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Does Bubba Gumps Have the best Turtle Soup in New Orleans?

Sorry but I didn’t think “another visitor seeking advice” would garner much interest.
San Francisco Hound headed to New Orleans mid August for 5 nights - would be grateful for any feedback on our proposed itinerary.
Our crew: myself, wife who doesn’t drink, and our 6 year old daughter. I haven’t been back to N.O. since a couple visits in 1988-89 while visiting my sister at Tulane, once during Mardi Gras. My wife and daughter have never been. Staying at the Omni in the French Quarter.

Saturday August 9 arrive 5:15 a.m., red eye
Breakfast EAT Nola (brunch 9-2:00); or The Old Coffee Pot (Opens at 8:00, near hotel); and
Café du Monde (beignets, café au lait)
Dinner-Cochon (7:00 reso);

Sunday August 10- City Park
Café Beignet for beignets/coffee
Lunch: Mandina’s (on way to City Park, opens at 11:00)
Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls
Dinner – Dante’s Kitchen (7:00 reso); Columns happy hour on the way
La Divina Gelato for dessert

Monday August 11 – Zoo,
Domlise’s Po Boys (closed Sun and Thur) on way to Zoo
Hansen’s Sno Bliz on way home
Dinner: Domenica happy hour pizzas – clam pie; Angelo Brocato for dessert – cannolis, etc.
Preservation Hall Jazz show 8:00

Tuesday August 12 – Aquarium/Imax Movie/Insectarium
Lunch: Napoleon House, (mufalettas, pims cup);
Dinner-Galatoires (6:00 reso)

Wednesday August 13
Lunch: Luke ($20 lunch special T-F);
Dinner: Toops Meatery ? (Tues-Sat, near City Park); Dick & Jenny’s ? (closed Monday, open 10-3:00 on Sunday; 11-2:00 and 5:30-10:00 all other days)?; Boucherie (Tues-Sat)?

Thursday August 14 – 6:00 return flight
Mr. B’s (BBQ shrimp, gumbo Ya Ya) – lunch
Cochon Butcher for sandwiches for flight; or City Market for mufalettas
6:15 flight out

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  1. What do you need us for? This is perfect. Remember to bring your swim trunks for the Cool Zoo. Also, you may want to buy an Audobon membership for $149 which would allow you to visit the Aquarium, insecterium and zoo instead of paying for each venue indivdually. Check the prices and figure it out from home. Remember it will be hot out and your six year old might get cranky on such an ambitious itinerary. Don’t be afraid to cancel something and get some rest.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shanefink

      Well lounging at the rooftop pool is also a major part of the plan. Believe me this is a pared down list. Last time I was there I thought man what a great city can't wait to come back, then 26 years went by so its hard not to try to cram a lot in.

    2. No they don't but your post is spot on....

      1. When you leave Mandina's Angelo Brocato is a 3 minute walk...You could get ice cream one visit, and cookies, cake and pastry the other.

        1 Reply
        1. As a fellow parent of a 6 year old, I'd also like to suggest (warning, non food suggestion) the Louisiana Children's museum. We visit twice a year, and my daughter insists on going every time. It's a great place, in a convenient spot in the warehouse district. We typically wander over to the bar @ Emeril's for a slice of banana cream pie either before/after. Well thought out itinerary btw.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GDPhalp

            Thanks, the Children's museum wasn't on my radar. Will probably get the multipass for the zoo-imax-Aquarium noted by Shanefink. Maybe we should have come for a full week.

          2. Note that Domenica's happy hour ends at 5 so you might not make it in time, but it's still great at full price.

            1. Best turtle soup is at Commander's Palace. You should seriously consider going for lunch in the garden room (M-F).

              Fig/buratta/speck pizza is terrific at Domenica.

              7 Replies
              1. re: JazzyB

                Day in and day out that is true about Commander's turtle soup. Bon Ton is also good. Mandina's is a stand-by. Other than those, the only ones in the same league are in private clubs.

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  Commander's lunch special looks like a real bargain - and if the choice of soup allows one to get the turtle soup even better. I also see that we're in town during "Coolinary August", which opens up too many possibilities for our 5 night stay - though from what I can tell most of the high end restaurants already do lunch specials. Just a matter of balancing how many long meals I can get the 6 year old to tolerate.

                  1. re: sunnyside

                    Speaking in my capacity as a former 6 year old, I can tell you that restaurants here are accustomed to kinder. Parents today are more permissive than when I was a brat (briefly..my father cured that at age 6). I am grateful to the staffs at Antoine's.Commander's. Galatoires and others for putting up with me. At least I wore a jacket and tie in my nonage.

