San Francisco Hound Coming to New Orleans: Please Critique My List for My First Visit!!!
Greetings New Orleans ! I am so excited to be visiting your beautiful city in 3 weeks for a total of 3 days/ 4 nights. We have never been and always wanted to dine in New Orleans...and listen to jazz, sit in Cafe du Monde, the list goes on...
My idea for the trip is sort of a lunch, dinner, and special pastry or ice cream snacks here and there, and pretend as if we'll do one cocktail or bar and some coffee destination. Our sightseeing schedule is very flexible...we are hoping one night to see Preservation Hall since we've enjoyed seeing them each 4th of July when they perform at Stanford.
Thanks to your all of your wonderful recommendations on other threads with helpful suggestions, these are the ideas I've come up with:
Dinners (4): Emeril's, August, Commander's Palace, Cochon
Contenders: Lilette (really hoping somehow to get here), Herbsaint, Stella!, Revolution, Jacques-imo, Three Muses, Sylvain
Lunch (3): Since there are 4 of us, I figure we can share smaller sampling lunches to try more places-- Central Grocery/Acme Oyster or Casamento's, po boy at Domilise's/ gumbo at Dooky Chase, Willie Mae's Scotch House
Contenders: an old timer like Brenna's or Gautreau's or Arnaud's
Snacks/Breakfast if we feel like it: Cafe du Monde, Stanley's
Cocktails/ Bars: French 75, Cure, Windsor Court's bar, Bar Uncommon, plus a good beer pub or two like Avenue Pub
Coffee: Cafe du Monde, P.J.'s, Fair Grinds...looking for some other coffeehouses, but having trouble finding threads on them.
Please let me know your thoughts, I'm sure the list will be a little trimmed once we arrive, but it just shows how exciting it is to visit and dine and drink in New Orleans! Thank you so much!!!
This is the OP here...this is wonderful (and very surprising!) to see this thread alive, seeing it's been three months since my New Orleans visit! But, please, let's have the smart, helpful, respectful debate continue on where to dine in this excellent city for eating and drinking (outside of Bourbon St.!).
Chef Bond-- why spam everyone with your cooking school ads? It does no good for you.
To debunk a few myths brought up-- no, I did not go to New Orleans to eat tuna wraps and pad thai. I went to eat good food, which meant dine at Emeril's. Among the many items we ordered (thank you Gizmo56 for digging up my report post!), yes we had Emeril's interesting special of his version of a pad thai, along with the ahi tuna wraps, one of his signature's, and was heavily recommended in this actual post.
I did not say Emeril's was forgettable like the Carousel Bar or a knockout like Cochon (don't knock Cochon, it was terrific, best meal we had in the city!), it was middle of the road. So would I go if I had another 4 day trip to New Orleans? Probably not because you have too many new restaurants for me to try and too many great ones I want to return to. But by all means, Emeril's is worth a visit. Just cook the pork chop a bit less.
Re: the banana cream pie, it's too heavy and dense with the cream. The finesse of the pie is gone, outside of the superb crust, which you must wipe acres of cream off of.
Re: Galatoire's: My visit was because of this thread's excellent recommendations. Sadly, the experience was underwhelming. Inattentive service, decent at best food, lackluster Sazeracs. I want to love it, but must be honest. The meal was glamourous in the setting. That was it. Everything else could've been a tourist haunt on Bourbon St. sadly. I wanted to love it. However, under no circumstance could I say Galatoire's is worth a visit over Cochon or even Emeril's (or August or Bayona or...).
Anyone wanting cocktails, go to Cure! Go to Bellocq too...just don't get a cobbler if you want more than iced juice (they're good, but not really cocktails...). Do...not...go to Carousel Bar except to see the carousel.
For future first time visitors, what are the new must visits in the city?
IMO, going to NOLA for the first time and not having dinner at Gallatoire's is nuts. Forget Cochon and Emeril if you've just got a few days, and do a real classic. (I find Cochon over-rated, and the service at Emeril's the last time I ate there -- and I do mean "the last time" -- was dreadful.
The OP reported on the visit back on June 12. The OP reported the following experience at Emeril's:
"Dinner at Emeril's, had to wait 15 minutes after our reservation time. Excellent gumbo, bbq shrimp, tuna lettuce wraps, a special kicked up pad thai, andouille crusted fish, and chocolate peanut butter pie. Didn't care for the banana cream pie and the massive pork chop was dry, though I loved the green mole sauce."
I had great service at Emeril's 15 days ago, and their andouille-crusted drum was my favorite dish from the entire six day visit. My wife, like OP, found the pork chop to be a little dry, but very tasty. Like the OP, we had gumbo and the BBQ shrimp appetizer, and we liked them both very much. Like the OP we had the banana cream pie, but we liked it a lot. The slight dryness in the pork chop was as close to a fault that we could find...we loved the food, our servers, the pacing, and the room.
The OP did go to Galatoire's,btw...here's the OP's report:
"then Galatoire's. Not sure what to say. Great experience but far, far from flawless. Just walked into the main dining room. Tried to get to know my waiter, but he seemed very stressed, never once wanting to talk about anything but the menu. Per his advice, got the very good shrimp remoulade, and the red fish with a crawfish etoufee sauce. The sauce was exquisite, the fish a tad dry. All along, the servers seemed sort of disinterested and clocked out. They walked around with untucked shirts. My water glass would be empty. The fish came right after the starter left. At the end of the meal, they all were just hanging out in the back giving me the "don't you dare want dessert or coffee" eye. It was a special experience, but not a great one.
The sazerac at Galatoire's: on watery rocks, unbalanced. The worst of the trip. As red as a ruby too....
What a trip it was, can't wait to come back! The quick synopsis:
Big winners: oysters, shrimp anywhere. Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Commander's Palace, Domilise's, Velvet, Hansen's, Cafe du Monde, Cure, Avenue Pub, Bellocq, Pascal's Manale, Angelo Brocato
Eh not next time: Galatoire's, French 75, Carousel Bar, Bourbon St, Frenchmans St., Sazerac Bar"
...with Emeril's presumably falling somewhere between the big winners and the places crossed off for a return.
