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Planning 10 nights in NOLA - first trip!

I'm planning a trip with my wife to New Orleans this coming winter, staying 10 nights at the Soniat House.

We're mostly interested in "Old New Orleans" dining; historic buildings and settings with old world ambiance. That said, good food is also a priority and we're interested in eating only local fare - cajun, creole, french, soul food, etc!

Here's a model itinerary which I'd greatly appreciate feedback on. Hopefully it doesn't read too touristy. I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions on whether a certain restaurant should be swapped out for something else, or shifted around to a different meal time (ie. lunch instead of dinner) - tips of that sort!

I've also included a few too many lunch options than we'll have time to fit in, though I do plan to try to squeeze a few places in on single days, like an afternoon oyster or po-boy crawl.

We're also hoping to schedule a latenight tour of Manchac Swamp, so I'm not sure how that will eat into our evening dining plans. The website mentions the following: "Drift through the darkness of the torchlit bayou as the creatures of the night sing their bewitching songs...Dine on Cajun home cooking under ancient cypress trees and gothic southern skies...Hear chilling tales of restless spirits, swamp witches and voodoo curses, while the red eyes of alligators float above the dark waters, following you into the murky depths of Manchac."

I'm not sure if that means we'll be sacrificing one of our dinners, as it does indicate that we'll be served Cajun home cooking. I was under the impression that it was a midnight tour however, so I'll have to do a bit more research.

We also plan to tour some of the historic Southern Plantations, like the Sab Francisco. Hopefully that won't effect our dining plans too much. Otherwise, we'll just be wandering through the city, eating, drinking, sightseeing, etc.

Here's what I've got lined up from a bit of research - these are places that seemed of interest to me for one reason or another:

Dinner Restaurants
_______________

• Commander's Palace Restaurant

• Arnaud's Restaurant

• Galatoire's Restaurant

• Antoine's Restaurant

• Broussard's

• Upperline Restaurant

• Restaurant August

• Pascal's Manale

• Liuzza's Restaurant & Bar

Lunch Restaurants
_______________

• Tujague’s Restaurant - ??? - {Cocktails Only}

• Gumbo Shop

• Casamento’s Restaurant

• Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar

• Acme Oyster House

• Crabby Jack's

• Parkway Bakery & Tavern

• Johnny's Po-Boys

• Domilise's Po-Boy & Bar

• Willie Mae's Scotch House Restaurant

• Liuzza's By The Track

• Parasol's Bar

• Central Grocery Co.

• Port of Call - ???

Breakfast Restaurants
_________________

• Café du Monde

• Croissant D'or Patisserie

• The Camelia Grill

• The Grill

• Mother's Restaurant - ??? - {Tourist Trap}

In-Bteweens
_________

• Hansen's Sno-Bliz Sweet Shop

• Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionery

• Southern Candymakers

Alt. Options
_________

* Coquette - [Dinner]

* Boucherie - [Dinner]

* Brigtsen’s Restaurant - [Dinner]

* Dick & Jenny's - [Dinner]

* Iris - [Dinner]

* Bon Ton Café - [Lunch]

* Mr. B's Bistro - [Lunch]

* Bayona, Courtyard - [Lunch]

* The Joint - [Lunch]

* Coop's Place - ??? - {Tourist Trap}

* Fiorella's Cafe - ??? - {Tourist Trap}

Cocktails
_______

• Carrousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone

• French 75 Bar at Arnaud's Restaurant

• Hermes Bar at Antoine's Restaurant

• The Bar at Tujague’s Restaurant

• Le Gallery in Le Pavillon Hotel

• Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt

• Polo Club Lounge at Windsor Court Hotel

• Library Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton

• Napolean House Bar & Café

• Old Absinthe House

• Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

• Iris

• Swizzle Stick Bar

• Bar Tonique

What do you think of the above selections?

Would I be right to forgo a meal at Tujague’s and instead enjoy a few cocktails at the bar, freeing up space to eat elsewhere?

Should I somehow find a way to squeeze Mr. B's Bistro into our itinerary or do you feel we're pretty well sorted? Of the lunch restaurants, I don't think we'll even consider Port of Call but I included it as an option, just in case.

