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Oct 4, 2010 01:14 PM

Help Please - Spur of moment trip to New Orleans - Need Critique

My wife and I just planned a spur of the moment getaway without the kids and neither of us have ever been to New Orleans before. We will be there in a couple of weeks. We have traveled extensively and eat out a lot, with most of our fine dining history centered around NY and Boston. We need some authentic New Orleans experiences, BUT, my wife is semi-veg (fish, dairy ok - no meat). We have researched these and other boards and have some ideas, but would appreciate critique/alternatives to what we think so far:

Dinners - Green Goddess, Emeril's, Brigsten's
Lunch/Brunch - Coquette, CP
Breakfast - Elizabeth's

We have three days and will probably eat out 5 or 6 times (arrive sat early afternoon, depart Tues afternoon). Input appreciated.

Emeril's Restaurant
800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

Green Goddess
307 Exchange Place, New Orleans, LA 70130

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  1. I assume you will be flying and will not have a car. Where are you staying. If you are staying in the FQ I suggest you concentrate on dining there since it's your first trip. You can walk to all FQ restaurants from the FQ and all of the CBD restaurants as long as your wife wears comfortable walking shoes. Emeril's is my favorite NOLA restaurant and it's open on Sunday. You should include August in your trip since John Besh is NOLA's famous chef at the moment. Brigtsen's is a great restaurant but it's a 20 minute cab ride from FQ. Coquette is about half the distance but it's still a streetcar ride and 5 block's walk. It's a great restaurant. I suggest you include Commander's Palace in your itinerary and cancel Brigtsen's. Sunday Brunch at Commander's would be outstanding. Or you could have Sunday Brunch at Coquette which is a favorite of the Manning Family.

    On Monday you should take the streetcar to the GD or Uptown and walk the 3,000 to 5,000 block of Magazine. Your wife would enjoy all the neat shops in that area. You could have lunch at Coquette or Lilette as they are both in that neighborhood close to each other.

    I suggest you have dinner Saturday night at Restaurant August. Have Sunday Brunch at Commander's and eat a light dinner at Galatoire's in the FQ Sunday night.
    Galatoire's is old NOLA and has a lot of tradition. They serve outstanding fresh local seafood in traditional Louisiana fashion. Have lunch at Coquette Monday and let your wife shop on Magazine. Have dinner Monday night at Emeril's. If your wife is not interested in Magazine shopping have lunch in FQ at Mr. B's or Bayona. I think your wife will find fish at every good NOLA restaurant to her satisfaction.

    Commander's Palace @ 1403 Washington Ave., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 899 - 8221.
    Coquette @ 2800 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 265 - 0421.
    Emeril's @ 800 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 528 - 9393.
    Restaurant August @ 301 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 299 - 9777.
    Galatoire's @ 209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 525 - 2021.

    Elizabeth's is fun but it's country food. They have traditional NOLA menu items such as po boys and fried seafood but it's mostly country food. Fried chicken and calf liver. You can find similar food at home. I don't mean you should not go but I believe breakfast, lunch and dinner in NOLA is too much for one day. If you want to have lunch there that's fine. I would rather go to Mr. B's though. You will need a cab regardless of where you are staying though. Good luck and have a great trip.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Littleman

      Great info - thanks. We are in FQ with no car, but no issues with long walks, streetcars, etc. Magazine Street is on the agenda. I assume Magazine shops are open Sunday, so maybe Sunday brunch at Coquette and shopping. Emeril's on Monday night sounds right. Sounds like August is your 'must try' recommendation and Brigsten's might not be worth the journey relative to closer options? Any good breakfast options in FQ?

      Emeril's Restaurant
      800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

      1. re: vchipp

        Most shops on Magazine are closed Sunday's. The restaurant and bars will be open. Some shops are probably open on Sunday but Monday would be the best to visit Magazine and walk while you are shopping. Here's a link to the stores and hours.

