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Apr 4, 2011 06:40 AM

40th Birthday weekend - Need help with restaurants!

I am surprising my husband with a long weekend in NOLA for his 40th Birthday! I have been to New Orleans before but he has not and has wanted to go for some time now. We have another couple joining us and we're looking for restaurant suggestions for dinner. We're staying at the Omni. We from Chicago and NYC so we're willing to try new things and pay accordingly for great food. I'm looking for traditional creole restaurants, tried and true, where we are sure to have a great meal. Here is my initial list:

Commanders Palace
Emerils (would not have independently chosen this but everyone seems to rave)

Thoughts? Suggestions?


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

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  1. How many nights will you be in NOLA? I would go to Galatoire's and Commander's for lunch and Emeril's and Tommy's Cuisine for dinner. You could go to Irene's Cuisine for dinner also. Stella is another fine choice for dinner and Bayona for lunch. Good luck.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Littleman

      We will be there for 3 nights. Why do you suggest Galatorie' and Commander's for lunch rather than dinner?

      1. re: smkeddy

        The general opinion in town is that Commander's is better for lunch although I suspect that this is becuase during the week the evnings are busier than lunch--at least in my experience. But I have a friend who lives around the corner and goes to dinner about once a week and he says there is no difference to him.

        Galatoire's is open all day--same menu, same prices--so lunch is the long, usually liquid,affair. Wear and coat and tie even if you don;t have'll feel more at home.

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

        1. re: hazelhurst

          lunch vs. dinner - So same menu, same prices - just able to take a nice, looong, boozy lunch? Nothing wrong with that! :)

          I'm sure my selections are not exciting to the residents but for out-of-towners, are they a good starting point?

          1. re: smkeddy

            Just fine..all of them have fiercely loyal local followers.

        2. re: smkeddy

          Commander's for lunch in the garden room(M-F) is extremely enjoyable. I find the food about a 6( with some desserts 7) which is more acceptable for lunch than dinner. Try the tasting menu at August. Emeril's food is very flavorful, service is terrific. I wouldn't bother with Irene's or Tommy's. I happen to like Irene's, but you'll get better Italian at home.Fit in some chargrilled oysters and an Abita Amber for a snack. Brigtsens or Herbsaint should give you a taste of some things you can't get at home. Coquette for Sat. lunch or Sunday brunch. If you don't make it to Commander's for Fri. lunch, try them for brunch either Sat. or Sun Pick up a muff from Central grocery to take home. Your friends from NY will find dining less expensive than at home.

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

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

          701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

      2. any list not including August is missing something.......

        6 Replies
        1. re: thew

          I had originally wanted to include August but the reviews are too inconsistent.

          1. re: smkeddy

            We can't agree here on the "best" sandwich so inconsistant reviews are par (smile).

            August and Emeril's are probably in the vast majoritie's top ten. Don't worry about inconsitencies in reviews.
            Tommys and Irenes are not traditional Creole and you can probably match them in Chicago (although they do go with local ingredients).

            Bon Ton is not a top overall restaurant but in the top group for traditional Creole and very good.

            Stella is New Orleans version of Alinea

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

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

            1. re: collardman

              Thanks - that helps. Yeah, I looked at Tommys and Irenes menus and, while they look delicious, they aren't that different that from what I can find in Chicago.

              1. re: collardman

                actually Irene's has many traditional creole favorites. their trout amandine is my favorite anywhere- love their meuniere, jumbo lumb, sweet potatoes souffle, aricot vert..its just perfectly done. their crispy duck dish is also excellent. baked oysters solid. and the creole creamcheese cake the best anywhere. id also be impressed if many chicago joints had softshell crab :)

                but hey. less wait for me!

              2. re: smkeddy

                i had one of the best meals of my life, in any city, at august.

                1. re: smkeddy

                  The only thing inconsistent at August are fantastic, delectable and great dishes.

                  I went for my 55th in January and glad I did. Here is my full review.


              3. August was one of the best experiences of my life. You don't know me but that's saying A LOT. Bouchon is pretty awesome too, it's all about the food there. I think the Stella/Alinea parrallel is a strech but Stella was good, just not the awesome I was promised.

                1. I'll be the grouch who takes the position that Emeril's does not belong on the list. I've been going to Emeril's since the day it opened, and while I appreciate the appeal of the place, in my opinion it's just not on par with many of the other options.

                  But whatever you choose, here's a great way to make the night a memorable and romantic one (if your husband is into this kinda thing): have the hotel concierge arrange to have you picked up in a horse and carriage, and take an hour-long tour of the French Quarter before being dropped off at the restaurant of your choosing.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Blumie

                    I dunno...Emeril's has always been OK by me (but I am never spending my own $ in there). It's much better now that folks are not yelling "bam" as much whenever Himself shows up. I'm usually there with one of his wine purveyors, though so maybe that makes a difference. Even so, I don't go there often but that's just becuase I am so comfortable at other places..

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      not spending your own dough definitely makes a restaurant better. when its your nite, your cash, your expectations are higher and the disappointments greater. not saying it should be and not related to Emeril's, but just in general i believe this.

                      1. re: kibbles

                        I'm sure you are right...just like I overlook somethings at places I am used to because I just consider whatever-it-is to be part of the place. I'd be less likelt to be so relaxed if I were at someplace like Babbo! (but places like that annoy me anyway)