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Mar 15, 2012 11:50 AM

Nawlins Trip Advice


I am planning a trip to the Crescent City in early June. I would love feedback from all you knowledgeable folks on the following itinerary (tentatively scheduled for 5 nights) as well as any specific menu recommendations. I have only been to your amazing city once before and will note what items on my plan are repeats with an *. I'm breaking it down into breakfast, lunch and dinner options plus places I wanted to grab a drink (or 4).

Other specs: I'll be a solo dinner almost exclusively, I'd rather not spend more than $20 for any one lunch and no more than $45 for any one dinner (with the exception of my lunch at Commander's Palace and a dinner at Galatoire's/Antoine's), and dinner places that take reservations are preferred (I am not a patient man when hungry).

Breakfast Choices (probably won't be daily since I won't always be up that early)

- *Cafe du Monde: for a Vieux Carre commencement to my trip and charge of cafe au lait/beignets
- Surrey's: it's near where I plan on staying, is it worth a stop?
- Refuel Cafe or Camelia Grill: which one would be better before a stroll through Audubon Park?
- Stanley: for a possible brunch
- *Ruby Slipper Cafe: don't remember it being so great, any contrary opinions?

Lunch Choices

- *Commander's Palace: I'm a sucker for two-bits martinis...and amazing food
- Muffaleta: went to *Central Grocery last time, but it seems many on this board prefer Frank's, or even Napoleon House for a non-traditional warm version
- Po Boys: leaning towards either Parkway (don't they close some random weekday like Wednesday?) or Domilise's (or both!), unless someone persuades me otherwise
- Dunbar's Creole Cooking: they are only open during school hours correct?
- Cafe Reconcile: love the purpose and the prices
- Willie Mae's: the sine qua non of fried chicken, right?


- *Mr. B's: Does any other place compete for BBQ Shrimp?
- Galatoire's: Is this a must for a classic NOLA Friday night? or would I be better off at...
- Antoine's: for even more history?
- *Brigtsen's: Loved the duck last time, but some people seem to prefer...
- Upperline: even more. Thoughts?
- Cocquette or Herbsaint?: for more modern-influenced fare
- Jacques-Imo's or Atchafalya: for one more casual dinner


-Tujagues: supposedly the best Sazerac around
- Bar Tonique: quality cocktails
- Bar unCommon: same
- Carousel Bar: unique atmosphere
- French 75: is the bartender really the star?
- Mid-City Yacht Club: worth the trek?
- One night pounding shots/beers at Spotted Cat or Snug Harbor

Lastly, is there anything you find missing from my above lists that is a "cant-miss" in your opinion?

Much thanks in advance for all your input.

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  1. I think Surrey's is well worth it. If you want roast beef poboy I would avoid Domilise's.

    As far as Mid City Yacht club, I only know it from my days of playing softball at St Patricks playground across the street before it was turned into the current bar. At the time it was a dump and all I know about it now is it is a good little neighborhood bar.

    23 Replies
    1. re: roro1831

      Is there any other po boy you would recommend at Domilise? For example, I understand that the shrimp po boy is highly rated at Parkway.

      Where would you go for a roast beef po boy?

      1. re: ndukka562

        I don't like seafood poboys as I prefer my seafood either raw or boiled as opposed to fried. I am not a fan of the bbq shrimp poboy at Liuzza's By the Track. I have only ever had the roast beef at Domilise's.

        I typically am a roast beef poboy person only, and my favorites are the roast beef poboy at R&O's in Bucktown, or the R&O Special. I also like Parkway. Guy's poboys on Magazine has, or used to have a realaly good pork chop poboy.

        1. re: ndukka562

          I would go to Parkway for the roast beef. Shrimp's good too. Or you can do the surf & turf, fried shrimp and RB with gravy.

            1. re: ndukka562

              Far from amazing unless you like soggy fried shrimp.

              1. re: JazzyB

                I think you may be right. More likely to do the roast beef at Parkway and the shrimp at Johnny's.

                1. re: ndukka562

                  I think I would so the other way around.

                  1. re: expatorleanian

                    Really? The consensus seems to be that Parkway has the best roast beef and Johnny's the best shrimp. Is that way off?

                        1. re: expatorleanian

                          johnnys is not know for its RB, while parkway is. I really like the shrimp at both.

                          1. re: kibbles

                            What difference does it make if they are "known for it "or not, if it's good. Just my 2 cents, but Parkways RB is not very good.

                            1. re: JazzyB

                              because what I'm getting at is i don't think Johnny's RB is all that, where's Parkway's is. imo they're known for it because it's very good. I wouldn't "use up" a roast beef slot on Johnny's... far better options out there when it comes to roast beef.

