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First trip to NO with the hubby and a dumb, dumb question about Galatoire's

Greetings, all. My husband and I are taking our first trip to NO together at the end of September (we've been there individually on business trips). Based on my research and the fabulous advice on this board, here is our itinerary as it currently stands:

Thursday - (L) Mr. B's, (D) Galatoire's
Friday - (B) Cafe du Monde, (L) Cochon Butcher, (D) Brigsten
Saturday - (B) TBD, (L) Wherever we can find a fantastic oyster po'boy, recs appreciated, (D) Herbsaint
Sunday - (Br) Commander's Palace

Any alternative suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, hubby and I like casual, moderately priced places with fabulous food and drink. I know that we have some pricey options slated (it's his 50th birthday), but if you feel that we could get an awesome NO experience somewhere else, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Ok, here comes the dumb-donkey question...at Galatoire's, do you actually "stand" in line? I ask because hubby had back surgery in December and he has trouble standing in one place for long periods of time. We don't want to sit upstairs (if we do this, we're going all the way) and we want to do dinner. Is there a bar where patrons wait to be seated? Is it better to get there at 5pm to minimize the wait? What, do you believe, are the best strategies to accomplish our goal of getting a downstairs table, for dinner, without hopping the hub full of painkillers? ;o)

Thanks!

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

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

Herbsaint
701 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

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  1. The line is hit-or-miss but on Saturday, barring some convetion in town, you should be alright getting there around 5:00. Or go earlier if you want to. There is a small bar upstairs that you can reach by the elevator in the back or the stairs up front. If there IS a line, they will be happy to bring out a chair for him. But i can't imagine on Saturday that you'd have trouble at 5:00. 7:00? Possibly.

    1. It's not a dumb question, it's just that for some reason the mystique of the Galatoire's experience has become hyped (on this board and elsewhere) to the point that visitors tend to overthink their plans for visiting there. On a regular old Thursday night in September, there won't even be a line. If you go and want to eat downstairs but there are no tables available, they'll send you up to the bar to wait, they won't make you wait outside. However, it's more likely that you'll be able to just walk in. If you are really concerned, go over earlier in the afternoon and ask the girl at the door whether it looks like it's going to be busy that night and when she thinks you should arrive to avoid a wait.

      The line-waiting business really only happens on Fridays for lunch and even then it's only a big deal maybe a dozen times a year, maybe not even that.

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

      1 Reply
      1. re: uptownlibrarian

        While it is perfectly clear in the post, for some reason I had twisted in my mind that she was looking at Saturday...not enough caffeine yet, I suppose. You are right about Thursday but, as you know, you sometimes get a swarm of people from their offices who drift on over after work. Not as much as it was in the 1970's and 1980's but it still happens.

      2. Casamento's for a great oyster poboy.

        I've NEVER had to wait for a table downstairs at Galatoire's at lunch during the week, not even on Friday. For two people, you will likely be seated right away.

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        Casamento's Restaurant
        4330 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115

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

        1. Another silly question to add to this one...

          I made OpenTable.com reservations for Galatoire's for 9pm on a Wednesday night in October. Should I just cancel those and plan on showing up around 7ish? (They didn't have any reservations available between 6pm and 9pm...so I just assumed they were really busy).

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

          6 Replies
          1. re: Craenor

            That is your call.

            Reservations secure a seating, though upstairs. Standing in line should secure downstairs, but it can depend on the crowd in front of you.

            We now most often do reservations, as we have guests, and often time frames.

            The food, and the service (unless you have a family server, who only works downstairs) are great upstairs, and for dinner, there is less of a "tableaux" going on in the dining room downstairs, so less "show to see." I have never regretted being upstairs, and have always been seated in a punctual fashion. Some would never dine upstairs, and insist that everything is better downstairs. In my experience, other than the "show," there are no differences, that I can detect.

            Enjoy,

            Hunt

              1. re: kevin

                Depends upon the crowd, but there ALWAYS is one . . .

