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Best food in New Orleans??

We will be in New Orleans first week of May for our second time and would love to have ideas for the best food in town. Last trip we did Cochon, Degas, Central Grocery and Parkway Bakery. All were quite good but we also got stuck in some pretty awful tourist traps...
Would love some tips from locals!

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

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  1. I'm sure some others will jump in, and any search will bring up the usual list of favorites.

    I'd love to hear about the awful tourist traps. Part of the reason is letting people know where NOT to go, along with where one should go. Another part is that there are so many restaurants that are full of tourist because of their good food that it would help us locals have a clue on what appears to be, or definitely is, a trap.

    I could volunteer a few names but they might be on someone elses favorites list!

    10 Replies
    1. re: collardman

      To build on Collardman's idea, a few words about the "tourist trap." Being seated in what amounts to the "tourist section" of some of the old Creole restaurants in the French Quarter always seems like a bad idea to me. If you go to Galatoire's, for example, you should always wait on line to sit downstairs. A reservation for upstairs is not going to give you the authentic experience. I'm assuming there is a similar scenario at Antoine's and Arnaud's, but would love to hear what others think, as I haven't been to these restaurants in many years. Instead of sitting in the dining room at Antoine's now, I sit at the Hermes Bar next door for a more casual experience where you can eat from Antoine's menu and interact with locals and the bartenders. And the one time I dined at Commander's Palace (last Thanksgiving), we requested a table in the Garden Room. Again, would love to hear what others have to say about sitting somewhere other than the Garden Room and whether that may constitute a tourist trap as well.

      Regarding the original question about the "best food in town," I'd say you hit a few of them last time in Parkway, Central Grocery, and Cochon. All are worth another visit. On the higher end of the price scale, I would recommend Herbsaint and Brigsten's. For more casual dining, Acme is great for charbroiled oysters (though popular with toursits) and Cafe Du Monde, despite its tourist mecca status, is still very satisfying.

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      Cochon
      930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

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

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

      Herbsaint
      701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

      1. re: bmoskowitz

        Oh, we went to cafe du monde every morning for their beignets!

        What were looking for is good, exciting Louisiana food. We are from Montreal/Marseille and want to eat things we can t find at home, like alligator!

        1. re: onaimemanger

          Make sure you do Brigtsen's then. Arguably the best Modern Louisiana cuisine to be had anywhere. I would NEVER go to New Orleans and not dine with Chef Frank.

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

      2. re: collardman

        I think we only really had bad dinning experiences in the french quarter. The worst was the Gumbo Shop on our first night in town.. we were tired and hungry and the place had a line up as well as its own cook book so i thought it couldnt be too bad. The service was fine but the food was just terrible, pure slop. But there are places like Central grocery that are crawling with tourists and still offer up delicious food (even though i read theyre quality had gone way down in the past few years), I even bought some of that pickled veg! I think the idea is to stay out of the French Quarter and visit some more local neighbourhoods...

        1. re: onaimemanger

          It really depends on what you are looking for (i.e. fine dining, New Orleans cajun fare, po-boys, etc...) but these are my favorites:

          Restaurant August - John Besh's flagship restaurant. It is fine dining but a really great time; he uses local ingredients with his own creole spin.

          Luke - another John Besh place that is much more casual. It's very pork-centric (all his pork comes from his farm) and they offer $.25 oysters from 3-6 every day.

          Commander's Palace Sunday Brunch - I think this is the quintessential New Orleans experience.

          Herbsaint - Excellent fine dining. Donald Link also owns Cochon

          Gallatoire's - I personally think their food can be a little hit or miss unless you stick with the favorites but the experience is one of the best in New Orleans. like one of the posters noted earlier you definitely need to sit downstairs.

          Mr. B's - but only for BBQ shrimp and gumbo yaya. Both these items are out of this world and I think many people will express that same sentiment.

          Brigstens, Clancy's, Emeril's are all good as well; I'm probably missing a few.