I think the OP dined at many of the NOLA classics; and did not come to NOLA merely "to eat tuna lettuce wraps and pad thai."
Don't bother with Jacques-imos. Totally over-rated. It's a fun atmosphere (which is why I think so many tourists get sent there), but the food is bleh.
Casamento's is also really over-rated. Unless you're going purely for raw oysters.
I love August, Cochon, and Lilette. Stella is also great.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern has the best shrimp po'boy in town.
Ruby Slipper has a great breakfast, and Sunday brunch at Delmonico's is special!
New Orleans! Sorry it's taken me two weeks for my trip report from Memorial Day in New Orleans, but at long last here it is. For a more comprehensive report, visit my site at http://trevsbistro.wordpress.com/
You may have to dig a bit into June archives for some of the articles.
First and foremost, thank you so much for your very helpful and appreciated advice!!! It may have been 92 degrees and humid each day, but everybody was so friendly everywhere. And the food...well let's just say, I'll never be able to have another beignet or char-grilled oyster after the masterpieces I sampled.
After a nice 2 am arrival Saturday morning, drove out to Domilise's for the oyster and shrimp po boys with Abita and Barq's. Such a great place. For my debut po boys, I can't imagine anything better. What will be a recurring theme-- just how plump and enormous Louisiana shrimp and oysters are. I've never tasted anything like them.
Then up to Magazine Street for a stroll by boutiques, in the Whole Foods, and a terrific chocolate chip scone and Stumptown espresso at the dime sized Velvet. The Johnny Depp Mad Hatter painting scares me behind the baristas. The espresso here is the real deal, actually better than at most Stumptowns I've been to.
Drove around Tulane and Audobon Park, then returned toward the city. But first, an hour long wait, worth it, for a snow ball at Hansen's. It's amazing how smooth that ice is! Best flavors- cardamom, ginger, and satsuma, in that order.
It took us an hour to get through the Riverwalk (ugh never again) and find the Southern Food and Cocktail Museum. It's interesting for a half hour-45 minutes of your time, great introduction to the regional cuisine. Then hopped over to Drago's for a half dozen oysters (we had dinner 2 hours later). Outstanding! Again, the huge, juicy oysters make every other oyster seem like the minor leagues. Service and the decor though screamed massive hotel restaurant. Great place for a little beer sampling too, even if it's bottles only- tried some Abita purple haze (terrible), Bayou Tech LA-31 (terrific), and Lazy Magnolia pecan porter (decent).
Grabbed drinks at the Sazerac Bar, which was packed. Lovely setting, decent Sazerac, terribly bland Ramos Gin Fizz, like a watery pina colada. The bartender made 4 Sazeracs at once and did a terrible job balancing the quantities-- my drink was at least 2/3 the size of another one.
Dinner at Emeril's, had to wait 15 minutes after our reservation time. Excellent gumbo, bbq shrimp, tuna lettuce wraps, a special kicked up pad thai, andouille crusted fish, and chocolate peanut butter pie. Didn't care for the banana cream pie and the massive pork chop was dry, though I loved the green mole sauce.
Nothing except the pork chop was monstrous...but nothing was small in the least. The hosts were quite cold...made it feel awkward and corporate. Server was much friendlier, did a great job cleaning up a red wine spill and splitting the gumbo into four.
Nightcaps-- dreadful drinks at Arnaud's French 75. Everything was out of balance, especially...the French 75 which tasted like a sparkly simple syrup. Service didn't even look at us either and they weren't packed. Then to Bourbon Street...never again. Pat O'Brien's hurricane and Abita Strawberry...the stuff of nightmares.
After seeing the daytime line at Cafe du Monde, we got some excellent beignets and coffee there at 1 am. The beignets are even better than people say, served almost too warm to eat. There will be a powder storm.
Espresso at Merchant-- decent, typical Illy. Better for crepes and croissant sandwiches I'd say, didn't try what the others had.
After Jackson Square sightseeing, lunch at Green Goddess. Everything was fair to good-- best the shrimp remoulade with bacon and corn. The shrimp and pork belly banh mi had potential, but needed more spice and pâté.
Skipped the Baton Rouge/Lafayette plans and did a swamp tour a half hour north of town. Alligators everywhere...but very touristy.
Wanted to try drinks at Windsor Court's new lobby bar...was closed...so went to the Polo Club for decent negronis and old fashioneds.
Dinner at Commander's Palace-- a very special experience from the service to the atmosphere to the food (bananas foster...shrimp & tasso henican...a beautiful duck with strawberries and shitake, an haute shrimp and grits, lamb with crawfish bordelaise...and that sublime turtle soup!). Only clunkers-- the gumbo, the bland crab-brie bisque, and that our table was right by the service station so our chairs got knocked every 2 minutes. Great sazerac here too, a little sweeter.
Taxi to Frenchman's St. which was jam packed-- nowhere to go. Three Muses was closing down. Then went to the equally packed Carousel Bar. Service didn't exist-- took 45 minutes for a drink at our table, the carousel was full. Vieux Carré had way too much Benedictine. Corpse Reviver-- close to Pat O'Brien's hurricane. Pisco Sour was fine.
lunch at Cochon-- small plates are a tour de force (ribs, wood fired oysters (best dish of the trip), crawfish etoufee, fried alligator). Enjoyed the cochon plate, the rabbit and dumplings was bland all around from the broth to the biscuits. Amazing chocolate toffee cake for dessert. Great advice on focusing on small plates, avoid large plates.
Went to the Ogden Museum but it was closed.
World War II museum-- useless espresso at their soda fountain.
Streetcar to Avenue Pub. Balcony wasn't open, but excellent beer selections. Had mainly Mikkeller. Tried the watery, flavorless Lazy Magnolia Jefferson sweet potato stout.
Drinks at Cure-- all around, spectacular. A truly special cocktail place. Everything was great. The Bandito and Arrow in the Gale 2 of the best drinks I've ever had.
