Annual Session: Biting into the best of the 'Big Easy'
The Crescent City offers some of the world's best restaurants with a variety of culinary traditions, ranging from legendary jambalayas and muffulettas to beignets and praline treats.
Po-boy stands share the streets with five-star restaurants, offering visitors the best of both worlds. Because there are no bad places to eat, according to native New Orleanians, yet there are so many restaurants to choose from, here is a list of some of the best.
One of the oldest neighborhoods in the United States, the French Quarter is considered the heart of New Orleans. This historic district offers great museums, galleries and shops as well as a wealth of restaurants, and it's within walking distance of the Convention Center.
A casual seafood favorite is Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville Street, 504-522-5973), serving lunch and dinner ranging from $6-$14 for entrees. In addition to oysters by the dozen and boiled crawfish, the restaurant serves such traditional New Orleans fare as po-boys, gumbo and jambalaya.
Sweet tooth calling? Drop by Café du Monde (800 Decatur Street, 504-525-4544) for a fabulous cup of their famous chicory coffee and sweet pastries, including New Orleans' official doughnut, the beignet. The cafe, which opened in the 1860s, is now open 24 hours, seven days a week. Other locations include the Riverwalk Mall, Lakeside and the New Orleans Centre.
Strolling musicians complement the fare at the Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal Street, 504-522-7261), one of the city's most popular restaurants. Diners can choose to eat in the courtyard, complete with original gaslights and flowing fountains, or in one of three differently styled dining rooms. Dinners range from $18-$32, and the Court provides one of the most extensive jazz brunch buffets in the city every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $25.
If you've seen him on TV or tried to recreate one of his recipes, you might want to taste Chef Paul Prudhomme's creations first-hand at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen (416 Chartres Street, 504-524-7394). Dinner entrees, starting at $26, include classics such as bronzed swordfish with "hot fanny" sauce and blackened twin beef tenders with debris sauce. If you like the chef but also like trying new dishes, don't worry: K-Paul's menu changes daily.
The warehouse district, often called the "Southern SoHo," came into its own after the 1984 World's Fair, when preservationists and developers saw the potential of the district's blighted and abandoned warehouses. Today, the area has been transformed into a thriving neighborhood of galleries, museums, auction houses and, of course, restaurants.
Located in a renovated warehouse, Emeril's (800 Tchoupitoulas Street, 504-528-9393) offers "nouvelle Creole" cuisine. The hottest seat in the house is at the food bar, where guests can watch chefs prepare some of Emeril's signature dishes, like barbecued shrimp. For dessert, try the banana cream pie or the chocolate pecan caramel torte. Open for weekday lunch and dinner every day, with dinner entrees starting at $25.
Central business district
The central business district offers visitors a chance to see the serious side of the Big Easy. Skyscrapers dot the area's main artery, Poydras Street, which stretches from the Superdome to New Orleans' World Trade Center. The district also provides an oasis of calm: Lafayette Square, a monument to Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette.
Bon Ton Café (401 Magazine Street, 504-524-3386) is known for its crawfish. Its mild Cajun-style dishes include turtle soup, shrimp remoulade and crabmeat au gratin. Expect old-fashioned service for lunch and dinner, with fixed menus including soup, salad, entree, vegetable and dessert ranging from $24-$27. The restaurant also offers an a la carte menu.
Mother's (401 Poydras Street, 504-523-9656) is one of the busiest restaurants in town. The stand-in-line, cafeteria-style restaurant, is considered a leading po-boy restaurant and offers large portions of its famous gumbos and jambalayas. Expect to spend at least $15 per visit.
The Palace Café (605 Canal Street, 504-523-1661) represents all of the flavors of New Orleans—a blend of classic and contemporary Creole and Cajun dishes, set in a casual atmosphere. Famous for its white chocolate bread pudding, the café offers entrees including grilled veal chops, andouille-crusted fish and rabbit. Lunch entrees range from $11 to $15, while dinner selections go from $18 to $26. The restaurant also offers a live jazz brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
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