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Suggestions for a Foodie's First Trip to NOLA

I am heading down to New Orleans at the end of the month with several friends, all of whom are big food fans from NYC and Philly. It's the first time any of us have been so I've been doing lots of research on dining options and am stuck since we'll only be there for 4 meals and can't seem to narrow it down.

So far this is what I'm thinking:
Friday dinner- EAT or Irene's
Saturday lunch- Napolean House for muffaletas (I've heard Central Grocery has insane lines and they're not as good as they used to be)
Saturday afternoon- Cafe Beignet for beignets (again trying to avoid mobs of tourists and hour long lines)
Saturday dinner- Muriels or Mr. B's
Sunday brunch- Commanders Palace

We've also been considering Cafe Amelie and August.

Please let me know what you think about these places or if you have a suggestion for somewhere that you think would be better. There will be 12-15 of us and we're staying in the FQ so not too far off the beaten path.

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Cafe Amelie
912 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116

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  1. I don't care for Central Grocery at all. I wouldn't worry about missing it. There's a great shrimp poboy at Johnny's.

    As for Cafe Beignet, I hear their beignets are better than Cafe du Monde anyway.

    Mr. B's - bbq shrimp. The best shrimp dish I've ever eaten.

    With that many people you should be sure to make reservations wherever you go for dinner.

    1. Skip Eat and Irene's. Irene's is good creole Italian however, you get much better at home.

      Central Grocery lines are long but move quickly. They keep and travel well. Put one in the mini frig and take it home. Don't waste a meal on what is essentially a ham, salami, cheese sandwich with olive salad.

      Muriel's is just ok. Mr. B's bbq shrimp and gumbo ya ya are good. Go for lunch rather than dinner.

      August is good but not unlike anything you can get in NY.

      For more local flavor: Herbsaint, Brigtsen's (order a variety of app for the table to share), Dick and Jenny's, Galatoire's, Emeril's (andouille crusted red fish, monster pork chop, banana cream pie).

      Commander's brunch will give you a NOLA. experience. The Bloody Marys are very good. Try a milk punch as well. Turtle soup is the best in towm. The gumbo is excellent as well.

      Luke has a daily happy hour 3-6, oysters 1/2 shell 50 cents, 1/2 price libations. The service is somewhat slow, so order all your dozens at once.

      Be sure to try Abita draught (excellent local beer).

      Looking for a sandwich, try Cochon Butcher.

      Make your resv. asap. They are free and you can always cancel if your plans change.

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      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

      Herbsaint
      701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

      Cochon Butcher
      930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

      2 Replies
      1. re: JazzyB

        I've heard amazing things about Cochon Butcher but it sounded like there isn't much in the way of seating. Because we're such a large group we'd need somewhere that can accommodate all of us, especially if the weather is bad and we can't eat outside. We're doing a private cocktail tour Saturday afternoon in the FQ so we need to be somewhere nearby.

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        Cochon Butcher
        930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

        1. re: carrie2126

          Definitely fit Butcher into the schedule somewhere. It has seating inside, along a counter and at 4-6 high top tables, plus a long bench near the butcher case. You can squeeze together. Don't miss the food. I'd rather have a Gambino sandwich from Cochon over a muffelatta from Central Grocery any day (or from Napoleon House, for that matter).

          Cafe Beignet...forget it. Fried dough is fried dough. If you're not experiencing the historic location of Cafe du Monde, don't waste your time on beignets elsewhere. I'd go to Stanley instead of Cafe Beignet.

          Since you're in the quarter, mostly, make room for a little gelato from La Divina or a popsicle from Meltdown.

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

          Cochon
          930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

      2. Friday dinner: Mr. B's...great crab cakes
        Saturday breakfast/brunch: EAT, Eggs Tchoupitoulas or the Grits and Grillades will hold you through the afternoon. It is BYOL, so make a big Zing Zang Bloody Mary and walk on over.
        Saturday dinner: I love Muriel's. My favorite FQ restaurant is Irene's. You will have less of a problem with your crowd at Muriel's.
        Sunday brunch: agree with your choice of Commander's. Praline Parfait is my favorite dessert.
        Echo the sentiment that reservations are a must and make them NOW.

