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Galatoire or Commanders Palace

Two Yankees heading south for a whirlwind eating tour; we could use a little help with a particular question. We are looking for a really nice lunch out--we want to get dressed up and linger over classic New Orleans cuisine in a historical environment. Sooo...which is your vote: Galatoire or Commanders Palace, and what MUST we order? Thank you!!

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  1. They aree such different places that it i hard to say. Commander's runs more like a traditional restaurant with the staff heirarchy: Galatoire's is a bistro arrangement. Galatoires affords better lingering becuase they are open throughout the day whereas Commanders will shutter after lunch for a few hours. ALso, Commanders thinks of itself as "haute creole" (a term they invented out of whole cloth) and Galatoire's is more basic. Despite some snorts about the after-five jacket requirement, Galatoire's is emphatically not pretensious..it is a very democratic place although the regular custome next to you will get the last order of crabmeat if he wants it. Commander's turtle soup is excellent and Galatoire's version can be. The oyster dome at CP is a big hit too. If you like tons of butter and hollandaise and want garlic added to something then Galatorie's is it. If you want a more tradtitional High End meal, Commander's gets the nod.

    1. Galatoire's Friday lunch downstairs is a must and well worth the wait. Just go upstairs to the bar and hang out until you can get a table. Order the seafood platter and the pompano. Make friends with the tables around you and drink lots of champagne.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lawstudent

        Seafood platter? Sounds like Deanie's. Just for clarification, I think you are referring to the grand Goute..which is usually oysters en brochette, shrimp remoulade, crabmeat (sometimes crawfish) maison. Just a note of nomenclature.

        1. re: lawstudent

          Seafood platter? Sounds like Deanie's. Just for clarification, I think you are referring to the grand Goute..which is usually oysters en brochette, shrimp remoulade, crabmeat (sometimes crawfish) maison. Just a note of nomenclature.

        2. Interesting question. I agree with both Hazelhurst and :Lawstudent. Different experiences.

          If one has never done either, then it is a "toss-up." Both can be great, though CP has been a bit of a let-down for us recently.

          Friday lunch at Galatoire's downstairs IS a show (most days), and well worth the line. Go early, get in line, and then begin to relax.



          1. Have had lunch at both spots in the last month, hands down the nod goes to Commander's.
            If you are going tor lunch during the week, the $0.25 cent martinis sweeten the deal. You will want to try the turtle soup and the Shrimp Henican is my favorite appetizer. Lunch menu changes often, so just ask your server. Ask for the Garden Room. Enjoy your visit.

            14 Replies
            1. re: TaTee

              We wound up doing both--Galatoire for the famous Friday lunch and Commander's Garden Room for Sunday Jazz Brunch, so I feel we got the best of both worlds. Galatoire's was obviously a far-more leisurely experience: loved the oysters rockefeller & the crab maison. Entree was not as fabulous: sweet potato cheesecake was TO DIE FOR DELICIOUS! . We got a kick out of the "show" at both spots.

              Nice turtle soup at Commander's and the sherry table-side spike was a lovely touch. For brunch we had their pulled pork over biscuits with poached eggs: completely over the top and heavenly. W really wanted to hit some of the famous spots, so thrilled to have picked these two, and not Brennans which I hear is on the decline.

              1. re: Wannabfoode

                I love that you did both. That's our motto. In fact, last time we had lunch at Mr. B's, then walked over and had more lunch at Galatoire's. And then hit CP for lunch the next day. They're both indispensible.

                1. re: kukubura

                  Who are you people and can I meet you? Going to NOLA for the first time with my DH at end of Feb. and obsessing over our anniversary dinner. CP, Galatoire's, R'Evolution, etc. Even booking my hotel based upon proximity to food.
                  We're there for 6 nights and I'm now planning out most meals. My DH could care less :( Until we get there and he will enjoy the food. Just doesn't care about hitting two big restaurants in the same day which I TOTALLY would!

                  Thinking about Mr. B's for jazz brunch on Sunday since we will probably eat at CP for anniv. dinner so won't go back again. Any recommendations for jazz brunch? Would like a fun and lively place. Thank you!

