I can't research any more--we are in town for a WEEK in March...HELP!
I'm a university professor and my spring break plans fell through and we have decided to drive from Virginia to New Orleans. We are staying in an apartment in the Marigny from about March 2-9 and we will have a car. I have been looking for everything from traditional New Orleans fine dining to Ya Ka Mein and Po Boys and everything in between. I am usually pretty good at eating my way through a city, but I have to say that opinions on New Orleans restaurants vary tremendously, especially here on CH.
We know we want Po Boys and maybe to sample 2 of the city's best to compare.
My wife will kill me if we don't risk the line at CDM for beignets.
My son is Ya Ka Mein obsessed...something about noodles and soup is all he needs.
We have wanted to go to Cochon for years, but many of the local reviews are disconcerting.
One dressy dinner, but we are pretty casual so it won't be jackets and ties every night for sure.
Oysters at Casamento's
Elizabeth's (around the corner from our friend) for brunch
We have a whole week, so country buffet or fried chicken is a definite.
Looking for best bar to drink AND eat?
What's out in the suburbs...we will drive for food.
I am fishing on one of the last days...not sure of the location of the marina yet, but we'll want to do lunch in that vicinity.
I could list 30 places we WANT to try but I want to hear what we might have overlooked or what you all think are absolute musts.
We are adventurous eaters but appreciate food in all forms and prices.
Can't eat 200 meals for every dinner...faculty salary is NOT all that!!
Thanks in advance, I am looking forward to your favorites.
A recap of the trip and thanks to your advice.
We did Jacques Imo's (see previous reply) and Jamila's and a day in the French Quarter got us some gumbo from The Gumbo Shop, a Muffaletta from Central Grocery, and Beignet's from Cafe du Monde--which had no line and was a pleasant place to sit for a bit...great people watching.
Monday night we ended up eating at Herbsaint and give it high marks on all counts. We had a great meal, great service, a terrific "flight" of sweeter red wines, and just a very relaxing night out. After a long day, it was nice to get great service and relax our way through a meal.
On Tuesday evening, we had been walking around the Garden District and also all over Magazine Street and walked by Big Fisherman Seafood. They were putting a sign out that said, "Just in, fresh crawfish, 299 a pound until 700 PM" We asked and they said it was a 2-day sale, yesterday and today. After our day slowed down, we made it back by before they closed. Just 2 of us got about 4.5 lbs. of freshly boiled crawfish, some cold Abita Ambers, and the remains of our muffelata. We ate crawfish on the front porch and drank cold beer...and it was the best meal of the trip. Big Fisherman cooked those crawfish perfectly--not overdone, beautifully spiced. We ate every bit, sucking heads and pinching tails til my fingers pruned.
One of the best things we did was to get tickets to Gambit's Best of New Orleans Food Revue. 45 bucks got an open bar and food from about 30-35 restaurants, and fresh beignets from Morning Call (the event was held at City Park) The restaurants put on a great show and we ate and ate and ate food from Brigstens, Bourne, SouBou, Magasin, Maurepas Foods, Root, GW FIns, Rene Bistro, Lola, Chef Ron's, Rio Mar, Tivoli and Lee, Company Burger, Martinique, Louisiana Fish Fry, Killer Po Boys, and more that I just couldn't remember to write down.We ate ALL of it, Sobou's ceviche and Root's pork belly with brussel sprout salad were among the best, but it was all GREAT and the people were SUPER nice and the beer super cold and the liquor high end. They brought hot beignets to the table--I am sold on this event.
We ate po boys at Parkway...surf and turf: fried shrimp and roast beef with "debris" (a great sandwich) and for my birthday we had dinner at Cochon.
Friday we made it over to Cassamento's. We noticed the hours earlier that day and went over and got in a noticeable but not too tragically long line. It was worth the wait. In line Mike the oyster man plucked a very large dozen and we slurped raw oysters in line (make sure to tip!) and got seated quickly. While there were plenty of choices we stuck with oysters: we ate 2 dozen raw and in shooters with make-it-yourself cocktail, beer, and hot sauce, 2 dozen chargrilled with garlic butter (fantastic) and oyster stew--oysters in liquor with milk and light seasoning--really simple and very tasty. Cold beer and we had an amazing lunch. Talked to one of the owners--they just don't open in the summer and they close at 230 in the afternoon not opening again until 530. It's worth finding out the hours and go in an R month!
