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Looking for casual, neighborhood restaurant - not necessarily Creole/Cajun

I'm heading to Jazz Fest with some fellow food-minded folks, and we've already got reservations at Brigtsen's and August (with another friend wanting to go to K-Paul's on one of the other nights). So we've currently got at least one of our weekend nights open, and given that we'll be gorging ourselves during the day at the fest, and eating some pretty heavy-duty food otherwise, I'm on the lookout for someplace with great food that's reasonably priced, beloved by locals, that won't be impossible to get into -- but it doesn't necessarily have to have cuisine that's native to New Orleans. In fact, lighter fare would probably be welcome at that point.

Basically I'm thinking of someplace like Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas -- off the beaten path, inexpensive, incredible food, not a tourist trap. Any suggestions? I've searched the boards but haven't really found anything that seems to fit the bill. Oh, and we may rent a car, so though close by would be nice, it's not essential (we're staying in the Warehouse District). Thanks.

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Brigtsen's Restaurant
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

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  1. I can't really think of anything in the warehouse district that fits your requirements. There are plenty of great, non-"New Orleans" food restaurants that are good value for money (La Boca, A Mano, Rio Mar, Tommy's) but none of them is cheap. For inexpensive, you could try Lucy's Retired Surfer's Bar for a fun atmosphere and decent food, or maybe Ernst Cafe, which sometimes has crawfish boils and is a nice bar to hang out in.

    If you do have a car, your options expand greatly. New Orleans has a huge Vietnamese population and many great restaurants that represent that cuisine. Perhaps my favorite is 9 Roses, which is on the Westbank. It's best with a group so you can order lots of dishes and share everything.

    You might also consider casual seafood places where you can get great local seafood much more cheaply than in the French Quarter. Harbor Seafood, Seither's Seafood, R&O's, Deanie's - these are all very casual places to get a pile of boiled or fried seafood and lots of cold beer.

    Or you could head down to Chalmette and visit Rocky and Carlo's. It's not the best food in the world, but it is certainly an inexpensive local experience.

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    Rio Mar Restaurant
    800 South Peters, New Orleans, LA 70130

    Seither's Seafood
    279 Hickory Ave, New Orleans, LA

    Deanie's Restaurant
    7350 Hayne Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70126

    3 Replies
    1. re: uptownlibrarian

      For your "casual seafood places" I notice that Crabby Jack's and Charlie's Seafood are conspicuously not on your list. These were my two candidates for our casual seafood meal for an upcoming trip. Any reason why these might not be the ones to choose?

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      Crabby Jacks
      428 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70121

      1. re: mikeh

        Crabby Jack's isn't open for dinner, and they are already planning a meal at Brigtsen's so I thought Charlie's might seem repetitive to them.

        Both are very good though, and I would highly recommend them.

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        Crabby Jacks
        428 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70121

        Brigtsen's Restaurant
        723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

        1. re: uptownlibrarian

          oh, good to know about Crabby Jack's. Thanks.

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          Crabby Jacks
          428 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70121

    2. Why don't just make a reservation at Cochon, its right there, the food is excellent, its very casual, and really its just imaginative very well prepared cajun food with a slight twist. Since you are here all ready why night? You won't find that type of cuisine anywhere else in the country. I hate to say it, but its much better than K-Paul's. Bruni called it the Momofuko on the Mississippi. Of course if you don't do pork. If not look, at Sara's, its pretty off the radar, but beloved by many. Tommy's Cuisine is in the warehouse, as is Eleven Seventy Nine, both are popular amongst the locals and both serve creole Italian type fair. Better yet, there is Rio Mar, A Mano, and La Boca, all in that area and all run by the same team, very well regarded group as well. Take your pick. Realize that basically everyone coming to Jazz Fest has the exact same plan as you, its a very sophisticated crowd, and basically after the sun sets its one big bring us your tired, your poor, and your hungry scene all over town, so be smart, make reservations early and often and don't worry too much about being original and off the beaten path, nothing is off the radar at Jazz Fest and the feeling of actually having your butt in a chair with your name on it is way better than well, not.

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      Cochon
      930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

      Rio Mar Restaurant
      800 South Peters, New Orleans, LA 70130

      La Boca Restaurant
      857 Fulton St., New Orleans, LA 70130

      Tommy's Cuisine
      746 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130

      1. CharlieH has a good point: if you're like most Festers, you probably won't feel like driving around in the evening. But if you do want to eat in the WD (and you can get small plates at a lot of places), you should make reservations now--because you will be competing w/a whole lot of Festers looking for tables in New Orleans--and esp. in WD and Quarter.
        Not light really--but not heavy--is Domenica (regional Italian, small plates, good salads, fantastic pizzas). You can walk there; it's reasonable; it's delicious--and, for now, because it is Italian, it's probably still off the radar, and you can make a reservation.