Dinner at Herbsaint-- quite the juxtaposition to Cochon. Loved the spaghetti with guanciale and fried-poached farm egg. Everything else was good but missing one part. Tuna starter was butter poached- rare but tasted cooked, a weird texture and taste combo. Duck confit needed more citrus gastrique, loved the dirty rice. Curry shrimp needed more curry, something besides creamed corn. Banana brown butter tart that I love to make at home seemed a bit stiff and the crust a tad too hard. Chocolate salted caramel cake needed a liquid center, though I loved the taste contrasts. We again had to wait 15 minutes after our reservation...
lunch Pascal's Manale-- great fun with the bbq shrimp! Good spaghetti and meatballs, oysters on half shell, and the weird dip-like "pan roast." Excellent service.
Others left, I ventured off the Art Museum and Angelo Brocato's-- such good gelato and ices. Strawberry ice and tiramisu gelato were best. Didn't care for the espresso, but excellent biscotti and marzipan-like cookie.
Sherry cobbler at Bellocq-- soon, this place will be the absolute favorite outside of Cure for cocktails (of course, unfair since it's the same owners). I'm not a crushed ice fan so the cobbler wasn't my favorite, but it's more a refreshing drink anyways. They hit their stride with interesting classic cocktails instead, like Cure.
Tried the beet pisco sour at the new Windsor Court lobby bar. Excellent drink, mixologist has lots of heart and really deserves a bigger audience. She's doing big things there.
Preservation Hall...then Galatoire's. Not sure what to say. Great experience but far, far from flawless. Just walked into the main dining room. Tried to get to know my waiter, but he seemed very stressed, never once wanting to talk about anything but the menu. Per his advice, got the very good shrimp remoulade, and the red fish with a crawfish etoufee sauce. The sauce was exquisite, the fish a tad dry. All along, the servers seemed sort of disinterested and clocked out. They walked around with untucked shirts. My water glass would be empty. The fish came right after the starter left. At the end of the meal, they all were just hanging out in the back giving me the "don't you dare want dessert or coffee" eye. It was a special experience, but not a great one.
The sazerac at Galatoire's: on watery rocks, unbalanced. The worst of the trip. As red as a ruby too.
A whirl around the Carousel Bar's carousel with a coffee...didn't want to try their cocktails again.
ran to Central Grocery and Cochon Butcher for sandwiches to bring home. The famed muff was indeed huge-- bread is boring and dry but loved the meats, cheese, and olive salad. Cochon Butcher's Gambino was a hall of fame sandwich, the turkey with arugula, basil pesto spread, on 7 grain bread was close to one. Best of all...the bacon praline!!! Rhonda Ruckman is incredible with desserts!
What a trip it was, can't wait to come back! The quick synopsis:
Big winners: oysters, shrimp anywhere. Cochon, Cochon Butcher, Commander's Palace, Domilise's, Velvet, Hansen's, Cafe du Monde, Cure, Avenue Pub, Bellocq, Pascal's Manale, Angelo Brocato
Eh not next time: Galatoire's, French 75, Carousel Bar, Bourbon St, Frenchmans St., Sazerac Bar
And from the two themes posed in the thread: Indeed outside of Velvet, I could not find a good espresso. Best chicory coffee was at Commander's. Best Sazerac-- Cure. Best for any drinks-- Cure. And serving sizes were never unbelievably huge except the veal chop at Emeril's...with the control, the running, and the humidity...I actually neither gained nor lost any weight this trip somehow. Could've eaten more I guess :
)Thanks so much for your wonderful help and continue to laissez les bon temps rouler!!!
There’s a lot to enjoy about the French Quarter, sadly Bourbon Street is no longer one of them. Once again, Commander’s outshines Galatoire’s. Would be my first choice to send out-of-towners. In my opinion, a better example of a restaurant with New Orleans character and a similar menu to Gal’s would be Clancy’s. The best reason to visit Galatoire’s is to get loud and drunk on a Friday afternoon.
Your last sentence is why I avoid that Friday show. Any other afternoon of the week (except, obviously, Monday)is fine by me. There is a bit of a trick to enjoying Galatoire's and a lot depends on whether one is willing to play. It can be learned. The busboy should have seen about teh water but I just do it myself from the carafe. If there isn't one at the table I get up and get one but then I have been known to go in the back and get a fork if mine falls on the floor. I like the waiters lounging around the back and why bother your guy if you don't have to. That's the basic. unadorned aspect that I love about it as prefered to "airs" elsewhere.
Now, I have done that, and do not need to do it again, so I go for the food, and the service. I have seen "the show," so do not require that again. The "tableau" is fun, but a dozen times is more than enough.
CP's is "resting on their laurels," at least for us. They also burned us, on two occasions, and I am not a happy camper. Then, with a group, that we hosted, they could not step up to the plate. Their answer was "we are Commander's Palace, and you should bow to us." Well, maybe that will not happen. Been dining there for 45 years, and on about 35 special occasions, so I am anything BUT a neophyte.
OTOH, there ARE "sacred cows" here, and I am sure that the CH MOD's will kill my comments, as they do not align with theirs.
"Commander’s outshines Galatoire’s."
I have found just the opposite, and in every respect. I am sorry to disagree, but with several experiences of each, in the recent past, I have been horribly disappointed by CP's, and Galatoire's has come through, on every occasions.
Guess that we hit them, out of phase.
CP's would need to court me, while Galatoire's has done so.
Sorry to be the contrarian here, but we have had opposing experiences.
Excellent write-up. And yeah, I don't know if anyone told you but generally speaking good dinners are not anything you do in a hurry in NOLA. Also, in NOLA, there isn't much that starts on time, and generally speaking you are not expected to be on time. Concerts (At least the smaller local ones) tend to run 15 mins - an hour late, and I'm not surprised that you had to wait past when your reservation 'started'. To be honest that's probably more the other patrons fault rather than yours; people tend to have long dinners and not be in a hurry to leave after they eat.
