5 days in N.O.
I will be staying in New Orleans for five days, at the Hotel Monteleone. I've never been to the city before and I'll be with a group of people who are in the same boat, and most of them are foodies. We're all graduate students, so we can't go to high end places but I'm open to anything reasonable, or especially worth it.
Can you recommend places to eat that are not too too far away from the hotel? If something is a must-eat, I will go out of my way to try it, but it would be cool to be able to walk around. High on my list are po'boys, soft shell crab, and oysters. And anything else you tell me I need to eat!
One other request: can you recommend a nice cafe to sit and read at? I will probably spend one afternoon doing this for a few hours.
Your hotel is in the French Quarter, which is packed with restaurants of varying quality and cost. You might want to start by reading through the existing posts and/or doing a search. If you type in things like "po boy", "oysters", "moderate" you'll find previous posts thst will help. As far as specific suggestions, Johnny's Po Boys in the French Quarter is pretty good, and the best deal on oysters is the daily happy hour from 3:00 to 6:00 at Luke, when oysters are $0.25 each!
Your post suggests you'd sooner not leave the French Quarter, which is a crying' shame! You'll just have to plan a future trip, since many of the city's best restaurants are in other neighborhoods.
Within the Quarter:
* Cheap, decent po-boys at Johnny's.
* Muffulettas to go at Central Grocery (one muff feeds two people -- closed Sunday and Monday).
* Modest lunch fare and muffulettas (or just a drink -- try a Pimm's Cup) at atmospheric Napoleon House.
* Good jambalaya at Coop's bar.
* Cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde.
* Raw oysters at Acme or Felix's (closed Sunday).
* Breakfast at The Coffee Pot (full menu) or Croissant d'Or (espresso and pastry).
If you're hellbent on sampling a hurricane (think: boozy Hawaiian Punch), Lafitte's Blacksmith makes a better one than touristy Pat O'Brien's.
For slightly more upscale dining, you'll have to shell out a bit more. Mr. B's is practically across the street from the hotel, and not too expensive (especially at lunch). The Barbecued Shrimp and Gumbo Ya-Ya at Mr. B's are fantastic NOLA dishes. Consider making a reservation, or be willing to stand in line. Closed Sunday.
For Creole-Italian, Irene's Cuisine is good, and not insanely expensive. (Reservations essential, and request a table in the front room.)
High-end choices in the Quarter might include Stella!, Bayona, Galatoire's, and GW Fins.
If you can pry yourselves out of the Quarter, the options are endless in all price ranges. There are excellent restaurants in the Warehouse District and CBD (Central Business District), most within a 10-15 minute walk of the Monteleone.
Good restaurants abound Uptown and on Magazine Street, both accessible by streetcar, bus or taxi. Have everyone in your party put United Cab in their cell phone:
504-522-9771 and 504-524-8380
(Clancy's -- upscale and Uptown -- does a great smoked softshell crab, and Casamento's -- Magazine Street at Napoleon Ave. -- has the best oysters in the city, IMO. Split an "Oyster Loaf" and a dozen raw.)
Have you picked up a decent guidebook? Frommer's is popular, and will help you get the lay of the land, and maybe even inspire you to get out of the Quarter! It's not a big city.
I'm trying to think of quiet places to sit and read, since the Quarter is always jumpin' and jivin'. Tulane and Loyola students tend to congregate in coffee houses outside the Quarter, such as Rue de la Course (Google for locations), or various coffee houses in Marigny.
Napoleon House gets quiet between 3:00-5:00, if you don't mind soft classical background music. You can always sit in Jackson Square, if a jazz band isn't playing, or on the other side of the Moon Walk, overlooking the Mississippi.
Beauregard House and the Ursuline Convent both have lovely gardens. Maybe they'd let you sit and read? Further afield, City Park or Audubon Park are wonderful places in good weather.
I dunno....you'll figure it out! And you're going to have a great time!
Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130
4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115
Coffee Pot Restaurant
714 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116
430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112
209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130
539 Saint Philip St, New Orleans, LA 70116
One other suggestion (if I may) based on person experience: Get everyone in your group involved in choosing restaurants and figuring out what to see and do. Don't let 'em dump all the decision-making on you! They'll enjoy themselves more if they have an active role in the planning.
Another (non-food) resource that might be of help to you is TripAdvisor:
A lot of the higher end places have fixed course lunches for $15-20, if that's in your budget range. Luke, Antoines, MiLA, KPauls, (August might as well?) all do this.
re: pistachio peas
Bar UnCommon at the Pere Marquette hotel (MiLa Restaurant is also located in this hotel) is great for cocktails, if you happen to go by there for an inexpensive lunch as suggested above. It's a great lunch and cocktail experience and you'll be really pleased with the quality of the food and drink at relatively low prices.
Also the cocktails are good at the Carousel Bar at your hotel, but the quality can suffer a bit when it's busy in there, which it frequently is.
For outstanding, really special cocktails, go to Iris restaurant in the Bienville House hotel on S. Peters St. It's just a few block from your hotel. Pricey, but worth it to try one or two amazing drinks.
As for places to sit and read, I frequent La Boucherie coffeehouse on Chartres St. near the intersection of Conti. Good coffee and a quiet atmosphere, very near your hotel. Also, the courtyard at Royal Blend in the middle of the 600 block of Royal St. is a nice place to relax.
8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118
re: pistachio peas
The place to try a sazerac is at Roosevelt Hotel in the Sazerac Bar! Beautiful place, great experience:
IMO, Some places may not be as $ as you might think, depending on if you drink, and how much.
(PS I love staying at The Monteleone and I live in N.O. Fantastic hotel and rooftop pool)