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Mar 12, 2012 03:19 PM

NYC Foodie First Time (Birthday) Trip to New Orleans April 11-16

Hey everyone, I'm traveling to New Orleans for the first time for my 30th birthday on April 11-16. Staying at the W French Quarter. I'm a huge foodie and can think of no better city in which to celebrate. I've done a ton of research so far and have the following reservations:


Commanders Palace

I want at least one po' boy experience (probably more), a trip to a soul food place like Willie Mae's, and the obligatory trip to Cafe Du Monde.

My question is, how do you feel about the lineup? Should I add/subtract anything? I was thinking about adding another old school place like Galatoire's for lunch, but I will not be happy if it's good atmosphere with mediocre food. Also, I'm going with my girlfriend, who basically enjoys chicken and only chicken, and has already told me that since it's my bday, she will forgo the usual complaining about food and will go along for the ride.

I'm sure I'll think of more questions as the comments (hopefully) pour in, but would love to hear from some natives (and offer NYC restaurant advice if needed!!!)


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  1. I'd skip Cochon and go to Brigsten's.

    Lunch at Galatoire's would be fun and celebratory, and CP is awesome for lunch. other lunch places to consider: Coquette, MiLa, Boucherie, Cochon Butcher. Po-boys- I like Parkway, which is just up Canal Street on the streetcar (then go to Brocato's for sorbetto/ice and/or cannoli), but I've heard good things about Johnny's in the quarter.

    Willie Mae's is good- you may also want to consider Dookie Chase and Lil' Dizzy's.

    3 Replies
    1. re: noradeirdre

      Any reason Bristen's v. Cochon?

      Also, one of my favorite dishes in the world is fried chicken. I don't mind waiting on line for food. If you had one place with fantastic fried chicken to choose from, would it be Willie Mae's, Dookie, Dizzy's or someplace else?

      1. re: jammer9050

        I just think that Brigsten's is better food and better service. It's one of our favorite restaurants, a classic. Cochon is OK, but not worth blowing a dinner on (IMHO.) As said elsewhere in this thread, Herbsaint is a better example of Link's food with more memorable dishes.

        If you are a fried chicken connoisseur, then going to Willie Mae's is your best bet. It's very focused on the chicken and different than any other fried chicken I've had. It's good. (This is definitely a matter for much debate, which you will find if you search for fried chicken on these forums.)

        1. re: noradeirdre

          Definitely Willie Mae's. Dantes for chciken under a brick.

    2. Chicken and only chicken?!?

      Must be true love.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bukzin

        Oh believe me, it is. Non-foodieism has been a deal breaker in the past but for her I let it slide...

      2. There's nothing wrong with your lineup, but just in case, there are some fantastic chicken dishes at many restaurants around town. It sounds like you've already got fried chicken covered with Willie Mae's (or Lil' Dizzy's, which you could substitute - easier to get to and good fried chicken). Two others that spring immediately to mind are the chicken under a brick at Dante's Kitchen and the roasted chicken at Lilette - both are excellent. If you do choose to try Galatoire's, their chicken bonne femme is a classic. Also, one of my own birthday traditions is to have cocktails and chicken bonne femme in the bar at Tujague's.

        Cochon is a bust for someone who doesn't do pork or seafood. If I were you, I'd switch that out for somewhere with similar quality of food but something your girlfriend would enjoy as well, like Dante's or Lilette. Check out the menus.

        24 Replies
        1. re: uptownlibrarian

          Definitely appreciate the chicken dishes post (as does my girlfriend!). As for your comment re: Cochon, I was told by pretty much all friends that have visited NO recently that Cochon is a must. Although I do realize that it is very pork and seafood-centric, do you think I would really be missing out on something fantastic if we didn't go? Like I said before, gfriend will not mind going to restaurants just for me (especially if I stuff her with beignets beforehand :) ).

          1. re: jammer9050

            I like Cochon just fine, but I do not think you'd be missing out on something fantastic. Go online and compare the menus at Cochon and Herbsaint. The thing that Chef Link and his staff do best is house-made charcuterie, which is well represented on Herbsaint's menu (pancetta, guanciale, tasso, ham, etc.). The spaghetti with guanciale at Herbsaint is an excellent dish, in my opinion the single best dish in the Link restaurant family. My second favorite dish would be the oyster roast at Cochon though. I guess I think doing both places is a bit repetitive and of the two I'd pick Herbsaint.

            Having said that, for fried chicken, Cochon Butcher (right behind Cochon) does a KILLER fried chicken & biscuit on the brunch menu. I've had it twice and it was maybe the best fried chicken I've had recently. Maybe call ahead and check if they're doing it, and if so go there for brunch/lunch. Get another sandwich and a couple sides, and you're hitting like four birds (if you will) with one stone.

            1. re: uptownlibrarian

              I like this idea a lot. Now I need to pray that there's a still a res available at Brigsten's...

              1. re: uptownlibrarian

                I would also reccomend the chicken picata at Clancy's. Its great and Clancy's is one of our favorites.

              2. re: jammer9050

                Also it just occurred to me that the desserts are better at Herbsaint as well, if that's any kind of draw for you.

