to have a good time but the more information the better. We already have hotel reservations, Airplane tickets bought, just need food and drink.

              6 Replies
              1. re: pmbeals

                Try Luke for your supper reservations on the 12th. It's on the parade route, although you won't be able to see much from inside. They have good food, it's not too expensive, and you can be pretty exuberant and you won't bother anyone. It's in the Hilton so the bathrooms are the hotel lobby ones. Hotel lobbies are my go-to bathrooms downtown during Carnival. They're always open and relatively clean. The Monteleone is good for this too, and for a cocktail refill. Please don't "earn" your beads. It's tacky, marks you as a tourist, and can get you arrested. As you know from enjoying Carnival in the past, there are more than enough beads for everyone!

                1. re: uptownlibrarian

                  Is the Monteleone requiring proof of your stay to get in these days? they did, then they didn't, then they did but no one cared and ignored it...I have no idea. I guess the Aft Deck would get you in, though

                  1. re: hazelhurst

                    Maybe to get upstairs? Definitely not to get into the lobby.

                    Edit to add: I went up to the pool several times this summer and was never stopped. Maybe it's a question of confidence (or plain old audacity). You will get questioned if you try to swim at the Royal Orleans, however. They didn't used to be so strict.

                    And to keep it food/drink related, the Monteleone has a little bar on the roof by the pool. Is it overpriced and poorly staffed? Yes, but what a view!

                    1. re: uptownlibrarian

                      I'll pass that on...I always go in thru the garage anyway and never had a problem but I do remember they were cracking down some years ago. The Sonesta (a different story on Bourbon St) used to give "x" number of passes to the registered guests. I stay Uptown these days anyway unless someone just MUST go to the Quarter. I honestly don;t know what you'd do if you wanted to eat there...

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        I mentioned previously in another thread that last year we ate at Luke, but that's the first time in recent memory I've eaten anywhere near the Quarter on Mardi Gras Day. I always prepare sandwiches and snacks, and stow them and our libations of choice a day or two before in the fridge at a pal's centrally located gallery. If I had a hotel room in or near the quarter, this is how I would handle it. Don't most rooms have a mini fridge these days?

                        1. re: uptownlibrarian

                          Luke makes sense...anything that is out-of-the pack in the Quarter makes sense---and I think you are right about the mini-bar. I think the OP can get something stored and as I suggested, freeze some beer (but you'd probably have to rely on thehotel to do that since a min fridge is not big enough. I do the same as you--used to take a casserole down to Julia street Proteus Monday--it was usualy gone by the time I hoofed there on mardi Gras, though.