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Visiting from LA (Los Angeles, that is!) Inexpensive French Quarter dinner for a group of 20-25?

Hi NOLA 'hounds.

I need your help!

I'm helping to organize a dinner for about 25 graduate students who are in town for a convention. We're visiting the first week of December.

Here's the criteria:

- This is for a Saturday night dinner at 6pm. We will need to be near Lafitte's Blacksmith at 8pm for a walking tour, so the restaurant shouldn't be too far away.
- This should be relatively inexpensive- think $20 or under for entrees (they're students, after all)
- Cajun!
- Must be able to accommodate a group of up to 25
- GREAT food

I keep coming back to Napoleon House, since they're not too far from Laffite's and although it's not exclusively a Cajun restaurant, there are several Cajun items on the menu and it seems quite affordable. However, I have no idea how well NH could accommodate our group and I welcome any insight.

What other suggestions would you have to fit our criteria?

Many thanks! Very excited to visit your city, as this is my first time.

Mr Taster

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

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  1. I don't consider the Nap House to be remotely Cajun...although they have boudin on the menu. The problem you're going to have is that most places in town will make a superficial nod towards cajun (as in the boudin or maybe a crawfish etouffee). K-Paul's will give you what you are looking for but his dinner prices are too steep..the smaller lunch menu would work if you could re-arrange your schedule. Cochon might work but it is a hike (although it is do-able).
    I know I am forgetting something. I never really bother with Cajun in the City, preferring to do it at home or when I am out in Acadiana.

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    Cochon
    930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    10 Replies
    1. re: hazelhurst

      I am a total newbie when it comes to Cajun and Creole food, so bear with me.

      Unfortunately, Cochon cannot accommodate a group this large, and their party room reservations require a minimum of 40 people.

      I've got a call in with Napoleon House. Will let you know how that goes.

      K-Paul's is definitely out of budget for this group. We cannot reorganize the schedule because lunchtime the students will be at the convention.

      I've looked at Gumbo Shop- I see some very mixed opinions about the place. Also, the sign says "Creole" not Cajun. I know there's a difference in tradition and ethnicity, but I don't really know what they are. This interesting article helps to clarify a little:

      http://www.tabasco.com/taste_tent/men...

      I've been looking also at the oyster houses-- Felix's and Acme. Not sure if either is appropriate for a group of 20-25.

      Any other input is greatly appreciated.

      Mr Taster

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

      Cochon
      930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

      1. re: Mr Taster

        I think the recommendation of Gumbo Shoppe is a pretty good one under these circumstances. I have taken out-of-towners there who were on a short schedule (and therefore not up for my customary three + hour lunches) and it has been perfectly satisfactory but it IS mostly touristy in my opinion.

        "Creole" is what gave New Orleans its food reputation and it has variants, such as the so-called "haute creole" that Commander's invented about thirty years ago. The surge of interest in Cajun Country caused many New Orleans places to, as I noted, give nods in that direction. There are, as the article you attached notes, similarities but there are amrked differences. Grillades in new Orleans is completely different from grillades in St. Martinville.

        If you are more interested in the Creole aspect, there are more options but many of the old, little places have vanished, others have made changes to appeal to what the diner thinks he is looking for. I'm trying to think of a place that would fit your price point...I'm blocking out something out I know. Something like GW Fins is over the $20 and is good but gimmicky.

        I've reached the point in my life where I can think of a dozen or more places that would be perfect BUT they are all gone today. That's no help.

        1. re: hazelhurst

          Thanks for this, Hazelhurst.

          I just called Felix's. They do not have a problem accommodating our group with reservations on a Saturday night. They seem to have a traditional Cajun menu, a full bar, and a great price point. Looks like an easy 10 minute walk down Bourbon street to our destination.

          Am I missing the downside here? Felix's is sounding pretty good right now.

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            Anyone older than 50 can recall the Acme v. Felix's argument bouncing back and forth, coming down on one side or the other at least a dozen times. It's a favorite parlor game. (Once, in college, we took a gang down and started ant Acme, staggered across teh street to Felix's..that was just raw oyster night and Acme won that one, for me, but truth is Felix's was fine, just not as salty.) I don't know how their turtle soup is...maybe someone else out there can chime in. The menu is fairly basic stuff. I really only go when I want a dozen freshly shucked oysters before dinner elsewhere in the Quarter. I've really heard no complaints at all of late.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              Agree totally, other than Oysters Felix is a big letdown, but those Oysters are great.

