Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Orleans >
Dec 9, 2012 08:34 AM

Classic creole/cajun

I am finally going to New Orleans and couldnt' be more excited about it. Naturally I want to enjoy the fabulous cuisine of the city. On my list of restaurants so far is Galitoire's and GW Fins, one Emeril Lagasses restaurant - NOLA or Emeril's New Orleans, which one would be the best choice for a first time visitor? I would also like to include one jazz brunch and from what I've read Muriel's or Commander's Palace seems to be the best choices, is any one of them better than the other? I have been looking for a place for great jambalaya as well, but hasn't found this dish on the web menues on the restaurants most mentioned here, where would I go to enjoy a classic jambalaya?
Finally, of course i want to enjoy some nice bars and Herme's, Carousel and French 75 seems to be often mentioned. Are these the best options if I both want a great cocktail and listen to some New Orleans jazz/soul, like Dr John, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair etc? I am very grateful for any comments on my choices so far as well as more suggestions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You are going to really enjoy yourself, that's for sure. A few thoughts:

    Creole is New Orleans city food. You will find many examples. Cajun is Louisiana country food. There are fewer examples of that cuisine. We went to Cochon for cajun and found it to be lacking in passion. We were let down.

    There has been some debate about GW Fins given that it doesn't focus on New Orleans cuisine. Given the focus of your post and the title I'd suggest maybe putting it lower down on your priority list. Galatoire's, on the other hand, could not exist in any city but New Orleans.

    Between Commander's Palace and Muriel's there is no contest. Commander's is a classic New Orleans restaurant with unbelievable ambience in a huge mansion in the Garden District. I haven't eaten at Muriel's but we did make an aborted attempt once when we were planning a special meal and found it to be waaaay more casual than we wanted (tourists in shorts and sandals for dinner). I'm not knocking it since it might be good, but from what I saw it's not the same sort of place as CP at all.

    Jambalaya is a tough dish because most prefer to make their own at home.

    For music, there are a lot of great jazz clubs on Frenchman Street, one neighborhood over from the French Quarter. You could definitely have cocktails and hear from music there. A lot of the music clubs in the Quarter are FTO (for tourists only) with the major exception of Preservation Hall. The PH Jazz Band plays traditional NO jazz but these days with a twist. I've been going since I was a kind and I love all the changes over the years. No drinks, no food, just music. A special place.

    Also, don't miss Mr. B's BBQ shrimp. You can sit at the bar at lunch and have their lunch special cocktails, plus some of these beauties.

    I haven't been to the Carousel Bar since the renovation but I love to go when they have live piano. I'm not a big piano lounge fan but the vibe there is perfect.


    2 Replies
    1. re: kukubura

      Thanks. Didn't know the distinction between Cajun and Creole as both cuisines seems to be lumped together here in Europe. Will definently include Mr B, either for Friday lunch or for a Sunday jazz brunch and do CP jazz brunch on Saturday. I am also thinking to replace GW Fins, though fantastic reviews, as I can get great seafood in many places in the world, but in NO I do want the unique food of the city.

      1. re: kukubura

        Now, with my many visits to G W Fins, I have found that they do focus on "local" seafood, and preparations, though a few might not be specific to New Orleans.

        I have yet to have anything less than a very good meal there, and most have been excellent.

        Now, some dislike that there are often "tourists" dining there, but I know dozens of locals, who enjoy it greatly.

        My vote would be for G W Fins, though it does not get much love on this board - maybe it's that they allow tourists?


      2. Jambalaya is poor folks food, cheap and filling. It's not something you'd normally find on a menu at a sit-down restaurant. It's often served at outdoor gatherings prepared in huge cast-iron pots. If you want to try it, make a pot at home. You can adjust the recipe given here. :)

        1. Just wanted to write a late thank you. I really enjoyed my stay in NOLA and it is one of three cities in the world that has made me feel just at home on arrival. Had so many great meals and was really happy to indulge in local cuisine. Will certainly be back for more.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JosefK

            Where did you go? Inquiring minds demand to know!

            1. re: kukubura

              We arrived at Friday lunch and headed directly to Herbsaint, which as I mentioned was the highlight! Then dinner was at Galatoire's, so Friday couldn't have been better. Saturday lunch was at Commander's Palace with jazz music and the turtle soup and dinner at NOLA. Sunday lunch was at Mr B's Bistro and dinner at Coquette. I did enjoy dining at each one of the places, but depending on how long my next trip over will be the two that I am certain I will revisit is Herbsaint and Galatoire's. For bars there is of course a myriad over there, but in terms of good cocktails I did enjoy the classic bars of Hermes and French 75 and for music a bar crawl on Frenchman street was good fun. Sunday evening we had planned to go to Bacchanal as there was some live music there but the rain started hammering down so unfortunately we had to rethink that.

            2. re: JosefK

              Josef, I'm curious...what are the other two cities that made you feel at home on arrival? New Orleans I can definitely understand!

              1. re: Christine

                Barcelona - same kind of relaxed vibe as in NOLA, equally great food, but in terms of jazz/soul more alternative music and wonderful art nouveau. Swedes actually seems to have a love affair with this city, but there is something there that suits most tastes no matter what you are looking for.
                New York - very different vibe to both Barcelona and NOLA, but after all movies, books, tv-series taking place there I felt at home first time crossing Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. In terms of food you obviously eat very well there as well though maybe the city doesn't have the same distinctive cuisine as NOLA, but rather a mixed bag with far too many gems. Music wise I grew up listening to the New York underground scene of the 1970s so that suits me fine as well.