        On the other hand, if you want to get off the radar and eat something "light," you would have to go out to the West Bank (by car) and hit one of the Vietnamese restaurants.

        Whatever you decide, be prepared: most paths get beaten during JF.

        But you'll have a great time.

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        Domenica
        123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

        6 Replies
        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          You are right that nothing is truly off the beaten path during Jazz Fest. Twenty years ago it was possible to go to the dressier places without much trouble but that standard has vanished for the most part. Once upon a time you could go to now-vanished isles of quiet like Bright Star or Home Plate Inn but nowadays I see JF crowds in College Inn. I'd expect some place like Tommy's to be busy but not packed but truth to tell I have never tried it during JF. I stick to Clancy's and Galatoire's and have never had a problem but, then, I change into a suit and tie. (it has gotten to the point where you can go to the Fair Grounds and not see someone you know.)

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

          1. re: hazelhurst

            Agreed, I remember when you could go to anyplace down Magazine, toward the park and never have to worry about crowds during the Fest but that all changed.

            Are you speaking of the Home Plate Inn on Tulane? I helped paint the place years ago when my friends family took it over. Here's an article by the late great Phil Johnson back in 1995 about it, this was shortly after I helped paint it.
            http://www.wwltv.com/home/Phil-Johnso...

            1. re: roro1831

              That's the one...only locals in there...NOPD Crime Lab guys used to stop by all the time

              1. re: hazelhurst

                Yep and cab drivers. There was a guy that worked there named Pete, not related to the Lehrmann's but he was quite the character, he had to be in his 80's at the time and was very fun to talk to.

            2. re: hazelhurst

              Good to know about Clancy's; I would have guessed that impossible. And I've been trying to think of a place to take some visitors on first weekend--although, truth be told, after a day gorging at JF, home sounds pretty good!

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                I would certainly advise a reservation at Clancys although I am usually alone and just eat at the bar. It fills up in a hurry, though. I was able to get res. for this weekend just yesterday but of course there is no cometition from JF goers..just people in for the LA Derby and the filies race tmorrow.

          2. You're gonna need a reservation no matter what. Cochon's a good bet.

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            Cochon
            930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

            1. These are all great suggestions so far and exactly what I was hoping for -- thanks! (And CharlieH, you had me at "Momofuku on the Mississippi.") Will definitely forward this to my friends and check out Cochon, Sara's, Rocky and Carlo's and some of the others ... in fact I may just go ahead and make a reservaton at Cochon right now. (Though I'm tempted by the promise of great Vietnamese food.)

              Thanks to all!

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              Cochon
              930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

              1 Reply
              1. re: brooklynbite

                Just thought of this: Cafe Minh is a Vietnamese place on Canal, in mid-city. You can jump off the streetcar right in front of the place, or it's an easy cab ride. (I've done it after JF, and it gets crowded like any place, but you shouldn't have any trouble getting a reservation.) CM is more upscale than the West Bank places, but still pretty moderate. The chef is classically trained and the menu reflects that, but the food is delicious. I almost always order a couple of the fabulous appetizers (dumplings, rolls, coconut shrimp, grilled scallop) while DH usually opts for the short ribs or duck entrees. The menu is wide-ranging, w/interesting nightly specials. Just a thought.
                (I do think the salt-baked scallops at Kim Son, on the West Bank, are divine should you find yourself there; and like Uptown Librarian, i love Nine Roses.)
                But I also love Cochon--the fare's not light, but you can get small plates.

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                Cafe Minh
                4139 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119

                Kim Son Restaurant
                349 Whitney Ave, Gretna, LA 70056

              2. Acme Oyster House. French Quarter:
                Johnny’s Po-Boys. French Quarter:
                Port of Call. French Quarter:
                Katie's. Mid-City:
                Liuzza’s. Mid-City:
                Mandina’s. Mid-City:
                Joey K’s. Uptown:

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                Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar
                3636 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70119

                Mandina's Restaurant
                3800 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119

                Acme Oyster House
                724 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                Joey K's Restaurant & Bar
                3001 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

                Port of Call
                838 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

                Acme Oyster House
                1202 N Highway 190, Covington, LA 70433

                Mandinas Restaurant
                4240 Highway 22 Ste 2, Mandeville, LA 70471