Quick update from New Orleans!
Excellent opening lunch/meal at Domilise's, Velvet for Stumptown espresso, and Hansen's Snow Bliz (hour long line at 1 pm).
Mid-afternoon snack at Drago's- oysters were indeed terrific (1/2 dozen for as many people...not a huge splurge) but service made a half hour max snack last over an hour...
Did see the Southern Food and Cocktail Museum-- not a huge memory, but interesting for an hour.
Just got back from Cafe du Monde at 2 am with no line after going at 10 am with an epic line. Excellent beignets and chicory coffee, worth the hype.
On the other hand, had some challenges with cocktails and dinner. At Drago's and Domilse's sampled Abita's Amber, Purple Haze, and Strawberry-- none inspired us. Fortunately, Lazy Magnolia's Pecan Brown Ale and LA 31 Pale Ale did.
Emeril's-- we'll go into this later. Some hits, some misfires--all the chowhound advice was terrific though! It was us being on our own ordering where we missed. That 14 oz. pork chop could feed 5...and the green mole sauce is blissful (unfortunately the chop itself overcooked and chewy). Service was a tad amateur (calling us by our name, saying tall their names), but had so much heart, and very, very friendly.
Enjoyed the Sazerac Bar- not the Ramos Gin Fizz, but good Sazerac (they did pour us about 2/3 sazerac of the others when they made 4 at 1 time).
Bourbon Street- no comment. O'Brien's Hurricane is a nightmare. It's an experience. Don't need to go back.
The low point was Arnaud's French 75. Service pretended we didn't exist at our table. Drinks- French 75, Curari, Pisco Derby-- all were very imbalanced and lackluster.
Plans to Baton Rouge/ Lafayette have been scratched. Swamp tour will be near Oak Alley with brunch in town. Hopefully Cure is our cocktail Cure tomorrow.
Pascale Manale's, Cochon, and Green Goddess look like our three remaining lunches with Comm Palace, Galatoire's for dinner...
then still deciding August vs Herbsaint? Very hard to choose! Asked a lot of folks at the hotel and in town...nobody can decide for us.
New Orleans !!!
Sorry it's been so long...having been on a recent exceptional food trip to Seattle and Portland, I am ready now for the big upcoming week in New Orleans for our first visit. It's showtime starting Friday night when we arrive too late for any meal.
Here's currently what we're working with heading into the flight a day away. The few changes since a few weeks ago: one member of the family has to leave Monday early afternoon after lunch and another two have to leave Tuesday afternoon after lunch. We wanted to make sure they all try Commander's Palace and Emeril's, so Commander's had to become a dinner.
Because of usual hours/ Memorial Day hours, Willie Mae's and Domilise's are only options for Saturday lunch.
August most likely needs to become a dinner, despite the tempting prix fixe lunch, because Herbsaint had no Monday dinner reservations for us.
We will have a rental car and we are staying by Lafayette Square in the CBD. Sunday we have an afternoon swamp air boat tour too.
Here we go...
Cafe du Monde
Jackson Square/ Presbytère/Cabildo/St. Louis Cathedral/ St Patrick's Cathedral/Lafayette Cemetery
drive to Willie Mae's to share some chicken
Street car to Domilise's to share po boy-- shrimp or oyster or both?
Hansen's Snow Ball
Streetcar back- see Food and Cocktail Museum at the Riverfront
Snack, share a half dozen chargrilled oysters at Drago's
cocktails French 75- any suggestions besides the French 75?
dinner- reserved at Emeril's- angel hair with mushrooms, tuna wraps, pork chop, andouille crusted fish
stroll Frenchan, probably stop at 3 Muses. Stroll Bourbon St., try a hurricane at Pat O'Brien's to say we did
drive toward Lafayette
see Oak Alley, Baton Rouge capitol, Tiger Stadium
lunch- French Press, or something else?
return, cocktails at Cure
dinner- reserved at Commander's Palace
brews at Avenue Pub, nightcap at Windsor Court's bar
Community Coffee in French Quarter
early lunch at Cochon-
take family to airport
see Ogden Museum
see World War II museum
drinks at Bellocq
Pimm's Cup at Napoleon House
dinner- reserved at August-- blue crab gnocchi, banana pere roux cake and nougatine desserts for sure
nightcap- Sazerac Bar for sazerac and ramos gin fizz
early lunch-- Herbsaint-- not sure of lunch suggestions
take more family to airport
Zoo at Audobon Park
espresso at Velvet
City Park- art museum, Bayou St. John, Pitot House...won't have time for it all
Angelo Brocato's- lemon ice, spumoni gelato
Bar Tonique cocktails
Rum Ramsey at Bon Ton
stand in line, see Preservation Hall
stand in line, dine ground floor at Galatoire's (whatever the waiter recommends, maybe shrimp remoulade and trout almandine?)
nightcap-- vieux carré at Carousel Bar
Morning run to pick up muffs at Central Grocery and Cochon Butcher
brunch- Stanley's-- when do they start serving lunch items?
flight home early afternoon...share the muffs with our friends at home to give a taste of New Orleans!
Sorry for the long list! Please do let me know what can be better arranged, what is unnecessary given time constraints (maybe skip Willie Mae's or Drago's or combine oysters and po boys at one place?)...maybe try really hard for Herbsaint instead of August and then Tuesday lunch at Bon Ton? I'd love to hear any suggestions, in addition to what to order advice, beers and cocktails to look for...
Thanks so much, we're very excited!!!
That is, perhaps, the most ambitious schedule I have ever seen. You will need a vacation--and serious dieting--to get over it. A couple of points stick out in my mind that is blurred by your blitzkreig: at Domilise's, the shrimp po-boy is preferred. People often "hate" their roast beef and, while it ain;t the best, it's OK. They have always been a favored place of mine, moreso since they opened immediately after Katrina and kept the flag flying.
