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French Quarter Fest 2011

Hello fellow chowhounders,

Me and some of my closest are planning a trip down to The Big Easy from our native Toronto. I have a short itinerary, and was hoping to here some rec's as well for traditional foods. Also, I was curious what the festival was like asides from music (aka food stands, or other must do's).

Anyway without further ado; my list. So far we have, cafe du monde, casamentos, domilise, parkway bakery, central grocery, napoleon house. Would love to here personal favorite dishes at those places (or otherwise reasons for/against going to any of them).

Also a bonus would be if anyone happens to know any good Irish pubs, told some friends here I would do a bit of photography of them down there on their behalf.

Thanks guys! Can't wait to get back to Nola!

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  1. Do not get the roast beef poboy at Domilise's, not good at all. Their fried stuff is better.

    1. the irish bar i have been to is finn mccools irish bar in mid-city. i am sure there are others, check out some of my favorite websites. bestofneworleans.com( the gambit weekly's site.) nola.com/dining(the timespicauyne site), gonola.com, offbeat.co(offbeat magazine) myneworleans.com(new orleans magazine's site) nomenu.com( tom fitzmorris' site), urbanspoon/new orleans. lots of bar and restaurant info in all these. most of your restaurant selections are sandwich places. that's great, if that's what you are mostly eating. let us know what else you like and we can help you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: califkatie

        I do love a good sandwich... However I would also love to pig out on crawfish. Amoungst other things my self and the lads are looking to get some good turtle soup, gator (wouldn't mind even cooking some myself if anyone has any tips), gumbo, etouffee, amoungst other traditional canjun, creole, new orleans dishes, suggestions are very much welcomed!

      2. So in regards to French Quarter Fest - what is the food like in the food booths - anything we should definitely try? Is Sunday night a bad time to try as things will be shutting down?

        5 Replies
        1. re: calimn

          Yes, Sunday is a terrible time. Friday is the best day because it is not as crowded. I will be there when it opens on Friday. Also, they are adding another day this year, Thursday, which should be nice as well. Saturday and Sunday are ridiculously crowded.

          1. re: calimn

            Do not miss the goat cheese crepes with crawfish sauce from Muriel's. Their booth is on the Chartres Street/St. Ann Street corner of the Square.

            1. re: rouxdauphine

              Second that motion. Be sure to find the Muriel's booth. Go early. Food booths get ridiculously long lines as it gets later.

            2. re: calimn

              EAT usually has a booth at the Mint with shrimp and grits that are delicious.
              Also, on the Esplanade side of the Mint, they have had a giant crawfish boil the last couple of years that was also pretty tasty.

            3. Irish pub? The Erin Rose across the street from the Prince Conti Hotel....big fun.

              1. I would replace Domilise's with Rendon Inn and their food cooked by the former owner of J'Anita's.

                J'Anita's Restaurant
                1906 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA

                Rendon Inn
                4501 Eve St, New Orleans, LA 70125

                1 Reply
                1. re: Plankton

                  Crawfish: take the Canal streetcar to K-Jean's, 236 N. Carrollton. Located at the end of the 2nd block after the streetcar turns onto Carrollton, on R hand side of street. No credit cards. Closed Monday. Pick up crawfish(select if they have them) /corn/potatoes. No dine in. Hop back on streetcar, get off at City Park and enjoy them al fresco. Don't forget to pick up some beer (no bottles) before heading out.

                2. Hi, Timmychanga! My wife and I are fellow Torontonians and regular NOLA visitors. In fact, for our spring trip this year, we arrive on the Sunday of French Quarter Fest and we'll be getting right into the thick of it!