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      Well she does like to dress up, likes the ceremony of fancy restaurants and is a seasoned restaurant kid, having gone to restaurants with us in San Francisco since she was born - so we are very much looking forward to Galatoires. I'm just not sure she would make it through five consecutive nights of such meals.

                      1. re: sunnyside

                        you are probably right to be concerned about five nights in a row...but I suspect you (and she) will find Galatoire's to be accommodating. Ask for Imre or Billy as a waiter. Both of them are good with children but they have different styles of working.Pay attention to the busboys. If Lindsay is there, you will be honored.

                    2. re: sunnyside

                      Fine dining does not necessarily equate with lenghty dining. Mention the need for speed to your waiter. Commanders may take a bit longer. Dine early and most restaurants should be able to get you out in an hour.

                      1. re: sunnyside

                        Emeril's 30 minute lunch crunch $22.50 m-f
                        August 3 course lunch $20.15 Fridays only
                        Bayona 3 course lunch $24 w- sat.
                        Luke and Borgne offer daily lunch specials.

                  2. Quick questions about Sunday night - I'm thinking about Coquette instead of Dante's for dinner - any opinions? Coquette is doing the Coolinary August $35 dinners but no menu posted yet. I can't say I'm 100% sold on the fusion aspects of Dante's menu, but like the idea of the long ride on the St. Charles street car. Do either offer the opportunity to dine outside?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sunnyside

                      Not much in the wiki world about Mr. John's Steakhouse, but to echo the words of Garson Kanin as voiced by Spencer Tracy 'what there is of her is cherce'.

                      On my recent business trip I chanced there alone for a weekday supper. On a Wednesday night it was jumping. The waiter said that Friday lunch is reservation only, as are weekend evenings. Think of it as Galatoire's for locals, especially if you can reserve a table in the main floor to ceiling windowed dining room. The soft shell crab amondine mid-June special was perfectly prepared, and the 'Gulf Fish' turned out to be a hefty piece of fresh grouper crowned with fresh crabmeat that easily trumped that of Galatoire's just the day before. Take a look at the current chef's bio, then the reasons for this begin to come clear http://www.mrjohnssteakhouse.com/abou.... This is a hands-on chef with real chops. The care shows up in everything on the plate.

                      Yes, they serve prime aged beef and do it well. But it's the Creole-Italian end of the menu, the dearth of tourists, stellar service and close by location that will draw me back next trip this fall.

                      IMHO its a run don't walk.

                      PS--the St. Charles street car stops right in front. Or, it's a seven buck cab fare back downtown.

                    2. Double check on Hansen's hours/days as I'm pretty sure they are closed Monday (cause that's been the day of the week I'd tried to go more than once on visits!). Don't want to be disappointed!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Celery

                        Hansen's is indeed closed on Mondays

                      2. Restaurant R'evolution has a pretty good turtle soup, too.

                        1. Impressive list....I would only add that the Magazine St. location of La Divina has closed. (They are still available in the French Quarter)....If you need an uptown ice-creamish dessert, their neighbor, Sucre is still serving (though I prefer Divina) and the ever popular Creole Creamery isn't too far away....

