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Oct 11, 2010 07:00 PM

30th Birthday dinner for 12 - grad student budget!

Hello chowhounders!
Please advise, 12-14 friends from across the US are all are converging on New Orleans to celebrate my sister's 30th birthday in early November. We plan to mostly cook at the house we are staying in, but want to all go out on Saturday night for a celebratory dinner. We'll be staying in the Marigny, so walking distance would be nice, but we are willing to travel for something special. Lots of guests have never been to NoLa, so I figure crawfish etouffee and oysters are necessities (and I personally could live on only these things indefinitely), but I'm imagining around $40 a person (although some folks have real jobs there is a serious grad student contingent). Am I asking the impossible? I have been to Acme and enjoyed it, and that is where I was thinking of, but this board doesn't seem like big fans. I am more interested in copious quantities of local tasty food than tableclothes or swankiness.
As well, any added tips about key lunch locations would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you!

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  1. Go to Coop's. They have traditional cajun food. Go to Molly's next door and party drinking the best bloody mary's in NOLA. Eat at Coop's and hit the FQ. Get some po boy's at Johnny's for lunch or go to Mena's Palace. Napoleone House is outstanding also.

    Coops Place @ 1109 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 525 - 9053.
    Johnny's Po Boys @ 511 Saint Louis St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 524 - 8129.
    Mena's Palace @ 200 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 525 - 0217.
    Molly's at the Market @ 1107 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 525 - 5169.
    Napoleon House Bar & Cafe @ 500 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 524 - 9752.

    Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
    500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

    Mena's Palace
    200 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

    11 Replies
    1. re: Littleman

      For this particular circumanstance, I heartily second the recommendation for Coops. It is on the Marigny side of the French Quarter. All of their food qualifies as New Orleans staple fare at a reasonable price. Several of their dishes are stand-outs for the price point. Jambalaya supreme, seafood gumbo, fried chicken, duck quesadillas, crab stuffed jalapenos & their pasta dishes come to mind. Littleman is correct about the bloody's at Molly's next door as well. They are the best you'll find in the city. Enjoy!

      1. re: GDPhalp

        Folks seem to either really like or really dislike in between. I am among the latter.

        My suggestion is K-Paul's. Forty dollars pp will allow the table to share an array of appetizers (starting at $6.95), plus a couple of entrees. Combined with the generous basket of housemade yeast rolls, jalapeno cheese rolls, corn and black muffins, no one will leave hungry. You will have sampled some of the best representations of local fare made with terrific ingredients. Additionally, K-Paul's is just plain fun.

        Don't forget the happy hours:
        Luke 3-6 daily: 1/2price libations, 50 cent oysters.
        Domenica " " 1/2 price pizzas

        Three Muses (Frenchmen) for small plates and music. Go to, scroll down to Sept. 28 for a review.

        Perhaps a birthday lunch instead of dinner. Always festive: Commander's (garden room), offers a prix fixe around $20, plus 25 cent martinis. Delicious gumbo and turtle soup.

        123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

        1. re: JazzyB

          I think K-Paul is a good idea for that krewe if they are careful, ditto for Dominica. The etouffee is going to be "iffy" in November..I cannot think of anywhere I'd bother to eat it then. Frozen crawfish tails have gotten a lot better in recent years but, as we have discussed here before (and Hungry Celeste and I have mentioned it) lots of commercial etouffees have a roux in them. They might be able to find a decent version, though, and if you know of one you'd sent someone to in, say, December, I'd be pleased to hear of it. (Come to thihk of it, I have seen Clancy's (and others) do it as a topping but that is not really enough to get the whole dish....or so I think, anyway.

          1. re: JazzyB

            We do plan to hit either Antoines or Commander's prix fix lunch on Monday for sure. Sounds like a great way to eat at places we couldn't otherwise afford! Which of those would you recommend more? I hear great things about Commander's, but I read and loved Dinner at Antoines, which draws me towards there.

            1. re: emski2

              I would go to Commander's if I could get a table in their Garden Room or outside if the weather is nice. Antoine's would be my choice if I could not get in the GR.

