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Going to New Orleans Aug 27 What to expect for first time??? Food, weather and people....

octate Aug 9, 2011 08:49 AM

Well my GF and I (29yrs old) are going to go on our first trip To new Orleans at the end of the month, we are coming from Los Angeles and kinda nervous but really excited to head out to NOLA. We like live music and good food not crazy party scene but a nice mix of people i guess, I guess i am asking what can i expect and where can eat good food.. We are open to all foods and places as long as they are fun and different from our L.A.

Also we are not the dressy type and i see here that dress code might be an issue for us??

what should i pack???

We are staying at the sheraton hotel, andy feedback on that?

  1. Bill Hunt Aug 11, 2011 09:38 PM

    First, the people will be great. Do not be in a hurry, and spend a few moments, just talking to them. They will share many interesting aspects of their lives with you, and from a perspective, that you may never have encountered. Listen closely, and, when asked, share your life experiences with them.

    The food is unique, though an amalgam of so many other cuisines. It will be unlike most of what one will have encountered, but then might remind one, or another cuisine. That is because it is a bit or this, and a bit of that. The influences can be subtle, or maybe a bit more bold. There are hints of French, Spanish, African, Caribbean, Cajun, and then maybe a touch of Italian, with a tiny hint of German. Rather than tons of ethnic restaurants, NOLA has it's own blend of many, and those influences may come out at any time. Many come to NOLA, and bemoan a lack of ethnic cuisine, but when you break it down, NOLA cuisine IS nothing BUT ethnic - though maybe not what a visitor from NYC would expect. It is most often an amalgam of "influences," rather than separate restaurants.

    New Orleans has some more "formal" restaurants, closer to NYC, DC, or perhaps Chicago, but more so, than LA, or San Diego. However, it IS a tourist city, so only a few restaurants will have a dress code. Do check that one out, with any particular restaurant. Also, remember that "more formal" aspect in NOLA, so what might not be required, would be more comfortable, based on the dress of all other patrons. Just something to think about.

    Music is everywhere, so you will have no problem finding it. The only considerations are: what type of music, and do you want a meal with that?

    NOLA is a wonderfully friendly city, with a unique window, that no other city in the US offers. With the exception of Quebec City, you will not find similar in North America, and would need to travel Europe, for similar.

    NOLA cuisine is seldom "hot," but is, instead layers of spices and flavors. The spices can surprise folk, who might not expect them, but real "heat" is not part of most recipes. Also, butter is nearly a given, in most restaurants, and especially if you go to one of the traditional ones, like Galatoire's, Antoine's, Broussards, or Arnaud's. Expect rich.

    At many restaurants, it is best to just tell your server of any allergies, and let them pick for you. Galatorie's is a perfect example. If you have any menu questions, do not hesitate to voice them. Just plan on a few minutes, for the answer. Your server might add some of their family history, just to explain a relatively simple sounding dish. It means something to them, so listen carefully, as that is part of the charm.

    Servers might seem a tad more "familiar" with you, but that is the nature of NOLA. Enjoy that, as they are sharing some of themselves with you. You will often not encounter, "My name is James, and I will be your server tonight," but will probably be more likely to hear, "dawling, what can I bring you tonight?" Kick back, relax, and accept that as part of the charm. BTW, the answer to that question is, "what's good tonight?"

    As far as packing, slacks and a nice shirt (could be a polo), but few shorts, unless you are down-scale a bit. Collared shirts should be welcome, so tank tops are OK for the day, but when dining, a collar will fit in better. Having grown up in NOLA, I will always sport a blazer, but that is really overkill nowadays, with but a few exceptions. Check.

    As far as must-dos, here is my short list:

    Galatoire's - the grand dame of NOLA cuisine - more formal, especially for dinner
    Antoine's - another in that above category, though less formal
    G W Fins - FQ local seafood, in a more casual atmosphere, with local recipes
    Brigtsen's - River Bend area, but worth a streetcar ride. NOLA, with a modern take.
    Stella! - FQ take on New American, but with some NOLA influence
    MiLa - CBD (Central Business District) NOLA meets the Deep South
    Restaurant August - CBD - Chef John Besh brings his best with strong NOLA influence
    Emeril's - Warehouse District, just riverside of CBD, and chef Lagasse is always fun
    Commander's Palace - Garden District and probably a cab ride - NOLA grandeur

    Many more, and at different levels. Others can help out there.