                              1. re: kibbles

                                Really, I can't figure out the attraction to Parkways's RB. Not much flavor and a soggy mess. I've had better elsewhere. OTOH, their shrimp is my favorite (since the demise of Brunings). On another noter note; can't wait for Chef Duke to open his seafood resto on the lake. Hopefully he will serve oyster poboys, which are consistently the best at the world's longest oyster poboy fest.

                                1. re: JazzyB

                                  So if you could only get one RB po boy in the central New Orleans area (i.e. not R&O since you need a car to get out to Bucktown) where would folks go? At this point, based on feedback and geographical concerns I'm thinking about dropping Parkway for a sampler/taste-off between Tracey's and Parasol's.

                                  1. re: ndukka562

                                    I don't EVER want a roast beef poboy while in NO. Gimme the oyster loaf at Casamento's and a shrimp at Johnny's or Mahony's and all is right with the world.

                                    1. re: texasredtop

                                      And for me the RB poboy is the measuring stick between all poboy places. Maybe that is because I don't like fried seafood on a sandwich, not much fried seafood at all as I would prefer it raw (oysters), boiled (shrimp etc) or chargrilled (oysters)

                                      1. re: roro1831

                                        Well, as Bunny Matthews charater Vic said: "It ain't da seafood makes ya's da battah!"

                                  2. re: JazzyB

                                    Now, I have only had, maybe a half-dozen Parkway RB's, and do admit that I "mess mine up," but thought that they were very good.

                                    Heck, I used to mess up my Acy's, and also my Frank's Deli (back when Frank's M-I-L did the RB) versions, as I would go with Swiss, gravy, toasted sandwich and then, some spicy mustard. Back in the time, I had my own bottle of Gulden's, or similar, waiting.

                                    Was Parkway's version the "best ever?" No, but they have been good for me.

                                    Have I tried every RB po-boy (apologies to New Orleans Magazine) in New Orleans? No. Not even close.

                                    Are there better versions in New Orleans? There probably are.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      exactly, bill. Parkway is not the best in the world, but it's consistently pretty good (personally i would use less filling as they can get a bit soggy). i contrast this w/ Johnny's where ive received watery sliced rb not unlike Mother's.

                                      1. re: kibbles

                                        With a RB po-boy, I want a certain level of "sogginess." However, it needs to be right, and the RB needs to have some tasty elements - the more, the better.


                    1. re: ndukka562

                      I have enjoyed Parkway Bakery and Tavern's shrimp po-boys, plus their RB po-boys.

                      I also like the shrimp po-boys at Felix's in the FQ.

                      We probably do too much fine-dining, to be of much use, but DO enjoy our po-boys.



                  2. Parkway is closed on Tuesdays. Excellent RB there. I actually just had their corned beef poboy today, it was goood. I like Central Grocery for muffelettas. For your dinners, I recommend going to Coquette, Herbsaint, and Atchafalaya for sure.

                    For drinks, check out Twelve Mile Limit, Cure, and Belloq.

                    Surrey's is totally worth it.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: noradeirdre

                      So are you recommending Atchafalaya over Jacques-Imo's? I am leaning that way now that I see Jacques-Imo's has an NYC outpost.

                      And do you think both Herbsaint and Cocquette are worth taking up 2 out of 5 dinners?

                      Loving the bar recommendations!

                      1. re: ndukka562

                        Jacques-Imo's had a NYC outpost at one time. Last time we were in the NO location ('09)we asked the man himself about the NY location as it would be super convenient for us to get our fix of NOLA fare being from the NY Metro area. While he did not say when it closed he noted the need to stay focused on the NO location. This may be true - he may have been tipsy - it was Cinco de Mayo. If you decide to dine there shoot for Tuesday if possible and hit the Maple Leaf next door to see Rebirth and have some drinks - good times.

                        Regarding your po-boy question: I love the shrimp po-boy at Johnny's on St. Louis St in the FQ.

                        1. re: j.ho

                          I second the shrimp poboy at Johnny's. Delicious and my favorite poboy in NO. I didn't care for the oyster poboy there though and that is usually my favorite everywhere.

                          The shrimp poboy at Mahony's was also good but the large poboy with the large shrimp was quite expensive. My husband had the shrimp and I had the small chicken liver which was huge and stuffed full of fresh fried chicken livers. If you go to Mahony's don't miss the onion rings or onion strings or whatever they call them. Delicious.

                          1. re: ndukka562

                            Jacques for funky ambience, mediocre food. Hell yes, to Herbsaint and Coquette! Add Tonique on Rampart for cocktails.

