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New Orleans... EATS!

nocafe

By Angela Ash

New Orleans is the type of place where you never run out of things to do.  Whether it be peering at bugs at the Insectarium, touring a swamp, or creeping through haunted houses, your agenda will always be full.  Often when you are sightseeing, you may have a tendency to rush your meals a bit, so as to fit in that extra museum or take the long way back to the hotel. 

Let me advise you from the start that New Orleans is not one of those places.  I would fly here just to eat.  I swear on a stack of beignets! 

And it isn't hard to understand why. New Orleans is a mixing pot of so many types of foods... all located within walking distance.  You have Creole.  You have Cajun.  You have French.  You have mixtures and variations of all three.  And of course, you have every other ethnic food known to man.  That's not even mentioning the beignets. 

There we go again with the beignets. These highly addictive mouthfuls of sugary delight are worth a trip alone.  Never heard of a beignet?  Well, it is a deep friend pastry that is literally smothered in powdered sugar.  They can be found at a few locations in New Orleans, but do not be fooled.  Cafe Du Monde and Cafe Beignet are the best by far.  Don't be caught with anyone else's beignet in your mouth.  It might be illegal in the French Quarter. Cafe Du Monde has been around since 1826, so they might just know what they're doing with a cup of coffee and a beignet. Cafe Beignet is located in the Musical Legends Park, where you can listen to Jazz and pose with the statues... all while covered in powdered sugar! 

But if you are looking for something a bit more substantial, you have your pick of award-winning eateries.  Let's investigate a few.

nocourt

If you are caught dead anywhere else for brunch, then just pack up your bags and go home. The Court Of Two Sisters is definitely the place to be for brunch... and not just on Sunday!

You may choose to dine inside, or out… in the fabulous courtyard. And the buffet is still endless… or about as endless as two plates can contain. There are so many choices that this is definitely a two plate buffet. You know what I'm talking about... where you fill up two plates at one time and pretend like one is for someone else. You know you've done it! There is always a fresh array of various fruit, an omelet or eggs station, and everything from carved turkey breast to jambalaya.

And the ambiance is just not able to be compared. The sweet sound of live jazz flows throughout the courtyard, as you attempt ever so earnestly to eat every bite on your plate. (Ssssh... plates).

And while the Court of Two Sisters is best known for their Jazz Brunch Buffet every day, the dinner is superb. It truly calls to eat here twice!

For more information, visit them online or call (504) 522-7261.

If you truly want a taste of New Orleans tradition, then Tujague's can not be beat!  It is the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, and has been in operation for over 150 years.  With its tempting array of Creole inspired dishes, this is old New Orleans, fused with modern touches that blend seamlessly to create nothing less than pure inspiration. 

In keeping with tradition, fresh produce is purchased daily from the French Market, thus supporting the city and providing patrons with nothing less than the absolute best in ingredients.

tu food

However, even the best ingredients are nothing without the recipes, and this is where Tujague's definitely wins the prize.  The six course menu offers such options as Beef Brisket and Shrimp Remoulade, finishing up with perhaps the best pecan pie I have ever tasted.

Serving celebrities and presidents alike, this eatery must be experienced to truly fathom just how spectacular it is!

For more information, visit them online or call (504) 525-8676.

 

noblues
 

Well, it's Sunday morning... and you feel like clapping your hands, jumping to your feet, and letting those white handkerchiefs fly!  That's not a problem in toe-tapping New Orleans... not at all. 

Kirk Franklin has selected contemporary and "old favorites" from the gospel catalog, performed by an energetic group of singers and musicians... often with special guests and surprise sit-ins.  You will find it difficult to stay in your seat, as they move seamlessly from one electric performance to the next! 

The only thing to top this off would be a mouth-watering buffet and bottomless Sunday morning mimosas.  You don't have to wish too hard.  You know that the Crescent City never disappoints! 

There is honestly no comparison to the spread that the House of Blues serves up for the Gospel Brunch.  In any other city, it might be almost overwhelming.  But let's not kid ourselves.  If you're in New Orleans, you're prepared to eat!

You can start off with croissants and danishes, or a vast array of salads and fruits, or even peel and eat shrimp. And when you're ready to really dig in, the Saints aren't the only thing that comes rolling in!  Expect such breakfast staples as scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage links, breakfast potatoes, and biscuits and gravy. 

And just to remind you that you're deep in the French Quarter, partake in the most delicious chicken jambalaya and smoked bbq chicken. 