Dinner at Cochon was on my birthday and it was worth it. I reserved the table in January and so glad we did. I cooked in restaurants for 20 years, the last 13 as an executive chef, so I at least know what I like and what is good. Cochon was very, very, good.
We also drank at the Avenue Pub on St Charles...met a friend who lived nearby. GREAT beer and whiskey selections, nice bartenders, very good happy hours, and a generally fun place. A guy from the Tulane radio station gave us CD's of their "best of new orleans" shows...still playing it in my car now!!!
We also went to Mid-City Rock-and-Bowl...it was huge fun for us old people to see other old people rocking out to live music. That is a part of the city that is SUPER appealing...
On Friday night we totally bailed on eating...instead seeing music for almost 8 hours. Frenchman Street was huge fun and we must have seen at least 10 bands, including Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers...GREAT!
We had to leave town on Saturday, but managed to get in line early for lunch at Cochon Butcher. This is the best of the Donald Link experiences--all were good, but this is where I could eat every day. We brought rillettes, lardo, and blood sausage home in the cooler.
A quick stop at Rouses to pick up Blue Runner canned goods, Abita Amber, Zapps Crawtator chips, and super cheap local andouille and we left the city...
Like MacArthur, I have only three words:
I SHALL RETURN.
An amazing trip.
Okay, we have been here for 3 days. So far, so good.
We ended up staying in a nice little house in the Black Pearl neighborhood. It's been great doing our thing from out here...no issues, yet, except the streetcar is under repair.
First night, Saturday, 800 PM...we went to Jacques Imo's. Waited in a line that was supposed to be 2 hours, BUT a family from PA didn't show up with enough people for their reservation and we became their new best friends and joined them for dinner. It was insanely crowded but the food was very good...
Had our brunch at Ralph's on the Park. Can't complain at all; great service and food, nice location and not quite as intense as Commander's Palace and others, but close enough. We were able to walk in the park after brunch and also the sculpture garden...it was a beautiful day.
Had dinner at Jamila's in our neighborhood. Tunisian Cuisine, which is NOT what we came to New Orleans for...but it was what the doctor ordered--low key for one night, well seasoned, GREAT service. EXCELLENT house made merguez.
Today we did the WWII museum and had nice drinks at The American Sector (happy hour) and then a GREAT DINNER at Herbsaint...really nice evening.
French Quarter tomorrow...doing those "touristy" things.
Thanks for all the advice
re: Hungry Celeste
Jamila and Moncef were incredible. We called (we were only a block away) to see if it was okay to come in 35 minutes before closing and Moncef said, "come, eat, stay."
It was a great choice. We were experiencing a little bit of overkill and worried that every minute of the trip was too "determined." Merguez, wine, tagine, and friendly owners took all that away. We could have hung there all night and talked to them, they were so friendly.
That is great advice.
I see folk, coming from ___, who plan a culinary event for every moment, or every day. I appreciate what they are attempting, but would never even attempt to do that in NOLA. Great food abounds, and just let if flow.
Often dinners DO need reservations, but usually lunches and breakfasts do not. Explore the City, and dine at places that interest YOU. While some places ARE better, than others, it is pretty hard to find bad food in New Orleans.
The only notable omission in the responses to date is Boucherie just off Carrollton Ave. While reactions appear somewhat mixed, I must say a recent dinner there was truly exceptional. The small plates format was ideal for sampling a wide variety of preparations and the quality was consistently impressive. All in a lively, charming setting with wonderful service and very reasonable prices. Right up there with Herbsaint to my surprise (and with more consistent service). Can't wait to return. Oh - and do be sure to make it to Casamentos. It's the real deal.
I'm not huge on poboys, but if you want a killer sandwich, head to Cochon Butcher and you will not be disappointed. I am not a fan of their sister restaurant, Cochon. I'll give an example from last weekend when my friends wanted to go there. The Cochon plate- beautiful, tender pieces of cochon over turnips topped with bland, out of season mangos. My favorite two bars to dine and drink at are new places- Sylvain and SoBou. Both should be within your budget. Several restaurants will prepare the food you catch on your fishing trip- try Cafe Giovanni for that ($17per plate). Consider R'Evolution for your one dress up meal. I'd also try to hit Commander's Palace for brunch on the weekend. BBQ Shrimp is best at Mr. B's. Casamento's is frustrating about their open times so check in with them before heading uptown. Dong Phuong is worth the drive out east, but Magasin has great Pho too.