                  I can recommend the following to you, without reservation:

                  1)Cafe du Monde, anytime of the day or night.
                  2)Johnny's PoBoys, right in the French Quarter you don't really have to go any further for good ones no matter what anybody tells you. They're all good, but we especially like the shrimp.
                  3)Casamento's, you must go there because soft shell crabs will be in season, start with some oysters too.
                  4)Napolean House, we prefer it to Central Grocery as there aren't the long lineups and the service is better. Their muffaletta is served hot, though, but plenty of good beers such as Abita amber or a signature Pimm's cup cocktail to wash it down.
                  5)Commander's Palace for Sunday Brunch in the garden, a New Orleans tradition that's worth it.
                  6)Antoine's-Experience the history and classical Creole cooking at lunch, it's only $20.11 for the 3-course lunch special and martini specials are $0.25 each!
                  7)Emerils-We also love it for lunch because they have such great small plates for sharing, sit at the food bar if you can.
                  8)Leah's Pralines-A little pricier than most, but quality natural ingredients only.
                  9)Breakfasts-Lots of good ones around including The Coffee Pot (a classic), The Ruby Slipper, Mother's (for Black Ham on a biscuit) and relatively new kid on the block Stanley (brother restaurant to Stella!, but more casual).
                  10)K-Pauls-We love to go there for dinner as our splurge as it's by far the best Cajun restaurant in NOLA, such bold flavours! Menu changes all the time, but everything will be great.
                  11)Creole Creamery-This place has some of the best and most inventive ice cream I've ever had.
                  12)Red Beans and Rice-A Monday tradition in NOLA, get yourself some at Ignatius which is our favourite restaurant that is mostly locals.
                  13) Other food stuffs-Poke around some grocery stores while you're in NOLA, lots of cool stuff you might want to bring home like Zapp's potato chips, Community Coffee (if you like it strong), Louisiana Gold hot sauce (our favourite because it's barrel-fermented for a long time), locally-made Barq's root beer in longneck bottles, Hubig's fruit pies, file powder for making gumbo and so on.
                  14) Spirits-No shortage of these in NOLA, but you might want to bring back some Abita beer, Sazerac rye, Peychaud bitters and Herbsaint liqueur. Or even just a good bottle of bourbon like Elmer T. Lee, which can be hard to find at home.

                  BTW, if you are into photography, I recommend that you visit one of NOLA's many beautiful cemetaries and take some B&W or sepia shots. We like to walk around St. Louis Cemetary #3, it's a smaller one, with the mausoleums of the restaurant dynasties just to the right of the entrance. You can get there on the Canal Street Car, get off at City Park and head Right across Carrollton toward the fairgrounds where they have Jazz Festival, it's just on your left down a bit.

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

                  Ruby Slipper Cafe
                  139 S Cortez St, New Orleans, LA 70119

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: bogie

                    A lot of good recommendations there but as far as K-Pauls, IMHO, it is far over rated. Redfish Grill or Dragos for good local flavor.

                    1. re: ilikeNOLA

                      We went to Red Fish Grill last weekend, and I have to say everything was delicious. The menu is very fish-oriented of course, but there are other options.

                      Red Fish Grill
                      115 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  2. Hey, Timmy! For me, Napoleon House has always been a bar with a bar menu. Bar grub is fine if you need something to hold body and soul together (the muffulettas are good), but the place is by no means a dining "destination."

                    Having said that, I love Napoleon House. It's one of my favorite spots in all of New Orleans to sit in the quiet off-hours (say, between 3-5 p.m.) and nurse a Sazerac while reading a book or staring out the window. (It's particularly atmospheric on a dark, rainy day.)

                    Have a great trip!

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

                    1. For an Irish pub recommendation I would say, without a doubt, Finn McCool's. The owners are Northern Irish as are a lot of the staff. Best Irish pub in the city.

                      Finn McCools
                      3701 Banks St, New Orleans, LA 70119

                      1. Lassaiz Les Bon Ton Roullez!!!!

                        I will be bringing 5 friends for the 2011 FQF and look forward to sampling all of the available food from many booths at the Fest. This is my 7th trip to FQF and 9th to NOLA. I am very much looking forward to standing on the river with music in the air and Hurricane in hand. See you all at the cement slab.

