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Jul 19, 2011 05:39 PM

Dragos in New Orleans

Hi all, we'll be in New Orleans in October and wanted to try the oysters at Dragos. What's the best way to get there from the french quarter? Thanks for your help.


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  1. If you wanrt the Home Office you'll need a cab out to Met'try (Metairie). Otherwise you can go the satellite shop (which is usually thought to be inferior) in the Hilton in which case just take any French Quarter Street interesecting Canal, cross to the Central Business District (SBD) and turn left on Poydras. At the end of the street there is the Hilton. It's not far.

    51 Replies
    1. re: hazelhurst

      Thanks, I wasn't really clear but we want to go to the original in Metairie. Is it worth the cab ride? We're going to Stellas, Cp and August and wanted something a little different.

      1. re: Luaulane

        The only one I have ever been to is the original and even there I limit muyself to raw oysters or the chargrilled which, to my tastes, they do better than any other. But I don;t think I have had a dinner there in twenty years...I use it asa plce to wait out rush hour traffic if I am heading towards Baton Rouge. Its devotees love the stuff, though, am I don't think you'd go wrong. It probably won;t "wow" anyone with originality but it isn't supposed to.

        1. re: Luaulane

          You can rent a car for the day cheaper than cab rides there and back would be. But that doesn't answer the question of whether it's worth it. I guess it probably wouldn't be worth it for me. Is it just the chargilled oysters that you want? Acme has chargilled oysters, but I've never had them there. Cochon has a great oyster roast appetizer that is along the same lines as Dragos.

          1. re: Luaulane

            I think everyone likes to think the original location is better, but to me and plenty other who have been to both places, they are the same. Save yourself the cab fare.

            1. re: runCP3

              That seems to me to be the sensible thing. Can't imagine teh Hilton is much different but I think Bill Hunt was not so crazy about it.

              1. re: runCP3

                Unfortunately, I feel that the Hilton location is not worth the time to take the elevator down, to experience. The Metaire establishment might be worth the effort, but I have not dined there.

                If that location is even close to the Hilton branch, then I'd rather hit my thumb with a hammer and forget the whole process.

                My review should still be up on CH, with the full details.


              2. re: Luaulane

                go to Katie's on Iberville. they do chargrilled oysters, and while you're there, do yourself a favor and get a Boudreaux pizza.

                1. re: edible complex

                  The chargrilled are the single best dish in town. They are virtually identical at the Hilton, so no need to come out to the hinterlands, as the original location is relatively nondescript.

                  BTW, the rest of the menu is nothing to write home about, so go for the oysters as a fabulous appetizer, and then have your meal elsewhere.

                  1. re: paz5559

                    Thanks everyone. I think we'll skip the drive out to Metairie and have the oysters at the Hilton. How about suggestions for a small plates crawl, similar to a pub crawl. The oysters at Drago, the bbq shrimp at Mr B's. Any other suggestions?

                    1. re: Luaulane

                      At Dragos's be sure to sit at the oytster bar, have them shuck a dozen (or half) raw for you, share some chargrilled Ithey will take you more seriously if you sit at the oyster bar), head over to Mr. B's for BBQ shrimp, then go to Redfish Grill and have BQQ oysters (flash fried oysters with a sauce similar to Buffalo wings, but with Crystal instead of tabasco, a subltle touch of honey with bleu cheese garnish. Depending on the time of day (after 5, by now--double check opening time), head over to the French 75 Bar at Arnaud's, have a nicely crafted cocktail and Oysters Bienville -- created there. Okay, someone come up with the next leg of the crawl...

                      1. re: Luaulane

                        recently started at Mr. B's for gumbo ya ya and bbq shrimp and a bloody mary, then went to Galatoire's for oysters roch and crabmeat lorenzo and a brandy milk punch, then Hermes Bar for oysters foch and a mint juelp, with stops at the Carousel and Napoleon House for Pimms Cups.

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

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

                      2. re: paz5559

                        "They are virtually identical at the Hilton, so no need to come out to the hinterlands, as the original location is relatively nondescript."

                        Can I take this to mean that they will all be tiny "chips" of real oysters, gathered into a few shells?


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          sounds like you had an awful experience. tho let me say, i work in the CBD and have been there a couple dozen times, and the original locale a few. "Them ersters!" havent noticed much difference between the oysters themselves compared to other joints, comparable sizes, etc.

                          1. re: kibbles

                            As I have stated, it could very well have just been the "night from hell," but there was not one aspect, that would ever bring me back. They missed on so many counts, as to be overlooked forever.

                            I have returned to restaurants, that had a mis-step, or even two, but that did try to correct things. Sometimes, that does work out well, but sometimes, it just does not. When a restaurant misses everything, I do not have the patience to go back. IMHO, they missed on everything, and did not lift one finger to make anything right. In Sept., we are returning to Ola, at the Turtle Bay Resort, on the North Shore of O`ahu. In our first visit, one dish was rancid. They apologized, and replaced it, plus comp'ed the dish. Next trip, they had adopted the "rush the tourists out the door" ideal, but did not really miss on the food. They get one more chance, and if they do not excel, they are off the list, even if we have to drive to Hale`iwa for every evening meal. I cannot think of even one nice thing to say about the Drago's at the Hilton - no one, and even when I am in my most generous mood. They just flat botched every aspect of that meal, without equivocation. They are off the "radar screen." Had they been busy, maybe they would have gotten "sympathy points," but they were almost empty, and I understand why.

                            I try to be 100% objective with all of my reviews, though will admit that sometimes, old favs. might get a nod, until next time.