                1. re: uptownlibrarian

                  I second that. I have 4 words for you: Brown Butter Banana Tart. OMG, SAID THE CHOCOHOLIC!

                2. re: jammer9050

                  I am merely one diner but I was underwhelmed by Cochon. None of the food stood out and some was just kind of "meh." I was much more impressed with Dante's Kitchen (which is right across the street from Brigsten's) and The Green Goddess, which you don't have on your list. Very creative and unique.

                  1. re: kukubura

                    Hi Kukubura---Mausi here (we shared Vienna memories last year)
                    I read your entries and wife's blog about New Orleans restaurants. My question: Which restaurants did you not get to and wish you had ( or will in the future?) We love crawfish and all things Cajun! Going to Nola for 4 days in April

                    1. re: mausi7

                      Hi Mausi! Of course I remember it wel! New Orleans proper isn't really the place for cajun food specifically, which is Louisiana country food from the south and west of the city (to the best of my knowledge.) Cochon, which I mentioned above, is a cajun restaurant, but it's not that exciting, in my opinion. Folks on here have said that Bon Ton is cajun, but I haven't been. Creole is New Orleans city food, a mix of a lot of different influences. I am not the expert that some on here are, but New Orleans is my favorite city on earth (just edging out Vienna!) and you will have an amazing time. As for places I still want to get to, it's tough because obviously I cant vouch for them! That said, Elizabeth's is intriguing. I want to get to Willie Mae's for the fried chicken. There's a whole host of poboy shops that I haven't made it to. And I really wanted to wat at Casamento's for the oysters but it was PACKED when we got there and we were fading fast, so we needed to find someplace else.

                      1. re: kukubura

                        Thanks Kukubara. This is probably our 4th trip---but haven't been in the last 10 years. The last time we had a car, went to the bayous and stopped off for crawfish which were brought to the table on a huge tray--wow! Also had a blast at Mulate's.
                        So far, going to Mr. B's Bistro and The Three Muses---did all the obligatory eateries before. Though my husband wants to go back to K Paul's ---eh.
                        Is Brigstens worth the trip out of the Quarter?

                        1. re: mausi7

                          "Is Brigstens worth the trip out of the Quarter?"

                          Oh my, yes.

                          1. re: noradeirdre

                            It's worth crawling out there for :-)

                            1. re: noradeirdre

                              Don't forget Dante's Kitchen. On the same block as Brigsten's, so you probably want to pick one per trip, but it's also well worth the trip!

                            2. re: mausi7

                              Most of our best restaurants are not in the quarter.

                              1. re: JazzyB

                                Yeah, I was gonna say something along those lines. For the best food, you gotta leave the FQ.

                                1. re: noradeirdre

                                  On that note, because I'm staying in the FQ and at some points might find it convenient to have lunch there, what restaurants are worth it in the FQ?

                                2. re: JazzyB

                                  I think that I would have said, "MANY of the best restaurants are not in the Quarter," as I have some major favs, that ARE in the FQ, though that is certainly not where the good food area ends.

                                  Depending one which meals we're talking about, I would list maybe a dozen restaurants, in the FQ, that are near the top of my list.

                                  That, however, does not mean that ALL good restaurants are in the FQ, only some. Others are scattered about the great city. My favorite is probably in River Bend.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    I would love to see that list of FQ favorites!

                                      1. re: mausi7

                                        Though posted before, here is a "short list," and in no particular order:

                                        G W Fins
                                        Brennan's (brunch only for the last few years)
                                        K Paul's


                          2. From this discussion, did you want soul food or just fried chicken? If it is soul food then Lil Dizzy's, Two Sisters or even Cafe Reconcile would be better choices.

                            If it is chicken you've been given good options.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: collardman

                              Just to answer your question, ideally I'd like a good representation of soul food with outstanding fried chicken.

                            2. Does anyone have any suggestions for good BBQ? I've done a bit of research and have found very mixed reviews on NO BBQ. Anyone know anything about The Joint?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: jammer9050

                                The Joint's really pretty good. Their recent move into new digs is a big win--the food's the same and they've added a bar. A good choice if you're headed out to Vaughn's.

                                1. re: jammer9050

                                  BBQ's starting to make some headway here in New Orleans: to wit-

                                  The Joint is good, and there's a new guy who pops up for lunch at Dante's kitchen- McClure's BBQ. Also does dinner Tuesday nights. Worth heading uptown for.

                                  Soul food/fried chicken: I think your best bet is Willie Mae's, given your love for the stuff. It's unlike any other chicken you'll probably ever have.

                                  Crawfish: well, you can go to Big Fisherman on Magazine at Louisiana and get a few pounds to go, and go up to Audubon Park or somewhere else outdoors and eat it. I think Lucy's in the CBD on Tchoup does crawfish on Wednesdays...

                                  1. re: noradeirdre

                                    I also just remembered that Crescent Pie & Sausage has crawfish boils on Friday evenings, starting at 5pm. Great place in Mid City.

                                  2. re: jammer9050

                                    First, New Orleans is not known for BBQ, though there are some good spots.

                                    Though it is just up the River, you might find better in Memphis, if that is your style. If not, then Texas, Kansas or the Carolinas, would be more likely candidates.