We spent some time checking out the sights in New Orleans, but we were interested in one thing above all else – eating. After a very underwhelming and overpriced dinner at the Intercontinental the night we got in, we didn’t see any bad food until the US Airways sandwiches on the flight on home. Here’s a quick tour of what we got to sample.
Beignets – Café du Monde and Café Beignet
Obviously, options 1, 2, and 3 for breakfast were beignets. We hit up Cafe du Monde, purportedly the most famous purveyors of beignets, our first morning. We woke up pretty early due to the time difference so we arrived there by 8:30. At that time there were still plenty of places to sit – by 9:00 the place was completely full. At 10:30 on the day we left we walked by and there was a line out the door.
Cafe du Monde has table service and a take out counter. The table service is pretty simple, you order, and then you pay when you receive the food. We got two orders of beignets, I had hot chocolate, and Jess had a café leche. The beignets were amazing (our second order came after we finished the first). For some reason, M wasn’t a fan – she said she didn’t like the “snow” on top (powdered sugar). More for me!
Cafe Beignet had more to offer than just beignets, although their beignets were quite excellent as well. We also ordered a omelette with Andouille sausage there. All the food was very good and the café had a nice little French café feel to it. I’d definitely recommend trying both if you are in town and have the time.
We also had a third breakfast at a small little café called Merchant that mostly serves crepes. The food there was excellent – fresh, tasty – we ended up getting a crepe to go for lunch on the day we were leaving.
Although Emeril’s New Orleans is casual, it’s still a bit fancier than what we’re accustomed to taking M to. Still, we really wanted to go so we decided to take her for lunch.
Starting with the bread, we were impressed with every aspect of the meal. It was just a solid and satisfying meal all around. The best part of the bread was the cornbread – it was so good!
We ordered gumbo (pretty much ordered it at every meal) to start. Is gumbo not supposed to be served piping hot? Because that’s what we determined after ordering it four times – it was always warm but never super hot. Emeril’s was probably the best gumbo we had the whole trip.
For our entrees I had the chicken and waffles while Jess ate two appetizers – BBQ shrimp and a squid ink crawfish pasta. Everything was good but the BBQ shrimp stood out to me. It would have been great with some grits or something.
By the time we were done with our meal, M was starting to lose it – it was over two hours past her regular naptime. So, to answer that age old question, “what about dessert?”, we decided to get it to go. This worked out well, we ate it at the Riverfront Outlets, an indoor mall, while M napped in her stroller. Emeril’s did a great job of wrapping it up and even presented it to us before boxing.
There was one little mishap with our meal, which was my fault. Due to some crappy math, I wrote $74 as the total instead of $84. This resulted in me stiffing our waiter $10 worth of tip! I didn’t realize this until later when we were walking around – I pulled the receipt out of my pocket and had one of those flashback moments where I realized what I had done. Thankfully I called the restaurant and managed to fix it (and my CC bill confirms that it was fixed) – but I was so embarrassed! Sorry, thin Asian waiter with glasses whose name I forgot. I suck.
Quick Bites – Po’ Boys, Muffaletas, etc.
As we’ve done in the past, we had some quick meals – taking food back to the hotel a few times and grabbing lunch to picnic in the zoo another. Jess’ even took some stuff to go to Boston.
For dinner our first night we had take out from a deli/bar called Cochon Butcher. We were thinking about eating there but it was all stool type seating so high high chairs weren’t really an option. Actually, maybe they had them but we didn’t ask because seeing the stools were enough to help us decide to take it home.
The food at Butcher was great – we ordered mac and cheese which was probably the least impressive but was very filling. But what really set Butcher apart were the sandwiches. I ordered the “BBQ Pork” Carolina Style sandwich which was amazing. Can’t get good BBQ like that in Boston. Jess got the Moroccan Spiced Lamb flatbread which she was happy with though we both agreed my sandwich was the best.
The day we went to the zoo we bought various foods. Jess got a salad from St. James Cheese Co. which she shared with M. I got a shrimp po’ boy from Guy’ Po Boys which I shared with Jess. Jess had found Guy’s while doing research online – it didn’t disappoint (though I probably should have passed on the fries they were nothing spectacular and all the shrimp was fried already. Then again Jess and M ate bugs.)
On our final day we grabbed another crepe from Merchant but what Jess really had her eyes set on was a muffaletta. It’s some kind of crazy deli sandwich that’s supposed to be delicious. In fact that is all she talked about from the moment we planned on this trip.
Ultimately, she managed to get one from Central Grocery which is where these sandwiches were supposedly created. She packed it into her carry-on bag (they also offer to-go into your suitcase packaging for a small upcharge). She ate it for the next three days. “Delicious.”
Another food item of note was the charbroiled oysters that we had at Drago’s in the Hilton. They were okay – I prefer raw oysters. I can see why people swear by the charbroiled oysters but they just weren’t my cup of tea. Their BBQ shrimp and grits were amazing though.
Pralines and Ice Cream
Since I wrote about beignets already, just a note on pralines. When we first had them, we felt they were too sweet. Yet for some reason we bought them again and again. You’ve been warned.
We also swung by Creole Creamery which was excellent.
Bottom line – eating in New Orleans is great. Just can’t get that kind of stuff up here, plus I’m a big fan of crawfish. Everybody wins. Just try to go easy on the beignets and pralines (or get ready to gain weight really fast!)
Other Posts in this Series
My girlfriend and I go to New Orleans for a 4-day weekend usually once a year and basically we just eat and walk and then eat some more. We had many of the same favorites! Next time you’re in town, head to Acme Oyster House for raw oysters (it’s in the Quarter). Even if there’s a line, wait for them. They’re worth it!
I have one word… Mother’s
eat there. it’s good. casual cafeteria type atmosphere. po boys. gumbo. that kind of stuff. Since we went there last time, I don’t think I’d go back to new orleans without eating there. It has definitely been discovered by tourists (like ourselves), but shows no ill effects other than the lines and the prices (a bit high, but still well worth it).
The beignets thing confuses me. I Loved them at Cafe du Monde, but didn’t see them sold anywhere else. Obviously you went to another place for beignets (cafe beignet), but maybe some new orleans native or expert can enlighten me. Did I just miss all of the other places selling them (that’s entirely possible, I was there for a week, but had two small children with me)? Or is it mostly a cafe du monde thing?
PS I love this new orleans series
I enjoyed Mothers. Wasn’t quite worth the MASSIVE line that was there most of the day, but we walked right in at 3:45 on a Saturday so for that it was good.
Cafe Beignet was just okay for me. I’ve tried them a couple of times and while the service was always great, the beignets didn’t seem to have that something that CdM had.
@Jamie @Danny Shoulda consulted you two before I left! Need to go back for Mother and Acme (wanted to go to Acme this time but raw oysters just aren’t M’s thing right now, haha)
Hold the phone…here’s my true insiders tip. The gumbo at the Tulane cafeteria is excellent!!! They don’t serve it everyday, in fact I think it may be just Fridays.
I actually have only been to new Orleans once (though it was a whole week), but my sister went to Tulane, so I did get some tips from her. And we were smart enough to beg her to meet us there to be our guide.
Great photos. I am ready to visit New Orleans soon.
The Big Easy Traveler (Chris S.) says
Hello all, I smile when I read stories about visitors who eat their way through our city. What’s great is that we too get so much enjoyment from the culture, the food, the music. New Orleans is a truly dynamic place. Next time you are here, please touch base with me. I’d love to spoil you even further.