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

                        1. FQF was actually overcrowded! Every day was packed, all venues and the quarter were wall-to-wall people. Vendors and merchants all stated this crowd was not anticipated. Great music, great weather, edible food (btw, someone needs to tell these boys that crawfish bread isn't supposed to be deep-fried) and disappointingly limited beverages. How can you have a festival in NOLA without Strawberry Lemonade?!?! Key was this was a FQF and limited to food from the sponsoring restaurants, soft drinks and beer vendors (Coke and Abita).

                          Convention folks are estimating a potential of a flux in revenue from this festival to be $350mm over the 4 days. Good for them.

                          Cafe du Monde - first time in over 20 years I have had an issue being served. I'm not talking immediate, but waiting over 20 min. each time before the 3rd attempt on Sunday. Wife noted that the beignets seem to be getting a little smaller. Still the best bet in town for a snack any time of the day/night.

                          Pier 424 (Bourbon) - Stood there for over 10 minutes. Had more than 7 employees walk by, see us and keep going. Don't mind not being seated, but they should at least acknowledge your existence.

                          Enjoyed Oceana, Deanies (Iberville), Yo Mama's (great burgers, be careful how they are dressed), P&G for breakfast.

                          Regardless, NOLA is big enough with so many options that if you cannot find a place to eat, you ain't looking :)

                          Deanie's Restaurant
                          1016 Annunciation St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Irishmafia

                            i actually thought the fest operated incredibly smoothly and efficiently this year -- never had to wait more than a few minutes in any line.

                            1. re: kibbles

                              Agreed. Music was great, food was very good. I never had to stand in line for more than 5 minutes anywhere. I would agree that there could be a better selection of drinks, but with so many bars, restaurants and convenience stores selling products, it didn't take much effort to find something suitable to your tastes.

                              1. re: kibbles

                                Don't disagree with the "smooth" especially considering they were not expecting such a crowd.

                                Just noting the challenge as many folks do not get the opportunity to enjoy these events and to appreciate NOLA, you have to experience it.

                                1. re: Irishmafia

                                  yeah news to me -- my friends commented the same, no real lines. we were able to see all the acts we wanted as well. and my crawfish bread (Lakeview Harbor was the vendor) wasnt deep fried :)

                                  1. re: kibbles

                                    What lines there were moved fast, so no real issue.

                                    The vendor with the deep fried crawfish bread was between the Abita Stage and aquarium. My wife wants to say it was the Audubon Catering that had that. I guess that is one way to serve it, after all, fried food should not be a surprise in LA.

                                    The Abita Stage on Saturday was the showcase with Kermit, LFK, WWW & Trombone Shorty. That was the only place where I found any trouble getting a decent location to see the stage, but I don't need to see to hear the music, so all was good.

                                    1. re: Irishmafia

                                      Irishmafia, if I had to guess I would say the crawfish bread came from the Audubon Institute booth. I had it years ago and I remember it being made with puff pastry sheets and being very greasy. Can't remember if it was fried but definitely not my favorite.

                                      1. re: Plankton

                                        yep there were two crawfish bread vendors this year. I didn't try audubon's. the list:


                                        1. re: kibbles

                                          Crawfish trivia - There are three major sources of crawfish, US, Spain & China.

                                          China's species is supposedly almost not recognizable compared to that of the bayou. The US crop is barely enough to accommodate the demand for fresh supply in US. And though the local crawfish bread uses LA crawfish, a fair portion of crawfish consumed in the US come from Spain. Source - Contracted crawfish bread provider for JazzFest..


                                          1. re: Irishmafia

                                            just read the article but didn't see the data about spain?

                                            1. re: kibbles

                                              Nope, got that from John Ed conversation at the 2009 Jazz Fest after an interview (where he made a similar comment) at the cooking demonstration stage under the Fairgrounds Grandstand.

                                              He is very friendly and seems to love to talk to you about his business. The interviews and demonstrations is a great part of the NOJHF. That is where I learned how to deep fry a turkey. Since then, that is the only way I prepare turkey.