    Restaurant August
    301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

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

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

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

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

    1. TaTee Aug 11, 2011 03:52 PM

      I think that judging by the posts you have decided for yourself that first and foremost the locals are
      very helpful and friendly. We love our city, its food and music and we want you to love it and be safe while you are here. We want you to come back, again and again.

      3 Replies
      1. re: TaTee
        octate Aug 11, 2011 04:05 PM

        Thanks, i do see you guys love your city and i love to travel and hope my experience is as good as i expect so i can make future visits.

        1. re: octate
          califkatie Aug 11, 2011 06:41 PM

          for some more help, check out neworleansonline.com. and tom fitzmorris' site nomenu.com. you will really like frenchmen street. there's so many music venues and bars right there in a 2 block area. i like balcony music club, mojitos, and spotted cat. have fun!

          1. re: octate
            Bill Hunt Aug 11, 2011 09:49 PM

            Just remember, you cannot do it all in one trip, even if you stay a month. I am more familiar with San Francisco, than LA, but it's the same - can never do it all. Don't even bother trying. Relax, and then start planning the return trip.

            That is what I do when returning to NOLA, or going to San Francisco. I have a few favs., and then add a few new spots, per each trip.

            Unfortunately, we have missed some great restaurants in each city, but that is life - on cannot do them all.



        2. artychokeasana Aug 10, 2011 08:00 AM

          I don't know about y'all but this thread is making me want to hop on a plane to Nola.

          3 Replies
          1. re: artychokeasana
            octate Aug 10, 2011 08:41 AM

            Tell me about it, I just want to leave now!

            1. re: octate
              shanefink Aug 10, 2011 03:23 PM

              So I don't know what kinda people you are, but if you want to do something really fun and decadent, google Krewe of Oak's Midsummer Mardi Gras. It's an annual event held Uptown with crazy costumes and lots of insanity. Saturday, August 27th.

            2. re: artychokeasana
              Bill Hunt Aug 11, 2011 09:45 PM

              Southwest flies in many times per day... [Grin]


            3. j
              JazzyB Aug 10, 2011 06:07 AM

              Check the CoolInary menus: http://www.nomcvb.com/restaurants//listings/index.cfm/catId/2/sectionID/4/subsectionID/0/

              for music, Gambit (weekly):

              1. s
                shanefink Aug 9, 2011 04:39 PM

                Expect lots of heat and humidity, fun, crazy people and lots of great food, music and drinks. Your hotel is very generic, but centrally located and I believe it has an outdoor pool. As a first timer, you should start out with a stroll down Bourbon Street and get some hurricanes at Pat O'Briens and maybe check out the dueling piano bar inside. Head over to the ACME for some chargrilled oysters or Mr. B's for some BBQ Shrimp. Find your way over to Molly's on the Market for some frozen Irish coffee (best summer drink in town). Stroll through the French Market and search for some cool seasonings that you can't get at home. Stop in at El Gato Negro for a margarita before sauntering over to Frenchman Street for live music. You won't recognize any of the bands so just listen from the street and stop in wherever suits your fancy. Finish your night at DBA with one or two ice cold beers from their extensive selection. Cab it home because it's a bit of a walk and can get sketchy the later in the night it gets. Wake up the next morning and head over to the Old Coffee Pot for a nice, hearty breakfast. It's hot outside so you might want to head over to the National World War II Museum. It will take a few hours to tour the museum, but there are two great restaurants nearby, Cochon Butcher and American Sector. After lunch, grab a taxi and head up Magazine Street for some shopping and a few cocktails along the way. When you get tired, walk the six or seven blocks over to St. Charles Ave. and catch the streetcar for a return trip to your hotel. Rest up for an amazing dinner at Bayona, Clancy's, August, Geautreu's, Coquette, Meson 923, Le Foret or any other of our fine restaurants. If you're feeling up for it, grab a taxi and head Uptown for some more live music at Tipitina's or the Mapleleaf. OK, by now it's three in the morning (but only 1 your time) and you are looking to continue the party. New Orleans parties all night long so you can head over to the Saturn Bar, Igor's or Snake & Jake's for some late night debauchery (or The Dungeon if you want a glimpse of the inane). Sleep in and get yourself a reservation at Commander's Palace for Sunday brunch, maybe for 1:30. You should bring some nice slacks and a button down shirt for this, but a few bloody mary's and some really great creole brunch items await your belly. Start with the turtle soup and finish it off with a bread pudding. Ok, I can't do it all for you. Surely you will find a friendly bartender somewhere that will offer some advice on how to spend a hungover Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the trip!