                        2. Sounds like you've received good advice. One little thing -- no one here says "Nawlins" -- that is strictly Hollywood hoohah. You've done your homework diligently enough to consider yourself an honorary local.

                          Since others have addressed the food, your drink choices are spot on as well. Tujague's, absolutely the best, most balanced Sazerac. Carousel Bar was recently renovated and expanded and now boasts live music and a (pricey) bar menu. French 75's bartender Chris Hannah is a star but by no stretch a prima donna. The bar has wonderful ambience unless you have a serious aversion to cigars to which it is friendly. Order the souffle potatoes with your drinks.


                          5 Replies
                          1. re: rouxdauphine

                            The Nawlins thing was my first thought as well but didn't want to point it out right out the gate.Lol

                              1. re: ndukka562

                                Do not feel bad. When I talk of my heritage, unless the listener is from the New Orleans environs, they almost always pipe up with a comment along the lines of "Oh, you mean Naw-w-lins?" or some variation. Then, they usually ask why neither my wife (the NOLA native), nor I, say it like they think it should be said. Obviously, Hollywood has corrupted many, many people.

                                As roro stated, I hung on that for a bit, but let it pass.

                                Most often, and with slightly different inflections, you will most often hear, "Neworlins," without much of a break, if any, between the words. I do pause a bit more between "New" and "Orlins," but remember, I am not the authentic "native" in the family, so just plead that I am from Mississippi, and we ALL know how those people are... Another pronunciation that you will likely not hear from a local is "New OR-leans," outside of song, or film.

                                Most important, however, is that you get to some of the finest dining in the US, and possibly most of the world. It is tough to hit ALL of the high-spots, as there are just so very many. However, the folk here, know their stuff. Oh, I might disagree with a restaurant here, or there, but they will never steer you too far wrong.

                                Enjoy, and travel safely,


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Thank you for this very detailed explanation! I may never sound like a local, but at least I won't sound clueless.

                                  And totally agreed on New Orleans having some of the finest dining in the world. In fact per capita, it HAS to be the best city for food. Juggernauts like NYC and Paris hit the highs but have so many lows. I feel like you really have to try to find bad food in New Orleans.

                            1. re: rouxdauphine

                              Regarding the term "Nawlins": I had a friend who took the train from Chicago to New Orleans (the famed "City of New Orleans") and he said that is how the conductor announced the arrival. I suppose that could have been to appease the tourists as well.

                              Having only visited once - and absolutely loved the town - I consider it a great achievement to be considered an honorary anything having to do with N.O.

                              I have no aversion to cigars and since N.O. is one of the few cities in America left where you can drink and smoke at the same time, I definitely plan on partaking at French 75.

                            2. So is the consensus that for po boys Domilise's is not up to par? How about Casamento's for a different uptown option?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ndukka562

                                Casamentos for raw oysters and fried crab claws. The oyster loaf (fried oysters on white bread) is also great. They fry in lard, mmmmm!

                                1. OK thanks to some fabulous feedback here is my updated Neworlins plan:


                                  - Cafe du Monde
                                  - Surrey's
                                  - Stanley: would it be worth the extra cost and the hassle of heading to the FQ for a breakfast here or am I better off just sticking to Surrey's as my go-to in the morning?

                                  Casual Lunches/Quick Bites

                                  - Parkway: roast beef
                                  - Johnny's: shrimp
                                  - Casamento's: when is the best time to avoid the lines?
                                  - Napoleon House
                                  - Dunbar's or Cafe Reconcile: these seem too similar to justify both, if I can only do one which would you recommend?

                                  Less Casual Lunches

                                  - Commander's Palace
                                  - Mr. B's

                                  Linch/Dinner Combo

                                  - Galatoire's: seems like I ought to try the Friday afternoon experience at least once, but would it be awkward as a single?


                                  - Atchafalaya: any specific dishes not to miss?
                                  - Herbsaint: same question
                                  - Cocquette: how do people feel about the tasting menu v. a la carte?
                                  - Upperline/Brigten's/Dante's: which would you pick?
                                  - Mandina's/Green Goddess: I realize these are two VERY different places, but all things considered (value, food, atmosphere) which would you go to with one meal left in NOLA?

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: ndukka562

                                    Ar Herbsaint there's this housemade spaghetti/ guincale/fried poached egg thing that's awesome. The gumbo is awesome too- as is everything else. Coquette- both the a la carte and the chef's tasting menu is great, so go with your instincts. I'd chose Brigtsens and Green Goddess. (Green Goddess by MILES)

                                    1. re: noradeirdre

                                      I believe there is a "small plates" option at Herbsaint so you can try a few things. I second the gumbo - it is awesome. I would highly recommend the frog's legs app/small plate. I also had the shrimp and fried grits which was fantastic. They make a killer Sazerac too if you're up for it.