The Oak Alley/State Capitol/Tiger Stadium and back to New Orleans is a HELL of a day. Good luck. I am coming back to New Orleans on Sunday from Acadiana and am stopping in BR for the Indy 500 rather than bother with the run back into town. ( I wish you could have seen Oak Alley before they painted it...it is now Sherwin-Williams Pink..in the old days it was the most gorgeous faded white, bleeding to "pink-ish" becuase of the brick dust they crumbled into the paint when it was restored. Best show of sunlight and shadow over a building you ever saw. Shadows on the Teche can still show it off in the fall and spring when the light is clear.)
When you are wandering Bourbon, stick your head into Galatoire's (209 Bourbon) and have a look so you know what to expect. You might want to chat someone up about a waiter. Try oysters en brochette and canape Lorenzo..you won;t be sorry unless you have an aversion to rich food.
Community coffee is :OK" but ain't the best in my view. French Market Pure Coofee (that is a brand name) is the best..and their Chicory is damn good, too. So is Union Coffee's Chicory product.
Take home some Zatarain's Creole Mustard and some Kon-riko rice products..the artichoke rice is lots of fun.
If you removed every tour bit you might fit in every restaurant stop! The WWII museum is a minimum of 4 hours. You can easlly spend 8 hours there. Standing in line then watching the movie (great!) will alone take up an hour.
While you can do sandwich lunches pretty quickly realize that most of your sit down meals can (and should) take 2-3 hours.
I think you should pare down your list and save something for your next visit! I've got to take a nap just from reading it. :-)
I've realized this is indeed beyond overambitious...we do need a vacation too after all!
Saturday I'm thinking of scratching Willie Mae's, in order to keep things in 2 locations-- Uptown for Domilise's and the streetcar, and Riverwalk/Downtown for Drago's and sightseeing around Jackson Square.
Sunday- definitely scratch Oak Alley and do just the swamp tour. The debate is whether to skip going to Acadia and doing a close in swamp tour. I do really want to see Acadia, though...
Monday-- I now have a reservation for Herbsaint for dinner to have more flexibility for lunch the next day. It looks like August is the odd man out. We'll skip going to BOTH Ogden and National World War II. We'll do the World War II Museum first (which will probably have an insane line on Memorial Day) and if there's time for the Ogden...we'll go. If not, then next time.
Tuesday-- probably skip the zoo and do just City Park stuff. With Herbsaint now dinner Monday, maybe lunch at Bon Ton? I was hoping for the Green Goddess but they're closed Tuesdays...very bad luck!
We certainly won't hit all of the cocktail spots, museums, restaurants, sights we want to...keep letting me know what jumps out at you to be left for next time. Thanks so much for the continued great advice!
Thank you everybody for the replies!
I had never known the difference of po boys and oyster loaves except that po boys can have various fillings...yet that is another question, if trying "a po boy" at what will most likely be Domilise's seeing that Casamento's will be closed, should we get the oyster po boy or try our best to sample others like shrimp or roast beef?
I have multiple reservations at Commander's Palace currently not knowing exactly how best to fit it in (great for jazz brunch but seems filling enough for dinner plus bananas foster is an option only at dinner and somewhere we need a great bananas foster...so not sure whether I want to try it for lunch or dinner. By the way, Willie Mae's is open Saturdays, not Sundays, correct?
The one catch we're working with is half our party is only around thru Monday afternoon of Memorial Day, the rest leave Wednesday noonish. The family leaving Monday needs to try Commander's, Emeril's, August, and a po boy, Willie Mae's, and oysters somehow...
lunch- have a reservation at Commander's Palace...or could do a combo of Willie Mae's, Drago's, and Domilise's (would this be possible?)
dinner- reservation at Herbsaint, also could do Emeril's
lunch- planning to visit Acadia/bayou for day trip, please let me know suggestions!...I'm guessing Sundays could be tricky...
dinner- reservation at Emeril's, could do August or Commander's Palace
lunch: reservation at August, could do Commander's Palace
dinner: thinking about Cochon...could do one of the others too
dinner: Galatoire's ground floor
early 10 am-ish lunch/brunch: unsure
pick up muffs at central grocery and cochon butcher
As of now, the list looks for sure like we'll try our best to visit over 5 days: cafe du monde, angelo brocato gelato (probably La Divina too), hansen's sno bliz as snacks/treats
Bars/ cocktails: French 75, Cure, Windsor Court, Sazerac Bar, Carousel, Bar Tonique, Avenue Pub, Napoleon House, Belloq
Coffee: CC, Velvet, Cafe du Monde
Gautreau's looks amazing...somehow need to fit it in. And Lilette too...but that seems a tier below the others in what should be priorities.
I am going to NOLA for the first time (as a food tourist) as well on the weekend of june 15th and would be interested on how your trip turned out. I have been doing a lot of research and you have/had chosen a lot of the same places i am hoping to visit...All the locals seem to be mostly like minded on their recommendations i was hopping to get a visitors opinion on how your choices turned out.
correction**** sorry i wish june was already here*** Let me know when you get back how it went hehe....
So we now have an official flight schedule that was changed a bit later due to fares over Memorial Day and family work schedules...
Arrive late Friday night, too late for anything except the hotel.
Leave very early Wednesday morning, so I'll have to swing by the afternoon before to Central Grocery and Cochon Butcher for a muff taste off to have for lunch or dinner on the plane or at home.
So we're now looking for sure at 4 dinners (sat, sun, mon memorial day, and tues), with 4 lunches each of those days. Will anybody be open Memorial Day? We can do Commander's jazz brunch Sunday, but then seeing that Willie Mae's and lunch at August are only M-F with M being a major holiday, unfortunately we may have to move August to a dinner spot in order to lunch Tuesday at Willie Mae's?
I'll have many questions the next few days planning, but one thing that has confused me in researching Casamento's and Domilise's. They both sound great...but what's the difference between an oyster po boy and an oyster loaf? I've never had a po boy (or a sazerac) before, having saved both for this important debut trip to New Orleans!
Coming in from Montreal on a road trip, via San Francisco.
