NoLa × The Classics.

If you’re headed to NOLA for the first time you are more than likely to hit up one (if not ALL, like an EEDR gal) of the below spots.  New Orleans is a city of tradition, with a cooking and dining stye of its own, and these restaurants now and forever will encompass it.  Because most of your time will be spent partying, the below is to help guide you when to go where, and more importantly, what to eat (duhhhh).  Lets be real here; typically when “classic” and/or “famous” are the adjectives used to describe a place, “expensive” is the underlying word — we don’t want you wasting your strip club and bead money on a bad dish.
THE FANCY SHMANCY:
COMMANDER’S PALACE (est. 1880)
WHERE:  Garden District-  bonus you get to see cool mansions on the drive.
WHEN TO GO:  Dinner.  You have to have at least one traditional Creole meal, complete with that Louisiana architecture, ambiance and charm.
WHAT TO WEAR:  Specific dress code listed online (no shorts, t-shirts, etc. and jeans are discouraged) making it fun to dress the part.
WHAT TO ORDER:  Grilled Crawfish & Lemon Gnocchi ($13).   Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish ($36). Louisiana Strawberry Shortcake (takes 20 minutes FYI).  Just do yourself a favor though; go into the night expecting it to be more about the experience than the food…
Commander’s Palace ↔ 1403 Washington Ave, NoLa, LA 70130 ↔ 504-899-8221
BRENNAN’S (originally opened 1946)
WHERE:  French Quarter-  in the center of it all.
WHEN TO GO:  Brunch and/or “Bubbles at Brennan’s” Happy Hour.  After much research, talking to our server and my meal (unfortunately I was only able to make it for dinner and it was aight) these are the times to go.  The thought of relaxing on that beautiful patio, drinking champagne as the sun goes down sounds like a dream.
WHAT TO WEAR: You’ll see people dressed in their Sundays best, but no dress code is listed, so you get a little more freedom of expression here.
IF EVEN AFTER OUR ADVICE YOU STILL GO TO DINNER (no offense taken)…
WHAT TO ORDER:  New Orleans BBQ Lobster ($19).  Filet Of Beef Stanley ($37). Bananas Foster ($8 per person/ minimum 2 people) because it’s made table side, everyone loves a good fire show and it’s what they are known for (although I didn’t LOVE, it’s just something you got to do-  you know?).
WHAT TO SKIP:  The calories consumed from the Japanese Amberjack Crudo ($12), Cucumber and Crab Cannelloni ($13) and Vandouvan Spiced Black Drum ($30-fish) should have been saved instead for more beignets (see below).
Brennan’s ↔ 417 Royal St, NoLa, LA 70130 ↔ 504-525-9711
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT BOTH COMMANDER’S & BRENNAN’S:  Priding themselves in that old-world fine dining experience; make sure to budget ample time, especially for a large group.  I was only in a party of 3 and each dinner lasted at least 3 hours.  I’ve gotten so used to LA Life trying to get you in and out in under an hour (we see right through you trying to turn tables), so this was both a pleasant and annoying surprise (people – I’ve got places to go and people to see) .
THE MUST STOP:
CAFE DU MONDE (1862)
WHERE:  Decatur St.
WHEN TO GO:  Open 24/7. Can’t think of a better late night treat or morning wake up call.
WHAT TO ORDER:  Coffee & Chicory and Beignets.  Oh, and more Beignets.
WHAT TO WEAR:  Not black-  powered sugar errwhere.
WHAT TO KNOW:  Cash only.
Cafe Du Monde ↔ 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116 ↔ 504-525-4544
EDDR LIFE LESSON:  Embrace tradition because the world is changing fast.
A2 FINAL THOUGHT:  Few places in the U.S. hold such pride in their culture as New Orleans.  Sure there are some amazing newer restaurants/chefs and Creole dishes have been deconstructed/reconstructed in the most delicious ways, but there is something to be said for the good ole’ fashion way.  The ideal NOLA weekend food tour would consist of one old and one new restaurant; so you can get a taste of both the new and old worlds.
Dreaming of beignets,

Alex

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