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

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

                430 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                501 Napoleon Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

                Cochon Butcher
                930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                Le Foret
                Camp St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                3 Replies
                1. re: shanefink
                  octate Aug 10, 2011 07:14 AM

                  Wow, Sounds like i am going to have a blast.. So many choices so little time!!!

                  1. re: shanefink
                    Niki in Dayton Aug 10, 2011 08:19 AM

                    Great itinerary for a first timer, shanefink! You should keep this post and repost every time a first timer asks; so many folks never get out of the quarter and don't realize all the wonders of NOLA!

                    1. re: shanefink
                      Bill Hunt Aug 11, 2011 09:44 PM

                      I second Old Coffee Pot, but will also add Stanley!, the "brother" to Stella!, mentioned in my longer post. Personally, I seldom make it to lunch, after such a breakfast, and dinner looming at 8:00PM. NOLA is a city, where you will NOT be underfed, and pacing oneself is a real task.



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

                    2. c
                      collardman Aug 9, 2011 12:09 PM

                      The weather and dress codes was covered. Weather hot, dress cool.

                      On a first visit stay loose and don't force a schedule. Most name restaurants will feed you well. The music area noted is Frenchmen Street, just adjacent to the French Quarter.

                      When you arrive in town pick up a copy of Gambit, it is the local free alternative newspaper and it will have every music venue listed. Also, the Friday Times Picayune newspaper has a pull out section called Lagniappe that lists everything going on that weekend. You can get a head start by checking the online version "nola.com"

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: collardman
                        octate Aug 9, 2011 01:04 PM


                        1. re: collardman
                          artychokeasana Aug 9, 2011 02:22 PM

                          Exactly-Frencman Street is where we went to listen to music. I couldn't remember the name. Thank you.

                        2. h
                          Hungry Celeste Aug 9, 2011 09:09 AM

                          Far too much is made of dress code on this board. NOLA is loaded with restaurants where you can eat good to great food dressed however you'd like. No, you probably won't want to hit the old-line Creole places in the French Quarter wearing shorts and a tank top, but such attire is fine at casual places all over town. For damn tasty food with no dress code, try Cochon Butcher, Parkway Bakery, Mahoney's, etc.

                          NOLA is bloody hot and humid in late August. Think cool, light colors, and natural fabrics. If you pack a jacket, make it a linen or poplin one.

                          Cochon Butcher
                          930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Hungry Celeste
                            octate Aug 9, 2011 09:17 AM

                            Thank you!!!
                            We are so excited to head out there, how is the nightlife out there this time of year? Good drinks anywhere?
                            I was so worried about the dress codes but i am glad you cleared that up for me.

                            1. re: Hungry Celeste
                              artychokeasana Aug 9, 2011 10:04 AM

                              You should expect to have fun! I went a couple of years ago and we and we really mostly did the tourist things-beignet's at Cafe du Monde (excellent) fried pickles at a locals bar, a boat ride through the swamp a walking tour of Uptown. I enjoyed it all. A taxi driver told us that if we wanted to hear some real music we should go past the French Quarter to a district just on the other side of Esplanade called Mangry we went and the music and atmosphere was great. We also went to Lafitte;s Blacksmith Bar in the quarter-apparently open since 1772. I guess it is mostly for tourists but it isn't often you get to go into a bar that old. I think it is worth a visit and the music (piano bar) was good.

                              1. re: artychokeasana
                                octate Aug 9, 2011 10:13 AM

                                I will let you guys know how the trip went!

                                1. re: artychokeasana
                                  rouxdauphine Aug 11, 2011 04:38 AM

                                  Okay, I have to chime in here. Lafitte's is charming, it's atmospheric and, yes the building is old, more accurately dated to approximately 1790's. it has been a bar since 1961. Look at Pat O'Brien's but have your Hurricane at Lafitte's -- it's made with real fruit juice.

                                  The Marigny Triangle is a fun neighborhood with bars and restaurants on Frenchmen Street. My favorite is Three Muses -- delicious small plates.

                                  Three Muses
                                  536 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

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