                            Because of the glowing recs. here, I wanted to like Drago's Hilton. We stay there often, as they have the rooms that we need, to accommodate M-I-L and her nurse, and treat us well. I am also a Diamond VIP with Hilton, with 2M Hilton HHonors points, so it works well. Having a good NOLA seafood restaurant, in the lobby, would be a plus. However, that experience was anything BUT a plus. We just pass them by, and dine elsewhere, and always will. Others are more than welcome to give them a try. I will not be in that number - sorry.


                            Turtle Bay
                            1119 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                    2. re: Luaulane

                      Yes, it is worth a cab ride. I love the charbroiled oysters at Drago's in Metairie. They may well be my favorite dish in the world right now. It's a toss up between them and Mr. B's bbq shrimp. The rest of the menu at Drago's is good but haven't found anything that can come close to the charbroiled oysters. Just order a dozen and when you're through order another until you can't eat anymore. Use the bread to soak up what's left on the shell.

                      1. re: texasredtop

                        "Use the bread to soak up what's left on the shell"

                        There's usually nothing left in the shell. The last few times we had charbroiled oysters at the Metairie Location they had been left on the grill too long and were dry.

                        1. re: Jeeves_too

                          Not good :-( Mine had tons of juice on them.

                          1. re: texasredtop

                            There are lots of versions and supposed originals on the web. I tried it once, and must say about half were delicious and the other dried out. The dish requires absolute timing to get it right, and I can see how it might not come out to expectations, but having said that, the dish should not be served at a restaurant unless it is perfect.


                    3. re: hazelhurst

                      I've had the char grilled oysters at both locations and I don't think think there is any difference. they use the same recipe, the owners are there, and oyster is oyster, butter is butter. save yourself the money and hassle of the clusterfrak that is Metairie/Veterans...

                      1. re: kibbles

                        That has always been my different could it be? (Although other places trying to replicate Drago's version just never quite "get it" in my opinion. As I said, I do the "Fat City" locale while waiting out traffic...downtown NOLA I have other places I spend money. But there is something fun about sitting in front of that wonderful mural of The Family Back Home and having a nice time amidst the wasteland that is Fat City, scant feeet away,

                        I can remember when Fat City was a destination for people my age in their teens and early twenties. I never fell for it, though.

                        1. re: kibbles

                          Yeah, what is with the causeway? They are working on the exact same spots last week that they were working on in December. C'mon, it's been over 6 months and it wasn't a very big area to start with. It's screws up the entire area. It doesn't bother me a lot because I'm in no hurry but if I had to use that route daily I'd pull my hair out.

                          I have hesitated to try the Hilton Drago's and we walk by it all the time (we stay at Harrah's). I guess next trip I'll have to see if they stack up to the Metairie location.

                          1. re: texasredtop

                            This is probably a project of the LSU Highway Construction College, and is for the new students. We had similar in Colorado, where the same pass was being worked on for 20 years.

                            Normally, I do not recall similar in NOLA/LA, though there was one section of Metaire Road, that too five years to finish.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              My office is at the construction site. It is a COE levee rebuild at the foot of the Causeway, has been going on for many months and will be going on for many months. The amount of work being done is pretty amazing when you watch each step.

                              But having the last 3 blocks of Causeway congested, and an area at the interchange, does not really block access to any restaurants you may want to get to. Parking at Drago's in Fat City can be the pits, not so much the roads leading there.

                              1. re: collardman

                                Thanks for the H/U. Right now, we have two, brief upcoming trips to NOLA, and I must get to the Metairie Drago's, just to see for myself.

                                Maybe my one experience at the Hilton location was "the night from hell," but as there were so many issues, I wonder. That said, so very many trusted CH folk praise the Metairie branch, that I must dine there.

                                Appreciated, and I will try to avoid the construction sites.


                          2. re: kibbles

                            "I've had the char grilled oysters at both locations and I don't think think there is any difference."

                            This is horrible news to me. I had held out hopes that the Metaire branch did things correctly, and the Hilton branch just cut every corner, figuring that anyone dining there would be a pure tourist, and could not tell good food from very bad food. Now, I am a tourist, but grew up on the Coast, lived in NOLA, and married a lady from there. Though I no longer live in NOLA, I do know good cuisine, and nothing at the Hilton Drago's warmed any portion of my heart - not one.

                            IF they are the same, or even similar, I would not cross the street to dine at either. Much better food in NOLA, without all the hype.

                            Just my opinion,


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Bill, please do not give up on Drago's and make it to Metairie next visit to try the real deal. They are just heaven. I may try the Hilton next trip but I will be cautious and only order 1/2. I'll let you know if I do.

                              1. re: texasredtop

                                Yeah, I would like to know if the Hilton is worth a visit. Whenever we get back down I was planning to go there since we never have a car and I want to try the chargrilled ones. But my wife isn't an oyster fan and I don't want to drag her along to the place that Bill described and waste a meal... errr... snack on that. After all there are only 6 or 7 opportunities to eat per day! Don't want to waste one! ;)

                                1. re: kukubura

                                  Their other dishes that we have had are ok. I will always just get the charbroiled oysters from now on. The rest of the food is just blah compared to the oysters.

                                  1. re: kukubura

                                    I have not done a survey, but it seems that several others have enjoyed the Hilton location. We absolutely hated it, and on many levels.

                                    I have never read anything against the Metairie location, and do trust the folk on this CH board. They are the best.

                                    Because of them, I will do the Metairie location and report.

