Cafe du Monde: good morning!
I hardly need to write a tip for Cafe du Monde as you're all going there anyway. But I thought I'd describe the scene at 6:30 am when most tourists are still sleeping off their hurricanes. 'Quiet' is the word I'd use, extremely quiet. All the chairs were still stacked on the tables and the only patrons were the all night staff. New Orleans doesn't have a shift that starts at 4 or 5 am. The early shift begins at 8 and anyone up before then has been up all night. Quite a change from the more teutonic bakers' hours where I live.
(Note: Several visitors have thought that this picture shows Cafe du Monde closed. Au contraire! Cafe du Monde is open around the clock. That's why I thought this picture was so funny. It's 6:30 am at the most popular coffee house in New Orleans. They are open for business but this is what it looks like from the outside.)
Favorite Dish: Coffee and beignets of course, with half a cup of powdered sugar avalanched on top. We can thank the French for introducing coffee to this country. From the Cafe du Monde web site:
"Coffee first came to North America by way of New Orleans back in the mid-1700's. It was successfully cultivated in Martinique about 1720, and the French brought coffee with them as they began to settle new colonies along the Mississippi."
Petunia's: Crepes don't get better than this!
Located in the French Quarter, Petunia's is not just a restaurant, but a dining experience. We went for brunch (not too many folks are early risers, so we fit right in). The line at 10:30 a.m. was relatively short, and we waited only 20 minutes. Reservations would be a good idea for dinner as I understand the wait is quite long.
The service is first rate - warm and friendly. We didn't even mind the waiter calling us "baby" as he used it so endearingly.
Please see the restaurant's website below for a full history of the building. It's incredibly fascinating, and I don't feel I can do it justice by trying to reiterate it here.
History sneak peak - Three story townhouse built by a cabinetmaker - so you can only imagine the detail of the interior. The dining room is located in the home's double parlor, which makes it a tight fit, but quite cozy. (Elizabeth and I actually had a conversation with the couple seated next to us and got a few other restaurant recommendations from them as they were frequent visitors to N.O. from Atlanta, Georgia.)
Behind the main building is the kitchen, which used to be a two-story slave quarter - the kitchen being on the first floor and slave quarters on the second.
Favorite Dish: St. Francis crepe - shrimp, crab meat (the real thing), ratatouille, cheese sauce. Boasted as the World's Largest Crepes, you most likely won't have room for dessert. If you do, you're a better person than I am.
Elizabeth had the crawfish etouffee (e two fay) omelet, which was very good, but she had a little trouble getting past the appearance of the crawfish (miniature lobster). If this happens to you, take in the ambience of the restaurant and people around you so you taste the food, but don't have to look at it.
We would both like to go back again as the menu is quite diverse and there's so much we wanted to try.
The Gumbo Shop: Red Beans and Rice Headquarters
This is an unpretentious restaurant near Preservation Hall that serves good Creole comfort food. There's often a long line at traditional meal hours, but if you plan your visit to go very early or very late, you can walk right in. Once you're seated, the service is very quick.
Open daily, 11 am - 11 pm.
Favorite Dish: I love the red beans and rice with andouille sausage -- SO satisfying when you're tired and hungry! -- but they also offer a vegetarian red beans and rice that my daughter likes. Items like jambalaya and, of course, gumbo are also on the menu.
Napoleon House: fine dining in a secret location
Thank you jadedmuse for your tip on this one! This is the sort of awesome place that could easily be missed were it not for VT. Napoleon House doesn't seem to be particularly interested in attracting you off the street. There is almost no signage and the windows look in on what appears to be an ordinary looking (for the French Quarter) bar.
But step through the bar to the courtyard and you'll be transported to early 1800s elegance. Sit down to classical music, beautiful tables and banana palms in the midst of a historic building. At Napoleon House you'll be treated as if you're one of only a few dozen patrons in an evening -- a nice change from some of the bigger name restaurants in the Quarter. If I were to bring someone to the French Quarter and take them to only one restaurant, it would be Napoleon House.
Favorite Dish: I dined with my workmate this meal and our seafood based meals were not only delicious but interesting. The crawfish appetizers were the only ones I had in New Orleans that still had that tiny hint of mud that fresh crawfish are supposed to have. (I'm serious here!) And of course you should order the Pim's Cup which is the iconic drink at this establishment.
