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Jan 29, 2013 07:44 PM

I've been doing my research but...

Hi Guys,
My wife and I are serious NYC hounds coming to NO for the first time and we'll be staying 4 nights. We have friends who live and work there but who are not serious foodies. I've been salivating reading the posts on the NO's board but I wanted to see if you guys could help us plan our eating and drinking.

I can't tell you where we will be staying because we actually plan our lodging around our meals. :) We have only 4 nights and are more than willing to rent a car and travel for a unique experience. Price is no object but for the higher end, I'd like a place that focuses on good quality ingredients. We have some places here in NYC charging huge amounts and you sometimes see the Sysco truck delivering food in the morning. We're happy to pay but would love to taste real local or at least high quality ingredients.

From what I've read, it sounds like we might like the following:

Coquette for dinner
Brunch at Commander's Palace
Sal's Seafood

I also am having trouble finding information on the best place to do cocktails. We have bars here claiming to make a sazerac almost as good as those in NO so now it's time to do the real thing!

If this is too vague, let me know and I'll try to tighten it up. As always, thanks in advance for your help. We are so very excited.


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  1. Jeremy, I could take your itinerary and rework the 3 choices like a Rubik's Cube and still come out with 3 winners every time, choices abound! Your 3 are fine. I'd tweak it thusly:

    Coquette for lunch. It's down the street from CP, and while very good, it's more bustling/a machine. I'd opt for Coquette, calmer, stylish, inventive, fun. But you would enjoy CP as well for lunch, just a wholly different vibe.

    I'd do Herbsaint for dinner. It's my favorite restaurant in town, I could go on and on why. Plenty of words already written on threads here and other sources.

    I'd replace Sal's Seafood with Charlie's Seafood, owned by Frank Brigsten of Brigsten's in the Riverbend area. It's out in the 'burbs, but a down-home place that is the epitome of a New Orleans neighborhood joint.

    Wherever you end up, have fun, glad to have you!

    1. I agree with sanglier but rise to ask when you'll be here? THe fact that you do not know where you are staying indicates that you are not coming between Super Bowl and Mardi Gras. This suggests that you might be hitting the crawfish season as it rolls into high gear. That --plus your car situation--opens up all kinds of possibilities in Acadiana. (the one you'll hear most about is Hawk Arceneaux "in" Rayne, LA).but old places die out (or get so crowded that the organizers give up--it is like Mardi Gras parties--.) and new ones pop up.

      Jazz Brunches are hit-or-miss with me. I remember when locals shunned them as a tourist gimmick (like "Breakfast at Brennan's was locally scortned by many). Nowadays, I will go if someone I know is playing and if my guests insist. Most of the guys I know on Regular Rotations are glad for the dough but they aren't slamming as they'd like to..kind like the funeral second lines of recent years.

      There are also opportunties for grazing, e.g. stop in at Luke for some sligthtly overpriced meats (which we now grandeloquently refer to as charcuterie). I like to drag folks around for a bite of this and a bite of that when I can.

      3 Replies
      1. re: hazelhurst

        Thank you both. Hazelhurst, we are coming 2/26-3/2. Sanglier, are you suggesting Coquette then for lunch instead of dinner? We could do either. Also, we like not to schedule too much because we love spending time seeing different neighborhoods as opposed to hitting 'must see' places. (we enjoyed walking around Paris so much that we actually just admired the Eiffel Tower from afar instead of waiting to go up! I love the idea of wandering around grazing. Any suggestions as to where me might do this are always welcome. I believe we have some Hyatt points saved up and can may stay at the Hyatt French Quarter. We can travel of course from there. Thank you again!

        1. re: JeremyEG

          If you used Coquette for lunch then you would be in fine form for landing later at, say, LIlette or Uperlien or Clancy's for a dinner. I've sent friends on little foraging trips in/around the Garden District, grabbing a soup here and maybe a poor boy somewhere else...Parasol's or Tracey's. (The sandwich is a helluva meal so you'd eat light elsewhere). Tons of places downtown/FQ wil be open thru the afternoon although the price is gonna be "up there" at lots of them. Luke does have some good stuff and his oysters were great when I last had them about a month ago. There is always the perennial favoriteon this board, Mr B's, across from the Monteleone..that would handl;e your main French Quarter stop. Lots of folks have been whooping up Muriels' in Jackson Square and they have an afternoon menu but for the prices there I'd go elsewhere myself. But I have not heard any complaints about their stuff and it is hard to screw up things like crabmeat salad (unless your dressing is atrocious).

          1. re: hazelhurst

            FWIW, I had a very disappointing meal at Lilette last time I was there . . . used to love Lilette, but since John opened up the bar next door -- I'd pass (given the other options available for a 1st time visitor).

