You could go to New Orleans just to experience New Orleans food, never mind the world-famous musicians and bands, the friendly people, the wild parades, and the unique culture.
The food is that good! It is “fun food” too.
You cannot help but have a good time in New Orleans because it is always full of surprises of one kind or another.
What are the traditional foods of Nola? Red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo (creole stew with okra), collard greens, and seafood platters. All absolutely delicious to T, and mostly disgusting to me, with the exception of the seafood. So everyone has different tastes, but there are so many delicious options in New Orleans, you are bound to find things you love.
Our first big food adventure was alligator. We went walking a few blocks from our hotel to The French Market, wandered through, and near the end came to an outdoor cafe called The Market Cafe, with a live band.
The Market Cafe had an alligator appetizer so we just had to try it! It was delicious. We would have it any time again.
Having read about some famous bars and restaurants, each day we checked out one of them. New Orleans is famous for some unusual seafood, and oysters are just one of them. The Royal Cafe is well-known for its Crab and Corn Bisque, Shrimp and Grits, and Oysters. We felt very special stepping into the Royal’s Oyster Bar with its easy relaxed atmosphere and top-notch food.
T is a connoisseur of oysters, so we ordered Oysters Rockefeller, baked with sautéed spinach, bacon, and Sambuca liqueur, and Oysters Royal, topped with a seafood stuffing. I had never eaten fresh oysters before so this was a first. I have to say they were good, but not my favourite food in the world. T loved them.
Later we stopped at another oyster bar, where T had traditional oysters on the half shell with a dash of hot pepper sauce. I declined. I have tried them before, and not my cuppa tea, but hey, we should all at least try them. So many people love them! Trying new and sometimes strange foods is always a fun adventure, and both T and I never hesitate to try new foods. What if you discover something that you just love, even though you thought you would never like it in a million years. How much fun is that?!
A few days later, we went to the renowned Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel. The stools slowly rotate around the round bar in the centre.
Sitting by the window at the Monteleone Carousel Bar in black leather upholstered seats designed for royalty, we felt like the rich and famous as we sat back, gazing out the window, watching the Carousel Bar slowly turning, and sipping on an expensive cocktail. Luckily, free snacks were left on the table, easing the pain of the pricey drinks. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Note T is wearing traditional Mardi Gras beads and neither he, nor I, nor anybody else in New Orleans thinks it is unusual. He looks good in purple, don’t you think?
Equally impressive is Arnoud’s French 75 Bar, a small relaxed but classy bar with great food and a wall of mirrors. French elegance is at its best in this 100-year-old restaurant, bar and hotel. We loved the quirky french lamps. Again, so New Orléans style.
If you go to Arnoud’s try their Souffle Potatoes – sooo good. But don’t get too wrapped up in finding all these places. There are literally hundreds of great bars and restaurants in Nawlin’s.
Emeril has his own restaurant in New Orleans, and dragging T, I wanted to experience the food of a famous chef. The restaurant itself was not spectacular, but the presentation of the food was impressive. While it was good, the food was not outstanding, and it was extremely expensive. I mean expensive as in “Say what?!” fall-on-the-floor expensive.
Clean open kitchen, pretty food presentation, and great service but within five minutes of leaving the Emeril’s restaurant, I started getting severe stomach cramps, and had to find a bathroom fast!
We stopped at several places which said they did not have a public bathroom. We were in the Lower Garden District, which housed more financial/industrial businesses than anything else. Finally, in desperation, we stopped at a Utilities company where I approached a female guard and asked for the washroom. She demanded to know if I was paying a utility bill to which I replied in the negative, and whereupon she said that I could not use the washroom. What? Really? I was frantic at this point and told her it was an emergency. She argued for a while, looked doubtful, then disgusted, but reluctantly pointed me to a staircase going up. That was the longest staircase in the world, I swear. I barely made it.
Sitting in the bathroom for a lengthy time, I knew T would be concerned, but I had no choice: I was doubled over with cramps. When I finally made it out, there was no way I could walk home. We waved down a taxi and I was sick for that day and all the next day. Needless to say, we do not recommend Emeril’s. Even though Thomas was not sick, he did not especially enjoy the food, and it just seems too much of a coincidence that getting sick right after eating there was not related to the food I ate at Emeril’s restaurant.
Now this place, is altogether the opposite: Mojitos Rum Bar and Grill gets five gigantic stars! We went back five or six times. The Scallops were nothing short of exquisite! My mouth waters every time I think of them. It had live music too, a nice outdoor setting with lights at night, and it was only a few blocks from our hotel, the Hotel De La Monnaie, with absolutely fabulous food for reasonable prices.
For breakfast on the last day of our stay in New Orleans, we went to the highly recommended Elizabeth’s for breakfast. It was a long, long 1 mile walk from our hotel, Hotel De La Monnaie, but well-worth the effort. We wandered through the Bywater District, an older area, with quaint small houses decorated to the nines for Mardi Gras.
Elizabeth’s serves grits with meals, as many Nola restaurants do, but best of all they have praline bacon! Yes, that is fudge-coated bacon! And it is yummy. The white creamy stuff on the plate is grits. Grits are a little like watered-down wheat cereal though it is actually partially ground corn boiled in a liquid like milk or water. T wasn’t crazy about it, but I liked it. Take a good look at the menu below, which is a typical Nawlins’ menu.
We loved the wall of signs, especially the one that said, “Be Nice, or Leave!”.
Praline Bacon on a bed of grits, with poached eggs, and a fluffy white biscuit.
Of course we went to Cafe Du Monde for Beignets everyone talks about, but really, they are just square doughnuts with tons of icing sugar. Good, but nothing that new.
Muffelettas at Central Grocery and Po Boys are great sandwiches for lunch, and are a mainstay of working people. We spent a whole morning finding the Central Grocery for Muffelettas and Gene’s for the Po Boys.
You cannot go to Nola without taking home some home-made praline. This caramel fudge reminded me of my Mother’s home-made brown sugar fudge. Creamy but solid, not like the overworked soft fudges you find in most chocolate and fudge shops. Praline is firm like a cookie, but absolutely melts in your mouth – just like MOM’s.
I brought home 3 boxes of New Orleans pralines. Um… to give away, of course….
Yesiree, we would go back for New Orleans food in minute, but there is so much more to experience. Personally, I expected New Orleans to be much like other places in the Southern United States, but as often/sometimes/rarely happens, I was wrong. New Orleans has its own unique culture, language, food, bars, people and of course music, all of it different from anywhere in the United States, and different from anywhere else in the world.
This is just a tiny sampling of the tasty fresh food in New Orleans. There are literally hundreds of restaurants, bars, cafes and hotel lounges to choose from.
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*Watch for New Orlean’s Cajun food in coming articles…