                                    Remember, I only did the Hilton Drago's one visit, but it was a very, very bad visit, so I do not feel the need to give them another go. We have stayed at that property 2 - 3 more times, and have passed them by for elsewhere.



                                    1. re: Bill Hunt


                                      it sounds like you had the absolute evening from hell at drago's at the hilton sometimes and it is very rare when absolutely everything can go bad during a dinner but it sometimes does happen. i am not making excuses for drago's at the hilton but i have had a few times in my life experiences that were as awful as what you describe. Not at Drago's Hilton but I have had that really crazy almost one in a million garbage off night in the kitchen, some bad managers, overcooked food, undercooked food, rancid food, hair in the food, the lack of care on behalf of all employees, items on the menu not coming out on the dish, overcharges added on, a few messed up drinks, throw in a apathetic server and yes you will never want to go back. It is almost like the stars have to align to have such an overall bad experience.
                                      i ate at drago's in metairie last friday night as i had a friend in town who is an oyster and lobster freak lover. the raw oysters were plump, salty, cold, and delicious. the char grilled oysters were juicy and temperature hot and succulent. they were a little small but that is only because cooking any kind of seafood will shrink it down a bit because of the high water content. salad was lackluster boring not worth it come with the meal salad. i should have paid 4 bucks and got a soup instead....lobster was huge, tender, cooked perfectly, and priced extremely well considering how far they travel to get here! my point is, give the metairie location a shot. sit at the bar. order a dozen raw and a dozen charbroiled. if you enjoy keep on going!!!!!!!! good luck.

                                      New Orleans, LA, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                      1. re: mcegielski

                                        With so many commenting favorably on Drago's Metaire, I need to experience them. Maybe next time, and for lunch? I need to see what I missed, and missed, and missed.



                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          We've only been during the week after 1:00 PM and the lunch crowds seem to be big in there. Parking was rough at 1:30 PM but soon after, it opened up with the lunch crowd leaving. The last time we were there around 2:30 and there wasn't a problem parking and the place was not so hopping. Our service has been better when it was more crowded. Last time we weren't the only ones dining in our room at 2:30 but our waiter seemed to disappear for long periods of time. All other times we were there, the service was great.

                                          1. re: texasredtop

                                            We have two trips to NOLA coming up, so ought to be able to fit the Metairie location into the lunch mix. If we have to wait a bit, based on the comments here, we'll do it, just to see. I will not hold out that much hope, but will try to keep a very open mind, and take it, for what it is.

                                            Thanks for the support, and when it does happen, I will post a review.


                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              Oh for gawd's sake Bill Hunt go! Before all of the Drago lover's wet their pants! (kidding, guys, I know you all love your charbroiled).
                                              Really, now I want this settled once and for all. Does Bill Hunt Love or Hate Dragos? Stayed tuned!

                                              1. re: shanemio

                                                It will take a bit of work, as I live in Phoenix, and Drago's is about 1500 miles away. It will take at least the next trip, to settle things.


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  Also, Bill, it could be taken in as an snack since the other dishes there don't compare at all. You can get 1/2 dozen also. Just pop in and try 1/2 if you are unsure. It's only a couple of blocks from the mall so you could drop in there while in the area.

                                    2. re: kukubura

                                      you should try it. really this is probably all kinda out of proportion -- not sure what happened on bill's visit but ive been to Drago's countless times, and them is ersters. in fact one of my favorite things to do w/ visitors is go on an "oyster crawl":

                                      - Baked Trio at Bourbon House
                                      - BBQ'd at Red Fish
                                      - Raw at Luke's
                                      - Charbroiled at Drago's

                             is a total win.

                                      1. re: kibbles

                                        I'd add Oysters Foch at Antoine's (change of pace) and the brochette at Galatoire's.

                                    3. re: texasredtop

                                      I just thanked Collardman for the parking and traffic tip, and hope to do just that on one of the next two trips over. So many folk here recommend it, that I just have to give the other location a try.

                                      Going back some years, we had similar on the Hawai`i Board, where everyone was pulled to one extreme, or the other, regarding Mama's Fish House on Maui. It was either love, or hate. Finally, we did the trip over, and fell in love, to the point that we passed on two more free nights at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, to stay at The Inn at Mama's Fish House, just to do the meals and their great wine list.

                                      I will do the Metairie branch, and keep an open mind.

                                      Thanks for the urging,


                                    4. re: Bill Hunt

                                      bill - how many times have you tried the oysters at the downtown Drago's? not sure what went wrong, but hey, we all know off-nights can exist....who knows.

                                      trust me tho -- oyster + butter + garlic + cheese = love.

                                      1. re: kibbles

                                        I dined there one time. That experience far transcended the oysters, and included every possible aspect of the meal. There was not one thing, that I could point to, as being marginally acceptable. All was bad, and to the extreme.

                                        Think of it this way. Imagine buying a new auto, and driving it off the lot. Suddenly, all four tires blow out, and the engine catches fire. When you have the new auto towed to the dealership, they tell you that the transmission is also bad, plus the roof has holes, and the rain will come in. It was THAT bad.

                                        Over my extended life, I have dined at great restaurants, and also bad restaurants. I have dined at great restaurants, where things did not go 100%. This had to have been the worst restaurant, that I have ever dined at. Usually, there is something - one dish maybe, to enjoy. No so here. They just flat missed on everything. Not sure if you read my review, and seem to doubt that you did, but nothing, and I seriously mean "nothing," exists to tempt me back. Should they offer me a 300% rebate on my meal, I would not waste my time. Other than proximity to the Hilton lobby, I cannot think of anything to recommend them. Maybe I just missed something, but do not believe so.

