I'm coming to NOLA this weekend for my sister's 21st birthday and need Friday dinner recommendations. She's never been before so it would be great if we could find a place that can give the true New Orleans experience. We are staying at the Marriot on Canal and want to stay within walking distance. It's a mixed group of foodies/non-foodies, so something that appeals to all is essential. Also on that note, not outrageously expensive is important too. And most importantly, it should be festive and a place where MANY drinks can be downed.
I've thought about Galatoires (although maybe a little expensive for those non-foodies), which I've been to before and always had a great experience- although I think we would have to make reservations at the dreaded upstairs. I've also considered Mandina's. I know it's not in my French Quarter criteria, but I hear I can take the street car to get there? I haven't been post- Katrina... a possible concern there might be safety of 5 girls walking around after dark.
Thoughts? Ideas? I'd love some new ideas- I've been to NOLA several times and I feel like I always eat at the same places, so I would love any suggestions!