                  1. re: anita2020

                    Commander's is pretty universally recognized as hitting its prime for lunch/brunch, not dinner. There's something lively and celebratory about being there during daylight hours. I've never been there for dinner so I won't speak too strongly on that but I will say that Commander's Palace IS lunch to me!

                    1. re: kukubura

                      Well darn. I did have lunch planned at CP but moved it to dinner. Maybe I should go back to original plan - lunch at CP on Thursday and Gallatoire's for dinner Friday night. My DH grandparents are from same region of France as Gallatoire's heritage so definitely need to eat there. DH loves sweetbreads and I saw they have that on the menu. My family is Southern so we make a perfect New Orleans hybrid tourist couple. Thanks for the help!

                      1. re: anita2020

                        That's just my experience. But honestly you'll probably do well either way. Dinner on Friday at Galatoire's COULD be a wild experience. Our Friday dinner there a few years ago was... memorable! Keep in mind that the notorious Friday lunchers will still be there... but several hours drunker!

                        Just know what you're in for. As I've often said, Gataoire's is a restaurant that almost needs an instruction manual. It's... different.

                        1. re: kukubura

                          I'm all in for a rowdy Friday night dinner, even if (or maybe because) it's our 15th anniversary. Who knows, we could be in the same shape! But I do want to remember the meal. Looks like reservations are taken 1 month prior so have marked that on my calendar.

                          Also decided on CP for Sunday brunch at 1pm. I like being towards later in the service so hopefully we won't be rushed. Always feel guilty if people are waiting for a table. Of course, I live in the SF Bay Area, so I'm certain the pace is different in NO where it would be impolite to be rushed for a meal!!

                          1. re: anita2020

                            Instruction manual time! The reservations at Galatoire's are only for the upstairs dining room, which isn't the room of legend. The downstairs dining room is home to all the table-hopping, singalongs, back-slapping and old school New Orleans shenanigans, but no reservations.

                            As for having the meals take their sweet time, that shouldn't be a problem as meals in NOLA easily stretch to 3+ hours. But it can't hurt to smile at your server and say "we're in no hurry." They'll know what you mean. If you get to CP early for a drink at the bar (as we always do) the host might try to rush you to a table (as they always do) but you can stand firm and get your time at the bar. This little quirk is the only bit of rushing that we ever get there. I don't understand it. Also, if you want a particular room but they say no tables are available, you can surely spend time at the bar while you wait for one! Plus, if you tip the bartender generously word will spread and fun will be had. At least, that's how we roll in NOLA!

                            1. re: kukubura

                              I knew the reservations at Galatories was only for upstairs dining. Doing my homework! Figured that would be better than not getting in at all. What time would we need to get in line for Friday dinner for downstairs? We can have a light lunch and eat early so that's not a problem. Do they let you put your name in then go to the upstairs bar? Help!

                              We are switching hotels that day and will be at Royal Sonesta so we are very close. Also doing homework on the menu so I will be somewhat prepared.

                              My DH is going to love the Sazeracs in NOLA. He loves bourbon and whiskey so he will be in heaven. Unfortunately I am allergic to any brown liquor due to an incident with Wild Turkey in college and not the kind with wings. I'm certain there will be plenty other things for me to drink like a French 75. Looking forward to that!

                          2. re: kukubura


                            Well-stated. Hazelhurst, and a few others, have offered up the "instruction manual," though maybe, one page at a time.

                            There are some aspects, that one needs to get a hold of, before they visit, so as to improve the experience, and it may well be an "experience."


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              My adice to newcomers is to develop their own, personal narrative in there. I can give waiters' names all day but the realtionship is a personal one. For exampe, some of the supperannuated waiterrs are not suited for some people..odd hours perhaps or get off early. Some are very, very relaxed which is fine by me because when I sit down they know I'm not going anywhere. On slow days I like it when the waiter sits down and chats. And the older waiters have known me since I was a boy and I like to give them business. The place has its own pace, its own quirks, its own rules (true of most restuarants I think but moreso in there). Before OTB I used toget my Louisiana Derby bets down in there is not at the track. I tell people that much of the fun is getting it set up your own way. Go in a couple of times and see who you like. And relax...

