When you come back from New Orleans, the first question you tend to get isn’t about what you did but where you ate. I truly believe it’s impossible to get a bad meal in New Orleans. Okay, it may be possible, but you have to work at it. On our recent trip, even the hot dog I grabbed on a paddleboat tour was decent.
With so many options for good food, really good food, and stellar food, I researched the heck out of restaurants in the weeks leading up to our trip. I crowd sourced recommendations; I pored over restaurant menus; I became intimate with Yelp, OpenTable, and TripAdvisor ratings.
I had to come up with dinners for 4 nights. My first pass – before I started looking at menus – had 96 restaurants. Criteria for restaurants was relatively simple: it had to offer something decent besides seafood/fish since my travelling companion doesn’t eat seafood or fish (sigh); it couldn’t be crazy expensive; it needed to be within 2 miles of our hotel on Royal. By the third pass, the list was down to 22 restaurants.
What made the cut?
Cochon. You may have heard great things about Cochon. I had. They’re well deserved. As this was our first dinner in New Orleans, it set a high bar for subsequent meals. The smoked pork ribs appetizer was amazing and you should order plates and plates of it. The smoked beef brisket was also awesome, as was the peppery vinegar on the table as a hot sauce option. I had the cochon, which was good, but I preferred the other stuff we ordered . I got dessert because I was on vacation and I’d heard good things about Cochon’s chocolate peanut butter pie. It was tasty, but rich and I was full so couldn’t finish it. I also fell in love with Fox Barrel’s Pacific Pear cider, which, sadly, is not available where I live.
Café du Monde. I don’t care if it’s touristy. I love it. And I’m sorely disappointed that we only had breakfast here once. Yes, the plates have too much powdered sugar on them. I don’t care. I even started drinking cafés au lait before heading to New Orleans to start acquiring a taste for coffee so I could enjoy the full Café du Monde experience. I learned coffee isn’t horrible if it’s half milk and has a whole bunch of sugar.
American Sector. Yep, it’s a restaurant in a museum, but it’s a John-Besh restaurant in a museum. My monte cristo was awesome. And I enjoyed listening to the woman next to me who complained that her salad had no taste and watching her lean over the bar to grab some Tabasco because that would help the salad. Her husband finished it for her.
Mr. B’s Bistro. I first came here during an oncology conference where one of my dining companions diagnosed me with pink eye. No pink eye this time just yummy yummy barbecue shrimp with the heads on. The current dining companion made fun of the plastic bib the restaurant gave me to wear. I grossed him out with the shrimp heads. Winning.
Stanley’s. A bit overpriced for breakfast but the food was decent. The service was excellent.
Mother’s. It looks like a hole in the wall but it’s awesome for po’boys. You order and then find a table and the food finds you. Aforementioned dining companion had the dressed debris which was majorly tasty. I went with an undressed baked ham, also tasty.
Desi Vega’s Steakhouse. The last meal is New Orleans featured old-school steakhouse service: attentive but not intrusive or fawning. The steaks were good although were almost too hot to eat when they showed up at the table thanks to the sizzling butter glaze.