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help me plan my 3-day bday whirlwind trip.

hey, yall!

i was just in NOLA for new yrs -- hanging out with a friend who's car-less & not a foodie, so i didn't really get any earth-shattering meals in, thought what i ate actually tasted pretty delicious anyway. (we did ruby slipper for brunch, which was nice ambience, and mandina's for dinner, b/c it's right near where my friend lives.. decent po-boy but expensive for what it was. oh! we also had a meal at rum house on magazine st, which i thought was rather decent (i've had a few daydreams about the scallop taco i ate there.) we went to cafe degas on sunday before i left and as soon as we sat down realized i had to be at the airport about an hour later, so we slurped down some soup and took off (which was delicious, i might add.))

overall, though, i )(*#@$ loved the city. props, NOLA. friendly people, and wonderful bars (we went to the saint new yrs' eve, which, minus the smoke was pretty much heaven; and bacchanal the next day... thought those were both excellent places to be celebrating the beginning of 2011.

now, i'm going back in a few weeks to celebrate my bday w/a group of friends who are flying from all different parts of the country. pretty much everyone who's going is into good eating.
BUT -- i don't want to be anywhere stuffy. i want really tasty food for reasonable prices and nowhere that has a white linen/only-show-up-if-you're-dressed-up vibe. as evidenced by my preference for bars such as the saint i like grunge (however, i also really like great design -- EAT looks like a nice room, for example.) i don't eat pork and i don't like oysters, so keep that in mind. cochon is a must b/c one of the girls who's going has already mandated it. everyone is in their 30s and i have NOTHING whatsoever against babies or senior citizens, but to some extent, i would like places with young-ish ambience. at least for some of the meals.

so this is my idea for now:

thurs night (i get in late w/another friend -- everyone else arrives fri): clover club? any other late-nite eating options? yuki perhaps?

*or* is there anywhere between houston and NOLA we should stop on the way?

fri: most people won't be getting in til dinnertime. i don't do breakfast - can't be bothered to wake up for it while on vacation (or really, mostly anytime).
lunch elizabeth's? or EAT? or ... (fill in the blank, dear chowhounders)

fri: dinner (w/group -- eek, is 9 people having dinner just going to be a big disaster no matter where we go?) cochon? boucherie? jacques-imos?

sat brunch: stanley?

sat dinner: green goddess (i checked out the menu/website and it looks incredibly interesting to me -- i think this is my ideal kinda restaurant -- chefs who are passionate about food and a funky ambience)

sun brunch: cake cafe?
commander's palace? (the jazz brunch looks interesting but i hate eggs and i don't want to make everyone drop 40 bucks -- any other memorable, delicious and interesting brunch spots in NOLA?)
cafe amelie?

i'm scheduled to leave sunday before dinner, but trying to talk my friend into staying through monday.

please let me know what you think of my plans. thanks, NOLA chowhounders!

edited to say: btw, i also love sweets. i know about sucre and plan to go, but is there anywhere else i should go during the weekend for some birthday treats?

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  1. I am just a "visitor" to NO but I visit quite often. I still have family all over southern Louisiana and make the I-10 trip frequently. Here are some of my frequent places to stop from west to east:

    Al-T's in Winnie, Tx. - love love love their frog legs. Great dirty rice, boudin and many other items. http://www.al-ts.com/ Forget their buffet lunch and order some fried seafood there.

    Rao's Bakery in Beaumont on Calder - a hop skip and jump off I-10. Delicious breakfast pastries, gourmet coffees, etc. http://www.raosbakery.com/

    Not feeling pastries and want the most mouth watering donuts this side of the Mississippi? Nelson Donuts in Lake Charles, 813 East McNeese.

    Frey's Crawfish House in Jennings, La. I've eaten there twice and loved it much more than the restaurants in Breaux Bridge (Mulate's and Cafe Des Amis) which were ok but nothing to write home about.

    In NO, my favorite dish is the bbq shrimp at Mr. B's. If you went at lunch, you could probably get by with almost any attire. Just a few weeks ago we saw some guys come in dressed in FRC's. We thought maybe they were there to work on the plumbing or something but they were seated, in the back though. I'd eat standing on my head for those bbq shrimp.

    Boucherie still has the best meal for the price with some great boudin balls. Get a reservation, they were packed on a Wednesday night (or maybe it was Thursday night) when we went.

    I hate eggs too but I'm sure Commander's could accommodate you. I've had brunch there but it was a couple of years ago and don't remember what I had. When in doubt, give them a ring and ask them.

    I also remember a long long thread about every eating place between Houston and New Orleans. I think it was started by Hungry Celeste. I'll see if I can find it and provide a link.

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    Boucherie
    8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

      1. Here's some joints to stop on the way to NOLA from Houston.

        Get off I 10 @ Exit 64 in Jennings, LA and go S on Highway 26 to Frey's Crawfish House for good cajun food for lunch or dinner. They only serve dinner on T/F/S. Be sure to check their hours.

