*Guest post by chicago foodie girl contributor, Diana
I recently returned from one of the longest vacations (two weeks) I'd taken in years, and it flew by faster than I could blink! My sister and I started in New Orleans for a couple of days, then headed out for a cruise that took us to Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We returned to New Orleans and stayed for a few days to enjoy the sights, sounds and more importantly, the food!
The New Orleans portion of the trip was by far my favorite part: the weather was pleasant, everything was within walking distance, and oh yeah, I didn't have to deal with the nausea from the ship rocking to and fro. The waters were a bit rough and it took me almost the entire trip to find my sea legs. But we're not here to talk about sea legs. Well, unless you are referring to crab legs. We're here to talk about FOOD!
It's been a month since my vacation, so I'm going to do my best to put these in order and remember everything as best I can. Either way, please join me as I travel through some wonderful dining!
(Side Note: Sure, it's a chain, but it's a really great chain! The food and service are always wonderful and they did not disappoint!)
This was our first stop when we arrived in town. We were hungry, cranky and tired and were wishy washy about where to eat. We headed into the French Quarter and about two arguments and a lot of "I don't know's" later, I took the bull by the horns (so to speak) and headed straight to Landry's and I'm glad I did!
My lunch was redfish (like a red snapper) with a topping of shrimp, crabmeat and scallops in a lemon sauce. To die for. The sides were crunchy and perfectly cooked green beans and a nicely spiced dirty rice.
Ahhh, Besh Steak, what an excellent experience! My sister and I are huge fans of Chef John Besh; he has restaurants all over New Orleans and made a point to hit a few locations while we were in town. Beside great dining experiences we like that Chef Besh comes across as the every guy, the kind of guy you can sit and have a beer with after a hard day at work. And the bonus is that he'd probably cook you an awesome meal!
As soon as we were seated, we were presented with a chef's appetizer of chicken liver pate with crostini. The next appetizer was something I could eat all day; lobster stuffed shells, stuffed with nothing but lobster! So good! Next up was a deconstructed Caesar salad, followed by an ah-mazingly tender and juicy ribeye steak with frites. The entire meal was decadent and delicious; we walked it off in the casino stuffed, happy and proceeded to lose 50 bucks on the slot machines. That was my cue to get the heck out of there!
Ralph and KaCoo's is supposedly the best place to go for fried seafood and it probably is, but I think the restaurant may not have been experiencing a good day on the day I was there. I went to R&C's years ago and remember enjoying it very much, so I was pretty excited about going back again.
We went there for lunch, I ordered the fried soft shell crabs, which were very good, but that's about it. The fries were pretty limp and cold, which kind of matched the service. The waitress didn't seem to care much about our table; she kept disappearing, which was odd because the restaurant was virtually empty. After asking twice for a diet coke that she never brought to the table, it was obvious there was something going on outside of the dining room that was keeping her busy. Who knows. Not sure if I'll ever return, but don't let me dissuade you from visiting this restaurant. I'm chalking it up to a bad day and leaving it at that!
Mother's - 401 Poydras (Downtown)
Mother's is a must stop for anyone visiting New Orleans; it's been around since 1938 and with good reason! It's a joint, the lines are always long, but it's definitely worth the wait. You'll be standing among locals, tourists and lots of college kids. Once inside, you stand in another line to order your food, then you grab a seat and wait for the deliciousness to arrive! And trust me, you don't go there for the ambiance; you go there for the food!
We went a little nuts ordering, and I have absolutely no regrets. We shared an order of red beans and rice (with ham, yay!), I had the "Famous Ferdi Special", which is a sandwich consisting of roast beef, their famous baked ham, and "debris", which are the bits from the roast beef pan, along with gravy. Think of it as a Chicago style Italian beef where the beef is sliced a little thicker, along with ham and slightly less au jus. Oh good lord, I don't think I'll ever experience a sandwich as good as the Ferdi, it was fantastic!
My sister ordered a shrimp po' boy (which she has had before and said it was great as always) and we took an order of their bread pudding to go. We tasted the bread pudding and agreed it was really good, but we were too stuffed to eat it, so we packed it up to eat later, then ended up leaving it in our hotel room fridge. Ah well, now we have an excuse to go back and try it again! Ha!
This is fast food, New Orleans style. One of the best meals during my visit!
Luke is another John Besh restaurant and a favorite for breakfast/brunch! We (my sister and our friends) visited on my birthday for brunch and it was an awesome experience. We even befriended/picked on the waiter who was not so hard on the eyes if you know what I mean!
Back to my meal...I ordered my first Croque Madame; it was so good, I remarked that I did not want my meal to end! I'm not a big fried egg kind of person; but soft yolk combined with the layers of ham, cheese and bread worked perfectly. I ate some of those frites, which were very good, but I was way too focused on that sandwich!
My sister surprised me with reservations at Commander's Palace, which is one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans. I have been wanting to visit for years, so I was super excited about this experience. It's a beautiful restaurant; very elegant, so wear your church clothes when you go. :-)
It was my birthday dinner and I wasn't driving back to the hotel, so I started with a cocktail called "Between The Sheets." It was described to me as a rum punch, only a bit stronger. Three of these later and well, I can confidently say that I got drunk on my birthday. Haha! As I got tipsy I enjoyed a smooth and rich gumbo, their signature pecan crusted gulf fish, and a praline parfait. Delicious! I was pretty toasty by the time I blew out that candle and giggled and babbled my way through the rest to the night and back to the hotel. One of our friends said, "drunk Diana is fun Diana." Oh my!
Napoleon House is another French Quarter institution and another place I've wanted to visit for years. They serve the famous New Orleans sandwich, the Muffaletta, the only difference is that they serve it warm, as it is typically served as a cold sandwich (Central Grocery is where the sandwich was invented and also the place to go if you prefer it cold).
The sandwich was layered with Italian meats and cheeses, topped with a delicious olive salad to give it a nice briny, crunchy punch! It was an excellent lunch break and I hope to visit again for dinner. I love the rustic look of the interior and they have a really nice patio that's great for relaxing and enjoying some cocktails.
When you hear "beignets" (think fried dough), most people think of Cafe Du Monde. I've been there before and I was ready for something else this time around. I heard that the locals go to Morning Call, so we set out to find the location at City Park and give them a try.
I found that the beignets at Morning Call were lighter and fluffier than the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. I also appreciated that I could control the amount of sugar put on the beignets as they are served plain and a powered sugar shaker is on every table. At Cafe Du Monde (and I'm sure everywhere else), they are served with a pile of powered sugar already on them and I typically get the sugar all over myself, the table, the floor and anyone sitting next to me. Oops!
We were also hungry for more than just beignets, so we shared a bowl of jambalaya and sipped on some frozen cafe au lait's. Then we headed out into the park, walked around a bit, then headed back to the hotel to pack and head home the next day.
I visited a few other places, but I didn't want to make this a super long post, so I'll be back with more! Thanks for reading your way through my travels! If you find yourself in NOLA anytime soon, feel free to share your experiences with us via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! (links can be found on the main blog page, on the right, above ChicagoFoodieGirl's bio)