                          1. Reporting back after 5 nights of sweet August humidity. Don’t people get sick of love letters to New Orleans? Alright, just one more.
                            Arrived on the red eye, was able to check into the Omni at 6:00 a.m. and a glorious 3 hr. nap, then straight to EAT for brunch. Red Dress Run was just ending (or so we thought, turns out the party went well into the night and we later nicknamed the red menace and/or red plague after having drinks spilled on us and/or almost being thrown up on – nice N.O. color for the first day though). Great brunch of poached eggs over fried greens tomatoes and country ham with biscuit, wife had the poached eggs with grits and grillades – first time having these and they were great, what gives the grillades the acidity? Minor quibble: $3 - 4 ounce glass of OJ from a gallon jug. Beignets from Café Beignet – nice, fried to order. Insectarium and Imperial Woodpecker snowballs snack – perfect on a 90 degree day. Dinner at Cochon was excellent – fried oyster and bacon sandwich, some type of lard mousse on toast, fried chicken livers with pepper jelly, crawfish green tomato gratin, mac n cheese – spacing on the rest. Everything was excellent and very reasonably priced, except for the N.O. food slant this place could be in San Francisco. Minor quibble: Cow wee Cocktail was way too sweet. Wandered through Dirty Linen night picking up free cocktails and cookies on our way over to Divino Gelato for dessert.
                            Next morning we had coffee from Spitfire – good, no great, then out to Mandina’s for a lunch of fried soft-shell crab with a crawfish etouffee on top, great seafood gumbo and buster crab remoulade – classic family style place. After a day at City Park we stopped at Angelo Brocato for a box of cannolis and variety of cookies to keep at the hotel and snack on over the next couple days – freshly filled cannolis were very good. Took the St. Charles Streetcar out to Dante’s for dinner. If there is a more genteel way to travel I have yet to come across it, our daughter was lulled to sleep with her head on the window sill and slight breeze coming in – perfect nap before dinner. We arrived early, it was empty, a little funky and I was starting to doubt our choice, but it filled up quickly and everything was great. Perfect Sazerac, shrimp and grits with red eye gravy – amazing, blackened red fish with an herb salad that contrasted perfectly, some charcuterie, boudin rouge and a nice spicy cauliflower with raisins. Hiked up the hill to watch sunset over the Mississippi after dinner then streetcar back – great evening.
                            Monday we took in an Imax screening at the Aquarium (the zoo, insectarium, i-max, aquarium multi ticket is a great deal) then headed to Parkway for a roast beef and oyster poboys – excellent, then quick visit to the cemeteries. Dinner at GW Fins for their Coolinary August 3 course special – I had cioppino, jolt snapper with lump crabmeat and panna cotta, wife had some greens, crab stuffed soft-shell crab and pecan pie. Seafood was well prepared and obviously fresh. Minor quibbles: cocktail was horrible – they need to up their drink program and the overall vibe was very corporate restaurant, less soulful than the other places we went- this is our signature app, this is our signature entrée, etc. Food was good though and very comfortable big booths that were great since daughter fell asleep during dinner.
                            Tuesday - Shrimp and oyster poboys at Domilise’s on the way to the zoo. Domilise’s gets the slight edge over Parkway but could be because the poboys weren’t wrapped in paper so bread was crunchier – really loved this place, super friendly and low key. Walked to Hansen’s for snoballs around 11:30 – arrgghh not open til one. Couple of pims cups at Napoleon House before afternoon pool time at the hotel. Dinner at Galatoires: absolutely loved this place – should be required for any N.O. visitor. As arrived we were asked if we had a preferred waiter – have never been asked this before so had no answer – then as we were being seated in the back of my mind I recalled Hazelhurst had kindly given me recommendations but I was too dense to put two and two together at the time. We had Bob – he was fine but a little aloof. Crab maison, shrimp remoulade and foie gras to start (with foie gras banned in CA I can’t resist when out of state.) We ate a lot of shrimp on this trip but these were the best, the freshness is self-evident as soon as you bite into one. I had shrimp etouffee and wife had crabmeat gratin, fried shrimp for the little one and black bottom pecan pie for dessert. Everything was awesome. I did a couple vieux care’s and a sazerac in lieu of wine. Minor quibble: drinks were strong and well made, but clearly not top shelf booze (but at $8 a pop a relative bargain). Kind of sad that this piece of living history is surrounded by the Hustler Club and trinket shop.
                            Wednesday: Coffee slushies from Café Du monde, surgical strike at the French Market for voodoo dolls, Aquarium then lunch at Mahoney’s - chicken liver po-boy with slaw for me oysters/salad for wife. My daughter scarfed down 6 fried oysters and only later learned they were oysters “oysters?, I thought it was chicken”. Hansen’s – yes open, worth the effort, you can get syrups that aren’t sickeningly sweet and somehow the fluffy ice holds up without melting in the summer heat. No dinner reso so we walked over to Peche and got a table after a short wait. Oysters on the half, crabmeat pasta, fried fishsticks, tuna crudo seafood salad, gumbo and perfectly tart rum based cocktail. Everything was very good but I think I preferred Cochon overall.
                            Thursday: Parasol Bar for spicy shrimp po-boy, oyster platter and very good cup of red beans and rice. Po-boys not as good as the others, but still solid. Didn’t realize how close this was to Coquette which was having a $20 3 course lunch special when we walked by – should have hit that instead. Picked up sweets for our dog sitter at Sucre and had some ice cream and a macaroon – excellent sweets. Cochon butcher for sandwiches for the plane as well as some Andouille, smoked deer and country sausage to bring home. Last 2 hours spent at the N.O. State Museum Katrina and Mardi Gras exhibits – perfect ending.
                            Random notes: It’s incredibly easy to get around the city on public transportation and the NOLA Transit app is great, shows routes, nearest stations, next bus/streetcar, map, etc. and uses GPS so you know how close you are to your next stop and don’t need to burn your data plan. Also, most restaurants/snoball shops/poboy shops seem to be closed 1-2 days per week, so check before making plans. Thanks for all the tips.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: sunnyside

                              Glad to hear you had such a fun (and delicious) time . . . it's what makes us "frequent flyers" on the SFO/OAK-MSY route!

                              One thing: New Orleans doesn't do coffee -- at least not to what you'd expect here in the SF Bay Area. I gave up a long time ago on ever finding a good (let alone great) espresso or cappuccino there. It's always hit-and-miss, as I've never had a good one in the same place twice!

