This page is a work in progress. Recommended restaurants, cocktail lounges and bars, hotels, and general New Orleans-y things coming soon!
French Quarter Restaurants — The Big Four
There are, of course, the four classic New Orleans Creole restaurants, the ones that are “musts” when you visit the city: Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s, and Broussard’s, all of which are in the French Quarter.
Antoine’s is arguably the most famous. If I’m not mistaken, it’s also the oldest continually-operating restaurant in the US (it opened in 1840). Menu
Arnaud’s has two sides: the more relaxed Jazz Bistro room with live Jazz music (a trio comes to play at individual tables), and a more formal, dressier side (the Main Dining Room). Menu
Broussard’s: Broussard’s is great, but I’ve heard that they’re especially slow and kind of hit-or-miss lately. Menu
Also in the French Quarter/Downtown area:
French cuisine–well, more like creative fusion: Restaurant August This is a John Besh restaurant, so it kinda has to be good. When I was there, I had a really unique version of shrimp creole–it was unlike any shrimp creole I’ve ever had. But I knew that when I chose it; our waiter explained that it was inspired by the NOLA favorite, but recreated as an homage to the sizeable Vietnamese population in the city, with an emphasis on ingredients traditionally used in Vietnamese cooking. It was amazing. Menu
American: Lüke, another John Besh restaurant, is on Saint Charles Avenue. Menu
The Grill Room is inside the Windsor Court, and though I’ve never been there, I’ve heard good things. Menu (Just a warning: their website has music on autoplay)
Seafood: I always hear people talking about Drago’s on Poydras, and they were voted the Best Seafood Restaurant in Gambit’s Best of New Orleans issue.
Irene’s–Irene’s is a favorite. Who doesn’t love good Italian food with a New Orleans touch? The menu changes often, but it’s always fantastic.
I just had a spectacular dinner at Maximo’s Italian Grill, which has been at that some location on Decatur Street for as long as I can remember. I had the Pasta Rosa, which exceeded my expectations (I really wasn’t expecting to be so impressed by a pasta and shrimp dish, but WOW.).
There’s always Domenica. And 2pm-5pm is their Happy Hour, haha.
Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar: It’s not just martinis! Though, if you love a great martini (dirty gin martinis are my fave), you should check it out. I had dinner there back in February, and I was definitely impressed (and yes, the martinis were impressive, too). The menu changes, so be sure to check it if you want to get a head start.
Coquette – This is a wonderfully bright little place uptown with light entrees, great drinks, and an atmosphere that is somehow simultaneously sophisticated and down-to-earth. Try it for lunch on a beautiful day, and sit by the window!
Arnaud’s French 75 (next to Arnaud’s Restaurant, in the French Quarter – 813 Bienville Street New Orleans, LA 70112) – A new friend invited me to meet me here the other day, and I took him up on it. The bartender makes a perfect dirty martini (well, I think so, anyway). It was my first time there (I had been to the restaurant, but I’d never gone there specifically to have drinks), and I’d love to go again…
Stuff to Do
If you’re looking for entertainment and you’re willing to define “history” a little more loosely than a university professor might, I’d go with a walking tour from Haunted History Tours. They’re held at night, there are stops at a few bars, and the tour guides are entertainers in their own right–they tell the stories with a heavy dose of theatrics, and it works. I’d recommend this one especially during the summer because it’s a night tour–summer is brutal here, and the last thing you’ll want to do is walk around in the heat.