                                        Let's take it by the numbers:

                                        The disappearing waiters is an issue.
                                        The sanitizer in the wine glasses is an issue.
                                        The signature dish is a bad joke, at the very best.
                                        The wine list running out can be overlooked - that can happen
                                        The food was not good, and by the time that I finally tracked down servers, who were not on cell phones, or in deep conversation, was soggy.

                                        Personally, I cannot image one reason to ever dine there again, and that is my plan. I do not care if Drago's Hilton is a sacred cow on this board. They failed in so many ways, and at every level, and I will not return.

                                        This is one time, where I am so glad that I am not a professional restaurant reviewer, as I would need to return, at least twice more, and I have too much self-respect to do so.

                                        Others may love them. They might have corrected every problem. Still, NOLA offers far too many dining opportunities to bother with such a place.

                                        Again, this is my personal opinion, and is based on one, very bad experience, but it is as objective, as I can post.

                                        If you have had wonderful meals, and great service, then I am happy for you. If the one night that we dined there was the night that they fell through the crust of the Earth, so be it. IMHO, no restaurant, that has any quality, is that bad, on any service. I cannot be convinced.

                                        Good luck, and enjoy,


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          ...i wouldnt say theyre a sacred cow on this board. in fact nearly everyone will say the same -- go for the oysters, maybe crab salad, and nothing else. i pretty much concur w/ this rule of thumb. i wouldnt really recommend going for the wine service, or heck even the service in general... they are strictly a one trick pony for us.

                                          the only mystery is the dish you were served when asking for their main oysters. will never know what happened, but based on your description i can say for certain that wasnt it. which is disappointing.

                                          1. re: kibbles

                                            For me, that "one trick," was a bad prank, and played on my table.

                                            If a restaurant has a "signature dish," and it is bad, there is not much hope, at least in my book.

                                            To me, a restaurant is in the hospitality industry, and part of that model is "service." Another part is "food." If a restaurant cannot get either right, then what exactly is the point?

                                            Especially in NOLA, I can get great food, and usually excellent service. If a restaurant fails on both counts, I will never return. Simple as that.

                                            If I am driving across the country on I-40, and it's after Midnight, then maybe I will be a tad more lenient (though rather doubt it), but not when dining in NOLA.


                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              "If a restaurant cannot get either right, then what exactly is the point?" agreed, of course. and if that was the norm for them (the oysters sucking), then surely they would deserve no business from anyone, ever. but, while it doesnt do you much good for your past visit, that thankfully is not the norm there -- normally, the charbroiled oysters are very, very good. again while it doesnt help you, ive never had anyone had a bad experience with them. certainly no one has ever had them breaded with shredded oyster, since theres no breading in the dish and the oysters are whole, not shredded or diced or whatnot. i really cant explain the dish you had, other than to say, it is not the dish. a mystery.

                                              1. re: kibbles

                                                I will admit that what we were served, bore no resemblance to the photographs on the Web site. They were not even close. Still, what I reported on, and in detail, were what we were served. Why? I have no clue. How? Again, I can only relate what we were served. Was this some sort of bad joke on us? I cannot imagine how they would have selected us, for the joke.There were no TV cameras, and no one rushed up to say, "You've just been punked!" Now, that is not to say that there are not some YouTube AV's, or similar, of us getting what we did. They may be out there, but I have not seen them on America's Funniest Home Videos, or similar. It was almost as though another group had been served this dish, and picked it over, only to have their leftovers served to us.

                                                Now, had I been an expert in Drago's Charbroiled Oysters, I might have known to send those little pieces back. I was not, so I had to assume that the dish had not been previously served, re-heated, and then served to my party.

                                                No matter how I "slice it," or how much others try to spin it, the dish was horrible, and a total bust.

                                                Was it typical? I have no frame of reference, but only what was presented to us on that night.

                                                Would I return to that location? Not in this lifetime.

                                                Would I order the same dish again? Only at the other location, and then I would hold my breath, based on my previous experience.

                                                To get to the bottom of this dish, you will need to contact the Hilton Drago's, and give them Sept. 2008. Maybe they can tell you what was served, and why.


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  If it WAS a practical joke, they're sure getting some good mileage out of it. 3 years and counting!

                                                  1. re: Jeff_NO


                                                    If it was, then I hope that the perpetrator is reading along, as it HAS been an issue for a very long time.

                                                    Compared to the descriptions from the folk here, I have no clue, as to what we were served. However, with all aspects of food and service being so low, I guess that it just "figures?"


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      On the bright side Bill, at least it didn't cost you $350 like my horrible meal for 2 at a certain worshiped restaurant did :-) I may never get over it. Some things places get away with are just beyond reason. While I will never return to that restaurant or any other restaurant owned by that chef, I do hope you make it to Metairie for the real deal. I will never miss a dozen or two of those oysters when I'm in NO. They are that good.

                                                      1. re: texasredtop

                                                        Checking, the total bill was ~ US $ 200 for a party of four. Certainly not US $ 350, but not a bargain either.


                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                          The meal we had that was bad was for two people.

                                2. Here is my review of Drago's at the Hilton:

                                  Drago’s, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, (Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Two Poydras St., NOLA, 504-561-0500.