Excited to try:
and maybe jacque-imo's
and I have to say after scouring the SF and Los Angeles chow boards I feel most confident and excited about NOLA. Seems like a whole new world of food!!!
Looking at the Commander's Palace jazz brunch menu, it looks like it's only prix fixe. Is it possible to order just à la carte? It also doesn't look like they do the soup sampler then as well...you'd have to get the regular gumbo and turtle soups.
August is very tempting for lunch...having read about the banana cake and nougatine desserts and the blue cran with gnocchi, would it still be beneficial to go for lunch and get the prix fixe if we're so tempted in the signatures at the restaurant? The prix fixe certainly is a great deal.
I looked at my calendar and if you're coming in town for the first weekend of May- Last week of Jazz Fest- everything will be more crowded than usual. Not to mention the following week will be graduations- Loyola, Tulane, UNO. Just tread carefully and be prepared to find things that are a little off the beaten path if you don't like crazy crowds..
Luckily we're coming 3rd week/weekend of May...so just missing graduation and Jazz fest! But unfortunate since Jazz fest sounds so fun...
This reminds me speaking of jazz, 1 of our 4 nights we want to catch jazz at Preservation Hall, would any of the restaurants we're thinking of be good for before or after a show there?
re: Hungry Celeste
Reservations for sure! Definitely will do that this weekend for Emeril, August, and Commander's...still weighing Cochon v. Herbsaint vs Chef Link.
In terms of dinner at Galatoire's, it seems like the original ground floor dining room is really the way to go? We'd be willing to wait (as in I'm the one who waits while the others go to a bar or wait at the hotel usually...).
The food, and within general terms, the service, are the same - upstairs, or downstairs.
That said, Hazelhurst makes a good point about where one chooses to dine. The "show" is downstairs, but upstairs is not bad, if reservations make life easier on you. In many of my more recent trips, they have been what we needed, and I never felt slighted. However, I have dined downstairs, so it would really only impact my guests.
Most of all, enjoy!
Thank you so much New Orleans for your very thoughtful and helpful advice! When in the world will R'Evolution open? I thought it was supposed to open by now...but I know there have been many delays...
Great advice on portion sizes, knowing that we will fill up quickly on my original plans. My first initial question hearing your responses and reading other threads, am I wasting my time with a muff at Central Grocery? Since we leave on a Monday (Thursday Night- Monday late morning is the trip in late May), should I get a muff take out from Cochon Butcher and just eat it in SF at my local "cajun" restaurant NOLA and show them how it's really done?
Also, gumbo- do you think it'd be fine to have at a Commander's Palace or should I really try it and experience Dooky Chase?
The jazz brunch at Commander's Palace sounds terrific...I'm just concerned since it's 3 course prix fixe, some members of my family might be worried about not coming close to finishing/being hungry for dinner...
Also, are any of my dinner thoughts at all close or possible before or after Preservation Hall?
Here's what I'm working with now, still very much willing to change since we're almost exactly a month from when I leave.
Dinner (4): Emeril's, August (I've read lots about Chef Besh, is it worth the splurge?), Cochon (still tempts me over Herbsaint but very tough call, I love baking the banana brown butter tart from Herbsaint too!), and a classic like Brennan's or Gautreau's, but a "newer" classic Galatoire's may be best for the last dinner?
Sylvain's, Lilette (heard bad but also very good things and used to live in Paris so I love French cuisine) and Three Muses are very tempting too...
Lunch: Commander's brunch, Wille Mae's/po boy (Domilise's? I know Mother's is not an option), oysters (Acme or Casamento's or Drago's)/either breakfast at Stanley or a muff from Central Grocery if worth doing or Dooky Chase
Coquette and Cafe Reconcile are very tempting too...
Snacks/Light Breakfasts: Cafe du Monde, maybe La Divina and Angelo Brocato for gelato/espresso?
Cocktails/Bars: French 75, Cure, Windsor Court, Carousel, Avenue Pub, sounds like also Bar Tonique, Belloq, and Napoleon House. Does one make a great sazerac? I need to try one...
Coffee: Cafe du Monde, Velvet, and Community Coffee sound great
I'm excited for the trip! Do you think Willie Mae's can be "sampled" by a group of 4 and we can fit in a po boy or 2 for lunch while having a full dinner? We just need 3-4 bites each...
You will want more than 3-4 bites of Willie Mae's chicken.
Herbsaint over Cochon. All apps. should you choose Cochon.
August offers 3 courses $20.12 M-F lunch. Absolutely the best deal in town.
Casamentos for 1/2 shell and oyster loaf.
Luke's daily 3-6HH 1/2 price libatioms, oysters 1/2 shell 50 cents. Order all your dozens at once, service is slow.
I'd skip Brennan's. Better read Gautreau's deposit/ resv. policy. I wasn't a fan prior to, definitely not now.
just an FYI, gautreau's would be the new classic, not Galatoire's. There are innumerable posts re:
Galatoire's. A board search should help you decide.
Get some muffs from Central to bring home. They travel well. Bring to room temp before enjoying.
I prefer Commander's gumbo to Dooky's, which is just ok. Commander's turtle soup should not be missed. Or, try soup 1-1-1: demitasse of gumbo, turtle, soup du jour. 25 cent martinis m- f lunch as well.
K-Pauls has a self serve deli lunch Th-F-Sat. Stop in for his excellent gumbo. Donald Link's is terrific as well.
The 1-1-1 demitasse sampling seems perfect at Commander's! I think because of that and sampling Chef Link's gumbo at Cochon or Herbsaint, we'll pass on Dooky Chase. Do you feel that August's VERY impressive lunch prix fixe is worth the August experience compared to its dinner menu? The price is certainly miles and miles better...but for one meal at August should I do that lunch? It'd probably mean dinner at Gautreau or Galatoire instead of August and August at lunch then. Seems like Emeril's is the one set dinner (my brother is a huge fan of his show so we kind of have to go...) and a Donald Link dinner for sure too.
Unlike lunching at most restaurants, you will get a good feel for both August and Commander's during lunch. I much prefer lunch to dinner at Commander's.