        Frey's Crawfish House @ 919A North Lake Arthur Ave., Jennings, LA 337 - 246 - 5023.
        http://freyscrawfish.com/

        Get off I 10 at Exit 82 and go N to Hawk's for fresh crawfish.

        Hawk's Crawfish @ 415 Hawks Road, Rayne, LA 337 - 788 - 3266.
        http://hawkscrawfish.com/home.htm

        Get off I 10 at Exit 101 in Lafayette, LA then go S on Hwy. 182 which is N University. Go less than a mile to Creole Cafe for good country breakfast or plate lunch.

        Creole Cafe @ 1227 N. University Ave., Lafayette, LA 337 - 266 - 4648.

        Or get off I 10 at Exit 101 in Lafayette, LA and go S on Hwy. 182 which is N University. Go S on University and it becomes W University. Take a right on Johsnton St. and go three blocks and take a right on W St. Mary Blvd.then go one block where you will find Old Thyme Grocery for good road food and the best po boys in LA.

        Old Tyme Grocery @ 218 West Saint Mary Blvd., Lafayette, LA 337 - 235 - 8165.

        Or get off I 10 in Lafayette, LA at Exit 101 and go S on Hwy. 182 which is N University. Go S on University and it becomes W University then it becomes E University. Go to Pinhook and take a right then go about 6 blocks to Blue Dog Cafe for great road food.

        Blue Dog Cafe @ 1211 West Pinhook Road, Lafayette, LA 337 - 237 - 0005.
        http://www.bluedogcafe.com/

        Get off I 10 at Exit 109 in Breaux Bridge and go S on Rees Street or Highway 328 and go to Le Cafe for outstanding Po Boys. Or get Off I 10 at Exit 109 and go N on Highway 328 which is Anse Broussard Highway also to Poche Bridge Road. Go N to Main Highway and Poche Market and Restaurant for good Cajun cuisine for lunch. This is a buffet so you might really like it if you are in a hurry.

        Le Cafe @ 124 Rees St., Breaux Bridge, LA 337 - 332 - 2500.

        Poche's Market and Restaurant @ 3015 Main Hwy., Breaux Bridge, LA. 337 - 332 - 2108.
        http://www.pochesmarket.com/

        Get off I 10 at Exit 115 in Henderson, LA and go E on Highway 352 to Henderson Levee Road to Pat's Fisherman's Wharf for good cajun food. Go to Whiskey River Landing for good music and cold drinks.

        Pat's Fisherman's Wharf @ 1008 Henderson Levee Rd., Henderson, LA 337 - 228 - 7512.
        http://www.patsfishermanswharf.com/
        Whiskey River Landing @ 1365 Henderson Levee Road, Breaux Bridge, LA 337 - 228 - 2277.
        http://www.whiskeyriverlanding.net/

        Get off I 10 at Exit 157A in Baton Rouge, LA to Perkins Road and take a right to Parrain's for outstanding fresh seafood for lunch or dinner. Or get off I 10 at Exit 157A in Baton Rouge, La to Perkins Road. Take a left and Acme Oyster House is on your left open for lunch or dinner serving outstanding fresh seafood.

        Parrain's Seafood Restaurant @ 3225 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 225 - 381 - 9922.
        http://www.parrains.com/
        Acme Oyster House @ 3535 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 225 - 906 - 2372.
        http://www.acmeoyster.com/

        I think I would stop at Henderson and go to Pat's.

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

        7 Replies
        1. re: Littleman

          I didn't know they had an Acme in BR. I've been to Parrain's wasn't that impressed. I'd just drive another hour to get to Drago's in Metairie :-)

          1. re: texasredtop

            Acme in B.R. is a defenite Must-Not-Stop. I've tried to give it as many chances as I can when in the area (same for Parrain's which always leaves me wishing I'd gone elsewhere but I like the folks there.) Acme is nothing but hard surfaces and noise, noise, noise. It is passable if you never had the real deal. Found out recently that "corporate" has switched their sausage to some generic cryd shipped in...there is plenty of better sausage lying around in gas stations. But the Bean Counters are in charge now. I see what they are trying to do and I admit it improves over packed triangles of sandwiches at the Texaco but it leaves me cold in the end.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              I'm with you on Parrain's. Didn't impress me at all. I'm not a fan of Acme in the Quarter either. It's okay, just so much better around. Last month was the first time we've walked by there and there weren't 40 people waiting in line to get in. I don't see the fuss over Acme and prefer Casamento's for my fried oysters.

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              Casamento's Restaurant
              4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

              1. re: texasredtop

                If you guys aren't recommending Acme, where would be the best place in town for down-home, cheap, tasty fare including po-boys and oysters and fried seafood, etc?