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        Eat Restaurant
        900 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116

        1. I made a reservation for Mr. B's Friday night, Saturday we'll have breakfast at the hotel, Muriels for lunch (still looking into other options but thought lunch on the Square might be nice), and dinner at Galatoires (is upstairs really that different than downstairs?) and Sunday brunch at Commanders.

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

          6 Replies
          1. re: carrie2126

            Carrie, if you want to eat in the Square, opt for Stanley! instead of Muriel's. Or at least look at the menu posted in the window before commiting to Muriel's.

            1. re: carrie2126

              As regards upstairs/downstairs at Galatoire's, the real deal is downstairs. Nothing wrong with upstairs and it might be better for some dinners (it can be much quieter) but if you want to see waht the place is about you really must be downstairs. Problem is that you'll need to dress up for dinner and so few (non-New Orleanians) want to do that nowadays.

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

              1. re: carrie2126

                galatoires downstairs is the ultimate new orleans experience. but if you are a large group then it may be hard to get seated.

                1. re: carrie2126

                  Upstairs at Galatoire's is not Galatoire' and Galatoire's is a must.

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

                  1. re: bhoward

                    Again, we're 14 people so waiting for a table at 8:00 on a Saturday night isn't an option. I'm sure downstairs is fabulous but waiting 2+ hours isn't going to happen.

                    1. re: carrie2126

                      I missed the "14 people" part of your post. With that size group I would not do Galatoire's on a Saturday night.

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

                2. I am so torn! Emerils, Mr B's, Galatoire's, Herbsaint, Cochon! They all sound so delicious. I've started making multiple reservations as I can't seem to decide. If you had 2 dinners, 1 lunch and 1 brunch to dine in New Orleans, where would it be??

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                  Cochon
                  930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

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

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

                  Herbsaint
                  701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: carrie2126

                    From your list, my choices for dinner: Herbsaint, Galatoire's (quinessential NOLA experience with ...great time, good, not great food). Emeril's standards of bbq shrimp, andouille crusted redfish and banana cream pie will not disappoint.

                    Lunch: Coquette or Mr. B's if you've never had bbq shrimp.
                    Brunch:Commander's

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

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

                    Herbsaint
                    701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                    1. re: JazzyB

                      Mr B's is great to sit at the bar and have the bbq shrimp etc. In order to get all the great New Orleans eating in a short trip you need to add happy hour grazing to your itinerary!

                      I was very disappointed in the Commander's Brunch, but it is a very festive, special atmosphere for sure.

                      @JazzyB ~ How is the Patois brunch? I love that place but I see they are not on Open Table right now? Coming back in November and would like to try their Sunday brunch. I've only been once but I loved Patois for Friday lunch -- one of my top NOLA Bistro experiences.

                      Also looking forward to Herbsaint, MILA, Vizard and Brigsten's for my next trip.

                      @2126 have a great trip -- try to fit in some happy hour grazing it is worth it!

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                      Herbsaint
                      701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

                      1. re: karendor

                        Of what you mentioned, avoid Vizard's, it's sunk like a rock of late. Not worthy of the others you cited.

                        1. re: sanglier

                          Thanks, sanglier, for that update. Love your descriptive phrasing of the demise. :) Wonder what's up?

                          I am hankering for Boucherie so will switch those out. Or maybe Dante's.

                          Any thoughts on brunch at Patois? Martinique's?

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                          Boucherie
                          8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                          1. re: karendor

                            Brunch at Patois is fantastic - very good food at what I think are great prices. I've been pleased with the specials and salads, and the lamb rib starter. The pork belly sandwich is the least good item on the brunch menu. I love the bright, cool decor as well, it's just perfect for brunch.

                          2. re: sanglier

                            Sanglier,
                            Can you tell me more about Vizard's? I'm considering trying it as the menu looks really good.

                          3. re: karendor

                            I am not a "brunch" person except when Emeril's opens early for Saints 3:00 home games. (more of a lunch menu.) I only dine at Patois for dinner and lunch. While their food is good, my preference is Coquette. Lilette is womderful for an all appetizer dinner with a bottle of prosecco. All apps at Brigtsen's will give you a good sampling of his best.

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

                            Lilette
                            3637 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115