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First-timer, end of May -- can't decide!

w
Whats_For_Dinner Apr 8, 2011 10:29 PM

Hi everyone,

I'm lucky enough to have three nights in New Orleans with the express purpose of experiencing as much great food as my credit card will allow (which isn't really all THAT much.)

I'm a female in my 20's and I'll probably be there by myself; tentatively scheduled for May 26-29, and I'll be attending Cochon 555 (SO EXCITED.) on the Saturday.
Will be staying in the FQ, but I love to walk and I have no problem with public transit.

I'm a cook by education and trade, and a lover of food in general, so I'm dying to experience local flavour as well as hopefully get a taste of fine dining, though one taste may be all I can afford.
In the same vein, I'm quite adventurous in terms of what I'll order, and I tend to seek out menus that are a little on the innovative side. That said, with casual eats I definitely want to dive into some classic local flavour.

I've got a list going, mostly based on all the other similar threads that are kicking around right now, but it's a pretty unwieldy list, and I was hoping to have a little help narrowing it down.

As I'll be alone, and I'd love to watch the goings-on in the kitchen, places with bar seating/open kitchens, or at least places where a single diner wouldn't feel weird, would be perfect.

Casual places I'd like to hit:
-I know I want a good po'boy, and I'm leaning towards Johnny's.
-Good jambalaya -- Coop's Place?
-BBQ shrimp at Mr. B's?
-I'd love a good beignet, but I'm hearing that Cafe du Monde isn't all it's cracked up to be. Where can I find great beignets?

Higher-end:
-Looking at NOLA (bar seating looks good), Herbsaint, MiLa, Coquette, August, Bayona...?
-I hear there are lunch specials at a couple places (August, for instance) that might be a better option for me than dinner.

I'll have several midday-type meals and probably two dinners -- one of which I'll splurge on.

My other question is regarding any interesting markets or even grocery stores that I might be able to visit? Next to eating food and cooking food, shopping for food is possibly my next favourite thing. I recall reading somewhere that there's a farmer's market on Saturdays?

Thanks in advance for any help!

-----
Coop's Place
1109 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

Bayona
430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

Herbsaint
701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

  1. s
    SusanB Apr 9, 2011 08:41 AM

    We're a lot older than you, but we're always on a budget. For our trip later this month, I've booked lunches at Coquette and Bayona (lunches being less expensive than dinners), with a dinner reservation at Cochon. I'm also tempted to go to Boucherie, but I'm not sure if we can fit it in. I'm really looking forward to our trip.

    -----
    Cochon
    930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    Bayona
    430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

    Boucherie
    8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

    1. l
      Littleman Apr 9, 2011 09:15 AM

      You should get a reservation at Emeril's at the bar by the kitchen and watch them make magic. Go to August for their lunch special. Take the streetcar to Washington and walk 5 blocks to Coquette for lunch. Walk W after lunch and visit the neat shops in the area. The French Market is open daily and has a farmer's market. Jackson Brewery has some shops with food items for sale. The New Orleans Cooking School in the FQ has food items for sale too. I like Muriel's for dinner in the FQ.

      http://www.frenchmarket.org/

      I like Coop's and Mr. B's for lunch. Po Boy's are popular all over NOLA but Johnny's is excellent. Go to Napoleon House for drinks and appetizers. The setting is nice. Crescent City Farmers Market has markets on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays in different locations. The one on Thursday is just a few blocks N of Parkway Bakery if you want to take the Canal streetcar to Jefferson Parkway and walk there.

      http://www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org/

      Ernst Cafe and Lucy's are two great bars near the Saturday market on Magazine at Girod. Ernsst is smoke free.

      Ernst Cafe @ 600 South Peters Street, New Orleans, LA 504 - 525 - 8544.
      http://www.nomenu.com/reviews/ErnstCafe.html
      Lucy's Bar @ 701 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 523 - 8995.
      http://www.lucysretiredsurfers.com/ne...

      1. karendor Apr 9, 2011 09:37 AM

        As a first-timer-- last year-- I was underwhelmed by Coops's Jumbalaya.

        Never did Cafe Du Monde, but had a good vibe at Cafe Beignet, on Royal. Also, loved bar at Hotel Monteleone for my first (of many) Sazeracs. Great service and I never felt like a tourist.

        Bayona was our one splurge last year and it did not disappoint, although the service was a bit "fussy."