          My favorite Po'boy is probably at Crabby Jacks (it's a little out of the way but worth it), Domilese's is also great for Po'Boys but I'd skip Roast Beef there. Parasol has my favorite Roast Beef but I'm not sure if it has reopened yet. Casemento's for all things oyster.

          Also, if you are drunk and hungry and in the quarter get an All That Jazz sandwith from Verti Marte

          There are other great restaurants as well (Rio Mar, A Mano, Domenica) but I assumed you would want to stay with more traditional Nola style fare

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          Crabby Jacks
          428 Jefferson Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70121

          Restaurant August
          301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

          Cochon
          930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

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

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

          Herbsaint
          701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

          Verti Marte
          1201 Royal St, New Orleans, LA

          Domenica
          123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

          1. re: klebb

            Amazing! Thank you, I m going to start making reservations!!

            1. re: onaimemanger

              I accidently put Sunday brunch instead of Jazz Brunch for Commander's. Brunch is actually Saturday and Sunday.

            2. re: klebb

              Re: Mr. B's bbq shrimp
              The recipe is available on their website. If you can read, you can replicate this dish, it's that easy. They use head-on shrimp. If you can't get them fresh, w/ heads, buy raw, frozen gulf white shrimp in the shell . The difference will be minimal.

              1. re: JazzyB

                I have made BBQ shrimp both with and without the heads-on. The heads-on is much much better. And should not be missed but also have a loaf of french bread for dipping. ENJOY!!!

              2. re: klebb

                I recently went to Restaurant August and I have to say it exceeded expectations. From the bacon-infused bourbon to the last bite of my deconstructed hummingbird cake. All was delish. Commander's is one of my alll time faves as well. At the other end of the spectrum, far more 'traditional' but the food is outstanding. Every year I return I find a new and wonderful place to eat. From the top (Stella!) to the bar food at Napoleon House, to the late night beignets at Cafe Du Monde that so wonderfully absorb all I've had to drink, New Orleans is a place of dining treasures like none other. Brigtsen's, Cochon and its lunch counter "sister" Butcher, Feelings Cafe D'Aunoy, Lilette and Bayona, all have something unique and delightful to offer. Next time Herbsaint, Patois and perhaps another trip to K-Pauls (yes, pricy, and yes, established, but I had the BEST blackened drum...) And Stanley's Breaux Bridge Eggs Benedict are not to be missed, slightly pricy or not ;) I dreamed of having them once again for over a year and my memories didn't live up to the flavors in the reality. And of course, there are always more.

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

                Restaurant August
                301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

                Cochon
                930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

                Bayona
                430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

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

                Herbsaint
                701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                Lilette
                3637 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115

          2. Here is my short list for great food in NOLA:

            Galatoire's - while I do enjoy downstairs, I am often needing to make reservations, due to time constraints, and both the food and service are great upstairs. The "tableau" downstairs IS worth the wait, but for food and service, not necessary.

            Brigtsen's - Chef Frank Brigtsen does his personal take on NOLA cuisine, and should not be missed. Some say that he needs to update the menu, but I think that he should stick with a wonderful success.

            Restaurant August - Chef John Besh does some great NOLA-inspired cuisine, and uses many local ingredients.

            G W Fins - this is a FQ restaurant, that can have tourists, but they do some very interesting preps of local seafood. Do not go for beef! It's a tad noisy, but then I am very, very "old school," and like dining in quiet, so that I can whisper to my lovely wife. I would call their noise level "moderate," and that is about the only rub in my book. Nice, interesting wine list with about 45 selections B-T-G.

            For breakfast, I highly recommend:

            The Original Coffee Pot on St Peter St, just next door to Pat O'Brien's. Excellent patio (or window dining for small groups) dining, with some NOLA favorites.