        I think you should go to August because John Besh has risen to a high level of fame recently and it's very close. He was a James Beard SE Chef of the Year several years ago. His food is outstanding using local ingredients. He owns Luke and Domenica also as well as a restaurant in Mandeville, LA across Lake Pontchartrain.

        Brigtsen's is oustanding but there are complaints the menu does not change often enough to satisfy most. It's in an old house W of Tulane University and about 20 minutes by cab. It would be great if you had more time. For your first trip and only 3 nights I would go to August. The room is very nice and I think you will enjoy it.

        If you prefer you could have lunch at August on Monday and then head Uptown to Magazine Street. August has a $20.00 Prix Fixe lunch during the week. You could have dinner Saturday night at Emeril's or Galatoire's. Have Sunday Brunch at Commander's and Sunday dinner at Emeril's or Galatoire's. You could have dinner Monday night close to your hotel in the FQ at Mr. B's, Bayona or Bon Ton. Having lunch at August would help your pocketbook some.

        Sunday is a good day to walk in the FQ. The Royal Street shops are open on Sunday and you should visit them then go over to Jackson Square and walk through the French Market. There are a lot of fun joints in the FQ you could walk in and have a cold drink and get out of the weather. The FQ boundary on the S side is the Mississippi River. You can sit on a bench and watch the boats and have a light cold drink while you rest.

        One place you should visit Saturday night is The Ritz Carlton Jeremy Davenport Lounge and hear Davenport's Jazz starting at 9 PM. It's one block N of Bourbon on Canal. The corner of Iberville Street and Dauphine will take you in the back door of The Ritz Carlton. There's an elevator when you go through the swinging doors. Go up to the 4th floor I think. That back door elevator stops in front of the lounge.

        Mena's Palace in FQ is a local's favorite for breakfast. Elizabeth's is the most famous and a fun place but you will need a cab. Stanley would be my choice. It's on St. Anne and Chartres next to Jackson Square serving breakfast, lunch or dinner. The owner is the Chef at Stella which is another fine NOLA restaurant you should look at. When you are walking around the FQ stop and visit Stella for a moment so you will know when you come back.

        Mena's Palace @ 200 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 525 - 0217.
        Elizabeth's @ 601 Gallier St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 944 - 9272.
        Stanley @ 547 St. Ann St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 593 - 0006.
        Stella Restaurant @ 1032 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 587 - 0091.

      2. re: Littleman

        Coquette is not open for Mon. lunch.

      3. For a light breakfast in the Quarter, you should also try to get to Croissant D'or at 617 Ursuline near Chartres. Very quaint and neighborhoody and great for a croissant and a coffee, while you fantasize about what's to come for lunch and dinner !

        3 Replies
          1. re: noradeirdre

            Another nod to Croissant D'or. They serve a potato au gratin in an oval shaped ramekin that is wonderful. Muriel's is another place I recommend for a special dinner (or brunch). I've had their pecan crusted puppy drum fish and it's divine. Other posters have given wonderful suggestions. Enjoy your trip!

          2. re: piglet3000

            Coissant D'or really is very charming, reminds me of a true French Cafe, but if this is your first time in nola, I would probably do Cafe du Monde, or order light at Stanleys, only because the OP seems to be well dined in various cities, so I imagine this would not be that out of the ordinary/special food wise for them. Of course, if you are looking for pastrey/coffee in a great ambience, by all means go here!

          3. Sneak in a shared plate of BBQ shrimp at the bar at Mr B's with a couple of cocktails. As a snack it's hard to beat. Definitely a memorable dish that you shouldn't skip.

            1. (I didn't read every reply so there may be some repeats)

              re authentic N.O. Green Goddess is quite popular but I wouldn't say it's classic N.O.

              Croissant D'Or is great for french pastry and coffee I agree also....Bon Ton lunch or dinner M-F classic cajun cuisine, old school....