            I'll probably give Lilette another chance, but it falls into the category of "so many restaurants, so little time" -- we'll get back eventually, but I'm not in a hurry.


            TO THE OP:

            I'd certainly take hazelhurst's word over mine. She's local and has far more opportunities than I do to stay current and "on top" of things. I visit at least once, usually twice, a year, but I'm still a visitor -- even though a number of chefs, waiters, and bartenders know me by name! ;^)

      2. I'll make my reply brief, but if I was doing my first trip to New Orleans again, for 4 days, this would be my itinerary:
        Day one-
        Brunch - Commanders Palace
        Dinner - Mr. B's Bistro (BBQ shrimp)
        Day two-
        Breakfast - Surrey's
        Lunch - Parkway Bakery & Tavern (surf & turf po boy)
        Dinner - Herbsaint
        Day three -
        Lunch - Coquette
        Dinner - Charlie's Seafood
        Day four-
        Lunch - Galitoire's (dress up, an experience not to be missed)
        Dinner - Casamentos (best oysters in the city imho)

        Snacks/other eats: Dragos for chargrilled oysters, Felix's belly up to the bar for again, oysters, Hermes bar @ Antoine's for, you guessed it, oysters (rock, foch, bienville), Luke @ happy hour for $.50 oysters, Dominica happy hour 1/2 price pizza, Coop's for gumbo, Emeril's for banana cream pie, Camellia grill for griddled pecan pie w/ ice cream, Cafe Du Monde (gotta try it once)

        Enjoy your trip.

        8 Replies
        1. re: GDPhalp

          GDPhalp, spot on.

          Drinks: Cure, Bouligny Tavern, French 75 @ Arnauds, Carousel Bar @ Hotel Montleone, Sazerac Bar @ The Roosevelt.

          1. re: GDPhalp

            I will be taking my brother to NO for his 40th birthday (he has never been, I was there about 10 years ago). We will be staying in the FQ from 5/6-5/11 and will have a car from the 8th-11th, so travelling for a meal is definitely not out of the question.
            I appreciate your above itinerary, GDPhalp, and have copied it onto my "ideas for NO" list. Now for my questions (which may be silly), but I would like my brother to get a "true" NO foodie experience (he lives in the northwoods of Wisconsin, I am in L.A. and when I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said "eat"): Do you feel that this list will give us a nice sampling of all NO has to offer, its specialties? Are there other places that are out of the way that may do these itmes better? I know he loves crayfish, however, not sure if this is the season. If it is, where would you go? We are completely find with backroad, hole in the wall places, too. I truly appreciate any input. Thank you!

            1. re: WildSwede

              The above itinerary is my attempt at a "tour de force" New Orleans - in a limited amount of time. You are getting local seafood, rusticly prepared (i.e. boiled, fried, other iterations) @ Charlie's Seafood - this is Frank Brigtsen's place (of James Beard & Brigtsen's fame) - he cares about where his product comes from, and it shines through with the quality of the seafood. You still should be good for crawfish in May. You'll notice a couple of classics on my list as well: Galitoire's & Commanders Palace. Galitoire's is a place where you should linger. There is nothing nouveau about the food, they are old new olreans standards - done as they should be. They also pour a great sazarac. If one place sums up the last 100 years in the city, it is this restaurant. Commander's history is well known & for my money, it's the best brunch in the city. The garden room is one of the prettiest (non courtyard) places to eat & the food is spot on. Other things you may want to get while you're in the city are also included. One is BBQ shrimp - this is on the menu at several places, but the best is found @ Mr. B's in the FQ. Their gumbo (ya ya) is also delicious. Po boys are the king of all sandwiches imho. If you like variety, Parkway is the place to go. If this is your first go at it, roast beef, fried shrimp are the most popular. Many places do po boys well (domilese's, mahoney's, magazine st. johnny's), so pick your poison. Herbsaint is Donald Link's place, another james beard winner. The menu really sings to me here, and I've never had less than a great meal there. My favorite breakfast is @ Surrey's (go with the hash) - my favorite lunch deal is at Coquette ($23.00 is an absolute steal for their 3 courses) - always great. Finally, I listed Casamentos. Its a very unassuming place, with the freshest, coldest oysters consistently. Get an oyster loaf while you're there, it changed my life. Tons of great snacking in the city too, and my list barely scratch's the surface - but hit as many as you can - and prepare to plan your next trip on the flight back home. Cheers.

