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Critical Week - NOLA visit - seeking local recs

I'm a displaced Southerner in Brooklyn who has slowly been seducing my New Jersey boyfriend into a New Orleans relocation. He has blindly agreed, but we are visiting next month for a professional conference and its pretty much Make or Break time. We are staying in the Quarter and will have a few days of free roaming time, but will then be to and fro the Hilton in the Central Business District. Absolutely any and all food, drink, etc recommendations are appreciated. We like dives and local flavor and deep history and bourbon and Abita drafts. While the more pork the better for me, my albatross to bear is that my beau only eats seafood (particularly raw oysters). We won't have a car, but are fine with walking and the opportunity to explore some more neighborhoods (Marigny? Bywater?) outside the tourist enclave. I won't need it, but he might prefer the occasional break from New Orleans cuisine so tips would be most helpful. I promise he has more sterling qualities than his eating habits!

Its just preferable to feel like we're doing what the locals do rather than the tourists, though I understand some things are tourist hotspots for very good reasons and that, inevitably, we are in the Quarter. I am eternally grateful.

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  1. Hi! I stayed at the Hilton on St. Charles not too long ago, and really enjoyed John Besh's Luke (there's an umlaut, but I don't know how to do it on iPad) downstairs. Others loved the oysters all kinds of ways, and I had some amazing choucroute with pork belly, sausage, other porky goodness. They have happy hour with 50cent oysters!

    1. If I were trying to turn someone into a New Orleanian, I'd probably take 'em to:
      --Hansen's Sno Bliz, as it is the epitome of a quirky, traditional, highly personal local business, an example of how food becomes embedded with memory. http://www.snobliz.com/ Since you like "deep history" (whatever that is), read Sara Roahen's oral history interview w/Ashley Hansen here: http://www.southernfoodways.org/inter...
      And her chapter on Sno Bliz in "Gumbo Tales" beginning on p 35.
      --Morning Call at the old Casino building in City Park. Open 24 hours a day, the waiters wear paper hats, the beignets are hot and fresh, and the cafe au lait always has chicory. http://www.cafedumonde.com/ It is adjacent to a lagoon, playground, and bandstand, all popular with yardless city residents who use the adjacent area as birthday-party ground zero on weekends. Fun people watching.
      --ride the Magazine St bus all the way uptown to Audubon Park, hopping off for a stroll or a snack. For a break from "NOLA cuisine" hit up a Vietnamese resto, most offer shrimp and other seafood options. Lilly's Cafe and Magasin are both on Magazine St. Or Stein's Deli for a little NY deli action.
      --do the $20.13 lunch at Restaurant August, and marvel at the low prices for wonderful food.
      --Non food related, but go to Meyer the Hatter and buy a hat to stave off scalp burn and enjoy an unironically retro store devoted to all things hat.

      Finally, hit up Pizza Delicious on Piety St to convince him he can get a "real" NY/NJ slice, even in NOLA. http://pizzadelicious.com/

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        Yeah "deep history" was intended as a less coarse version of "cool, old weird shit that hasn't changed much" and instead came off vague and pretentious. Regardless, you totally got it. And I'm glad you reminded me to check out the Southern Foodways Alliance. Pizza and Vietnamese recs are priclesss, as is the unironic retro hat store! Much thanks.

        1. re: redbeanscooking

          I just realized I mentioned Morning Call in City Park but somehow linked to Cafe du Monde. The correct link for Morning Call is: http://morningcallcoffeestand.com/ Dunno how I mixed the two up.

          And see the separate thread on Cafe Reconcile, which includes Liberty's Kitchen, Cafe Hope, and other do-gooder info.

      2. Do a breakfast (or weekend brunch) at Elizabeth's in Bywater, and then take a leisurely stroll back through the Marigny and across the French Quarter, stopping for a coffee at Cafe Rose Nicaud on Frenchmen Street before crossing Esplanade. The charm of the lovely houses in the Marigny and the rich sense of place as you make your way through the FQ are seductive.

        Don't miss the praline bacon at Elizabeth's.

        http://www.elizabethsrestaurantnola.com/

        Return to Frenchmen Street one day in the late afternoon and enjoy happy hour small plates, craft cocktails and great music with no cover charge at Three Muses.

        http://www.thethreemuses.com/

        Linger into the evening and watch Frenchmen come to life, see more music and have more drinks at the wonderful venues that line the street.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Gizmo56

          Thanks Gizmo. I have been to, and loved Elizabeth's but had a car on that trip. Wasn't sure if the walk from the Quarter was doable but you have me convinced. Will weekend brunch have big waits, and do you have a recommended time if so?

          1. re: redbeanscooking

            I was there first weekend in August last year and there was no wait, although we arrived fairly early in the service. You can always give them a call and ask their advice. The walk is very do-able.

        2. Be sure to ride both the St.Charles (not airconditioned) and Canal streetcars(airconditioned) to see life beyond the French Quarter .

          Lunch at Commander's Palace M-F ( reserve garden room) is a must. A fun time dining in the treetops.

          Willie Mae's for fried chicken (get there at 11 or be prepared to wait).

          Grab a poboy at Killer poboys in the back of the Erin Rose ( on Conti). Frozen Irish coffee while you wait.

          Three Muses (Marigny) small plates and music.

          Tonique on Rampart for cocktails.

          Happy Hour 3-6 daily at Domenica. 1/2 price wood fired pizza, well drinks, beer, wine.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JazzyB

            ...all great suggestions. Don't miss lunch in the Garden Room at CP and a good look at the Garden District. Drinks on the porch at the Columns Hotel would be a nice way to complete an afternoon there.

            http://www.thecolumns.com/dining/

            1. re: JazzyB

              Wait, did you say frozen Irish Coffee at Erin Rose? I never knew that. It’s my favorite summertime treat and I only knew it from Molly’s.

            2. If you and your bf are considering moving to NOLA, I recommend trying to spend time in the neighborhoods that you'd be most likely to move to. As Brooklyn-dwellers, you might enjoy the Bywater and Bayou St. John/Mid-City areas of NOLA. Both are bikable from the FQ, so consider renting bikes and doing a food/bar tour in both neighborhoods. In the Bywater, I highly recommend Bacchanal for drinks/light apps followed by a dinner at Maurepas Foods. Then maybe hit bars on St. Claude and Frenchman Street.

              In Mid-City, Liuzza's has great po-boys and a divey atmosphere. Another Mid City dive bar that I love is Parkview Tavern, but we usually only go there to watch Saints games. If you happen to be in NOLA on game day consider watching the game at Parkview and going to Toups Meatery (they have lots of seafood options) for dinner. Mid-City is easily accessible via the Canal Streetcar. If you're looking for a taste of history, stop by the St. Louis cemetaries #1 and 2 which area short walk from the streetcar line.

              You could also spend one day in the Garden District/Uptown, starting at Commander's for lunch and then, if it's a Friday, you could head over to NOLA Brewery on Tchoupitoulas at 2 pm for a tour and free beer. After that, you visit bars and shops on Magazine St., and then maybe later take the St. Charles streetcar up to the Riverbend area and eat at Dante's Kitchen, Boucherie, or Brightsen's followed by drinks at Snake & Jake's, which is one of the biggest dives in New Orleans.

              Hitting these three areas will give you a taste of New Orleans away from the tourist traps of the FQ.

              1. Another great place is Dragos in the Hilton at the Riverwalk. Here is where you can get the original Char Grilled Oysters. I prefer the Metairie location, which is the original one, but the Riverfront is good, too!