              Coffee Pot for Nola style breakfast as well as Stanley on Jackson Square
              Stanley menu:

              Coffee Pot menu:

              Can't get anymore New Orleans than Galatoire's

              Coffee Pot Restaurant
              714 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116

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

              Bon Ton Cafe
              401 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130

              Stanley Restaurant
              547 St Ann St, New Orleans, LA

              1. I think you should keep in mind that this is really the only place in America where you can find GREAT Creole, Creole-French and Creole-Italian cuisine. The only place. I used to live there and in my opinion these are the places you should not miss on a first visit:

                1. Emeril's Restaurant in the Warehouse District. They have an incredibly fine dish that might make you think you've died and gone to heaven. It's Darian's Chicken and Waffles. It comes with a side of Watermelon Slaw and is served with syrup made with Crystal Hot Sauce. They also serve Emeril's personal specialty, Banana Cream Pie. Don't miss it. It's mind blowing! And I'm not even a "banana person." This is the restaurant that launched an empire and it shows.

                Of coure, being in New Orleans, finding Seafood on the menu for your wife won't be a problem at all, anywhere.

                2. Frankie & Johnny's in the Uptown Neighborhood. They're a family owned Creole-Italian restaurant that specializes in Seafood. They're very popular with locals and are famous for their (stuffed) Fried Green Peppers. Again, this is one of the only places in America with this kind of food. It's a casual, inexpensive place and you may be some of the only tourists in the house.

                3. Commander's Palace for Sunday Brunch or Galatoire's for Friday Dinner. They're Creole and Creole-French respectively, and are Big Easy institution's and you should go for the experience, especially since it's your first visit. Commander's Turtle Soup takes them 3 days to make, their Bread Pudding Souffle is legendary (created by Emeril when he was their exec chef years ago) and they have 25 cent martini's during weekday lunch. They can also make you a perfect Sazerac. Galatoire's is the only place that I know of that still serves the classic and historic New Orleans dessert drink, Cafe Brulot. It's beautiful to watch them prepare and delicious to drink, so if you go I highly recommend that you order it.

                4. The Columns Hotel, Uptown. The only reason to go here is to sit on the patio and relax with a cocktail and watch the St. Charles streetcar roll by. Don't eat because it's not good, but the people watching experience and atmosphere with the streetcar and the live oaks is one that is totally New Orleans. It's particularly beautiful at night, but any time is good.

                5. Cafe Du Monde, in the Quarter. They're open 24 hours and getting a plate of beingets and some Chicory Coffee is another must. It's right across from Jackson Square and very touristy, but another "only in New Orleans" experience.

                6. Cameila Grill, Uptown. This is very, very crowded and you'll have to wait to be seated because they don't take reservations. Your reward for waiting will be a seat at their counter where you can watch your Breakfast being made right before your eyes. The waiters behind the counter put on a show with their colorful, polite and entertaining service. Inexpensive and delicious. You can ride the St. Charles Streetcar there, too. Just hop off of it at Riverbend. After eating walk two blocks and up the levee for an up close view of the mighty Mississippi River. Locals take their visitors from out of town here, and also drop in on their own.

                6. Central Grocery, French Quarter. This is a real grocery with a small sandwich counter for take-out. They make the best Muffellata Sandwich in the world, a New Orleans delicacy that you can't find in any other city. Well, you might be able to find one elsewhere, but it won't be good like this. Take it out into the Quarter to eat on a bench somewhere, and ship some of their bottled Olive Spread home so you can make another sandwich when you're craving it months later.

                Also, if you're in the area of Emeril's and want to try another New Orleans cocktail that's difficult to find made correctly, walk down to the Renaissance Hotel on Tchoupitoulas and order a Brandy Milk Punch. There are a lot of ingredients in it (including Bourbon, not Brandy) and it takes a little time to do the right way, but this hotel bar will make it authentically. Not true at other bars in town, including the one inside Commander's. The perfect Breakfast cocktail.

                There's A Lot more to do, but this will get you started. Have fun!

                Columns Hotel
                3811 Saint Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

                Commander's Palace Restaurant
                1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

                Emeril's Restaurant
                800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

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