Here are a few humble suggestions, all on the lower end of the price scale (where my favorite eats are always found):
--Sammy's Food Service, 3000 Elysian Fields, for poboys. A slice of real NOLA, not aimed at tourists, the upwardly mobile, or the status conscious. Typical "neighborhood" restaurant menu. Roast beef poboys stand out, but the daily specials are worth a look: stuffed mirliton, smothered cabbage, stuffed crab, etc. http://sammysfood.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=31
--Cafe Reconcile, 1631 Oretha Castle Haley. A charity organization and a solid lunch joint all wrapped in one. Trains at-risk youth for hospitality careers and offers damn fine shrimp & white beans on Thursdays, plus homestyle food every day of the week. Recently renovated & expanded. http://reconcileneworleans.org/
--If you're near Elizabeth's, then you're very near Pizza Delicious. $2 for a cheese slice, $2.50 for pepperoni. Changing array of specialty pies. Nobody comes to NOLA for pizza, but this place would hold its own in the NE. And sometimes you just need a slice. http://www.pizzadelicious.com/
--for the noodles & soup boy, take him to a pho shop. Since you have a car, drive all the way out to NO East and visit Dong Phuong bakery & its attached restaurant. You can snag a selection of meat pies & stuffed buns from the bakery and then pop next door for pho and lots of other choices. Ignore the chinese lunch specials and order the Viet food. Or buy a bagful of bahn mi sandwiches from the bakery and have a picnic somewhere. http://dpbanhmi.com/DP_Bakery/Welcome.html
--if the beignets are the attraction rather than the mystique of the French Quarter Cafe du Monde, go out to City Park and the new 24-hour Morning Call, located in the park's "Old Casino" building. Morning Call is as old (maybe older?) than CduM, though it moved out to Metairie back in the day. This City Park outlet is just the second location of the venerable establishment. Located next to a playground and lagoon, marble countertops and mahogany woodwork, and did I mention it was 24 hour? Beignets are always hot and fresh. You can pair this with a walk through the NOMA sculpture garden nearby.
--hit up Cochon Butcher if the full Cochon experience isn't for you. You can sample the wares and maybe decide if you want to go whole hog (pun intended).
Forget BBQ, it's not a strong point here. Ditto for country buffet. Fried chicken--get some takeout from McHardy's, 1458 N Broad, drive out to City Park, then maybe go have beignets at Morning Call for dessert.
Let's see--you're missing crawfish, which will be plentiful in March. Try Zimmer's Seafood, 4915 St. Anthony St, which is also a great spot for a fried shrimp poboy.
And take that kid (assuming he's still a kid) to get a snowball....a few places should be open by March, like Plum Street Snowballs ( http://www.eteamz.com/plumstreetsnoball/ ) or Pandora's (901 N Carrollton).
Enjoy your trip to NOLA, March is a great month to visit.
A few thoughts:
-- I'm a fan of the non-traditional Killer Po-Boys in the Erin Rose bar and am partial to Mahony's on Magazine, though it's true they're neither cheap nor speedy. Others will have wildly varying opinions, they're all valid. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
-- Cochon is great. It's an easy target for criticism: they're selling a style of food that hasn't so much been transplanted (from the country to the city) as translated. I -- and others like the James Beard folks -- find little fault with the place. I usually opt for a handful of apps instead of an entree, you get more selection that way. Closed Sundays.
-- The Joint, just around the corner from where you're staying apparently, has excellent BBQ. In my opinion the city's best. Closed Sundays.
-- CDM is usually not crazy (read: no line) if you don't go at breakfast time. If you're a fan of beignets, stop in a Booty's in the Bywater for their Zeppole. (Booty's has a stupid name but they're running a fine little neighborhoody spot.)
-- Maurepas Foods is a great bar to eat and drink at. Not traditional NOLA food but local and well executed. Also not very expensive (though as always, the drinks add up). Sylvain in the Quarter is another great eat & drink combo (though Murf has left, I hope the strong cocktail program continues). Luke has a lively bar and good food as well and usually has a pretty decent local oyster. Maurepas is closed Wednesdays.
-- Elizabeth's is fine though in the neighborhood I'd opt for Suis Generis for brunch instead: I think the food, atmosphere, and bloody marys are better. That said, stopping by Elizabeth's bar for a cocktail and some praline bacon would be an excellent early evening treat. Elizabeth's is closed on Mondays and S.G. Monday and Tuesday.
-- Mr. B.'s bar is well tended (they serve a very drinkable Sazarac) and serves up some excellent BBQ shrimp. I'd stop in across the street at the Monteleone for a cocktail at the Carousel Bar too.