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Jan 31, 2010 03:11 PM

Upcoming NOLA trip - what do u think of my resto choices - Help?!

My first trip to NOLA and I'm giddy about the it. I'm going to eat - and eat well. I've been researching the board, browsing websites and I've compiled a list and would like your thoughts, suggestions, etc. I know there are a ton of threads and I've been careful to read many of them and hope to not duplicate any questions posed previously by others.

We are going the first weekend in March, thurs - sun. We'll arrive 9pm on Thursday, so we'll need a place that serves food late that night. We're staying at the Westin, riverfront. Here's what I have planned thus far:

Thursday: ??? late dinner suggestion needed. Dick n' Jenny's maybe? Yo Mamas?

Friday Breakfast: open to anything but don't want anything too big. Camellia Grill?

Friday lunch: Galatoire's. What is the best time to get in line? How long is the wait, generally? Do people really pay folks to stand in line for them? Can u get a drink while u wait?

Friday dinner: Mr. B's Bistro

Saturday breakfast: Cafe du Monde - which location?

Saturday lunch: up in the air. The Galley? Domilise's? Central Grocery?

Saturday dinner: Restaurant August

Bars to visit: The Sazerac, French 75, Old Absinthe, Carousel - and Tipitina's maybe for music.

What do you think?

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  1. Mr. B's bistro very solid.
    Cafe du Monde Beignet with tons of sugar and chicory coffee is the thing, tourist place but its worth it.
    Went to Luke another Besh place and the food was very disappointing. Staff said he never comes around any more.
    Central Grocery, great muffallata.
    The best meal was at Commanders Palace for brunch. The food and the entire experience was perfection.

    1. Dick and Jenny's is fantastic. The stuffed pork tenderloin is my favorite.
      I've only been to Galatoire's for lunch once, but we didn't have much of a wait at all. I think the paying people to stand in line thing only happens during their popular holiday meals, such as New Year's.
      You have to do Cafe du Monde by Jackson Square. Touristy isn't always a bad thing. It's a wonderful people watching place.
      I'm a pretty big fan of Domilise's, but there are a million great po-boy places.
      Restaurant August is simply fabulous. I, too went to Luke, and like GodfatherofLunch, agree that it was entirely forgettable. August is a completely different story. Save room for the Ponchatoula strawberry shortcake...I have no words.

      As to the bars, that wouldn't be my lineup, but I suspect there is a generational gap to blame. Tips is a lot of fun. If you're looking for a classy bar with music, I'd also suggest Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta. I know, I know, it's the Royal Sonesta, but trust me here. Great jazz, no cover, and some truly well-made drinks in a swanky atmosphere. You can't really go wrong with the lineup, but Irvin plays on Wednesdays.

      1 Reply
      1. re: stylenola

        Generational gap - eek! We are late 30's early 40's and really think we are more like 28 yrs of age - ha! We enjoy a well-crafted cocktail, but also like to belly up to the bar and have a beer. The lounges and bars I listed were just some of those I've read about on the boards. Live music is a plus and we may go see State Radio @ Tipitina's if we can squeeze it in.

      2. I would switch the Friday arrangements.

        6 Replies
        1. re: hazelhurst

          Meaning you would do lunch at Mr. B's and dinner at Galatoire's?

          1. re: lynnlato

            Mr. B's has a much cheaper but still very generous lunch portion of BBQ shrimp.

            Also they have a $1.50 cocktail menu at lunch...

            1. re: kukubura

              Now you're speakin' my language - thanks! I'm so confused. So many choices, not enough time.

              1. re: lynnlato

                Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, NOLA has MANY choices, and if one is not a local, there is too little time.

                Having moved away, decades ago, we are always torn horribly. That is just the way that it is. We try for some "old favs," but then try to add in some of the newer places (new to us), and it is not easy.

                Back in our youth, we seemed to be able to have three big meals per day, and never gain a pound. Now, we have to be very judicious in our dining, and will gain pounds - luckily, on SW Airlines, our bags fly free, but if we're not careful, we'll end up paying double-fare for our plane back to PHX!

