By Ashlee and Crystal
Originally Posted on February 11, 2018.
Updated with text and photos on October 8, 2021
Disclaimer: We paid for our meals as any regular customer would and were not compensated in any way. All opinions and experiences are our own.
Food Glorious Food
When it comes to great food cities in America, it’s hard to beat New Orleans. In fact, NOLA is hands down our favorite place to spend a glorious long weekend sampling all the deliciousness that the city has to offer. Whenever we visit, there are always a few perennial favorite spots like Arnaud’s and Café du Monde, but we like to mix things up a bit, too. And there’s no shortage of options. By day three, we’re usually so stuffed that we can’t eat another bite. That tends to happen when you’re accustomed to eating light and then you make the sudden switch to a diet of rich decadence. Thank goodness, New Orleans is a walkable city! We always joke that, one of these days, we’re going to move there for a year or so that we can really take it all in.
Paying it Forward
Our trips to New Orleans always center around food. We like to add a little intrigue and challenge ourselves to a food and cocktail scavenger hunt. In the weeks leading up to our trip, we scour the internet looking for helpful restaurant reviews and feedback to help us decide where to spend our precious time and hard-earned money. In the spirit of paying it forward, we thought it would be fun to compile our own New Orleans Restaurant Reviews that we can periodically update as we experience more of the city. If you’re planning your first trip to New Orleans, you might enjoy the itinerary for our inaugural trip that we like to refer to as Cocktails, Cuisine and the Quarter.
Without further ado, we present our compilation of New Orleans Restaurant Reviews. We hope you find something here to inspire your own future gastronomical adventures. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it! Bon Appétit!
Café du Monde
You have to wonder sometimes if places as famous as Café du Monde are worth the hype, or just a mere tourist trap. Upon approach, the line was concerning, but, hey, gotta try it right? RIGHT! Yes, we usually wait in line, but only for about 10 minutes or so. And we’ve been at various times during the day and night. The staff is very efficient and will point you to a table and take your order. It was the first thing we ate in New Orleans –Café au lait and fried donuts covered in sugar. What more could you ask for? Go. Go twice or more if you happen to be over that way. Cafe du Monde is legit and always a good idea.
Commander’s Palace was on our must list for our first trip to New Orleans. Several beautiful dining rooms span two floors. The outside looks a bit cheesy, but the inside is very elegant. We arrived early for our reservation and appreciated that the host seated us promptly in a small side room of only 4 tables for a semi-private dining experience. Red Fish Croquettes, Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish, Steak, all wonderful. We had a fairly inexperienced waiter, which detracted from the overall experience. This was an oddity considering the restaurant’s reputation. Cocktails were superb, and the Banana’s Foster is not to be missed as it was actually invented by a matriarch of Commander’s Palace. Overall, Commander’s Palace was a beautiful fine dining experience for our farewell to NOLA dinner. Best restaurant I’ve ever been to? Eh, if only the service was a little more polished. It appeared that many servers were at the top of their game, not sure how we got so unlucky to get one who seemed to be in training…will definitely give them a try for brunch on a future next trip.
Mr. B’s Bistro
Having received several glowing recommendations from locals, we had high hopes for Mr. B’s. The evening started off on the wrong foot with a misplaced reservation for a Saturday night. We waited 90 minutes for a table only to be seated steps away from the cold front door. We made the best of the long wait and entertained ourselves with drinks elsewhere since the bar area was packed and resembled more of a sports bar vibe. The bar area is barely separated from the main dining area which made for a noisy dining atmosphere. Food was decent; maybe we didn’t order the right things. Fried Green Tomatoes were just okay, bread was a bit too dry. We tried the soup trio and the Seafood Gumbo won the round hands down. In fact, it was the best seafood gumbo we had in NOLA. Ashlee went for the signature BBQ shrimp and was disappointed. Waaay to messy to eat. Huge shrimp with heads and shells in a roux broth. We’re okay with working for our food, but digging with our hands in a bowl of soup is not really our thing. Would rather have skipped the soupy broth and just had BBQ shrimp to peel. The Bacon-wrapped Shrimp and Grits and Bread Pudding were good but not outstanding. The Garlic Truffle Fries were delicious and we’d definitely recommend. Aside from the Café Royale, which is a standout, the cocktails were meh, compared to the extensive creativity we found elsewhere. Overall, Mr. B’s Bistro just missed the mark.
Our first evening in New Orleans will always be a perfect memory. This is definitely the place to go to kick off a great trip. Start with a French 75 cocktail at the eponymous French 75 Bar next door. We love how the bar is a self-contained area separate from the restaurant filled with period love seats and décor. Once your table is ready, proceed next door to their lovely dining room. Of all of the fine restaurants I’ve been to, this one had hands down the best service. We had no less than 6 people taking care of us throughout the course of the evening. We had an outstanding server, another gentleman who handled anything we needed from the bar, water fillers, crumb attendants, you name it. What a treat; we felt like royalty! A few things you must try: house original Oysters Bienville (WAY better than the famous Rockefeller), Crabmeat Karen – just wow. A flaky pastry filled with crab and a delicate cream sauce. Order a side of the souffle potatoes. They are heaven. Then, just when you thought you couldn’t have another favorite thing in life – Café Brûlot . Expertly prepared tableside, you have a front row seat to an amazing preparation of spices, liquor, coffee, and most importantly, the flaming orange peel spiral. Arnaud’s is the best quintessential NOLA fine dining experience. May you feel like NOLA has rolled out the red carpet for your arrival and of course, laissez les bon temps roulez!
This was the biggest disappointment of the trip. When we think Jazz Brunch, we’re thinking brass band New Orleans Jazz. Not a woman singing lounge tunes and a guy with a Casio keyboard. HUGE disappointment. On top of that, they only played two songs and left. So the majority of our Jazz Brunch was without any music whatsoever. With only a few days to spend in New Orleans, we felt robbed of this meal and experience that could only have been better anywhere else. Would have been much happier with a Central Grocery Muffaletta ‘to go’ and eating on a bench in Jackson square. At least then I would have music and ambiance. Our waiter was very friendly, but even his smile and service couldn’t save this experience. The Oysters Rockefeller were good and given the service, we’ll probably give Antoine’s another try for dinner on our next trip to New Orleans, but we do not recommend the Jazz Brunch.
We’d Love to Hear from You!
We hope you find our list of New Orleans restaurant reviews helpful. Do you have a favorite restaurant in New Orleans or a dining experience you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you. We’re always on the lookout for new eateries to try and a trip to New Orleans is always on the horizon. If you like cocktails, be sure to read our guide to quintessential New Orleans cocktails here.