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MSP 'hound's first trip to NOLA - help!

Seige | May 26, 2012 08:17 PM

Hi All!

I've already posted a thread about breakfast in NOLA, and I probably should have given things a little more thought and posted this first, but I've been overwhelmed by all the options! My husband and I are making our first trip to NOLA the second week of June. We'll only have 3 full days in the city (Thur-Sat). We don't have tours figured out yet, but our main goals are to learn a little more about the history of the city, probably do a cemetery tour and then eat really good food. Not in that order though. We want to figure out some restaurants first and then we'll plan tours and activities around those places. :)

I don't necessarily have days selected for particular places yet, but I will list our contenders so far below and ask for your thoughts. Feel free to suggest places you think are absolute musts that we've missed. A few things to note first:

1) Hubby spent a few years in the south as a youngster, so he loves southern food - red beans, rice, grits, collard greens, the whole nine yards. And he loves spicy! I've been a mid-westerner my whole life and while I love some southern things (fried chicken, waffles) other things are a bit more of struggle for me - still haven't taken a liking to collard greens - and while I like a little spice, I like spice of the MN variety. :) Aside from personal taste, we don't have any real dining restrictions.
2) Our ideal dining scenarios are always eating somewhere we can't eat at home and cuisine we can't find at home. So no chains and probably more emphasis on the creole, cajun, seafood, French/NOLA side.
3) Dress code is an issue for us. We are not slobs by any means and have eaten at many fine dining establishments all over the world, but we like to be comfortable when we travel and that means hubby doesn't bring along a jacket (especially in HOT weather) and I am rarely in a dress. Khakis/button down/maybe a tie for hubby and a nice shirt/sweater and dress pants for me will work for a meal or two but overall we like REALLY good food at restaurants that don't have a meltdown over someone wearing nice jeans (maybe even shorts) and a nice shirt. From what I've read it seems like dining in NOLA is a dress-up affair, so I'm looking for some suggestions of places that definitely won't require a jacket for dinner and may even being willing to deal with <gasp> jeans.
4) We'll be staying at the Hotel Monteleone and will not have a car, so we'll be relying our our tootsies and public transportation to get where we need to go.

Breakfast Contenders - can only choose 2 or 3
Cafe du Monde (non-negotiable - have to do this)
The Old Coffee Shop

Saturday Brunch Contenders - can only choose 1
Cafe Atchafalaya
Commander's Palace

Lunch Contenders - can only choose 3
Commander's Palace - if we don't go there for brunch
Johnny's in the Quarter
Willie Mae's Scotch House
Cafe Amelie
Clancy's - if we wouldn't go there for dinner
Herbsaint - if we wouldn't go there for dinner
Ralph's on the Park

Dinner Contenders - can only choose 3
August (I love, love, love John Besh. Is this the best Besh option?)
Green Goddess
Orleans Grapevine

Cocktails - haven't figured this out yet, thoughts so far
Jean Lafitte's
Napoleon House

Angelo Brocato's

As an aside - I've read a lot about Galatoire's and while dinner wouldn't work for us there given the jacket requirement. What about lunch? Is it really uber formal? And could someone explain to me what the "show" is that is constantly talked about? Is it jazz music or something else? I haven't been able to figure it out.

I have read the posts that say food portions in NOLA are large, so we may not hit all of these places, but want a variety of options just in case. Also, we're considering the New Orleans Culinary History Tour - http://noculinarytours.com/tour/frenc... - any thoughts on that? That would obviously cut out some of the dining options I've listed here.

Oh and notably absent from my list are any of Emeril's restaurants. We have eaten at his restaurant in Orlando and are guessing his NOLA restaurants are fairly similar. If we're off base with that and really missing out, let me know.

Sorry this got long, but thanks in advance for your help! We're looking forward to enjoying your city's culinary treats!

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