Watch the alcohol at August. I've spent $170 for 2 diners having the prix fixe. Best desserts are the nougatine and Pere Roux banana "cake" with white choc.
Emeril's is delicious. Best bet app: angel hair with smokedmwild mushrooms/tasso cream sauce, tuna wraps (enough to share). Entress, andouille crusted fish, monster pork chop with poblano mole/ tamarind glaze. You'lll be stuffed but don't leave without at least splitting a piece of the banana cream pie.
Galatoire's is truly the quinessential New Orleans rerstaurant. Do a search for "hazelhurst's" posts and take his advise.
Gautreau's is like "the emperor's new clothes.".
Herbsaint app: short rib. but really it's hard to pick a loser here., same for...Entree: duck confit w/citus gastric, pork belly, The steak comes sliced ( should you expect a whole steak) .
Good pick up on "portion sizes." While not like much of the rest of the South, the portions can be a bit too large, at least for me.
We do a great deal of "Chef's Tasting Menus," and I really like to be able to finish 8 - 15 courses, and not have to skip a bunch, only to waddle out. I love many courses, but portion sizes structured for the number of courses, and rather get porky, when a restaurant brings out a plate, large enough to feed a family of six for a week, and it's ONLY the 4th course, out of 10.
The South, and especially the Deep South, tends to overdo things, regarding portion size.
re: Bill Hunt
Loved August for lunch (and yes, be careful on the drinks...one of ours cost more than the three course lunch!). You can always add an app or two (famous blue crab gnocchi) and not be completely blown out - the portions are reasonable.
After trying the lunch, we decided we want to return for dinner and will do so, on our next trip. It will be a major splurge, so doing the lunch first was the way to go for us.
I also agree on Commander's Palace for lunch. This was the other highlight of our trip. Really enjoyed the whole package - including the walk down the back stairs through the kitchen on the way out (after a couple of .25 martinis). Staff could not have been kinder or duck out of the way quicker!
You didn't say if your trip was going to be over a weekend or not. If so, go to Commander's for their Sat or Sun jazz brunch instead of dinner. Unbrelievable! Get the oyster dome, any main and the bread pudding souffle. You might want to then substitute Brigtsen's for Commander's for that dinner. Another great dinner (or lunch place is Bayona's, which is in the FQ. August also has a great $20 lunch special, so you could do that and then be able to go to Lilette or Bayona or Brigtsen's.
Also, a funky, fun lunch place is Surrey's, which has two locations on Magazine Street. It's ultra casual, cheap and has huge portions. You'll be dreaming about their bananas foster french toast for months after you try it.
If you're looking for a greathappy hour deal, you can go uptown near Brigtsens (take the St Charles trolley which is a beautiful ride) and go to One, which has all their apps and drinks at half price from about 5-7 pm. They are really good and the price is right.
There are also some great places to go for music and drinks. The I Club at the JW Marriott is really confy and has great music every night.
OK, I'll chime in. I'm not local but have made about 20 trips in past 2 years, mainly focusing on eating.
Dinners- LOVE all 4. Don't need to change a thing.
Contenders- Stella and Lilette were two of the best dinners I've had in Nola. Might sub out Emeril's (above) and add either of those two as a dinner instead. Herbsaint was good but not great but we ate there last Mardi Gras and the place was nuts, so will go again next week. Jacques-Imo was not great and stupidly crowded and doesn't take reservations and is too far away, so forget it. Sylvain was nice, good little courtyard behind it, but mainly interesting in that they serve late. Wouldn't bother unless I needed dinner at 11 PM. (BTW, odd how Nola has so few places serving late, but that's a different topic.)
Lunch- Central Grocery- Meh. Famous but not so great. Acme- I found it VERY disappointing. Would take the oysters from Dragos (especially chargrilled) any time over Acme (though we went to the one in Metairie, not FQ. Hope the ones in FQ are as good.) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Casamentos and would go there in a heartbeat. Would add Stanley for lunch. Have had a couple of great lunches there.
Drinks-agree with Cure, second Carousel Bar.
Have a great trip!
Wouldn't bother much with coffee shops in NOLA, since you're coming from SF. Velvet on Magazine St is a tiny place, but you can get a proper espresso...doesn't roast its own, though (Stumptown beans). We don't have as big a coffee geek culture here as SF, by a long shot. La Divina's espresso is also good.
Wouldn't bother with Domilese (sorry, fans). Revolution's not open yet, scratch Jacques-Imos off the list for sure, and Gautreau's is not old school like Brennan's or Arnaud's (though it is certainly worth a visit ahead of the old school places, IMHO).
re: Hungry Celeste
as a defender of Jacque-Imo's ill pipe in -- i think its great fun. funky atmosphere, unusual dishses you wont find in SF (such as Alligator Cheesecake, deep-fried roast beef poboy, seafood stuffed pork chop, etc)...plus kickass fried chicken. some good music bars nearby too, so it's a culture win.
again, i disagree...i think the dishes i mentioned are in fact good -- not everything has to be August or Emeril's, and thats okay. true they have too many items on the menu and some arent worth it, but the dishes i mentioned are. and the fried chicken our favorite anywhere. our guests always enjoy it and have great fun to boot.
but maybe my tastes are just mediocre at best?
For sure try to get a lunch in at Coquette. It's an amazing deal if you can get there esp. for the $20 for three courses. Sylvain is kind of like anything you could get in SF, however they make a nice cocktail and have a beautiful patio, so some of these places, if you can't fit in a meal, go for a drink and enjoy the atmosphere.
Also on the cocktail list: Napoleon House. Skip the food but at least go in for a Pimms Cup and the beautiful room/patio.
Last trip we needed a snack in the afternoon and just stopped in to Herbsaint, sat at the bar and had a bowl of gumbo. Incredible ! don't miss it !