            Stanley! on Jackson Sq - interesting takes on breakfast

            Brunch:

            Brennan's - Old NOLA, with gracious service and some world-famous dishes

            Ralph's on the Park - in the Brennan's family, but different. Out at City Park, so you are talking a cab, or streetcar ride with a little walk. Easier to get to, than Parkway, and at about the same latitude (as far as latitude applies in NOLA).

            Most of all, enjoy!

            Hunt

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            Restaurant August
            301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

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

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

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

            7 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I'm sorry but I keep seeing the Coffee Pot on here for recommendations for breakfast. This place is nothing but a tourist trap. The prices are outrageous especially for what you get. Please skip this place and go to the Court of Two Sisters or head over to Poydras and Mother's.

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

              1. re: ilikeNOLA

                Hmm, the pot calling the kettle black?

                1. re: CharlieH

                  Did Camelia Grill open in the FQ? How is that for breakfast? I think Stanley is kind of overrated. It is a good breakfast, but nothing great. I know Mother's gets criticized a lot, but I think their breakfast is pretty good and the environment is still fun, but frenetic. Croissant d'Or is a nice, relaxing cafe. I've heard Luke does a good breakfast too.

                  1. re: bmoskowitz

                    I like Camellia Grill for breakfast. I work a block down from there and I've gone probably about once a week (for lunch or breakfast, not both - I don't eat out THAT much) since they've opened. Breakfast is nice because it's usually not too busy, at least at around 8 a.m. Lunch can get crowded but they do a great job of managing the crowd - much better than the Uptown location in my experience.

                    Other than that, cheap breakfast places in the Quarter are scarce. As good as Mena's Palace is for lunch, the breakfast is nothing more than your standard mediocre diner fare (although their coffee is excellent and I like their hash browns). Fleur de Lis, same story and their coffee isn't good. Clover Grill is fine. Stanley is good but expensive.

                    Johnny's is frequently overlooked but they do a passable breakfast. The best bets there are the breakfast ingredient poboys like fried egg and bacon, or cheese omelet. I love a fried catfish poboy with fried eggs over easy, and Johnny's is the best place for that.

                    1. re: bmoskowitz

                      Have not yet seen CG in the FQ. With new management, I have yet to dine at River Bend, so cannot even comment on that.

                      Stanley! has first impressed me, and then later my wife (the NOLA native), so until the slip up badly, I'll still sing their praises. With only four breakfasts there, I do not have a long history, but each visit has been very good to excellent. Do not think that I could ask for more, other than tables that did not rock... [Grin]

                      Hunt

                  2. re: ilikeNOLA

                    Strange. I have been dining there for about 35 years, under several iterations and do not see what you do.

                    Sorry that you do not like it, but just hosted two food writers from Denver (Oct, 2010), and they loved the place - every aspect.

                    Guess that it's just a "different strokes" sort of thing. If I recall the sign at Matt's on Royal St., it went something like this, "one man's junk is another man's treasure."

                    Sorry that you do not like it. Enjoy Mother's.

                    Hunt

                    1. re: ilikeNOLA

                      Never had a problem at the Old Coffee Pot, but it was always for dinner, never breakfast.

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

                  3. Authentic Creole food.Jacques-Imos. Not in the FQ, cab ride to Oak St. The Alligator Cheesecake (Appetizer , not desert.) and sauted chicken livers in a wine sauce. Gumbo is good but nothing to rave about. In season, soft shell crab on a pastry, fried green tomato and creole sauce. Lamb sirloin great as is everything else on the menu. Get there between 5 - 6 or wait an hour for a table, worth it. Maple leaf bar next door for music.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: richirish

                      Jacques Imo's may be good (although I don't think it's as good as most people), but "authentic creole food" it is not!!!

                      1. re: Blumie

                        Jacques Imo's is not authentic, but it sure is delicious!

                    2. The original comment has been removed
                      1. I think everyone needs to eat at commander's palace at least once in their lives. It may get a lot of tourists, but it really is the flagship restaurant of new orleans