New Orleans this weekend!
My boyfriend and I are heading to New Orleans this weekend (March 3 - 6)! His 26th birthday is Saturday night and I am overwhelmed by the amount of great restaurants to choose from. I would love to find a place that is dressy, but a trendy atmosphere and close distance to a fun jazz bar/ club to go afterwards! I made reservations at Mr. B's and Domenica, but thinking that one is too stuffy and one is too casual. Any suggestions for a fun restaurant and bar??
Thanks for your help!
Mr. B' s is neither trendy nor stuffy. Trendy, good food and bar: Coquette, corner of Magazine/Washington. The chef recently opened Sweet Olive on Canal, located in the new Saint Hotel.
I'd choose a Stolzfus venue ove Mr. B's everytime.
OK, I can understand what you mean there.
Here are my "must-do" romantic restaurants, and they are not THAT far from good jazz venues, in the FQ:
Ultimate splurge - Grill Room at the Windsor Court - quite, dressy, and polished, plus high on romance.
The Rib Room in the Omni Royal Orleans - dressy, elegant, and IN the FQ.
Stella! - old South meets New Orleans (they ARE different), and more toward the back of the FQ.
Bayona - the patio is about as "romantic," as it comes.
I cannot imagine going too far wrong with any of those.
I do agree, that with the great restaurants in NOLA, it is not an easy task. So very many are just excellent. However, some are more "romantic," than are some others. That does not reflect negatively on the food, which is almost always great, but on the "total package."
For a fun bar, then I would mention:
The Carousal Bar at the Hotel Monteleone
Hermes Bar at Arnaud's (can be very romantic at Arnaud's too)
Others can help you with the music venues.
Most of all, enjoy!
The Davenport Lounge in the Ritz-Carlton perhaps?
Or if you're more in the mood for a scene, Frenchmen St. where there are a handful of very good music venues. Late night tacos can be found in the back of Cafe Negril.
Depending on the calendar, Sweet Lorraine's on St. Claude is an interesting place and feels to me like an old school jazz club: people dressed up, men in hats, lots of martinis, and usually a pretty good show. Because of its location (and perhaps aided by the fact they charge a cover) I've never seen the place overrun with tourists. Although I walk here and have never had an issue my recommendation would be to take a cab, it's in kind of a transitional neighborhood. These folks have a dinner service but I've never tried it.
Depending on what you're looking for, the Hi Lo, Allways, and Saturn Bar on St. Claude usually have something interesting going on (and the HiLo often has BBQ out front if you're still hungry). You'd have to take a cab to Saturn but the other two are walkable (take Royal to Elysian to St. Claude); take a United cab if you're visibly unsteady on your feet, they come quickly and know their way around.
Galatoire's is my favorite. Here's a few clubs on Frenchmen.
DBA @ 618 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA 504 = 942 – 3731.
Spotted Cat @ 623 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA 504 – 943 – 3887.
Blue Nile @ 532 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA 504 – 948 – 2583.
Apple Barrel Bar @ 609 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA 504 – 949 – 9399.
Three Muses @ 536 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA 504 – 298 – 8746.
Sweet Lorraine's Jazz Club @ 1931 Saint Claude Ave., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 945 - 9654.
Royal Street Inn and R Bar @ 1431 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 504 - 948 - 7499.
Snugg Harbor Jazz Bistro @ 626 Frenchmen St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 949 - 0696.
Maison @ 508 Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, LA 504 – 371 – 5543.
Well, "trendy atmosphere" might not quite fit in.
New Orleans restaurants are not really big on "trendy," and the best that I can come up with, along those lines, would be MiLa, but much of that would be the architecture, and less the service, or the food.
When I think of "trendy," I think of restaurants, such as The Slanted Door in San Francisco (which is not THAT good).
NOLA is a bit less "trendy," than many cities in the US, but with great food to back things up wonderfully.
Galatoire's is anything BUT "trendy." Actually, it is the anthesis of "trendy," but offers great food, service, and a real sense of New Orleans. No, NOLA is not THAT "trendy." They are more focused on great food, and excellent service.
I'm not sure that *I* find Mr. B's "fun" ... but my idea of fun might be way out of kilter. If you were to ask me where I'd go that was dressy, trendy(-ish), and nearby, I'd start thinking about fun bars to sit and eat at. When you're at the bar you meet people, get recommendations from the bartender, and can pace a meal the way you want. It's also easier to share meals at the bar (why order two big dinners when three or four small plates would be more interesting?).
Along those lines, the bars at both Cochon and Herbsaint are fabulous and friendly, the food's excellent, and both serve interesting cocktails. Emeril's bar can be a lot of fun (their food bar is a memorable time as is Cochon's food bar back by the kitchen). I've also had a few excellent meals at the Meauxbar Bistro's bar. It's small but the staff are outstanding.
Sitting at a table is (for me) usually more about who I'm eating with than everything else that's going on. There's also the talent of the waitstaff to take into account: a good waiter will adapt himself to your mood. I find that ordering up a bottle of something sparkling (if you go to a good restaurant it can be the cheap stuff) before picking up the food menu sets the right tone. (And I like bubbly wine, so there's that.)
So the Green Goddess (with their excellent wine list and good--but sometimes too cold--cheeses) is always a win, although they don't accept reservations (but they do have a bacon sundae, that makes up for a lot of sins). Irene's (on St. Philip) has always been an engaging place for us; I'm not sure if their waitstaff is all very good or if I've been lucky but the meals I've had there have always left me wanting to go back. A little further out of town (read: take a cab) is Cafe Degas on Esplanade. They serve excellent French food in an atmosphere that seems like it should be stuffy but never is, always an interesting juxtaposition. The bar there is a four seater making scoring a seat difficult but if you can, do.
If it were me, I'd aim for a beer or two at Vic's Kangaroo Bar or Lucy's (or both), toddle down to the bar (or a table, depending on the crowds) at Herbsaint or Cochon, hop a cab to the Balcony Music Club (Decatur & Esplanade) and walk from there down Frenchmen, taking in the scene.
Alternatively (and leaving out the cab), a pre-dinner cocktail at Bar Tonique and dinner at Meauxbar, wander down to Lafitte's Blacksmith shop for a post-dinner drink (tacky, I know, but it's an okay place), down Royal to the R-Bar for a drink, then over to Frenchmen.
One thing to note: it's New Orleans ... you can be dressed up anywhere and it's cool. I recently sat next to a guy at the Friendly Lounge (in the Marigny) who was wearing a horse's head. Nobody commented on that. Similarly, suits, tuxes, gowns (on both women and men...), and silver body paint are appreciated but go without snarky remarks.
I'm sure there will be disagreement with these choices. My real advice is to not over think it. The first time I visited NO we went to all the hip places: Emeril's, Mr. B.'s, Irene's, Bayona, Peristyle, and so on. The place that was most memorable all these years later was the bar at the Napoleon House with Pimm's Cups and Muffs. You can't predict that kind of thing.