                        2. re: kukubura

                          I will say that the conventional wisdom about CP being better for lunch than dinner must have been before Chef McPhail came on board, because my dinners there over the past year have been great at worst, amazing at best. So I wonder if it's time to bury that old chestnut of advice.

                          1. re: noradeirdre

                            I have remarked before that I have an old friend who lives on 6th Street and wanders over for dinner on a regular basis. he says it is just fine and, in the middle of the week, less likely to be crowded with loud tourists. I had dinner there in November and it was very pleasant. Moreover, every man in the room was in coat AND tie. If they start doing card tricks and clamping grinders to the table, though, they've seen the last of me.

                            1. re: noradeirdre

                              We're big McPhail fans so maybe we should do dinner next time we're in town and put this to bed. I don't want to poopoo dinner, but I think that there's something about the daytime atmosphere there that plays to its strengths.

                  2. Galatoire's is the better experience. The perfect meal - start with a Sazarac cocktail, then Turtle Soup, Oysters Rockefeller, Godchaux salad, Grilled Pompano with crabmeat and lemon, Creamed Spinach as a side, and finish with a coffee.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ummm666

                      What??? Finish with a coffee? Who finishes with a coffee when you can have a cafe brulot?

                    2. I love Galatoire. If I could eat only one meal in NO, it would be there.

                      The souffle potatoes are delightful, and I also like their shrimp remoulade. That's just from the appetizers. From the entrees I choose whatever I'm in the mood for - it's all good. Cafe brulot to finish with.

                      But I'd be tempted to go to Antoine's instead...

                      1. Just out of curiousity, why is this an "either/or"?

                        1. Just went back to Commanders for Sunday Brunch on 1/6 and I cannot recommend it. I have lately been going to Galatoires for Sunday lunch when I get to NOLA as it never disappoints but thought Commanders would be better choice since I had underage family with me. Never again - overall, it was very underwhelming - both service and food. First the food - starter of chicken and biscuits was supposed to have 2 sauces and a poached egg with it. Got a measly little piece of chicken, one sauce on the side and no egg. While it was pretty good, it bore no resemblance to what was described on the menu. Main was pecan-crusted fish in a pureed corn sauce. Mainly it just looked like a plate of sick. The pecan crust was pale and slimy - not browned or anything resembling a crust and the fish wasn't cooked well. The corn sauce had very little flavor and the overall presentation was really bad - especially for such a highly rated restaurant. My niece's salad was fine, but her entree was huge and very rich. It was not bad - I tried it but just overwhelming. They seem to be going for big portions of mediocre food. Even the desserts were enormous but not anything special. For the service, one waiter bordered on rude and tried to bully my niece. We wanted to wait until after our entrees to order dessert as we were having a leisurely meal. He kept pushing her saying "this is the way WE do it" until I told him we were not ordering dessert at that time, period. He also argued with me about ordering a bloody mary as I don't like horseradish in them. After that, he stayed away from our table and only came back to give me the check.
                          Unfortunately, they also seem to have done away with the dress code, which was part of the charm. The musicians are still great but it's not worth $125 for brunch. It was such a disappointment.

                          My suggestion is to go to Galatoires. My favorite thing to do is not to order off the menu but to let my waiter suggest what is good and goes with whatever I'm drinking. I've done this the last couple years and have never been disappointed - they always seem to suggest just what I'm in the mood for. Plus, I do like that they maintain a dress code as it's nice to get a little dressed up. I'm sorry we didn't go there but I won't make that mistake again.

                          I think Commanders Palace is resting on it's laurels or the kitchen and staff were having a really off day. People at the table next to us said their meals weren't very good either.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: amh615

                            Brunch in New Orleans (particularly anything billed as a Jazz Brunch) is going to suffer from too many covers. While I am a recent CP evangelist, I'd definitely say the weekend brunch is much weaker than their lunch and dinner services. They just aren't on their A game. I'm sorry you had such a disappointing experience.

                            1. re: noradeirdre

                              If you have the time, by all means, wait on line at Galatoires Friday mornings. However, if you have a favorite waiter, give them a call. Often, they can make arrangements for someone else to stand out in the heat on your behalf.