Galatoire's: Another New Orleans Institution
They say things haven't changed at Galatoire's since 1905. I'll have to agree with that - even though I wasn't around back then!
I've been back to Galatoire's several times over a span of 20 years, and it's rock solid in terms of expectations being met. I love that about this place. It's one of my all-time favorites. The potatoes lyonnaise are delicious, and it's the one place where I broke my pact to eat crab (I'm a vegetarian- which is almost impossible to maintain while in New Orleans).
Another thing I love about Galatoire's is that the first floor (the traditional dining area) doesn't accept reservations. Part of the excitement about going to Galatoire's was the wait in line (not too bad - maybe 15 or 20 minutes)
I was just there in August 2003 and sure enough, there was an elderly woman who came in and was shown to her "usual table". I can't remember if she was General George Patton's cousin (known for going to Galatoire's just about every evening, for decades....if she's still alive, then that woman was she. Otherwise it was just another older "Ms.Daisy" type of wealthy patroness).
This may be my favorite restaurant in all of New Orleans - .I'm salivating even as I write this. (reservations in the newer, 2nd floor).
Favorite Dish: I recommend the following: to start, either the stuffed crabmeat avocado or stuffed tomato with shrimp; artichoke oyster soup; pompano meuniere amandine or the crabmeat sardou or sauteed softshell crab meuniere - or really, any of the crab entrees; and for vegetables, the Rockefeller Spinach is out of this world. Seriously. I have to stop right now or I'll drive myself insane. Formal dining for dinner - JACKET REQUIRED for men (if you don't have one, they'll supply you with one - don't you just love it?!!)
Fast Food New Orleans Style: Food Court at the River Walk Market Place
While you're shopping for those "can't do without" souvenirs, or watching the cruise ships & paddlewheeler ply the Mississippi River, try some fast food "New Orleans' style" here at the River Walk Market Place. The food displays are a feast for the eyes at such places as Messinas Cajun Creole Country Cookery, Garden Fresh Grill, etc. You'll also find Chinese, New Orleans Gourmet Burgers & Dogs, Paradise Island Bar, Anthony's Seafood House and too many others to mention. Most of these, but not all, are on the upper level of the River Walk.
New Orleans without a doubt has some of the best restaurants anywhere, however, if you are trying to stretch your food budget while in New Orleans, you will probably do pretty well here! Also, if you have children in tow, there are good choices for them as well. Definitely try some of the Cajun and Creole food. It may be a mall food court but the food isn't bad!!
Favorite Dish: %cCafe du Monde has counter service on the lower level and we couldn't resist having breakfast here one day. Great cafe au lait and beignets (french doughnuts) are inexpensive & delicious. The Garden Fresh Grill is fabulous as is the Gellato Pazzo Cafe for gelato lovers! Don't forget to try the "bar" which has several beers on tap. Hours for this concession seem to be more limited then the rest of the food court.
Crescent City Brewhouse: Crescent City Brewhouse
The only brew pub in the French Quarter, the Crescent CIty Brewhouse offers a fine variety of handcrafted beers and food that is a cut above the usual brew pub fare. The restaurant is spread out over two floors, both with a bar and live music. The upstairs offers outdoor balcony dining. If you just want to stop in for something quick, you can sit at the bar and enjoy a beer with your choice of oysters on the half shell or peel and eat shrimp. The atmosphere here is on the elegant side for a brewery, a definate plus, but the only bathroom in the building is located on the second floor up a flight of stairs--inconvienient after you've had a couple of 20 oz. drafts, and I am also unsure where this would leave anyone who confined to a wheelchair or who otherwise could not climb staris.
Favorite Dish: My favorite is the Weiss beer. Try it with a lemon slice. Their salads are excellent if you want something light. I like the one with shrimp and crabmeat. Their burgers and fish are also good and often come with sweet potato chips.Related to:
- Beer Tasting
Irene's Cuisine: Southern Italian with a Dash of Fun
In a city where good food is a "given," the thing that made this restaurant stand out for us was the fun-loving staff.
At Irene's they don't accept reservations, and it's usually at least an hour's wait, so they put you in the bar in the interim.