                                  I had never dined at either Drago’s location, and did not even recall this one, when we last stayed at the Hilton. I do not know the chronological history of Drago’s. It occupies much of the lower-front area of the lobby. I’m not sure if the bar in the lobby is part of the restaurant, but do not think so, as there is a bar area within the restaurant. The space is very large and well-lit. There are banquette tables along most of the walls, with many 4-tops (some grouped into pairs) throughout the restaurant. I would imagine that it can seat 200 people easily, but could be off on that guess. It has a nice casual vibe. Sorta’ like an upscale seafood restaurant in New Orleans. What a surprise – it is. The weeknight hours are: 11:00AM until 10:00PM. We arrived at approximately 9:00PM. The restaurant only had a half-dozen tables occupied – not a good sign to my CH senses, but it was a weeknight in early Autumn, though there was a football game the next night and a Saint’s game on Sunday. The hotel seemed busy with a convention, but the restaurant was almost empty. The space may have fooled me, but we felt all by ourselves, in the middle of the main dining area.

                                  The first thing that I noticed was that there were maybe two-dozen members of the waitstaff on the floor, plus two bartenders. I also picked up that three of the waitstaff had headsets and were dressed a bit differently, than the others. I would hazard a guess that these were group leaders, or Secret Service operatives. Our waiter arrived, introduced himself and presented our party of four with menus. He took our water order and offered cocktails. Well, MIL does not drink anything but ice tea and Barq’s rootbeer, and wife and I are avowed winos, so I asked of the wine list. It was on the menu. MIL’s nurse drinks wine (good thing for THIS trip), so I ordered two Markham Chards for her, and my wife, and a glass of the Markham Sauvignon Blanc for myself. In a flash, our server was back with bad news. The Markham SB was gone, and he offered the Kim Crawford SB as a replacement. Now, I enjoy New Zealand SB’s, especially from Marlborough, but really like a domestic SB with seafood. I find that the NZ versions are great by themselves, but their heavy grapefruit and “hay” aspects do not go that well with food. I prefer something with more “lemon” and some fruit forward. I opted for another glass of the Markham Chardonnay.

                                  Our server suggested the signature, Charbroiled Oysters. I ordered a small plate of these, as I had read so many great reviews of various “charbroiled oysters” on this board. Our party pondered the rest of the menu, and the wines, an ice tea and wine and Charbroiled Oysters arrived.

                                  We had six oysters served on the half-shell. Or, should I say “oyster parts?” The preparation was breading, oyster parts and some garnish placed on heated half-shells. I could not find one whole oyster in the batch. There were tiny strips of oysters in the breading base. What was there was tasty with nice garlic hints, but mostly the breading bed, with tiny slivers of oyster parts. I thought that this was some sort of a bad joke, but was assured that this was how Drago’s did their “famous” Charbroiled Oysters. OK, for about US$1.75 each, it wasn’t a big deal, just a touch of a letdown. I should have picked up on the hints of things to come.

                                  Orders were placed, as we picked around the oysters. Since my wife cannot do bi-valves of any sort, there were more than enough for the three of us. Still, one was left, as no one really wanted any more of this dish.

                                  We did one BBQ Drumfish, two Shrimp Platters and one Catfish Platter, with a few cups of Mama Ruth’s Seafood Gumbo. As I was ready for a second Chardonnay, I asked for another Markham. It came with the gumbos, and our server was gone in a flash. He had to be the quickest server on the planet – gone before the plates had come to rest.

                                  My second glass of Markham was horribly flawed. Now, I have encountered many flaws in wine, but this one was a rarity. When restaurants run their wine glasses through the dishwasher, liberal doses of sanitizer are used. These are designed to be washed away in the rinse cycles and usually are. Not in this case. I thought I was smelling Janitor In A Drum! I waited for our server to appear, but he did not. There were still about 20 other servers in the dining area, and I waited patiently. OK, he was gone, so I flagged down one of the other servers, who were occupied in conversation with all of the other servers. This was something that they seemed to enjoy doing, as there were few diners left. I quietly explained the problem and handed over the glass. This server flagged down one of the folk with the headsets, who came over for me to explain it all over again. I do not think that she understood, or maybe just did not believe me, but did disappear with the offending glass.

                                  Bam, our entrées hit, along with my replacement Chardonnay. The plates were still spinning, and our server had disappeared again. This replacement wine had the same problem. Either there was a problem with the sanitizer, or they tried to pawn off the same bad glass of wine on me.

                                  I waited, but our server was AOL. I flagged down one of the “headset folk,” and explained once more, what the problem was. She took it around the room and talked to maybe a dozen different servers. After making the rounds with my glass, she disappeared too. Finally, I walked to the bar and explained the problem to one of the bartenders. He brought over the other bartender, and I explained it all over again. The second bartender disappeared and did not return. I still did not have my second glass of wine and my entrée was getting cold. I went back to my chair and started in on my Shrimp Platter. During this time, I caught sight of my server, but he was in deep conversation with a patron, or at least someone, who had come in from the Poydras St. entrance. He was not in “hailing distance,” and I could not catch his attention. In a second, he was gone from sight again. About then, another “headset person” came by with yet another glass of wine. She asked what I had not liked about the first few glasses, and I explained the problem. She offered me this glass, but it was also badly tainted. Probably the same, original bad glass, that was just being passed around. I asked her to taste the wine, but she refused. I took this glass directly to the first bartender and asked him to taste the wine. He also declined. I told the story once more, and demanded in a rather loud voice that they get me a clean glass with the Markham Chardonnay. I instructed him to let me smell the glass, before he poured anything. He did, and all was finally OK.

                                  I won’t comment on my now cold Shrimp Platter, or the soggy fries, but will only offer comments from the other diners. The shrimp were tiny and horribly overcooked. The fries were apparently soggy, when served. They were then hot, but it was from a heat lamp. The fries were obviously frozen, pre-prepared generic fries, not unlike any fast-food outlet. The Catfish Platter suffered from some of the same problems – overcooked with soggy fries. The BBQ Drumfish was very fishy and the odor was obvious around the table. Even the garlic could not overcome this.