              1. re: GDPhalp

                I think you ahve a good overall--and ambitious---list there. I find myself wondering, on behalf of a visitor, where I'd go for crawfish bisque since I consider that an essential among our classics. Bon Ton does it, Antoine's has it..where else other than a private club has a good one? I am trying to recall the last time I had it at a restaurant in the City

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  Ha - yes, ambitious - though my ambition has faded over the years. As a neophyte, I "knew" i could handle B, L & D in the city. Some lessons are best learned through pain.

                  1. re: GDPhalp

                    In 1982 a then-young man (now pere de famille) sat with his Boston father, Tulane-student sister, NOLA resident (Tulane alumnus) cousin and yr hmb sv't in the turret at Commander's Sunday brunch. He opined that "New Orleans ain't seen anything like what I'm going to do." He had two Brandy Alexanders and his father entrusted the neophyte to his cousin and my care.

                    We knew our advice was like sowing seeds on a parking lot but we let him run as amok as we thought was educational. By the time we had him at dinner at about 6;30, he was stunned that we could eat lamb chops bearnaise, oysters en brochette and have cocktails before. The poor boy did not understand the vital ability to pace the day. He does now, and I am informed he still tells the tale of his foolish "declaration of war" all those years ago.

                      1. re: ibew292

                        Thank you, everyone. I truly appreciate your assistance. I am having fun deciding the excursions we will go on and the meals we will eat. You have given me a lot to think about! Thank you again!

          2. Random thoughts . . .

            Typically I stay in the CBD (Central Business District), which is on the ***quieter*** side of Canal Street -- i.e.: just outside the Quarter. The Roosevelt is our usual base -- and International House, before the Roosevelt opened -- but there are a number of choices. If staying IN the French Quarter, personally I'd choose something like the W Hotel on Chartres (quieter street), or on a side street like the Hotel Mazarin.

            In terms of restaurants, here are some suggestions (alphabetically) for Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner.

            Bayona (L,D)
            Charlie's Seafood (D)
            Cochon (L)
            Commander's Palace (B, or weekday L for 25¢ Martinis)
            Coquette (L,D)
            Domenica (L)
            Galatoire's (L, better people watching -- Friday lunch especially)*
            Herbsaint (D)
            Lüke (D)
            Restaurant Patois (D)
            Upperline (D)

            * FWIW, hazelhurst dislikes Friday lunch @ Galatoire's, but I do think you have to do it once . . .

            In terms of Cocktails . . .

            Arnaud's French 75 (Chris Hannah)
            BarUnCommon (Chris McMillian)
            The Sazerac Bar

            Since you've never been to New Orleans, I'd suggest checking out the Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone, too.

            5 Replies
            1. re: zin1953

              Any thoughts on Brigsten's. What bout Arnaud's - is the Jazz Bistro worth it. Clancy's keeps popping as top 10, thoughts?

              This will be my second trip to NO. I've already been to the following: :

              - Dick & Jenny's (D - loved)
              - Irene's (D - loved)
              - Luke (happy hour oysters - awesome)
              - Cochon (D - eh, this was okay. honestly, nothing special IMO)
              - Mr B's (L)
              - Elizabeth's (L - hated, totally overated IMO)
              - Cafe du Monde (snack)
              - Stella (brunch/breakfast)

              So far, all we've decided on is the following although are totally open to suggestions:

              Friday Lunch - Galtoire's (I hope I can get in)
              Sunday Brunch - Atchafalaya ‎
              Monday Lunch - Commander's Palace

              1. re: naomic

                FWIW, getting in to Galatoire's for Friday lunch isn't that difficult (in my experience). You just have to show up early . . .

                Commander's on Monday . . . 25¢ Martinis!

                Brigsten's was VERY good, but in all fairness, someone else should answer as I haven't been there since Katrina. (I go to NOLA 1-2x a year, but -- so many restaurants, so little time!) Can't speak to Arnaud's Jazz Bistro either, but Arnaud's French 75 is a GREAT spot for Sazeracs!

                1. re: zin1953

                  zin1953, thank you! We arrive into NO on Friday at 11:30 so probably won't get to Galatoire's until 12:30. We'll give it a try and if the line seems totally impossible then I guess we can try Bayona for lunch.

                  In your opinion: Brigsten's or Patois? Herbsaint's or Clancy's or Stella? I wasn't blown away by Cochon so I'm worried that I won't love Herbsaint's.

                  So many good choices and not enough time!

                  Thanks again.

                  1. re: naomic

                    As I said above, I enjoyed my dinner at Brigsten's, but I've not been back since Katrina. On the other hand, I return to Patois over and over again.

                    I enjoy Herbsaint (and Coquette, for example). I have to admit I've not been to Clancy's. Stella is probably the first choice of many.

                2. re: naomic

                  oops... I meant Mother's not Elizabeth's in my above post ^^