We were seated next to the piano and were astounded when the French pianist suddenly launched into a rousing version of "San Francisco." He'd noticed Kelly's Napa Valley T-shirt, and it turned out that he himself had once lived in the Bay Area and played at the No-Name Bar in Sausalito. Interesting guy. It's a mystery to me how he could carry on a conversation with us and play the piano at the same time.
Later, our waiter said to my daughter, smiling, "Someone just asked me if you were Valerie Bertinelli." Not knowing who that was, she wasn't sure if that was a compliment, but we assured her that Valerie B, in her youth, lo these many years ago, was quite cute. And as we left, the waiter called out in a stage voice, "Goodbye, Valerie!"
The atmosphere is definitely comfortable and welcoming for families.
Favorite Dish: Irene's does a wonderful pollo di Parma -- boneless chicken breast, herbed tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella, mm mm mm.
Pat O's: Pat O'Brien's
Somewhat touristy and pricey but the outdoor patio is so beautiful it's worth it. Sit outside if you go.
Favorite Dish: They make better hurricanes than anyone else. But, if you order a drink here they will automatically give it to you in a souvenir glass and charge you extra for it. If you don't want it bring it up to the bar when you're done for a refund.
Deril's Diner: Deril's Diner
This place was for years called "Poppy's" and was a diner with cool, campy deocrations and a friendly and colorful staff. It is still a diner now, but with more of a truck-stop theme which seemed to us to be somewhat out of character for its French Quarter location. It seems that they were going for a "Route 66" theme or something along those lines. There are far less items on the menu than before and the change in ownership seems to have dumbed down the decor a bit, but the burgers are still great, even if the fries aren't. Note that this is not a good place to eat if you are on a diet. Nothing on the menu can qualify as low-fat, or healthy for that matter.
Favorite Dish: The burgers are very good, if huge. If you get one get a "small" (it's a 1/2 pound).
Napoleon House: Napoleon House
An essential New Orleans restaurant located in an old house supposedly meant to house Napoleon after he escaped from his exile on St. Helena (This never happened.). Decorated wtih Napoleon artifacts, it has one of the best bars in town. Inexpensive and great for lunch.
Favorite Dish: I like to get a bottle of wine, they have lots of excellent choices, and the cheese plate and sit back and enjoy the scenery.
The Gumbo Shop: The Gumbo Shop
A beautiful, little restaurant withsome of the best New Orleans food I've ever had. They have great drinks, too. You might have to share your table if it gets too crowded.
Favorite Dish: The gumbo is just awesome. I also love the blackened catfish and the creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes.
It's like many other McDonald's in this country, no doubt. But, for me, there is one thing that distinguishes this one. I know that I'm a New Englander and that perhaps that informs my opionion here, but this, hands down, has got to be the slowest McDonald's on the face of the earth. There were only two people in line in front of me and three regisisters open and, no word of a lie, I stood there for the better part of 20 minutes waiting for someone to take my order, never mind the food itself--a challenge for my quick-fire Northern soul to be sure. Of course in New Orleans this in quite normal, I just feel it to be my duty to let all of you know.
Brennan's: Birthplace of the Bananas Foster
If you have to choose a place for brunch, it's a tough decision between Arnaud's and Brennan's. Personally, I'd move heaven and earth so that I can eat at both places.
Of course, Brennan's is home to the famous Bananas Foster. Nobody can replicate it - I don't care where you go! It's a real treat to watch the waiters concoct it. Whenever I think of Brennan's, I always think "Breakfast at Brennans", although trust me, the lunches and dinners are exquisite here as well.
A "prix fixe" here runs you in the $30s, and includes a choice of appetizer, soup, vegetable, entree, and dessert. Formal attire, reservations.
Oliver's Creole Restaurant: Wonderful Creole Cusine
One of the best Creole restaurant in town. The restaurant was started by current owner's grandma, he is now the 3rd generation running this family business.
This place always crowded, reservations suggested.
Favorite Dish: Appetizer:
1. Shrimp Plater - Lovely!
2. Musrooms stuffed with crabmeat - Perfect!
3. Fried Osyter - coating a little too thick, covering the fresh taste of the oyster, still good though.
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