              1. re: emski2

                I didn't know anyone had read "Dinner at Antoine's" in the last forty years. THe "young man" in the beginning (Angelo) seemed ancient when I was a boy.

                Mrs Keyes was a piece of work....

                1. re: emski2

                  Definitely Commander's. The garden room is like dining in the treetops. Reserve soon and request a window table.

            2. re: Littleman

              Don't you think Johnny's might be a little small.

              1. re: CharlieH

                Charlie H........I guess I should have explained myself in more detail. The OP has a group of 12/14 and he asked for dinner suggestions. I suggested Coop's and GDPhalp 2nd that recommendation. I said get some po boy's at Johnny's for lunch. You don't have to eat at Johnny's do you? Can't you get them to go. I thought you could. I should have made myself more clear and said get some po boy's at Johnny's and eat in Jackson Square or the park by the river. Sorry about that.

              2. re: Littleman

                Put me down for Napoleon House anytime. I love the place. We have such fun when there's a rain shower and we're stuck in the courtyard under an umbrella. Get a Pimm's cup and a 1/4 muff. :)

                Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
                500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                1. re: Littleman

                  quality of food served at Coop's aside, i think it will be impossible to seat 12-14 people in there unless its 1AM. been very busy lately -- people actually stand in line for it now. oy.

                  Napoleon House is better, IMO, and is a terrific building to boot. the veggie sandwich rocks, the roastbeef poboy is good, and they have some "new orleans-y" dishes that out of towners are sure to enjoy.

                  Red Fish grill is a step up in the price ladder but still not too pricey. they often have $30 prix fixe menus so check their website.

                2. See what's cooking at Bacchanal Wine, I think it would be your kinda scene, or Jack Dempsey's both are in the Bywater.

                  Jack Dempsey's Restaurant
                  738 Poland Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CharlieH

                    Bacchanal would be excellent except it's 24 blocks from Esplanade. Jack Dempsey's is 26. Coop's is two.

                    They would be close to The Joint though. I never thought about spending the day in Bywater. Walking is not bad in NOLA if you can stop and rest every so often. They could walk to Lost Love Lounge first for a few bloody mary's and then walk to The Joint or JD's for lunch about 1PM or so. They could walk to Markey's and hang out for a few hours. After a few there they could walk to Bacchanal and have a few drinks outdoors and then dinner. They might even feel like going by Vaughn's. Pretty good plan.

                    Lost Love Lounge @ 2529 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 400 - 6145.
                    The Joint @ 801 Poland Ave., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 949 - 3232.
                    Bacchanal Fine Wine and Spirits @ 600 Poland Ave., New Orelans, LA 504 - 948 - 9111.
                    Jack Dempsey's @ 738 Poland Avenue, New Orleans, LA 504 - 943 - 9914.
                    Markey's Bar @ 640 Louisa Street, New Orleans, LA 504 - 943 - 0785.
                    Vaughn's Lounge @ 800 Lesseps St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 947 - 5562.

                    Jack Dempsey's Restaurant
                    738 Poland Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117

                  2. Praline Connection sounds kinda like what you're looking's in the Marigny, serves etouffee & oysters and you can get out of there under $40 per.

                    Another consideration would be Adolfo's. Casual Creole-Italian, decently priced, above the Apple Barrel bar. Generally no reservations, but I believe they take them for large groups.

                    Praline Connection
                    542 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                    Apple Barrel Bar
                    609 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                    1. You folks are heroes! Thanks for all the advice. I will have to do some serious consideration, and I will report back with how our choice worked out.

                      1. You said you're willing to travel for something special--so I would certainly give Bacchanal serious consideration. You'll have to cab it, but it will be something special--ideal, it seems, for a celebratory dinner (though probably not serving crawfish etouffee). Call and see if you can reserve for your group. And who knows, maybe the chef will be willing to take a special food request. From all accounts, the food is always good. A perfect party venue. And a great value.

                        Check out their website: