New Orleans, À la une

No, I don’t speak French, but I am still in a New Orleans state of mind from the fun part of our Spring Break trip, so I am attempting to title these next few posts to honor my new Creole brethren.   (The French expression à la une means “on the front page” or even just “in the news.”)   After Branson (aka Taterville), I accompanied The Hubs to a conference in New Orleans—convenient, right?

A friend’s husband  grew up in New Orleans and sent me this very informative and comprehensive tourist guide before our trip.  I wanted to share his recommendations with you as well as a few photos that I snapped along the way.   He gave us quite a list (along with some rules):

OK—important stuff—FOOD.  First New Orleans is not a Cajun city. There is now no shortage of Cajun places to eat, but don’t expect to hear people talking like “Swamp People.” New Orleans is a Creole city.

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Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

It’s Lent and New Orleans being very Catholic, seafood will be the special at every restaurant on a Friday.  So, even if you don’t like seafood, I strongly recommend that you try it anyway. New Orleans has the best restaurants that prepare seafood like no other place.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “I don’t like seafood, but I’ll eat ____ at ___  restaurant in New Orleans.”

I’ll start my recommendations with this warning – NO CHAIN RESTAURANTS!!  There is no shortage of great places to eat without stepping foot in a chain restaurant. There’s a Landry’s Seafood in the Quarter—stay away!  And don’t let me hear that you ate at the Wendy’s, Arby’s, McDonalds, or Popeye’s on Canal St!! That would be sacrilegious!    The only chain restaurant I recommend is Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse by the Harrah’s casino; I only recommend it because it started in New Orleans. The original was lost in Katrina. If you want a steak in New Orleans, go there.  Steaks are served “New Orleans style”—on a hot plate atop clarified butter so it sizzles.  Imagine a tender steak with just the touch of butter flavor! Mmmmmmm.   (Dressy casual to dressy.)   Second choice for steak—Dickie Bennan’s Steakhouse.

That said, any restaurant with Brennan’s in the name is a good safe choice. The Brennan family knows its business – although they are typically dressier and more expensive. There are several branches of the Brennan family and a few different restaurants within easy walking of the hotel. They are usually well noted on any map of the Quarter.

Eat New Orleans (900 Dumaine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70116) is VERY GOOD. It’s a little odd being a BYOB restaurant, but its food is excellent, very New Orleans. Small place, expect to wait for a seat (no reservations). They have a trio plate – cup of red beans & rice, cup of chicken and sausage gumbo, and a stuffed bell pepper—for something like $17 with a salad.  Awesome deal and all of it is traditional New Orleans comfort food. I’m hungry and homesick just thinking about it.

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I did try the trio and it was delicious!!!!! Here is a recipe from the restaurant that was on the back of the postcard presented with the bill.

Raw oysters—only one place—Acme Oyster House – most restaurants in New Orleans will have oysters, but Acme goes through so many, you are guaranteed you are getting fresh oysters.  Other places are OK for fried oysters, but for guaranteed fresh raw oysters its Acme.

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Our personal oyster shucker at ACME.  (We were lucky and only had to wait in line about 15 minutes.)

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These were the char-grilled oysters from ACME Oyster House. We sat at the bar and watched them being shucked. Notice the shells are empty!  I cannot tell you how delicious these were!!!!

Near the French Market are several casual places that are very good. Fiorella’s (1136 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116), good po’ boys (sandwiches made on a hard crust French bread) and everyone raves about their fried chicken, but you can get fried chicken anywhere. Try a po’ boy—preferably a sloppy roast beef.

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We didn’t do the sloppy roast beef but it was a delicious shrimp po’ boy that we had. We sat outside and it was also interesting people watching. Fiorella’s was the first place we ended up.

An even better idea is take the Canal St.  streetcar to Carrolton Ave. Walk one block north (to your right as you get off the streetcar) on Carrolton to Angelo Brocato’s Italian Ice Cream for fresh Italian ices from whatever fruit is in season, gelato, spumoni, cannoli, tiramisu, and more. EVERYTHING is good!  Now that’s a streetcar ride with purpose.

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I actually got on the wrong streetcar on my way to NOMA but it was a happy accident because I came across this place. Excellent gelato!!!!

Last, I always advise “no sandals.”  You never know what you’ll step into in the Quarter and on Bourbon St.

P.S. If some kids asks you “I bet you $20 (or some other $$) I can guess where you got your shoes?” Just keep walking.  The tourist thinks, “There’s no way he’ll guess I bought these shoes in Walla Walla.”   But the answer is, “You got those shoes on your feet! You owe me $20!”

Thanks a bunch, T.C. or should I say, “Merci”?

Of course, we did not set foot in a national chain.  And wouldn’t you know on the last night there we were approached by a fellow with the shoe scam???????

Stay tuned for where else we ended up, an exciting parade down Canal Street, and and some more NOLA travel tips from my friend T.C. (and me).  

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