        I would recommend taking the St. Charles streetcar to Camellia Grill for the amazing atmosphere/service/greasy food, but more of a snack and good excuse to take the streetcar down near Riverbend. Lots of college kids there in the late afternoon, as I recall.

        I am a newbie... but very excited to be returning in just one week (!) for: August (lunch), Coquette (dinner), Emeril's (maybe), Three Muses (bar food), Po Boys, and messy boiled crawfish -- not sure where. Johnny's did not disappoint and is so easy to get to if you are mostly walking.

        We also liked Green Goddess for a lovely outdoor lunch and strong cocktails, and Cafe Amelie for a Sunday brunch as it rained cats and dogs on their lovely patio.

        Have fun!

        -----
        Camellia Grill
        626 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

        Bayona
        430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

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

        Cafe Amelie
        912 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116

        Green Goddess
        307 Exchange Place, New Orleans, LA 70130

        Three Muses
        536 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

        1. Bill Hunt Apr 9, 2011 07:19 PM

          You have gotten some good recs. Here are mine:

          Restaurant August - when making your reservations, tell them of your background and interest. If Chef Besh is in the house, I feel certain that he will visit your table. Fine dining, and you will not be disappointed.

          Stella! - fine dining, though with less "local color" in the dishes.

          MiLa - a unique blend of Mississippi Deep South and Louisiana cuisine in a fetching interior.

          Emeril's - as mentioned, at the bar, and again, let 'em know your background and desire

          NOLA - never have done the bar there, but have been wowed by dinner. Food an service were great.

          Cafe du Monde, but not at the regular hours. Go early, or go late, when the tourists are elsewhere. we used to show up very late, when they were practically empty, and had many lovely fog-shrouded evenings. From about 9:30AM, until about 7:00PM, there might well be lines, and I'd rather walk in, find a table at the railing, and just enjoy. Lines are not my thing.

          BonTon - great Creole/NOLA cuisine,, and depending on the day, great for lunch.

          Bayona - Susan Spicer is still doing very nice things there, with a very strong NOLA bent.

          Unfortunately, NOLA restauranteurs have not really worked the "chef's table" concept, as some other areas have. We do a lot of these in our travels. Just did Alan Wong's on O`ahu, and then Gordon Ramsay's Petrus in London. Sometimes, the seating is a tad cramped (Alan Wong's Chef's Counter), but the show and dialog with the staff is not to be missed. Petrus was the opposite, with intimate elegance, right in the kitchen. The staff all passed by the table with wonderful displays and interaction, and then we were treated to a full tour of the kitchen - all stations. The sommelier stopped by for a half-hour dialog with my guests, that was not to be missed. I'd love to see more of this in NOLA, as there is so much great kitchen work, but too much of it is behind closed doors. I'd love to see them change things in this respect.

          There have been several threads of females dining solo in NOLA, and you might want to pull up a few of those. There might be some great ideas, that I, and older male, just might not know about. When I dine solo in NOLA, it is often at a restaurant that I have been going to for decades, and my perspective would certainly be different.

          Enjoy and travel safely,

          Hunt

          -----
          Restaurant August
          301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

          Bayona
          430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

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

          1. w
            Whats_For_Dinner Apr 9, 2011 11:58 PM

            Thanks so much for all your helpful suggestions! I've got a lot of deciding to do. There just aren't enough meals in a day to cover all the bases...

            What's the difference between the two markets mentioned? The Crescent City market seems like more of a farmer's market while the French market is more of a... shopper's market? Just going by first impessions of their websites.

            Going to be a tough decision between Emeril's and NOLA, I doubt I can do both. And I've been eating all night but upon looking at August's sample menus I'm suddenly starving. Choices...

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

            3 Replies
            1. re: Whats_For_Dinner
              Pam in NJ Apr 10, 2011 07:54 AM

              I'd eat at Emeril's over NOLA - without question.

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

              1. re: Pam in NJ
                c
                collardman Apr 10, 2011 08:39 AM

                I'd eat at either, depending on the experience I wanted that day. I think the service quality is the same. The atmosphere is different withEmerli's being "polished" and NOLA more the bare brick walls industrial casual. The food is similar in its base with some carry-over on a few dishes and some dishes that only each serve. Check out their menus. Also, Emeril's is a little more expensive but that can be offset by judicious ordering.

                While NOLA feeds at the bar you really want to ask to sit at the wood oven station where you can interact with the line cook, see the entire kitchen and are next to where the Chef or sous expedites.

