From Beignets to PoBoys to Shrimp Remoulade
New Orleans is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, so it’s a real treat to feature dining establishments that are more than 100 years old and feature live musicians—after all, this is the Big Easy a.k.a. The Birthplace of Jazz.
No visit to N’awlins (as the locals pronounce it) would be complete without a stop for beignets—deep fried doughnuts that are covered in powdered sugar for a sugary, sweet taste. The original Cafe du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week except Christmas. Of course, it has competition—Morning Call is located in City Park and has been serving traditional beignets and cafe au lait since 1870 and is also 24/7 all year long—and competitor Café Beignet has live jazz nightly. There’s a friendly dispute over which is better—one reviewer says “Cafe Beignet’s are chewier and Du Monde’s are airier” which just means you need to try them both!
The Commander’s Palace (pictured left), a six-time James Beard Award-winning restaurant that opened in 1893, is located in a bright blue, Victorian mansion in the Garden District across from a typical raised-tomb graveyard and prides itself on its traditional fine dining with an enforced dress code. Each table is topped with balloons and the hospitality sets the bar for restaurants everywhere (with a documentary and book to prove it). Chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme started here. Commander’s invented the jazz brunch and staples include the turtle soup, gumbo du jour and pecan-crusted gulf fish. Weekday lunches feature 25 cent martinis—up to four per person!
At the 112-year-old Galatoire on Bourbon Street the style is seriously old-school. A long, boozy Friday lunch at this elegant (jackets-required) Creole institution is a local century-old tradition (prepare to stand in line and have a ball). With incredible shrimp remoulade, seafood okra gumbo, pompano with crab meat and filet mignon, don’t bother with the menu. Just ask your waiter what to order.
No more space to rave about Arnaud’s 100th anniversary table d’hôte with dishes from the first 30 years in service, like crawfish bisque (with stuffed crawfish heads), chicken Clemenceau, and baked Alaska for $50. Or Brennan’s (pictured left) which invented bananas Foster, flamed tableside back in the ‘30s. Or The Court of Two Sisters with its jazz brunch and history dating back to the 1860s. Or brightly colored Frady’s One Stop Food Store in the bohemian Bywater neighborhood, that serves good and cheap po-boys, a $5 “grumpy old man plate,” and plate lunches like liver and onions. Or Emeril LaGasse’s…(well, the list of N’awlins restaurants to not be missed is endless!)
Café du Monde, 800 Decatur St., (504) 525-4544; Cafe Beignet, 334 Royal St., (504) 524-5530; Commander’s Palace, 1403 Washington Ave., (504) 899-8221; Galatoire, 209 Bourbon St., (504) 525-2021; Arnaud’s Restaurant, 813 Bienville St., (504) 523-5433; Brennan’s, 417 Royal St., (504) 525-9711; Court of Two Sisters, 613 Royal St., (504) 522-7261; Frady’s One Stop Food Store, 3231 Dauphine St., (504) 949-9688, Emeril’s New Orleans, 800 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 528-9393.
This story originally appeared in the November/December issue of Exhibit City News, p. 76. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_flipbook_novdec2018