One of the reasons we decided to visit New Orleans last year (aside from Mardi Gras, of course!) was because we’d heard great things about the food. We knew it would be super busy so I did a lot of research and pre-booked everything in advance – it turns out this was pretty vital. So if you’re visiting the city for the festival, make sure you plan ahead! We generally ate fairly early around 7pm so we could get back to our hotel located at the end of the parade route, so we got to enjoy lovely dinners as well as seeing all of the floats.
Back in the day I would have done a detailed blog post about each restaurant, but as I frantically type before the little one wakes up for his next feed (this is now my life!!), a summary style post is going to have to do…
On our first full night (the first actual night when we arrived was spent getting stuck straight into the parades and a copious amount of alcohol rather than food!) was our 4th wedding anniversary, so we wanted this to be somewhere special. We certainly found that spot at Commander’s Palace, a fine dining restaurant located in the Garden District, and a landmark since 1893. There’s a strict dress code and the men are expected to wear jackets – I’m all for this, I find it really sad when people don’t make an effort for dinner anymore, particularly for a special occasion.
When we arrived (a short Uber drive from our hotel), I was a bit taken aback by the size of the restaurant. It was ENORMOUS! From my experience in the UK, it’s rare to have a really great experience in a large venue – the staff are usually running around like headless chickens and you feel a bit like a cog in a culinary machine. We were guided through various different sections of the restaurant, to a vast room upstairs towards the back, but we were delighted to be given a spot in the corner next to the large glass window overlooking the spot lit courtyard outside – it was stunning!
As it was a special occasion, we went for the tasting menu which was enormous, as were the portion sizes! This wasn’t the kind of fine dining where each plate has about 30 different ingredients, delicately plated with tweezers – this was good ol’ New Orleans hearty cooking. And absolutely divine! Dishes included everything from deep fried oysters to pasta ragu. And the whisky soufflé. Oh my goodness! It wasn’t on our menu but the waiter suggested we order it on top and it was definitely the right decision!
The service was also incredible – we were given our dedicated waiter who was there whenever we needed him, without being overbearing. We were made to feel so special and were given a copy of the menu with a congratulatory message for our anniversary written on it, which now graces our home and makes me smile every time I walk past it.
So needless to say, I can’t recommend it enough. Another similar style of restaurant (in terms of style of food, dress code, history etc.) is Arnaud’s in the French Quarter, which is well known for its jazz brunch. We didn’t have time to visit here (it was extremely booked up so we didn’t manage to fit it in to our busy schedule) but it’s certainly on the list if we return in the future.
Find out more: www.commanderspalace.com
Located in the Bywater neighbourhood, this wasn’t exactly near us but I’d read about it online and had a very good feeling about it. We took an Uber which dropped us off down a dark alleyway in a residential area. For a second we thought we were in the wrong place but hidden away behind a large unsuspecting door is this adorable French bistro style restaurant. It feels as though you’re walking into someone’s home – in the garden, the owner’s classic car is parked up and the seating area outside is adorned with fairy lights, it was picture perfect! The food was typical deliciously rich French cuisine and a fantastic wine and spirits selection. Ending with possibly the biggest pavlova I’ve ever taken on single-handedly…
Find out more: www.n7nola.com
The Po’boy is a New Orleans staple – it’s a meaty/seafoody sandwich of epic proportions, on fluffy French bread. We planned to try out a few places in New Orleans but ended up going back on about three occasions to Killer PoBoys in the French Quarter. It’s nothing fancy to look at from the outside, just a basic looking takeaway style cafe. But thankfully I’d read about them online, so we knew to venture inside, and oh my word… My husband Tim doesn’t like sandwiches very much (mad, I know!) but it was him who was chomping at the bit to go back. We’d have gone every day if he had his own way. THAT is how good these sandwiches are! The photos will never do them justice. If you’re in the city, just try them. You won’t regret it!
Find out more here: www.killerpoboys.com
A short walk from our hotel in the warehouse district, Cochon (as any French speakers might guess), was a meaty delight, serving traditional Cajun Southern dishes. We were excited to try some local dishes that we’d never experienced before, like alligator.
I had the rabbit stew which was lovely and hearty. Portion sizes are big just like everywhere I’ve been in America, and I’m not ashamed to say I took some of the food back to our hotel room and treated myself to a bit of a midnight feast! Sorry not sorry!
Find out more here: www.cochonrestaurant.com
A sister restaurant to Cochon (again, French speakers will get a head start here) – this restaurant was all about fish! The restaurant was a similar kind of size and ambience to Peche, with a similar size and style of menu. We had such an enjoyable meal here, it’s one we often still talk about. Tim tucked into some oysters as I watched in jealousy (I’ve had food poisoning a few times after eating them, despite adoring them!) and we shared a whole grilled fish we’d never tried before, annoyingly I can’t remember the name of it, but I seem to recall it was from Florida and was wonderfully flakey and moist (sorry moist haters, but it was!), a bit like a sea bream.
Find out more here: www.pecherestaurant.com
Turkey and the Wolf
A popular lunch spot with a very cool owner (Mason Hereford, Google him, he’s awesome!), this is seriously quirky and I loved everything about it – it was well worth the trip into the garden district. Think big sandwiches, tacos and cocktails. My fried Bologna sandwich was almost as big as my head! Your order number is a plastic animal on a stick and a lot of the plateware (may have just invented that word) and cutlery are retro old school style, like old MacDonald’s cartoon plates.
By the time we left, there was a queue going out the door! Find out more here: www.turkeyandthewolf.com
So those were all of our restaurant experiences – we also visited lots of great bars and tucked into plenty of snacks. Such as King Cake. If you go, you MUST try the King Cake. You might be on a sugar high for at least a few hours, but it’ll be worth it…
In case you missed it, my blog post on top tips for experiencing Mardi Gras in New Orleans is right here.