Now it's time to loosen that belt, because you can build your own mac n cheese, have a made from scratch omelet, hit up the carving station for honey baked ham or smoked beef brisket, and then settle in for the best chicken and waffles in existence. 

And to put you right over the edge, top it all off with their famous whit chocolate banana bread pudding, drizzled with a tantalizing creme anglaise.

This is not merely a dining experience.  This will be one of the highlights of your entire New Orleans visit. I can not stress enough that this should be at the top of ANY New Orleans itinerary.

For more information, visit them online or call (504)310-4999.

nolobster

If you are ready for some of the best seafood in the entire country, with live music and a festive atmosphere... right on the banks of the Mississippi River, dance on over to the Crazy Lobster!

I tell you, this place is pure fun!  I have rarely seen such happy servers, ready with helpful information for meal selections, which leads to an informal, "let's have a good time and eat" motto. 

And eat you must, because the Crazy Lobster has an enormous food selection.  I would suggest starting off with one of their many appealing appetizers, such as the Cajun Calamari, Onion Straws, or Fried Crab Claws.  And of course, since you do happen to be in New Orleans, why not sample the Jambalaya, or the Red Beans and Rice? 

The Crazy Lobster also offers a pleasing array of salads and soups. Do not miss out on the Creole Seafood Gumbo.  It is absolutely fantastic, complete with tasty shrimp and crab meat! 

Now, this is the home of the Cajun Steamed Seafood Bucket... and yes this an actual BUCKET stuffed full of delicious lobster, snow crab, boiled shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob, and a sausage link. Obviously, this is something to share for the table, making sure that you leave room for the spectacular entrees to come! 

And now the serious decisions begin!  The seafood options are seemingly endless, with everything from Surf & Turf to fresh Crab Cake or Catfish Po Boys, Shrimp Creole to Trout Orleans, and a vast selection of fried offerings including Crab Cakes, Shrimp, Catfish, Oysters, and Cajun Fish Tacos. 

But don't even think about throwing in the napkin just yet! The bread pudding is an absolute masterpiece, with the brownie sundae sharing equal billing rights. 

When you are looking for exceptional seafood served in an electric, exciting location, put the Crazy Lobster on your "To Eat" list.

For more information, visit them online or call (504) 569-3380.

 

 nofrench


The French Market restaurant is literally a jewel amongst the eateries that the Quarter has to offer.  They've been serving delicious food and tempting drinks since 1803, so they must be doing something right! Located on bustling Decatur Street, just steps from the French Market (hence the name), you HAVE to stop in for a bite. 

Now, what is truly perfect about this restaurant is that you can stop in for a few oysters and a beer, or you can have a full, sit-down meal, complete with the warm, spirited ambiance that this establishment exudes.  Your taste buds are in for a party! 

What Chef David Picou has done with this menu is truly remarkable.  Of course, the Marullo Family have always been masters at constructing dishes that please the palate, but the spin on traditional fare, as well as the addition of a few new options, have really added a sparkling touch to the offerings at the French Market Restaurant.

Everyone should start off with the oysters. I admit, I have never been a lover of the oyster, but the French Market Restaurant changed my mind.  With plenty of varieties to choose from, make sure that you try the Creole Char-grilled Oysters! 

Many boiled options are also available, including Jumbo Shrimp, Crawfish, Blue Crab, King Crab or Dungeness, and Corn Potatoes and Sausage. 

The Po Boys also deserve a mention.  Served on delicious bread, the Popcorn Shrimp Po Boy must be eaten in its entirety... or at least a good effort must be made.  Another tasty option from the Po Boys are the Muffalettas, served in Italian, Creole, or Seafood varieties. 

The entrees are superb,with mouth-watering meats and seafood coming from the grill, and Cajun and Creole Specialties including such favorites as BBQ Shrimp and Grits, Crawfish Etouffee, and Red Beans and Rice. 

Come to the French Market Restaurant hungry and leave not only fulfilled, but with a wonderful dining memory that will stay with you until your next visit. 

For more information, visit them online or call (504)525-7879.

 

nooliviers
 

Olivier's Creole Restaurant has completely stolen my heart... and my stomach.  If you want authentic Creole food, with recipes passed down from generations of Olivier family, and an absolutely gorgeous dining environment, then look no further.

Something extremely important about a positive dining experience is good service, and Olivier's offers this in leaps and bounds. The servers are knowledgeable and always ready to offer recommendations, and are attentive without "hovering"... setting the groundwork for the delicious meal that is to come.