                EC, and others have given some great recs. You cannot do it all. Even if we were spending two months, there would be some places, that would just have to be omitted. That is the great thing about NOLA - you can dine wonderfully for many weeks, and not repeat any restaurant.

                I'm with Hazelhurst, in that I will reserve my "high-end" dining for dinner, and will flit around for lunch. Many of those choices will be higher-end spots, but just not up to the levels of the dinner choices.

                Arise early, do Cafe du Monde, or The Original Coffee Pot, then look for lunch a bit later. Make reservations at the major restaurants for rather late, and then stumble back to the room.



                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Thanks Bill, for offering some perspective. We have one dinner reservation and that is Restaurant August. I am just a little bit excited for the Friday martini lunch at Galatoire's (as one CHer said it's about the experience) and I do plan to hit Cafe du Monde once. Anything above and beyond that is gravy.

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    Since your Saturday lunch is up in the air and while you might prefer to flit about, I suggest dressing up and riding the streetcar out to Commander's Palace. You'll get to wander around the Garden District with its amazing mansions and Lafayette Cemetery, plus lunch at Commander's is not only a quintessential NOLA experience but it's one of the great pleasures in life...

                    I think Sat is a brunch menu so it's not quite as inexpensive as their ridiculously inexoensive weekday lunch (unless they have that menu on saturdays too?) but since you're not in town for sun brunch it's probably still worth it.

        2. There are many mentions of / threads on Galatoire's but here's my interpretation of the basics for Friday lunch, from an out-of-towner who has been a handful of times.

          As you know, Friday lunch requires a bit of mental preparation but it's not *that* big a deal.

          1. In my experience, getting on line around 9:45-10 a.m. has been sufficient to get a table for four people at the first seating (essentially 11:30 a.m.). Minutes matter, however. Your whole party does not have to be there, btw -- one person can get a table for four.

          2. Eventually they'll come by with a clipboard and let you know whether you'll be able to get in or not. If yes, around 11 am they let you go to the bar upstairs, and you'll be seated downstairs by 11:45 if not sooner. But that's the timeframe: 60-75 minutes on line and another 30+ minutes in the bar.

          3. If not, don't worry about it. Not everyone stays for three or four hours -- they'll ask if you want to eat later and you can still enjoy a late lunch. Or just stop by at 10:30 or 11 in the first place and they'll tell you how to proceed -- take your name and tell you to come back around 1:30, or whatever. Some say this is the best way to go, period.

          4. If you have a group of six or more, you still have to wait on line but my understanding is that it's advantageous to let them know ahead of time what you'll be looking for. Call a few days ahead of time to inquire.

          5. Whenever you finally sit down, enjoy.

          Various & sundry:

          (a) I don't know if people really pay others to stand in line.

          (b) In theory, you can certainly drink on line -- the same way you can drink anywhere else in N.O. But don't imagine that the restaurant sells cocktails to people waiting outside; they don't. Save it for lunch, anyway.

          (c) As a general proposition, you don't need a big breakfast before Galatoire and a big dinner after. Have a light bite and save your appetite for lunch. For dinner, either make a late reservation (9 pm+) so you have one *if* you're hungry when the time comes, or just plan to eat late when the mood strikes -- perhaps someplace like Coop's or Port of Call. But normal people do not eat full dinners at 7 pm after finishing lunch at Galatoire at 2:30 pm.

          Side note: Don't know where you're staying but Camellia is a haul uptown from the Quarter and CBD -- close to 40 minutes by streetcar and 15-20 by taxi. There are many great restaurants and attractions uptown, but better to plan a day or half-day uptown, and stay there than to pingpong back and forth each day. Of all the things to do, I wouldn't start my day with a trip uptown for breakfast, only to return immediately after.

