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Best Friend's 40th Birthday celebration -- help us decide!

2 couples (DC Hounds and New England Hounds), heading down Feb 25-28 for a 40th birthday celebration. Staying at the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel (700 Tchoupitoulas St·). I've been to NO once but the others have not. We'll trickle in on Friday -- everyone will be at the hotel by dinnertime -- and our flights depart at about 12:30 on Monday.

I've combed through the boards -- what great recommendations you all make! -- and have developed a huge list that needs to be culled. E.g., I am not sure which to choose from similar experiences, or if any places are a silly distance from the hotel. We will not have a car but we don't mind walking, street cars, etc.

We definitely want local/regional cuisine. For the birthday dinner I am leaning toward Galatoire's -- I had an absolutely fabulous experience there when I was down for work in June 09. Would also love thoughts on cheap eats/local dives, places for the 40-something crowd to drink and hear some great music, and dessert places. Brunch on Sunday as well -- I guess the typical stuff people ask about :)

I am not sure if I have the fine dining/pricier and more casual/less expensive categories correct in my list -- it's just the impression I picked up from reading through the boards. Please correct as needed.

Lastly - one of the husbands has it in his head that he wants to go to Two Sisters and Hurricanes. Gah! Please offer alternatives to help us dissuade him from the tourist traps!

Here's our (huge) list to choose from so far -- we clearly need a plan. And reservations :) Many thanks!!

"fine dining"/pricier?:

Napolean House
Commanders palace
Bon Ton,
Irene's (Creole-Italian)
Pelican Club

More Moderately Priced/more casual?
Mat and Naddie's,
Ye Olde College Inn,
Dick and Jenny's
Mr. B’s (Royal St)
Palace Cafe

Cafe du Monde (coffee and beignets)

Sunday Jazz Brunch:
Dante’s kitchen

Take Out/Po Boys:
Central Grocery
Mena's Palace @ 200 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 525 - 0217.
Johnny's Po Boys @ 511 Saint Louis St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 524 - 8129.

Nor Joes


Carousel Bar, at the Monteleone
Sazarac Bar, at the Roosevelt
Snug Harbor on Frenchmen for Jazz
Chart Room
Hermes Bar at Antoine's
French 75 Bar at Arnaud's
Davenport Lounge in the Ritz Carlton (Thursday/Friday/Saturday at 9 PM


Ye Olde College Inn
3000 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

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

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

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

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

Pelican Club Restaurant & Bar
312 Exchange Alley, New Orleans, LA 70130

Chart Room
300 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

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

8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

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  1. Good list. You can probably drop Napoleon House to the casual/moderately priced and Bon
    Ton somewhere in the middle.

    Add Cafe Atchaflaya to the brunch list for Sat/Sun

    For music you want Frenchman Street but also check the web sites for Tipitina's and House of Blues. When you get in get a copy of Gambit magazine (free) which will give you all the music going on around the area for the week.

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

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

    501 Napoleon Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

    House of Blues
    225 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70130

    1. I would confine most of my 3 nights to the FQ and CBD since you will not have a car. I would have dinner at Brigtsen's Friday night and lunch at Mr. B's Saturday. I would also consider lunch at Brennan's Saturday. I would go to Galatoire's Saturday night. I would have Sunday brunch at Commander's Palace and dinner Sunday night at Emeril's. Drinks at Hermes and French 75 would also be in order. Some appetizers at Felix's or Acme would be fun too. I don't know how you will work in the po boys. Have a fun trip.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Littleman

        +1 for Brigtsen's and Galatoire's

        +++++++1 for Mista B's :-) yummmmmmm on the bbq shrimp

        I would skip Cafe du Monde and go to Croissant D'or, wonderful pastries. I've also heard Cafe Beignet has better beignets than CDM. Haven't tried it yet, got too hung up on Croissant D'or last trip.

