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Jul 17, 2013 05:22 PM

Sat night without reservations -- am I screwed?

So here's my conundrum: I'll be in New Orleans in August with a small group of people who will be looking to me to fill the role of "organizer", though that is not a role I want or feel equipped to perform. I just know, based on past experience that this is how things will evolve. They will expect me to know where we should go for dinner on a Saturday night, although none of them will commit to a reservation anywhere. They will expect me to have some special insight into the "secret treasures" of the FQ because I'm the only one in the group who has been before, and they will expect that through some magical process we will be able to waft into a restaurant of our choosing without a reservation on a Saturday night and have an amazing meal that does not break the bank.

Yes, they are tough crowd of cats to herd, but they are not bad people. What often ends up happening is that they abdicate all responsibility for making decisions and look to me as the resident "foodie" to have some innate sense of where to go and how to waltz in the front door directly to a table with no advance planning whatsoever. When this doesn't happen and lines are long because nobody wanted to make a freaking reservation ("oh, let's just play it by ear!") we end up famished and crabby, and that's no fun.

So given that this behavior can't be changed (believe me, I've tried!), and blowing them off for the evening isn't really an option (professional relationships could suffer), does anyone have any suggestions of places in the FQ where we would be most likely to be able to walk in on a Saturday evening ( a group of six), without a reservation and get a good meal that offers up a sampling of local foods so that these folks can go home and brag that they had a great "authentic" New Orleans experience.

Other parameters:

Reasonably affordable -- $15 - $25 entree range
Within the Quarter
Bonus points for ambience and "character", which is highly subjective.
It can be a dive, but it should be a dive with awesome food

I've had decent luck at Coops Place before -- a tad touristy, but it would work for this group. Is it a mob scene on a Saturday night? I've also been hearing good things about 801 Royal.

Thank you all so much!

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  1. At that price range Coops is a good bet. Or the Gumbo Shop. Why not make a reservation and keep it a secret.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CharlieH

      Hmmm.. secret reservation... that's an interesting strategy! Although I wouldn't want to be a jerk and not show up for it if the group decides they want to do something else.

    2. It shouldn't be too hard to get into most places in August. Bourbon House is usually good about seating a large party, and I've been really pleased the last few times I've been there.
      If you are looking for hidden treasures, herd the cats to Killer poboys in Erin Rose Bar, or (opening this Friday) Dis Taco in Molly's on the Market (same people). Both popups, casual and cheap (and great) that will portray you as a food savant.
      If you want to go a little more upscale, I consider Iris (S Peters) a bit of a hidden treasure, but it's small and popular and perhaps more difficult to get in.

      1. Domenica is just across Canal St. Wood fired pizzas, salumi/cheese, small plates to share. Casual and loud.