                                  Going back, the Gumbo was bland and even a healthy dose of Tabasco could not resurrect it. The roux seemed to be uncooked flour and lacked any character. I would also suspect that the shrimp in it were from India, because of their size and the distinct impression that they had been long frozen.

                                  Considering all of the times that we have dined across the Gulf South on little more than Seafood Gumbo and Fried Shrimp, I have to say that these examples were some of the worst – wine service not withstanding.

                                  Our server materialized at the end of this part of the meal and asked if we wanted desserts. We all declined. The bill with a less than normal tip was US$198.00 for four with four b-t-g Chardonnays. This was a very bad start to our trip and I cannot think of anything to recommend this Drago’s location. I have no idea how this experience might translate to either dining early, or at another location.

                                  I can comment that the stemware, disregarding the sanitizer issue, was even poor by any restaurant’s standards – small bowls, thick rims and little more than “jelly jars.” This is often a big problem with restaurants, especially in my beloved Deep South.

                                  21 Replies
                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    Bill, you sum up the Hilton location well. I have always gone to the Fat City location and the oysters and service was always stellar.

                                    1. re: stvtunlvzn

                                      I will give them a try. All the CH folk cannot be wrong! [Grin]


                                      1. re: stvtunlvzn

                                        tho im not certain one will find excellent wine service at the Fat City location. it's not really...a wine kind of place? i mean we're talking a seafood shop in fat city, ya know? i think the problem is that Drago's is really a neighborhood joint that somebody thought would be cool in the Hilton...but i dont think they really have much experience w/ the more upscale nature of downtown hotels and expectations.

                                        IMO. tho that wouldnt explain the dissatisfying seafood dishes you had... all i can say is the advice we give & get -- stick to the oysters! (didnt help in your case tho, where you received something that is definitely not the dish)

                                        1. re: kibbles

                                          I have done many "neighborhood restaurants," and have had more than my share of Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay (and other varietals). However, I have not had two glasses, in a row, with the sanitizer still in those glasses, and especially after pointing out the issue. Something is just flat wrong. I will leave it to others to find out what that is. I am done! Too little time, and too many competing restaurants.

                                          Looking back to their Charbroiled Oysters, it was almost like they took the dishes from all previous diners, and scrapped the remnants from their oysters into ours. Not a really pleasant thought to me.

                                          OK, we were "tourists," but then I grew up near-by, on the Gulf Coast, and both M-I-L and wife are NOLA natives. M-I-L has two grandchildren, who are in the restaurant business, and her late, second husband, was deeply involved in the business. I guess that they just assumed that we were from the Midwest, and would never know what was good. They also must have assumed that we had never dined out before, and would just accept anything. Well, fooled them.


                                          Gulf Coast Restaurants
                                          1200 S Clearview Pkwy, New Orleans, LA 70123

                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Ouch. Was it just a bad night at the Hilton or are the oysters really cut up into pieces and not left whole?

                                        1. re: Luaulane

                                          Unfortunately, I cannot tell you. Others have insisted that what we had were not normal, but we had three orders at the table, and all were the same - really bad.

                                          I will add to my review, when we get to Drago's in Metairie, but I cannot imagine ever going back to the site at the Hilton - too many great restaurants in NOLA, and even if we just dined at a few, I'd rather go back to the favs.

                                          Wish that I could tell you more, but maybe others can fill in the blanks.


                                        2. re: Bill Hunt

                                          bill -- not to be contrarian, but the dish you described is *not* the charbroiled oysters Drago's is known for... there is no breading in the dish. none. its (whole) fresh oysters on the halfshell, coated in herbed garlic butter & cheese, and broiled over a flame grill.

                                          the dish you describe sounds terrible, but completely different. strange??

                                          1. re: kibbles

                                            I am sorry, but that is the only dish that I can describe, as it was served to us, when we ordered the Drago's Charbroiled Oysters. Any problem that you have with that dish, described as closely, as I can, then take them up with Drago's, and ask what the heck happened? Also, ask them why they would serve such a dish, whether to a tourist, or to someone, who knows NOLA cuisine intimately.

                                            Imagine going to a restaurant, and ordering a muffaletta. Instead of what you are expecting, you get two slices of Wonder Bread, a few salami slices from a deli-pack, and then some cheese-food processed "cheese food product," plus a diced olive. That is sprinkled with Wesson Oil. When you inquire, you are told, "that's what we sell to tourists." That is how I felt, and is how my party felt. Then, when you complain about the wine glasses used, and explain the issue, they take it in the back, shake it up, and try to serve it to you again.

                                            Nah, you can have 'em.


                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              dunno. but the dish you described (breading, shredded oysters, etc) is not their charbroiled oysters. not even close. it's fresh oysters broiled on the half-shell, doused in butter & herbs & cheese. ive been there countless times w/ locals & tourists alike and have never seen them serve a special version to out-of-towners. just isnt plausible.

                                              not sure what you got, but truly sorry you didnt get to try the actual dish we're talking about. it's delicious.

                                              1. re: kibbles

                                                "the dish you described (breading, shredded oysters, etc) is not their charbroiled oysters. not even close. it's fresh oysters broiled on the half-shell, doused in butter & herbs & cheese. ive been there countless times w/ locals & tourists alike and have never seen them serve a special version to out-of-towners"

                                                Then why did they serve such a dish?