          Have fun at Galatoire's. Only you can decide if it's worth the trouble, but you can't help but enjoy yourself.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Mark Alberts

            That is a fair assessment of the story. I should point out that the restaurant closes at 9:00, that is, the last people are admitted then. I do not like to go that late (although I have stayed that late) because the staff wants to get the last meals out and go home. Sometimes there will be a waiting game by a couple of tables for the "honor" of claiming that "we closed the restaurant" and I hate to see that becuase it is so inconsiderate.

            People are paid to stand in line for Major Events with the exception of the Fridays before Christmas and Mardi Gras...for those days the tables are auctioned a few weeks before, the proceeds going to charities in town.

            Lots of people get a drink from one of the Bourbon Street joints but I never do because there is a martini waiting for me inside.

            Fridays are always loud, sometimes horribly so. I avoid them.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              I understand that the the souffle potatoes and the poisson amandine are must-haves off the menu? Others have suggested letting the server guide you towards what's good on the day of your visit. I'm sure I am over-analyzing everything as I typically do when I travel. Sorry!

              1. re: lynnlato

                Taking the two postings as one: I think that an 11:30 BBQ shrimp at Mr B's would be enough to hold you until Galatoire's Friday mob begins to clear out in the middle of teh afternoon. You could then go along about 4:00, 4:30 and relax. It is possible you wil have some loud people leftover from lunch. The last time I went on a Friday--and it has been a couple of years--I had to do so becuase it was a friend's last day in town and he wanted to get his "fix"(He'd eaten there every day for the previous four days). It was more-than-hectic but things calmed down around 4:30 and I got my favorite table.

                Poisson amandine is the recent term to allow for a shortage of trout..then they can switch. The trout amadine is usually ranked one of the best but some people object to the amount of butter on it. You can ask them to go light on that if you wish. Souffle potatoes are a standard in town...I think Galatoire's is one place that does not claim to have invented them. Lots of people get them with bearnaise on the side. But do check with your waiter about anything you order. If the pompano are decent do the lamb chops look?....ask about crabmeat canape Lorenzo or stuffed eggplant. The waiter might steer you towards the Goute which is a group of famous appetizers...oysters en brochette, remoulad, crabmeat maison(or sometimes crawfish maison).

                Dress an age debased and mechanical, Galatoire's is one place that (fitfully) holds to some shred of standards

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  had the crabmeat canape Lorenzo yesterday. how I wish I had it again right now. started w/a 6 pack of rock, fried eggplant w/bearnaise, and a Godchaux salad.

                  1. re: edible complex

                    Have you ever put a drop or 2 of Tabasco on a portion? Really wakes it up!

            2. re: Mark Alberts

              Wow, thank you so much for this very detailed explanation. This is exactly the sort of info I was looking for. I appreciate your spending the time to paint the picture for me.

              1. re: lynnlato

                You're welcome. Fish meuniere amandine is indeed the way to go. Also the grand goute appetizer platter - a variety of classics including shrimp remoulade and oysters en brochette. Personally, I don't think the souffle potatoes are anything to write home about. I'm sure hazelhurst can offer more insight on the menu choices, though. I like the liveliness of a Friday but I believe hazelhurst when s/he says it's perfectly nice other times. You have to sit downstairs, though - don't make a reservation which is only for the upstairs. Same drill, just not as much demand.

            3. You won't make it to Dick & Jenny's in time. Perhaps Rambla or Mimis in the Marigny (both tapas) or POC for a burger (IMO better than Yo Mamas). You'll need a car to get to the Galley. Emeril's flagship would be a much better choice than Mr. B's. You'll need a resv.
              Try the tasting menu w/wine pairing at August. Should there be a course you don't like, they will let you substitute. I'd skip breakfast on Fri. and get to Galatoire's early. You won't be ready to eat dinner until 7:30 at the earliest.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JazzyB

                Port of Call is a good idea...I was there a few weeks ago and it was wonderful. You are right about getting to Galatoire's early IF you want to have Friday lunch right away. 10:00AM is usually pushing it for Friday. I should also note that those six or eight people in line might just represent 80 or 100 people.

                1. re: JazzyB

                  I LOVED Mimi's - thanks so much for suggesting it!