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Dec 26, 2011 10:02 AM

Love food - seeking out low key 'local' favourites

Coming from the UK for 7 nights early January. Can't wait. Aside from drooling over cajun and creole cook books, my only experience of actually eating someone else's cuisine of this type is during a NYC work trip and having a really bad gumbo.

We eat anything and when travelling, prefer to eat where the locals eat/hole in the wall type places. I know that New Orleans is full of tourists (like us) but could anyone be kind enough to point us in the right direction. Best place for a jazz brunch, blackened catfish, po-boys, bbq, turtle soup and more!

We honestly love everything but my husband especially loves anything seafood/fish related. I also own a cafe/coffee shop so would love to know where to find the best espresso in town.

Any recommendations gratefully received. Thanks. x

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  1. One of the interesting aspects of dining in NOLA, is that locals and tourists are often side-by-side. That tourists frequent a particular restaurant is not a bad thing. While there ARE "tourist traps" in NOLA, they are not so frequent, as in other cities.

    Two, rather "local" restaurants are Parkway Bakery & Tavern, and then Charlie's Seafood, out in the Parish (Jefferson), in Harahan, about 20 miles from Downtown, but still in Metro-NOLA. Both also cater to tourists, and often because of boards, like this one. Still, they ARE off the beaten path.

    For many others, such as G W Fins, it will likely be a mix of locals and tourists, which is not a bad thing.

    Though I grew up near-by, and lived in NOLA for 10 years (wife is a NOLA native), I am now a tourist, but try not to let anyone know.

    Though I keep a flat in Mayfair (Curzon St.), when I dine there, I am but a tourist, even at restaurants, like Wilton's, with is more local, than the average Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

    For "blackened fish," I would suggest K-Paul's, but it does attract more tourists. Still, it is rather the "home" of the dishes, so may as well go "to the source."

    Most of all, enjoy,


    1. There’s a dive bar in the Quarter called Coop’s that has good jambalaya, red beans, fried chicken and other local favorites. I like the espresso at Rue de la Course the best. Skip the BBQ for another city. If you want one great dress up meal, go to Commander’s Palace and get the turtle soup there. And as many people here recommend, go to Mr. B’s for bbq shrimp and gumbo ya ya.

      1. For an off-the-beaten-path coffee shop that is as welcoming as your neighbo(u)r's kitchen, try First Cup Cafe just (1 1/2 blocks) lakeside (think 'north') of Claiborne Ave. on Calhoun St. Put your well-being into Mo's hands and all will be well.

        1. The first "hole in the wall" that comes to mind nowadays is Jack Dempseys and it has good local stuff. It is down by the Industrial Canal...it is a daytime spot. Mandina's on Canal is a neighborhood joint but the "feel" of it is not the same since Katrina. Otherwise, nothing wrong with it. Commanders is your jazz brunch spot and also your turtle soup mecca. I think Casamento's should be on your list for things oyster-ish. The best shrimp remoulade and troute meuniere are at Galatoire's. Many of the newer places ar doing the presently de rigeur stuff with gastriques, various amuses, and all the other achingly earnest and dazzlingly executed bits of frou-frou. Like fins on cars, we fondly hope that this, too, shall pass.

          1. Although I'm not about to claim "best espresso in town" at any of these, there are a few worthwhile cafes in the Marigny. Among them: the Cake Cafe (which serves up a killer breakfast and lunch, the coffee is okay but not fabulous), the Orange Couch (sleek and modern, I've never had the food but like the coffee), Flora (great for people watching), and so on.

            On Frenchmen St. (and do go to Frenchmen to see the music), there's the Praline Connection ... they bill themselves as "Creole Soul Food" and I think that's a fair description. At any rate, maybe a little touristy but the food is solid. I think the PC is a good choice for lunch.

            If you have a BBQ hankering, take a cab out to the Joint on Poland Ave. For all the "there's no good BBQ in New Orleans" prose that you'll read here and elsewhere, they do up a pretty mean BBQ. (I don't understand why this place doesn't get the nod more often ... other than being a little off the beaten path it's better than average even if it's not the very best BBQ anywhere. I'm not from North Carolina or Kansas City though, perhaps I'm just way undereducated on smoked meat...) While you're out at the end of the Bywater, there's also the option of buying a bottle of wine from Bacchanal (and potentially sitting in their courtyard to enjoy it) or heading a block down to Vaughn's to see the evening's entertainment. Take a cab, it's a hike.

            A couple of places in the Quarter that I like to recommend are Eat (on Dumaine St. ... it's BYOB so bring a bottle of wine with you) and the Green Goddess. Both are smallish casual places and very enjoyable. The wine selection at the GG is well chosen ... it's rare we don't go through a couple of bottles.