Olivier's is open for lunch and dinner, with lunch offering Po Boys, salads, and entrees that will make you curious about "what's for dinner".

The dinner at Olivier's is nothing short of phenomenal.  With appetizers like Mushroom Ragout, the Gumbo Sampler (three versions of gumbo: Chef Armand's Creole Gumbo, Papa Armand's Filé and Mama Cheryl's Okra Gumbo), and the Louisiana BBQ Shrimp. 

The entrees are divided into two distinct sections on this menu. The Classic Creole Entrees represent FIVE generations of Creole tradition, and it includes such unique dishes as Creole Rabbit, Great Grandma Jeanne's Shrimp Creole, and Mama Cheryl's Crawfish Etouffee.

The next area is Armand Olivier's Kitchen, in which Chef Armand Olivier "experimented" with his family's recipes and, with plenty of world travel under his belt, put a bit of a spin on classic Creole.  These dishes will completely exceed your expectations, with a delicious Jambalaya with Fried Catfish, a zesty seasoned Ribeye, or the creamy Crab Ravioli. 
 

For more information, visit them online or call (504) 525-7734.

 

 nocommanders
 

Gorgeous Victorian architecture houses an other-wordly dining event that mere words fall short of describing, nestled deep in the extraordinary Garden District... and just steps from Lafayette Cemetery. 

Entering this restaurant can best be described as embarking upon a fantasy world, complete with various dining rooms, each with its own personality and attributes that make each experience seem unique.  The Garden Room, in particular, almost gives the illusion of dining outside, with its glass walls affording opulent views of the lovely exterior surroundings, and intricate touches such as the handmade trellises and distinctive paintings.  

But this is no fantasy world. The food is VERY real... even though it may seem to possess a mythical quality all its own.

Commander's Palace is open for lunch, dinner, and a Jazz Brunch on Sundays.  I began my culinary delight during lunch, and I was amazed beyond belief. 

First, let me explain something. An excellent drink is sometimes difficult to come by.  I am not making reference to a "good" drink, but the kind that makes you scratch your head in disbelief that something that could actually taste like paradise. Well, paradise just got a lot cheaper than two plane tickets. Try a quarter. Yes, that would be 25 cents for a martini or two, along with your entree purchase.  So now that you have a delectable libation in your hand... on with the food! 

For lunch, the Commander's Palace offers A La Carte appetizers, soups and salads, and entrees.  However, one of the best deals in all of New Orleans are the two and three course selections.  A two course special will include either soup or salad, along with such magnificent entree choices as the Open Faced Oyster Po Boy or the Abita Beer Braised Lamb.  An amazing example of the three course selection by Chef Tory begins with the Commander's Creole Gumbo, Almond Crusted Quail, and the most sinfully delicious dessert I have ever eaten... the Creole Bread Pudding Souffle. 

When ordering A La Carte, be sure to try the acclaimed Commander's Turtle Soup, the Southern Grilled Pork Panzanella, the Tournedos of Black Angus Beef, and the Triple Chocolate Truffle Terrine.

This will be one of the best dining experiences of your life!

For more information, visit the Commander's Palace online or call (504) 899-8221.

 noruby

If you happen to be anything like me, you may constantly crave Breakfast or, its more experienced older cousin, Brunch. While some people can throw some cereal in a bowl and go, when I am traveling, or even on a short weekend getaway, I want real food.  I am talking pancakes, an omelet, breakfast potatoes and, most importantly, biscuits.  There must be biscuits.

I was literally dazzled when I walked into the Ruby Slipper at their Marigny location, with additional delightful eateries in Mid City and Downtown.  To begin, this is one of the cleanest restaurants I have ever been in.  Everything is shiny and beautiul, beckoning pedestrians to come in and smell the delicious goodness that is wafting in from the kitchen. 

This tempting aroma is merely a prelude to the expansive menu, offering traditional choices like omelets, pancakes, and french toast for breakfast.  And the Ruby Slipper just excels with their House Specialties, with fantastic dishes like BBQ Shrimp and Grits, Eggs Blackstone, and Bananas Foster Pain Perdu. 

And don't be fooled because the Ruby Slipper also serves up lunch, complete with favorites like the Croque Marigny, the Slipper Club, or the Cuban. 

And if the delicious food and the wonderful surroundings are not enough, the folks at the Ruby Slipper go the extra mile by supporting the local businesses and caring for the environment. 