          2. re: hazelhurst

            Hazelhurst,

            Did you find reference to $20/person? I looked, but then, I did declare Wine-Thirty over an hour ago, so maybe that accounts for it.

            I do agree with G W Fins, provided that the price is not too high. They are above $20 per main, but not by THAT much.

            Hunt

            PS - Did Wilton's again, passed on the flounder (the Brits know sole, but not flounder), and the meal was great. Thanks for that rec.

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Bill

              I figured that GW Fins would not break the budget by too much and would give a broader range (with the now-mandatory "twist") than Felix but I don't think, for a mob that size and the time constraints, that Felix's would be a bad choice. My only problem with Fins is the reaching too far (for me) of such things as pumpkin-seed crusted fish.

              Glad Wilton's came up to speed. Their boullion is comme-il-faut and the game is always excellent. Terrific oysters, too. Last trip I practically ran there to escape the goddamn trendy crud that had infested Canterbury.

              1. re: hazelhurst

                One in our group had the oysters at Wilton's (a mixed bag of six), and enjoyed them. They were great, on all counts, though I did not test the flounder again - been there - done that.

                Felix's would be within the price range, but I would worry about the seating, but that would depend on how busy they were. You know how I feel about it - I am from the half of the family, that always went to Felix's, while the other half was across the street. [Grin]

                Hunt

              2. re: Bill Hunt

                "This should be relatively inexpensive- think $20 or under for entrees (they're students, after all)"

                1. re: TaTee

                  Hm-m, from their current menu: http://www.gwfins.com/nola/dailymenu/ it appears that they have two entrees just over US $ 20, and most of the rest are but a few $'s above that.

                  Maybe I missed something important?

                  Hunt

        2. The Gumbo Shop would work for a group that size and budget.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ezron

            Just called the Gumbo Shop.

            They do not take reservations on weekends. He advised us to arrive extremely early when the dining room is empty, around 5:00 or 5:30.

            I'm finding that many of the restaurants (the ones in our budget range) will not take reservations. That puts us in the peculiar situation of not having enough people to reserve a party room (as with Cochon) but too many people to be accommodated in the general dining rooms.

            Tricky.

            Mr Taster

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

          2. http://eatnola.com/faq/

            Check out Eat. I haven't eaten there or heard much, but it has your menu, location, cost, and will seat your size group.

            1 Reply
            1. re: collardman

              Collardman beat me to it...so I will second the suggestion for EAT. It is BYOL, so that ought to help out the budget. Yall would probably take up one of their rooms, so call now and make a reservation.
              Do not ask to all be seated at one table...just one room...much easier for conversation and the servers.

              -----
              Eat Restaurant
              900 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116

            2. Mr. Taster,

              Maybe I missed it, but did not see an actual budget.

              I would look into G W Fins (if the budget is OK), as they are a short walking distance from your tour. They have a private room, but I cannot recall the seating. We used it for 14, and there was plenty of room, but you are talking quite a few more. Call, and ask.

              They feature local seafood, with several "local" preps. Some of those preps do trace back to Cajun cuisine. As others have mentioned, there are some notable differences between New Orleans Cuisine, and Cajun, though some Cajun influences DO come through. In very general terms, New Orleans Cuisine is more rooted in Creole, but that can be very, very broad. It differs from Cajun, at a pure standpoint, but as mentioned, some Cajun influences HAVE crept into many New Orleans recipes, and treatments. Guess that it depends on the chef, and on the culinary historian, to get to the bottom of that. Still, for an enjoyable dining trip, it is not that important. It's about the food on your plate, at that moment. If local seafood works, and with several different "local" preps, the room is large enough, and the budget right, then G W Fins would be my rec.

              Enjoy,

              Hunt

              1. Mr Taster

                FWIW--I think that the Gumbo Shop would have the foods that many rightly or wrongly consider "cajun" (gumbos, etoufee, blackened fish etc)

                2 Replies
                1. re: ezron

                  I understand... but doesn't Felix's offer similar fare? My primary concern is that the food is great, and Felix's seems to be universally loved whereas there's some division about Gumbo Shop.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    FWIW
                    I too am a fan of Felixs......but only for the oysters