                1. re: reina_de_fideo

                  Lots of people seem to love Acme. I just didn't. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great to me. I love Casamento's oysters. Thinking about it, I rarely order fried seafood while I'm in NO unless I make it to Casamento's. For poboys, I go to Parkway. My husband loved Crabby Jack's. I liked it pretty well. It wasn't so much the food I didn't like but other things like how freezing cold it was inside and the smell inside. But the shrimp remoulade and fried green tomato poboy was very good.

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                  Crabby Jacks
                  428 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70121

                  Casamento's Restaurant
                  4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

                  1. re: reina_de_fideo

                    It crossed my mind that Bozo's had good fried seafood. I haven't been there since before K but it was good when we used to go. It's in Metairie close to the mall.

                    1. re: reina_de_fideo

                      Down home cheap tasty fare: Nola Grocery and Parkway come to mind. They have fried oysters but not raw.

            2. Where are you staying. If you are staying in the FQ you should go to Mr. B's for lunch or Galatoire's. Let us know where you are staying. You can find great food near your hotel.

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

              3 Replies
              1. re: Littleman

                Thanks for the info.

                I'm staying in the CBD on Camp Street. I definitely want to go to Boucherie though I know it's not walking distance from the hotel. Nor are Elizabeth's or Cake Cafe, but I'm wondering if it's worth the trek (and schlepping my rather large group) to Bywater for the food/ambience at these places. Natives' opinions?

                My friend I'll be driving with from Houston (I'm coming from Austin) wants to go to Acme in NOLA. I don't know why she prefers there to stopping on the way but she didn't seem enthusiastic when I suggested doing that in Baton Rouge since I don't want to 'waste' a meal in NOLA on it (i love poboys but there are so many places I want to check out that seem more NOLA-unique, I kinda would rather 'use' that meal in the on-the-way stop. I don't know if we'll be there in time, anyway, as we'll be leaving Houston at around 5 or 6. (which is why I asked about late night places in NOLA -- now I see Camellia being recommended a lot as a late-night place and that sounds tasty.)

                Speaking of Mr. B's, what is the big thing w/BBQ shrimp? I tried "BBQ" shrimp at a Cajun-ish place in Austin and I didn't really taste much. If someone tells me why they're raving about 'em, maybe I'll give them a second chance.

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                Boucherie
                8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                1. re: reina_de_fideo

                  BBQ shrimp is something you'll have to try at the places that make it great, not just anywhere. I've had it several places that I wasn't impressed, Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge, Parrains in BR, and several other places. Wouldn't consider getting their version again.

                  Forget what you know about bbq, it's not that. It's shrimp baked in a rich sauce of butter, pepper and spices. I got hooked on bbq shrimp about 12 or so years ago at Pascal's Manale. Their version is still very delicious to me but after K, they just seemed kind of hit and miss with it. So I checked around and with a lot of people telling me they liked Mr. B's version better, I tried them. Oh yeah, they ARE better. I still love them both but every year when I have my first taste of Mr. B's version, I wish I'd booked two or more meals at Mr. B's to have them several times. The sauce is a little spicy, it's rich, it's just heaven to me. They could leave the shrimp out and I wouldn't even care and I love shrimp. I will book at least two meals at Mr. B's next trip and two meals at Drago's in Metairie after discovering those delicious charbroiled oysters a month ago.

                  What cajun place in Austin? The only one that comes to mind is Razzo's or something like that.

                  1. re: texasredtop

                    We ate at Mr. B's 3 times in one week beause we couldn't believe the BBQ shrimp. We'd had it at a couple of bad places before too but you just can't compare. Don't miss it, for real. (Also, they generously give the recipe out on their website and if you follow it you can have something pretty damn close at home... But you need a looooot of butter...)

              2. Boucherie could get tight for a table for nine. call and see if they can fit you in the side room.

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                Boucherie
                8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                2 Replies
                1. re: edible complex

                  EC(LOVE your name), i have a reservation already at Boucherie (eek, the group might grow to 10!) i will ask them how they plan to accomodate us.

                  Texasredtop, the place wasn't really Cajun -- it was called Shuck Shack and it no longer exists, but it was on Chavez at Chicon in a cute house and they specialized in seafood -- oysters, etc --and had poboys. Before Shuck Shack, it was my favorite little cafe in the world, Azul -- lovely menu, lovely decor, total hipster ambience (could get annoying but the great food and decor made up for it.) I once threw myself a bday party there and for $100 i fed my group of friends and that included tip and wine!!! Ah, I miss Azul.

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                  Boucherie
                  8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                  1. re: reina_de_fideo

                    Well we had lunch at Razoo's once (or whatever it's called) and it was just normal dishes with lots of red pepper. Ha! Reminded me of so many other faux cajun places in Texas.