                                      And I have to agree again with the call on Brigsten's - go with the duck you won't regret it.

                                      1. re: j.ho

                                        I actually went to Brigtsen's on my last trip. Don't recall if I had the duck or not but the food was fantastic.

                                        My only problem with Brigtsen's is that I am going to be solo and the atmosphere of the place just seems more conducive to being in a small group. Does everyone thnk that Brigtsen's is head and shoulders above Dante's and Upperline? I seem to have read a review on this board preferring the Upperline duck to the one at Brigtsen's.

                                    2. re: ndukka562

                                      I think Casamentos opens at 11:00 or 11:30, and shortly thereafter is a good time to avoid lines. One strategy is to stip in Ms Mae's (the bar next door to Casamentos); get your drink in a go cup and you can check out the line and time it as you'd like.

                                      1. re: Niki in Dayton

                                        Thank for this advice. Another thing New Orleans has that nowhere else in the country seems to: on-the-go drinking. Although I heard that this was only explicitly legal in the FQ.

                                        1. re: ndukka562

                                          It's legal anywhere in the city, just don't carry glass bottels. That's why the bars have go cups at the exits.

                                          1. re: ndukka562

                                            It covers the entire state as far as I know. There are several drive-through places in Lake Charles to pick up an adult beverage while out and about. They don't serve anything else. I grew up with it being that way there.

                                            1. re: texasredtop

                                              The city of New Orleans, Louisiana allows the possession and consumption on the street of any alcoholic beverage in an open plastic container (not in glass bottles or containers). Throughout the rest of Louisiana, however, open containers are still prohibited.

                                              I think the drive through daquiri places sell them to go, but they will put tape over the hole for the straw and if you are caught in the car with the tape off you can get a ticket. But I could be mistaken about that. I know when I was in college in Baton Rouge I recall drinking on the streets but that was during fairs or a festival or parade in Spanish Town. I honestly don't recall walking between bars with drinks but that was a while back.

                                              Beale Street and a few other places around the country also allow open containers.

                                              1. re: roro1831

                                                There wasn't tape over the straw hole. It's been some years since I've been there. I wanted to wait and get a real drink but my sister insisted on driving through for a koolaid drink. I knew it would be a waste of money but went along with it. We also had some "to go" drinks from a drive-through out on old Airline Hwy when we were evacuating for Katrina that Saturday before. The traffic was insane and we needed something to get through the madness. Luckily just a few miles up the road, it cleared out and we saw no more traffic until we got to Plaquemine.

                                            2. re: ndukka562

                                              Some years back, we picked up a 5 gal. container of daiquiri's from one of the local daiquiri stores for an event. They wanted to know if we wanted two long straws, so that the container could fit between us, as we drove! Do not know if that policy has changed.


                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                In high school there was a bar we would go to with empty gallon jugs and they would fill them with beer for us. We'd ride around in the back of the pickup drinking from them. lol Good times!!!

                                                1. re: texasredtop

                                                  Well, when I was in high school, pickup trucks had not been invented, though we would do similar with our buggies... [Gin]


                                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  My (limited) understanding of recent open container law changes is that drivers should not have access to booze while they're driving or they can be ticketed. Drive up daiquiri shops should put a plastic film over the top of the container (similar to how bubble tea is often packaged) to ensure drivers can't get at the sickly sweet "goodness" within. Experience has shown that this law is ignored by citizens and police alike (though not by me, I ride a motorcycle and these roads are brutal).

                                                  Also, your presumed typo "[Gin]" was awfully apropos ... good one.

                                                  1. re: montuori

                                                    Ah, about time that things changed. Guess that MADD made an impression?


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      I grew up in NJ so have a bit twisted sense of humor, I took a picture about 5 years ago on Airline Highway. There a small sign for Franks Bloody Mary's 2.5 miles. The sign was right next to a cross where someone had died only in New Orleans..... dc

                                                      1. re: don515

                                                        Well, I can see the irony of such a juxtaposition.

                                                        NOLA has been known as a city, where almost everything goes. In most ways, I am glad that some aspects of the alcohol "open society" has been reeled in.


                                            3. re: ndukka562

                                              I prefer the tasting menu at Coquette. Even when the plating combos sound odd, they work. One of my favorites in town. Sort of a less polished, more casual August.

                                              1. re: ndukka562

                                                I really enjoyed Herbsaint. I recommend the duck confit, but I don't recall disliking anything I had that night. Herbsaint's sister restaurant, Cochon, was also very, very good, and cheaper. Consider it for lunch.