                              But when in New Orleans, I just have my café au lait with coffee & chicory and I am a happy camper. I've even made it back here at home . . . no. It was good, but not as good (and certainly not as special) as having it *in* New Orleans itself. Yes, factoring in the airfare, that café au lait is rather expensive but then again, I'm in New Orleans! Who could ask for more? ;^)

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Yes, agree about the coffee, but we made do. We actually had a very good espressos at the café inside Peaches record store on N. Peters street. I had super low expectations but we were in a time crunch and it was right in front of us - nice surprise.

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  It is hard to find anyone who drips coffee anymore, even at home. It is a shame. I've noticed a decline in restaurant coffees that started in the 1960s. I have only a few friends, none under fifty, who will drink the stuff I make in my four cup enamel pot. It is too strong and thick for modern tastes.

                                  I was just lamenting yesterday the almost complete disappearance of oyster stew on menus in town. Same problem: no one wants to take the time to do it right. It is not hard, but it does require attention,

                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                    Danger! Danger! Warning, Will Robinson . . . Thread Drift Approaching!!!

                                    First, let's separate the coffee house/café -- whether it be PJ's or Community Coffee; Fair Grinds Coffee House or Velvet -- from true, sit-down restaurants -- be they high-end places like August, Galatoire's, or Bayona; or more casual places like Patois, The Joint, or Upperline -- and carve out a third category for your classic diner/coffee shop like Clover Grill, Waffle House, or Denny's.

                                    And keep in mind most of this is *not* restricted to New Orleans.

                                    The last category is easily dismissed. They all have Bunn brewing equipment, brew lots of coffee constantly (drip), and it's never that great, but it's hot and strong and goes well with the bacon-and-eggs or waffle at breakfast.

                                    Other (non-coffee shop) sit-down restaurants cannot do espresso to save their lives. No one is trained on the equipment, or -- even if given a quick, cursory lesson -- they don't pull enough shots to *stay* trained. Ordering an espresso here is the kiss of death. I'm always pleasantly surprised if they brew their cups individually, say in a French press or with a small drip cone and pot, and such coffee can be quite tasty. If, on the other hand, they use the classic Bunn brewers, it will all-too-often be burnt and bitter from sitting on the burner too long. Yuck.

                                    Now we come to the coffee house, and this is where New Orleans is unlike any other city that I travel to regularly, the espresso here SUCKS! I've been disappointed so many times, that I've surrendered.

                                    I'm quite content to stay with my café au lait's . . .

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      Now that we've done drifted -

                                      How about a Cafe Brulot? Yeah, ok, maybe not for breakfast...today, anyway!

                                      I think hopefully that the coffee shop scene is improving - but maybe only more in the Marigny/Bywater.

                                      Any favorites among these?: Spitfire Espresso Bar, The Orange Couch, Sólo Espresso Bar, Saint Coffee

                                      Or any others?

                                      1. re: foodeye

                                        You "think hopefully." Remarkable: the proper use of the word as adverb. My heart sings as does my mother's spirit from her brown-pencil-grasped clutches of corrections at Yale. Loud cheers!

                                        1. re: foodeye

                                          Keeping in mind that I am only a visitor to New Orleans, not a resident . . .

                                          Of the four places you cite, I've only been to The Orange Couch. I wasn't impressed, though I would probably go there again if I lived nearby . . . problem is, it's not worth the walk if I'm staying the the CBD or the Quarter (let alone with friend in the Garden District).

                                          Is Spitfire new? I can't imagine I've missed it all these years. I'll check it out on my next visit. Sólo is a bit out of the way, but I'll make it a point to stop by the next time I visit The Joint or Bacchanal . . .

                                          Don't know a thing about Saint -- including it's location!


                                          Part of the problem is me. I have a commercial espresso machine in my kitchen, and a semi-commerical one in my office. If it's not better than what I can make at home, why bother? ;^) Now that's often difficult, though not impossible, to find here in the SF Bay Area, let alone a city like New Orleans that --despite its long coffee history/tradition -- has come late (if at all) to espresso culture.

                                          OTOH, as I said above, I'm quite content with my Café au Lait -- at least in so far as my mornings are concerned. Afternoons, however, are a problem. ;^)

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            Spitfire is relatively new, I think they opened less than 2 years ago, maybe early 2013. I've enjoyed having an afternoon espresso there a couple of times.

                                            I too didn't know anything about "The Saint." But I found out it is in the Lower Garden District. More info here: http://www.thesaintneworleans.com/

                                            1. re: Gizmo56

                                              I would love to be a fly on the wall if someone walked up to the Saint early in the morning looking for coffee.

                                              The place he's talking about is here: http://stcoffee.com/