For more information, visit them online or call (504) 309-5531.

 

noarnauds
 

Sometimes nothing else will do except for a romantic dinner in a historic locale.  It may be a special occasion, or merely a "date night", or a welcome reprieve from a day of intense sightseeing.  Whatever the case, Arnaud's has been filling this need in the French Quarter since 1918, and it doesn't look like things will be changing anytime soon!

While Arnaud's offers elegant, up-scale dining in their gorgeous setting, Aranud's Jazz Bistro is a different, energetic atmosphere that just begs you to enter, pull up a seat, and enjoy what New Orleans has to offer. 

The Jazz Bistro complements its delicious Creole cuisine with the melodies of a strolling Jazz trio, who seem to float about the dining room playing one familiar song after the next.  They create an ambiance that can not be duplicated, setting the tone for a fantastic dinner experience. 

The menu is expansive, and it includes choices for even the most discerning diner.  The Shrimp Arnaud, their signature dish of Gulf Shrimp marinated in their famous Creole Remoulade Sauce, is one of the best shrimp dishes in New Orleans.  Oysters are also offered in five different varieties, and various soups are also available, including a delicious Chicken and Andouille Gumbo. 

The selection of entrees leaves nothing to be desired, with wonderful options like Arnaud's Crab Cakes, Speckled Trout, Chicken Pontalba, and a lovely Filet Mignon Charlemond... in a rich Mushroom Sauce and topped with Bearnaise Sauce. 

And absolutely do not hesitate when ordering the Souffle Potatoes.  They are light, crispy, and they even come with a bit of history.  Legend has it that these divine creations were accidentally invented by King Louis Phillipe's chef, who attempted to reheat already fried potatoes in boiling oil, when the King arrived late for dinner.

Whatever the occasion, prepare for a wonderful experience at Aranud's Jazz Bistro!

For more information, visit online or call (504)523-5433.


nopeche

I know the word "unique" is used a lot in New Orleans, but in this case, there is no chance of it being haphazardly overused.  Peche Seafood Grill is beyond unique, and definitely is in possession of the ultimate cool factor.  One visit, and you'll understand.

Located in the Warehouse District, just around the corner from the expansive World War II Museum, this is an excellent choice for lunch before a visit, or dinner after.  It is also a wonderful atmosphere for a quick drink.  However, I would find it nearly impossible to enter Peche without ordering a full meal.  A double dare wouldn't even work.

The cooking method must first be discussed, because it is nothing short of extraordinary.  Mixing an old world technique with a twist on the recipes, the cooking is conducted on an open hearth, over hardwood coals.  And that's only one part of the intrigue.  The open kitchen affords an eye-level view of the action, which literally nakes you feel a part of the process. 

I visited Peche during lunch, and the service was outstanding.  We were given a tour of the detailed menu, at times almost feeling as if we could actually taste the foods, with such vibrant descriptions and recommendations. 

With a raw bar, soups and salads, and small plates with which to begin your dining adventure, it is easy to sample a few selections by sharing amongst your group.  (If you have a table for two, you may just have to sample a little more!)  The Shrimp Bisque is superb, and it would be unjust to miss out on the fish sticks.  (Trust me, these are not the ones your mother used to make for lunch!) 

The entrees are also in wonderful company, with such dishes as Grilled Tuna, Smothered Catfish, the Louisiana Shrimp Roll, Grilled Skirt Steak, or the my personal favorite, the Chicken Diablo. 

And I beg of  you, somehow save room for dessert!  The Flourless Madagascar Chocolate Cake is absolutely divine and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie is even better than it sounds! 

For an experience like no other, pop into Peche and leave singing its praises to anyone who will listen.  You might even end up with a dollar in your hat.

For more information, visit them online or call (504) 522-1744. 

If you need additional information to assist with your meal planning when on a visit to New Orleans, you will find everything that you could possibly need by logging onto the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau site.  With their extensive listings and links to full restaurant sites, making reservations and dining at an establishment that fits your particular needs will be a breeze!

After all, New Orleans is known for Bourbon Street, Jazz, Mardi Gras... and let's not forget the FOOD!  You will be hard pressed to find another city in the world with such a wonderful blend of eateries, each one nearly bursting with individuality and pride.  When you are blessed to visit this extraordinary city, sit in on some amazing local music, visit the best array of attractions ever assembled, and EAT UP! 

It's basically the law.