My personal preferences would be as follows: Go to Herbsaint instead of Cochon, and maybe plan a cocktail/snack break at Cochon Butcher. R'evolution isn't open yet and has been fraught with delayed opening for like a year now. I'd cross that right off. Lilette, eh. Rather go to Coquette or La Petite Grocery. Sylvain is a great choice for the FQ, and the Three Muses is a great place to drink, eat, and listen to music. And of course you can move down Frenchmen throughout the night.
Definitely go for Casamento's over Acme, take your muff from Central Grocery home with you (but plan ahead- they are closed Sunday and Monday!), and I think the best "old timer" for lunch would be Galatoire's. Johnny's in the Quarter is good for poboys, as is Parkway. Or the RB at Parasol's.
Cocktails/Bars- go to the Avenue Pub in the evening for awesome beer and sit out on the Balcony (go upstairs) which overlooks St. Charles. French 75 and Cure for sure. Also try Belloq in Lee Circle (can walk or take the streetcar to it after the Avenue Pub, and try some food at Chef Domenique's Tamarind) and Bar Tonique on North Rampart. I am also partial to the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone.
Coffee: there's a new place on Magazine Street called Velvet, which is supposed to be AMAZING. They also pull a decent espresso at Angelo Brocato's in Mid City, where you can go after a poboy at Parkway and also enjoy lemon ice and/or cannoli and/or spumoni. If you go to a regular coffee shop with multiple locations, I recommend Community Coffee's CC Coffeehouses over PJ's.
OK, that's all the opinionating I've got for now!
Looks like a good list. I have not hit a few, but then the "locals" love them, and they know better, than I do.
Be forewarned - portion sizes in NOLA are on the large side. DO talk to your server, if doing a lunch, and a dinner. We are NOT talking the portions at Campton Place here, and especially for their tasting menu. Watch out, or you WILL be over-filled, and uncomfortable. Once, I could do a very early breakfast, then a lunch, and still do dinner. I can no longer do that.
Though I am not the "go-to guy" for bars, I would add The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, in your mix.
Now, for breakfast, I really like Stanley!, but others not so much. I would also think about The Original Coffee Pot (nee Maxie's Coffee Pot), but only early, if you want to try for three meals in one day. They are right next to Pat O'Brien's on St. Peter St, and if you get a table at the window, or the first table in the patio, the "people-watching" on St. Peter St. is well-worth the time. The ladies there are kicks, but can seem abrasive to some. Roll with their "punches," and you will soon make new friends.
Service in NOLA is unique - friendly, familiar, but with a hint of an "edge." If you are laid-back, everyone will love you.
To give you my SF "perspective," we are there at least once per month, and I love the Four Seasons for breakfast, then Farallon, Luce, Ame, Campton Place, Jardiniarie and the old Michael Mina's, before Bourbon Steak. We greatly miss the old Aqua, pre-MM, and also have been known to hang out at the Ferry Plaza Wine bistro, with a few cheese platters.
Most of all, enjoy what was once my "home town."
re: Bill Hunt
Hunt, thanks so much for your help! SF sends its best!
I actually just went to the "new" Michael Mina...was terrific as it used to be, but the atmosphere has become far less elegant than in the Westin or old Aqua...would you consider Mina similar to John Besh in terms of level of cooking and restaurant at August?
Ferry Plaza wine bistro is doing well, was just there yesterday. Flour & Water, AQ, and Aziza (and Coi and Benu at a different price point) are the bold, spectacular places right now in SF from my experience the past few months.
Do we need to reserve in advance 3-4 weeks in New Orleans like many SF places?
Hope all is well!
OK, let's see if I can do this, without getting too far OT for the New Orleans Board.
For years, we loved the old Michael Mina's at the St. Francis. We also felt similar for the old Aqua (a few years back).
Back at the height of Michael Mina's (St. Francis), I thought that he was at about the same level, as Chef Besh.
Times changed, and Michael Mina's changed, moving to the old Aqua location. Though the original chef was brought on board, nothing really "sang" for us. Have only dined at the new Michael Mina's (old Aqua) once, but did their full tasting menu, in hopes of capturing the "magic," that we had come to know.
We tried to do the "new" Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak, in the St. Francis, though neither are really big "steakhouse" fans. Unfortunately, we were delayed getting into SFO, due to weather, and they had filled, so we did Farallon.again, instead. Have not yet been to Bourbon Steak, so cannot comment.
Based on our experiences, I would typify Chef Besh's August to be more in line with Restaurant Gary Danko.
Now, and with all of that said, we are about to attend an even at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN, that features Chef Mina, with some great French wine makers. I will report on that event on CH. I have many great memories of Chef Mina, but just not with the more recent iterations.
I have also not done some of the Chef Besh restaurants, though my wife has done at least one more, than I have, though at a culinary event, so that probably does not count "full credit."
As for reservations, I do book early, whether in NOLA, or SF. I hate missing out on any chosen restaurant.
We're back to SF in late May, and all reservations were made a few weeks ago. We are in NOLA in July, and most reservations have been made. It's still a bit too far out for all, but when we get back from London and Blackberry Farm, we will complete those.
Regarding the two cities, I would say that SF fills up a tad earlier, but that is said with a great big dose of "usually." Throw in one largish convention, or an event (seem to be almost every week in NOLA now), and all bets are off.
We have been trying to schedule Coi, but, to date, our schedules have not worked out. We normally fly in on Sunday afternoon, and dine together, and then, while wife is doing a dinner meeting I dine alone, and at a new place, in hopes of taking her there, the Sunday of the next trip. So far, it has not worked out, but I am still planning. Will let you know, when the stars align and I (or better yet, we) make it.
re: Bill Hunt
Hey San Francisco. Berkeley here and Hunt is right about portion sizes. On my first trip to New Orleans, I planned to eat four meals a day. That didn't even last a day. I was stuffed and bringing fried chicken from Chez Helene back to my hotel room for a midnight snack and then tossing the rest. Pace yourself.
Haven't been south in 15 years, but I would work Brigtsen's onto your dinner list. Sort of a similar sensibility to some of our California restaurants. For lunch, you might try Bon Ton Cafe for a Tadich Grill-like experience New Orleans style..