                                                "just isnt plausible."

                                                I described it, just as it appeared on the table. You can take that to the bank. I had no "ax to grind" with them, and was looking forward to the meal, plus that dish, due to the reviews on this board. When I lived in NOLA, I do not recall anyone doing "char-grilled oysters," but that does not matter. What we got was dreck. It was almost as if that dish had been served to another table, and after those folk had eaten the oysters, the restaurant re-heated the shells, with the detritus, and served that to us, after sprinkling some dried parsley on top.

                                                Yes, I am now a "tourist," but I grew up in the NOLA environs, so have not just fallen off of the turnip truck. For over 55 years, I have had the distinct pleasure of dining in New Orleans. Over those decades, I have experienced the wonderful, the good, the bad, but this was the "ugly."

                                                Above, I mentioned "sacred cows," but that was brushed aside. I think that the refuting of my review is a sure sign, that I was correct - to some, it IS a scared cow, and sorry to have gored her.

                                                To end, I stand firmly by my review. It was written immediately upon my return. During my excruciationly horrible experience, I kept asking both my wife (3rd generation NOLA native), and my M-I-L (2nd generation NOLA native, and a big oyster fan, who had several family members in the restaurant business in NOLA), and they concurred - this was just horrible, though my wife could not eat any, as she has an allergy to bi-valves. Still, she's seen many oyster presentations over her life span, and could eat them, way back when she lived in NOLA. The dish should have been an embarrassment, but apparently was not.

                                                As to their having dishes, just for tourists, I also do not think that would be anyone's policy. All I am saying is that this dish, a "signature dish," was an embarrassment, or would have been to me. Why were we served that? I cannot tell you, and one would have to talk to the staff, as to how that got out of the kitchen. It is not my problem, but their's.


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  I certainly believe you Bill. Although I have had the best oysters of my life at the Metairie location, I know that these kinds of things happen as it happened to me at August and too many just wouldn't believe it. It's very irritating that they do some of the things they do and get away with it. But I am sure that most restaurants do similar things from time to time. We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Next time I get served a meal that is not right, I don't care how snobby the place is, I'm sending it back for something else or they can take it off my bill. Walking out of there that night I felt like I'd been robbed. And I AM going to try the charbroiled at the Hilton next trip and tell you if they are the same as the Metairie location. And if they serve me oyster pieces, they will either take them back or wear them - lol.

                                                  1. re: texasredtop

                                                    At the Hilton Drago's, I kept hearing the music for Spooky Tooth's "Wrong Time," which was written by Gary Wright, but produced by Alan Toussaint, from New Orleans: The lyrics must be spoken in the voice of Michael Harrison, to get the full effect.

                                                    Other than proximity, I could not find one thing nice to say.

                                                    As mentioned in other threads, I have not done the Metaire location, and must do that.

                                                    Now, it seems that we had similar experiences at Drago's (Hilton), and Restaurant August. You are correct. "Stuff" happens, but then with so very many choices in NOLA, if everything goes bad, why return?

                                                    For us, Restaurant August was about 90%, with only the wine aspect being way, way off. For us at Drago's, other than a glass of water, I just cannot think of anything that was good.

                                                    Yeah, "stuff" happens, and it is too bad for a restaurant, when it does.


                                                    Restaurant August
                                                    301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Ya know, you mention the wine thing at August and I had a similar experience there a few years back. It was summer and I asked the waiter to describe the chenan blanc and he said it was a sweeter wine. I said I knew that, could he give me any more? He said no. I asked if there was a sommelier and he said no. I asked if anyone there could help me with the wine. He said no. It was shocking. I learned later that the sommelier had just left or died (?) and they didn't get a new one yet, but the experience left a bad taste in our mouths the whole meal. And you probably don't want a bad taste in your mouth while you're eating.

                                                      1. re: shanefink

                                                        That is a bad service, IMHO.

                                                        When we dined there last, there was a sommelier, and he had both done the pairings, plus was our wine server. In the latter role, he did a good job. In the former role, well not that close. We actually had kept sips of all wines, it oddly, it seemed that he was off about 1 - 2 courses, with ALL of his choices.

                                                        Also, and I would need to dredge up my old review, or my notes on that night, I was not impressed by the choices. While the wine list was deep, these choices at ! US $ 150 premium, was made up of US $ 15 - 20 retail wines. For us, it is much less about the prices of the wines, but their marriage with the food. I have had US $ 8 retail wines, that were just fabulous with certain dishes, but at that (or close - would have to dig around a bit) price point, I want unique wines, and ones that pair 100% with Chef Besh's cuisine.

                                                        Most sommeliers love to show off the unique nature of their cellar, and also how well they know the chef's foods. I did not get the impression that this gentleman cared about either. To me, it exhibited either a lack of interest, or of knowledge.

                                                        We do tons of "chef's tastings," and usually the "sommelier's pairings," if available. Some are better than others, but in this case, we had great cuisine, and not even close wines, unless you threw them totally out of sync, and did wine # 1, with dish # 3, and then wine # 2 with dish # 5, etc. They just did not pair with any dish. They were also very pedestrian.

                                                        Note: shortly thereafter, that sommelier departed, and reports have been that his replacement was much, much better. IIRC, she has moved on, but the current sommelier is dong well. I have not been able to fit them in, so cannot comment.