                1. re: zin1953

                  Thanks for the suggestions. We wound up going to Galatoire's for lunch on Friday. Since there were only 2 of us, we didn't have much trouble getting a table. We showed up about 11:15. They begin seating downstairs at 11:30 and we were sat by 11:40.

                  The whole meal was fantastic and yes, it was a serious spectacle. Such a fun collection of humanity.

                  The fried softshell crab with meuniere aumadine sauce was phenomenal.

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

                  1. re: Craenor

                    what did you have? And when you sat down at 1140 did you stay until the evening or dinner crowd?

                    is that usually how friday lunches work?

                    and what drinks did you have and how much was the cost per person total?

                    thanks

                    1. re: kevin

                      Let's see. We each had one Blood Mary, then switched to Iced Tea. My wife also had a coffee.

                      We had the appetizer version of fried softshell crab with meuniere aumadine sauce, which we split.

                      Then I had the duck & andouille gumbo and she had turtle soup, a cup.

                      Then we split the sauteed lemonfish with shrimp etoufee on top.

                      Finally I had the black bottom pecan pie and she had raspberry sorbet.

                      The bill came to about $110 total, but I tipped heavily for remarkably great service, so it totalled out to about $140ish. So $70 a piece.

                      Edit: No, we didn't stick around too long. We took maybe 90 minutes, taking our time between courses. But plenty of the tables that sat when we did were still occupied and showed no signs of clearing out. Others left before us or were leaving soon by appearances.

          2. When you go, make sure you sit downstairs, which doesn't take reservations. Upstairs does, but it doesn't have the same ambiance. While there is no line to stand in, if you get there at a busy time you may have to wait upstairs at the bar, which does have a few seats. In my opinion though, what makes Galatoire's Galatoire's is a Friday afternoon lunch. Doors open at 11 or 11:30. Get there early, put your name on the list, drink away the back pain upstairs, then when they come to get you, relish in all the wonderment that is a Friday lunch downstairs. Last time I was there a 7 piece jazz band came in and walked around all the tables, playing for over 10 minutes. Most of the restaurant-goers joined in behind them in a second line. You don't get that kind of action at dinner.

            -Patrick
            www.theculinaryquest.blogspot.com

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

            3 Replies
            1. re: theculinaryquest

              I thought downstairs took reservations over the phone, but just not on opentable?

              1. re: steakrules85

                Unless things have changed drastically, and very recently, upstairs takes reservations, but downstairs is "in line" only.

                Enjoy,

                Hunt

              2. re: theculinaryquest

                That sounds great-- sadly on our first trip to NO we're arriving late Friday evening and leaving Monday late afternoon for a convention. Given those parameters, what meal would you suggest we go to for the full Galatoire's experience? Sunday brunch?

                Also, with a 10:45pm arrival on Friday night around the convention center, what would you recommend for a late bite?

                Mr Taster

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

              3. I moved out of new orleans in 04, but I lived in the quarter for about 6 years. Needless to say I saw lots of crazy things living in the quarter, but no matter how many times I saw it, seeing homeless people camped out in front of galatoires holding places for people on Friday mornings never really ceased to make me shake my head.

                1. The real bargain in nola are the fine dining restaurants. They are far less expensive than in other major cities. Many have terrific lunch specials, 3 courses around $20. Cocktails are also less expensive.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: JazzyB

                    The "bargain" point is a very good one. While the lower-tier restaurants are great, the bargains come in that upper-tier, and should never be missed. Excellent!

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      really? it seems like joints like brigtsens and say commander's palace and herbsaint are just as expensive as fine dining in other major cities such as ny, sf, la, chitown, etc

                  2. I think the big thing is that you must go to Galatoires Friday afternoon for lunch.. Something about Friday afternoon's is special.. The place is a buzz.. Friday afternoon at Galatoires, no better place to be..

                    I know people might think it's a tourist trap but, the best blackened fish I have ever had is at K Paul's.. I think it's a must if you think you like blackened things.. Get the grouper..

                    Liuzza's has the best BBQ Shrimp I have ever had.. That place is a real amazing time..