Are many of the old French restaurants in the Galatoire's mold very similar in terms of food? Would dining at Arnaud's, Antoine's, The Commander's Palace, etc. begin to feel redundant night after night, or is it worthwhile for the ambiance alone? I'm fairly determined to visit each of these places as we both really enjoy dining in unique historic settings, but I'm curious if we should expect any diveristy or variation in the type of meals served at these old institutions?

Is there any place that jumps out from the above list that should absolutely be avoided... or a "one of these things is not like the other" sort of alert?

Also, I'd like to quickly divert off-topic and ask whether the haunted ghost tours of the Old French Quarter & St. Louis Cemetery are especially touristy or fun and worthwhile?

Thanks so much!!!

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  1. I neglected to include Patois and Clancy's in my alternative dining options.

    If there are any restaurants from that section that you feel should definitely be added to our itinerary, please let me know! I'd be willing to swap places around. If not, we'll likely save these for a return trip.

    1. Also forgot to include Empire Bar at Broussard's in the cocktails list!

      How do the cocktails (and ambiance) rate at the following?

      - Bellocq
      - Pirate's Alley Cafe & Old Absinthe House
      - Cane and Table

      Pat O'Brien's seems to have been around since the '30s but looks like a bit of a tourist trap these days. The "specialty drinks" on their website all look to be neon green and pink vessells of syrup. Is it worth visiting or can we safely skip this place?

      1. Sunday brunch first seating prefered at Commanders for sure. Clancys and you misssed hersaint both great for lunch as well as dinner. It's on my to do this but will make for a long afternoon. Confederate Bycycles puts on a 1 speep bike 10 am with a cup holder with a rum punch in it. Then you go on a 6 stop 3mile cocktail tour!. Been on the new orleans rum tour fun pickup at french market or erin rose bar. Time it right and you can have them drop you on frenchmann street just when the music is starting.

        DC

        2 Replies
        1. re: don515

          Thanks DC!

          Why do you prefer the Sunday brunch seating over dinner; better ambiance or menu?

          Looking at our lunch choices, are there any that stand out as a more interesting dinner destination that could fill Commander's slot? We wouldn't mind doing oysters, po-boys, soul food, etc. for dinner one night and Commander's during the day. Which of the lunch choices would be best suited?

          What's the New Orleans Rum Tour that you mentioned? Is that the same as the bicycle-cocktail tour?

          We were planning to visit the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery for a tasting as well.

          1. re: OliverB

            Rum tour is Old New Orleans rum free pickup. Ambiance esp if you are lucky enough to get the garden/green room overlooking the courtyard fresh flowers everywhere best bloddy you will everhave sunshine and bread pudding.. Forget the name of the po-boys inside Erin Rose very well reviewed. Clancys for lunch dont forget icebox pie. Its uptown take trolly to Audibon Park looking at the park take pathway on the left side you will amazing houses and resturant is 2 blocks or so on other side of park.Can always cancel book Commaders brunch asap and Clancys takes reservation 30 day out.

            DC

        2. Forgot really love Cafe Atchafalaya lunch dinner and bruch on sat and sun. looking for a very good inexpensive breakfast Jaeger hass in the quarter right accross from Prince conti hotel.

          DC

          1. I could not spend 10 days in the fast lane. That is a foodie ultramarathon!

            For a ten day trip you've covered all the bases. I'll even give you Mother's. You have time enough for experiences and not just "the best".

            With all the time you have I'd even think of taking a few days out of town and go towards Lafayette/New Iberia.

            One thing I'm not sure about is the swamp tour. Any swamp tour into October and later is in my mind missing the swamp. The foliage is thinning and the alligators getting ready for bed. But the touring weather makes it much nicer to be in a boat.

            1 Reply
            1. re: collardman

              Thanks collardman,

              Our dates are actually pretty flexible as nothing is booked yet. What in your opinion, would be the best time to visit without the fratty festival crowds or extreme temperatures?

              We'll be in Japan until the first week of December '14 which restricts our travel plans to an extent. I don't want to put this off until fall 2015 but I would like to plan for sometime earlier in the new year, when the weather is comfortable but also when we can experience the dramatic foliage (never been to New Orleans but we're looking forward to the gothic cypress trees and willows covered in Spanish moss) and swamps when they come to life.

              Is there a time in early spring perhaps when we can get the best of both worlds: reasonable climate w/o overbearing crowds and tourists?

              I've actually chosen to book 10 days so that we could squeeze all of our eating and drinking plans into the itinerary! :)