                I like kitchen views when available when I'm traveling alone. It's great to watch a good team in action

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

              2. re: Whats_For_Dinner
                l
                Littleman Apr 10, 2011 08:45 AM

                French Market is a shopper's market but there is a farmer's market there too. Crescent Market is a farmer's market. Good luck.

              3. p
                Paisley16 Apr 11, 2011 09:14 AM

                You've already gotten a lot of good suggestions. I would add:

                If you do head Uptown I would recommend trying to get to a regular grocery store instead of shopping downtown for food items. Everything will be significantly less expensive and most stores will have a good variety of new orleans food items. There are buses that run along both Magazine and Tchop so you could in theory take them back downtown to minimize walking with your purchases. (For example, Crystal hot sauce is sold in the quarter for over $5, it's .87 at Rouses)

                If you make it to Coquette I would highly recommend their beignets... best I've had.

                +1 for Emeril's over Nola if you're deciding between the two

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

                1. w
                  Whats_For_Dinner May 4, 2011 03:48 PM

                  Three weeks out, and I'm nailing it down. I think. How does this sound?

                  Thursday -- don't know when I'll be getting in, so I don't want to make a reso. Just read about the crawfish boil from 5-8 at Fulton Square, so I'll hit that if I can; if I'm too late, then Coop's Place.

                  Friday lunch -- August, although I'm honestly dying to eat dinner there, so it's a tough choice.

                  Friday dinner -- Emeril's (haven't ruled out NOLA yet either), though like I said, it's a tossup -- I'd love to have the tasting menu at August for dinner, but I think I might have more fun with the atmosphere at one of the Emeril restaurants...)

                  Saturday -- Johnny's for a po-boy in between checking out the market and walking around.
                  Saturday dinner at Cochon 555 (so excited...)

                  After waking up in a lard coma on Sunday morning, hard to say how much I'll be up for -- and I'm not sure when I'll be leaving -- but perhaps Cafe du Monde or Cafe Beignet. If I have time I'd love to go to Coquette for brunch, or even go to Cochon Butcher for a snack.

                  In between all this, I'm going to check out the farmers' market on Saturday, the French Market at some point, Central Grocery, maybe Praline Connection, plus hopefully just wander around and explore. Trying to figure out which bars might be up my alley, just on the off-chance that I feel like socializing after spending every waking hour consuming food.

                  Does anyone know the price range for the tasting menu at August? I'm wondering if that might be even remotely doable for me.

                  Thanks again for everyone's input!

                  -----
                  Praline Connection
                  542 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                  Coop's Place
                  1109 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

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

                  Cochon Butcher
                  930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Whats_For_Dinner
                    noradeirdre May 31, 2011 05:46 PM

                    You can do lunch at August for $20, M-F. I recommend it!

                  2. w
                    Whats_For_Dinner May 20, 2011 08:44 AM

                    One more question, if I may!

                    In terms of shopping for local groceries, what's my best bet? I'll definitely be going to Rouses on Royal to pick up a few "souvenirs" before I head home, and I'm hoping to grab a couple of cured meats from Cochon Butcher to stash in my suitcase (to say nothing of the Herbsaint and Sazerac that I promised the boys at work!)

                    But I've also been reading about Dorignac's in Metairie, and from the website, it looks as though they have all kinds of cool stuff. Problem is, I'd have to stop there on the way to the airport on Sunday morning (i.e. cab from the CBD --> Dorignac's --> another cab to the airport.) I'm willing to do that as long as it's worth it. Is it worth it?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Whats_For_Dinner
                      c
                      collardman May 20, 2011 10:51 AM

                      It is quite a store but I'm not sure what special thing you are looking for. Most of the local brands you will find at Rouses. Dorignac's is good for the locals to get things that the other local stores usually don't carry, i.e., stuff from away.

                      1. re: collardman
                        w
                        Whats_For_Dinner May 20, 2011 10:01 PM

                        Okay, perfect, thanks. I'm just looking for some "local colour" to bring home, but if I can get that just as easily at Rouses, great!

                        1. re: Whats_For_Dinner
                          i
                          ilikeNOLA May 21, 2011 08:16 AM

                          Antoines for lunch. $20 for three courses and .25 martinis. Also, if you have the time, there is a segway tour that goes all over the quarter and a little outside of the quarter. 2 hours, $70. Ask for Dawn very knowledable.
                          Peace Out!

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