                    Willie Mae's Scotch House is the absolute best fried chicken in the entire world.. I think it's a must as well..

                    Commander's Palace, eh, no biggie... Never been to Brigsten..

                    Lot's of good places to get Po Boy's.. Commander's Palace is a schlep and it's ok.. Never been to Couchon Butcher but, been to Couchon many times.. That place should be on your list too.

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                    Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar
                    3636 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70119

                    Willie Mae's Scotch House
                    2401 Saint Ann St, New Orleans, LA 70119

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

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

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Daniel76

                      Based on the advice here, I've canceled my Open Table reservation and the wife and I are just going to have lunch at Galatoire's on Friday. :)

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

                      1. re: Daniel76

                        Daniel, Commander's Palace and Willie Mae's aren't in the same leaguee. We're talking fine dining and just eating. Popeyes' chicken is much better tasting abd more consistant.

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

                        1. re: speyerer

                          "Popeyes' chicken is much better tasting and more consistant."

                          I must be misunderstanding you if you are suggesting popeye's chicken over willie mae's chicken. Willie Mae's is considered among the best places in the US for fried chicken.

                      2. Thanks to all the NOLA 'hounds for your suggestions and guidance! We did go to Galatoire's for Friday lunch and it was easily the highlight of our trip. I wasn't wild about our waiter, but the atmosphere and food were incredible. We got there at 10:15 and were, I'd say, about 10th in line. The bar area and the people we met were amazing...I'm actually sorry that we had to leave at 11:30. I wouldn't have minded hanging out a little longer.

                        I got the turtle soup and grilled pompano with crabmeat. My husband got the sweetbreads and I can't remember what for his main course. Honestly, I would have forgotten anything when compared with that pompano. It was *that* good. The sweetbreads were amongst the best we've ever had.

                        We changed some of our plans on the fly, but did manage to get to Mr. B's and Brigtsen's. The BBQ shrimp at Mr. B's were great, even if they were God awful messy to eat. We also had duck spring rolls and ya-ya, which didn't disappoint. Brigtsen's, while good, wasn't all that I hoped it would be. We were disappointed in the shell beach diet...the stuffed oysters (?) served in aluminum tins were heavy and the stuffing completely obscured whatever oysters were in there. The shrimp cornbread was outstanding, but not enough to save the plate. I had paneed rabbit, which I expected to be thinner and lighter. It was surprisingly thick and heavily coated with cornmeal. Again, the preparation was too heavy for the main ingredient to shine through.

                        We cancelled our reservations at Herbsaint in favor of something more casual and a little less expensive. We ended up at The Three Muses on Frenchmen Street for small plates and good music. The drinks were great (who wouldn't love a French 75 served in a Ball jar?), the atmosphere fun, and the food very, very good. Herbsaint is still on our bucket list, but we weren't at all sorry that we changed our plans.

                        Our one regret was cancelling Commander's Palace. We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at Cafe Beignet and were really happy to sleep in on Sunday, but I keep thinking about that enticing brunch menu. Ah well...next time.

                        Thank you again for all your help!

                        -----
                        Commander's Palace Restaurant
                        1403 Washington Ave, 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

                        Three Muses
                        536 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Christina D

                          Just out of curiosity, who was your waiter at Galatoire's?

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

                          1. re: hazelhurst

                            Homer. We were there to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday...Homer started at Galatoire's the year before he was born. He was nice enough (I guess), but brusque with little personality and *very* shaky hands. :o\

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

                            1. re: Christina D

                              Homer is an old favorite...but he's known me since I was a kid. He really does have a good sense of humor but I can see what you mean. He like to gripe about the "changes" over the years but so do we all. His brother-in-law, the late great Louis LaFleur, was also fun. The pair of them sitting in the corner were fun to listen to. Next time, if you get him again, chat him up.

                          2. re: Christina D

                            Nice report. Sounds like a great trip. I'm planning one now too and Brigsten's is tentatively on the list. I see such a mix of opinions.

                            Commander's is really something special, however. Next time!