                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                    Bill, may I first say I always enjoy your posts. My husband and I were at Drago's (Hilton location) last Saturday. This was our first visit at this location. I (We) have been to the Metairie location several times. Neither my husband or I could figure out why we did not have the juice we so love to dip our bread in with these "Charbroiled Oysters". Now after reading this thread I told my husband " the oysters had bread crumbs in them" and he agreed! There was never any bread crumbs in the oysters in Metairie, just that wonderful juice! The bread crumbs ate my wonderful juice! While they were good we just could not figure out the difference. I WILL be going to the Metairie location next visit. Anyone been there lately that could shed some light on this?
                                                    I don't mean to beat this dead horse again, but glad I read this and glad the light bulb came on. Thanks!

                                                    1. re: Lindsey52

                                                      Interesting observation. Not knowing the full recipe, I just commented on what I encountered. Also, without the experience at either Drago's, I was curious about the prep of the oysters, and think that I asked in that review post, as I had rather expected whole oysters, sitting in the half-shell, but got something else.

                                                      While doing some research on something else, I ran across the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives report on Drago's Metairie. While I am not a fan of Guy Fieri, I did watch his Drago's clip, and what he was served, bore little resemblance to what we were served, save for the half-shells.

                                                      Now, I have got to have this dish, and will try to squeeze the Metairie location into the mix in November. Will report.

                                                      Thank you,


                                                      1. re: Lindsey52

                                                        The only ones I've had were in Metairie. They are whole oysters, of different sizes but not too varying, doused with garlic butter and sprinkled with parmesan cheese as far as I can tell.

                                                        1. re: texasredtop

                                                          Yep. Just like they do them at the Hilton. I can't detect a difference. Somebody brought Bill the wrong dish. With all the things that went wrong during that meal, I'm not surprised.

                                                          1. re: Jeff_NO

                                                            I've just read the entire menu and there is nothing on there that describes what Bill got. Nothing even close.

                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        no, it really isnt a sacred cow to me. im really not trying to "refute" your review... im just trying to establish that the dish you are reviewing is *not* the charbroiled oysters. this dish is comprised of fresh oysters on the halfshell, covered in butter, herbs, cheese, and flame broiled. there is no breading whatsoever, and there are no minced oyster-parts.

                                                        i do so not as a personal affront to you, whether tourist or not, but only to state "that aint them". we're talking it round & round, but for whatever reason, the dish you were served is not the specialty of the house that folks like myself promote favorably. thats the only reason i mention this.

                                                        now, whether that in itself (getting the wrong dish) is enough reason not to go back is a separate story. we all have stories like that... me, i had the worst dining experience of my life in new orleans at La Bocca, the beloved steak haven adored by seemingly all. they overcooked my kobe, then tried to refuse taking it back, instead giving me a hard time about it for 15 minutes. i havent been back because that isnt service, but people really love their food.

                                                        1. re: kibbles

                                                          Well, I have described it, as well as I can. I only know what was served to us, and do not know what should have been served.

                                                          Sorry that they are a favorite of yours, but then, I only have reported on what was served, to the best of my ability.

                                                          Maybe contact them and ask what they were thinking on that night.

                                                          That is the best that I can offer you.

                                                          Sorry that the dish was a horrible embarrassment, but that was what we were served, without even a blink and a nod.

                                                          I cannot help you any more, nor can I allay your issues, as I have given a report/review, that is as accurate, as I could deliver. If you want to know more, contact Drago's and ask them directly. Maybe it was a really bad joke, played on my party, or maybe that is what they normally serve.

                                                          I cannot help you any more. You are now on your own.

                                                          Good luck,



                                                Saw this today in the paper. My top 5 list would be as follows:

                                                1 - Drago's
                                                2 - Casamento's
                                                3- Pascal's Manale
                                                4- Bozo's
                                                5- Acme

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: texasredtop

                                                  I like my oysters with an ice cold beer and the best place for that is Cooter Brown's. I also like to make my own cocktail sauce and they usually have a good selection of items to choose from. I know this might sound like blasphemy, but the oysters themselves, I feel, differ very little from any of these places with the biggest difference being the sizes and how well they're shucked. The oysters all come from the same general area, I think.

                                                  1. re: shanefink

                                                    Went to Drago's Metairie on August 13 with a friend. The oysters were indeed small, but flavorful. Consider this - it is NOT oyster season right now and are usually small during the summer - the oysters will fill out and get bigger and plumper come November when the weather cools off.

                                                    Plus I've never had chargrilled oysters at Drago's with breadcrumbs - they use heaping amounts of parmesian cheese though.

                                                2. Just back from NOLA and a visit to Drago's at the Hilton. Truly unmemorable with a tinge of awful. My wife is an oyster fan and after seeing the Food Network's story wanted to go. Grilled oysters were overly buttered and while the smoke comes through we both agreed Acme's grilled are much better. PS_ don't watch them lather on the sauce at the open grill. Looked like pancake mix pouring over the sides. I had a shrimp pasta dish which reminded me of my favorite Pasta Roni mix. Service was rushed/ Main courses served while appetizers still being consumed. A must miss from now on.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Hockey19

                                                    Well, there ya go. I'm sticking with Drago's in Metairie for my favorite oyster dish in the world :-)

                                                    1. re: Hockey19

                                                      well, just to repeat what i always advise -- id really steer clear of anything other than the charbroiled oysters or the crab salad. the rest *is* unmemorable, even at the metairie location.

                                                      as for the oysters tho....yep, theres a lot of butter on them. so much, in fact, that you get to dip your crispy french loaf into the butter left on the plate and sop it up. we rather enjoy that about them. ive had them at both locations and the butter is definitely present in both kitchens. :)

                                                    2. wow! after reading all of this and commenting once, i must say i want some dargo's char-boiled oysters right now!!!!!!