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

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

        1. re: Littleman

          I think I may need to swap a Po Boy for one of the big meals -- I can't eat that much in a day! :-D

        2. the latest issue of new orleans magazine has a list of 63 bars. you really need to print this out. the first bar mentioned is bar uncommon. the head bartender, chris mcmillian, was working the night we went in. the place was not to our taste(too jetson's) but the bartender was great. he loves to talk about the drinks he makes and tell stories.

          1. Napoleon House is casual, bar like atmosphere, more for the drinks than dining but fun. Lower cost and in the center of the Quarter
            Palace Cafe is wonderful especially for a celebration, not real expensive but better put in the fine dining along with Mr. B's.
            If you like steak don't miss Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse - wonderful and locally owned and operated in typical Brennan Family style'
            Big Fan of Johnny's po-boy on St. Louis. Busy with locals but don't walk past - it is worth the short wait if you have one. There is a second dining room seated area in the back too.

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

            Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse
            716 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70130

            1. music. i have only one thing to say-Frenchmen St.. it's all there in a few short blocks. last trip we went to dba,spotted cat and snug harbor. dba and spotted cat were free the nights we went. and snug harbor we just sat at the bar and they pipe in the music from the club. on bourbon st. i like irwin mayfield's club, maison bourbon and fritzel's. but all up and down bourbon street has tons of different types of music. pick up the latest issue of theGambit when you go. has all the music going on.

              1. Thank you so much -- this is really helpful! -- Jackie

                1. I just got back from NOLA Sunday for a conference. I would highly recommend spending the money on a cab to make it to Commander's Palace. I will go so far as to say that it was nearly a religious experience. They have a very reasonable price-fix menu. The soup selection allows a 1-1-1 choice (so you can try three soups). The night I was there I had turtle soup, chicken and oyster gumbo, and artichoke/crab bisque. The turtle soup was magnificent - a testament to the amazing things that happen when something is allowed to really flavor together. The chicken/oyster gumbo was great - the oyster flavor was fantastic and the texture fo the oysters was perfect - not rubbery/overly cooked at all. And who can argue with crab/artichoke bisque? All three were fantastic. I had the scallops - which were perfectly cooked...carmelized on the outside, but not overcooked. Finally, NOLA seems to be known for its bread pudding...this menu allowed a choice of a bread pudding souffle or a strawberry shortcake. I was stuffed by the end of the meal, but the strawberry shortcake was to die for...it's on my list for things I want to eat as part of my last meal. The strawberries were perfectly ripened, the biscuit was not too dense, not too flaky and not too sweet (but sweet enough that it was clearly a shortcake biscuit) and there was lots of real whipped cream.

                  We also ate at Dickie Brennan's Palace Cafe. It was good - but didn't hold a candle to Commander's Palace.

                  Regarding Cafe Du Monde - I have to say, I was underwhelmed. It's great for people watching/hanging out in the French Quarter. Maybe I just have poor taste in Beignet's, but to me it was a just a hyped-up version of fair food (specifically, the funnel cake).

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

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: back2ajs

                    The beignet is a beignet. i suppose it is somewhat akin to a funnel cake but the Cafe Du Monde is a quintessential New Orleans experience. "Coffee is strong at the Cafe Du Monde with donughts to hot to touch but just like a fool when those sweet goodies cool I eat till I eat way to much' Jimmy Buffet "The Wino and I know" from the album "Living and dying in three quarters time'!

                    1. re: Edward Tyson

                      I can't recall what they call it right now but their iced cappuccino drink is wonderful. I skip the beignets and get one of those now.

                  2. That is the first weekend of Mardi Gras parades, so I would recommend that you consider staying in the Warehouse District - CBD - French Quarter area where you can walk. You would probably have trouble trying to take a street car, and although the cabbies know how to go around or through the parade routes, the traffic can be gridlocked for a while as floats make their way to and from the parade route, not to mention when the actual parades are running.

                    For poboys near your hotel, try nolagrocery on Andrew Higgins, just next to Cochon Butcher, and for steaks, try La Boca. It's very small, so you definitely need a reservation, but one good factor is that they are open very late. You may have an easier time getting a table during a parade, since many people will be at the parades, and people not going to the parades will want to avoid the area.