YOLO in NOLA: Restaurant Round Up

June 10, 2013

A few weeks ago, the BF and I flew standby to lovely New Orleans, Louisiana. Now, neither one of us had been to the Big Easy, but it's a city we had always wanted to cross off our list. As with many of our vacations together, the goal was to take in as much local dining and culture that we could. We spent four days and three nights roaming through the French Quarter and Garden District and tasting the best Louisiana had to offer. From po' boys to grilled oysters, we ate ourselves silly. I don't think I've been that full since...well, probably since our last trip to Seattle and Portland!

Anyway, we did our duty and now it's time to share the delectable dishes we encountered along the way. Scroll through for photos of some of the tasty items we tried, and check out some of these restaurants the next time you're in New Orleans!

What's your favorite local eatery in NOLA?

Deja Vu

This was the first place we ate upon arrival. Unfortunately, our late arrival meant limited options near our hotel so we ended up here. Not the best po' boy and I probably wouldn't recommend this place but thought I'd include it so you know not to go here!

Shrimp Po' Boy

Roasted Turkey Club

New Orleans Cake Cafe & Bakery

For brunch on the first day we ended up at New Orleans Cake Cafe. The cafe is a good 15 minute walk outside the French Quarter but it's worth it to venture out. It's situated on a residential street and has an extremely casual atmosphere. They had amazing biscuits and omelets and they also serve massive cupcakes that are only $1 with your meal. It was a great stop for some local brunch.

The BF, unmasked!
Breakfast Biscuit Sandwich
Crab Omelet with Spinach & Brie
Chocolate Cupcake, only $1 with your meal!
Cafe Du Monde

No trip to NOLA is complete without a stop at Cafe Du Monde. The famous cafe is known for its chickory coffee and sugar-dusted beignets. We stopped by during the day and sat on the outdoor patio while enjoying some live music. The beignets were definitely the best I had and the coffee was bitter, but perfectly balanced out the intense sweetness of the French dougnuts.

Cafe Du Monde Patio
Cafe Du Monde Patio
Beignets and Cafe Au Lait
Pat O'Brien's

Another local institution is Pat O'Brien's, home of the original Hurricane cocktail. The Hurricane, a mix of rum and fruit juice topped with an orange slice and cherry, is best enjoyed in the original take-home glass on Pat O's patio. Yes, the drink is pricey and yes, it's touristy, but you have to do it.

Patio Bar at Pat O'Brien's
Carousel Bar

One of my favorite experiences of the trip was at the Carousel Bar located in Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. The bar is exactly what it sounds like, a carousel-shaped bar that rotates. You might worry that a rotating bar while drinking might cause trouble, but it rotates so slowly you barely realize you're moving (it's at the rate of one revolution every 15 minutes) Needless to say, it was a unique drinking experience! The bar is also famous for inventing the Vieux Carre, a cocktail composed of cognac, whiskey, vermouth and bitters. This is definitely a must-visit on a trip to New Orleans!

Panoramic of the Carousel Bar (can you see half of our bartender?)
Can you spot the Ghost Guest?
ACME Oyster House

If you love oysters, you have to make a stop at ACME Oyster House. They're known for their chargrilled oysters which come topped with butter and romano cheese. Even if you don't like seafood or oysters, I challenge you to try one because they are out of this world. They're even served with crusty bread for dipping into that buttery, cheesy goodness. We sat directly at the bar and were able to watch the oysters being shucked right in front of us. Now that's a job that takes some serious skill! The staff was so friendly and gave us great recommendations for places to go in the city. It was a great way to experience local food and culture at the same time.

Shucking those oysters
Fresh raw oysters...have you ever seen them so big?!
Chargrilled Oysters...mmm mmm good!

The BF and I were celebrating our anniversary on the this trip, so we decided to splurge on a nice dinner for two! We chose to celebrate at Chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurant, Emeril's. We were pretty stuffed from all of the dining throughout the day but we powered through! The service was outstanding and the food preparation as good as one would expect. Our entrees were superb and we chose to end the meal with Emeil's famous banana cream pie!

Homemade Corn Muffin & Foccacia
Andouille Crusted Drum, Shoestring Potatoes, Grilled Vegetables, Pecans
Maple-Chili Glazed Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Garlic Mac 'n Cheese
Banana Cream Pie
The Ruby Slipper

On our last day in NOLA, I searched the web for a brunch spot near our hotel. I stumbled across The Ruby Slipper, a breakfast spot with three locations in the city. We ended up sitting at the breakfast bar while watching black and white movies on the restaurant's TVs. I had a tasty biscuit sandwich while the BF tried the Migas which featured tortilla strips topped with an egg and chorizo scramble. It was the perfect place to grab a quick morning bite before we started our excursions that day.

Migas Tex-Mex Breakfast Scramble
Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich with Cheddar, Egg & Turkey Sausage

One of the more interesting bars we stopped at was near Emeril's in the Warehouse District. Barcadia is an open air arcade bar featuring an impressive selection of craft beers on tap, as well as bar games and arcade games. We stopped by for an afternoon beer while watching others play jumbo-sized Jenga and Connect Four.

Pac-Man, anyone?
Restaurant August

In addition to our special occasion dinner at Emeril's, the BF and I planned a special lunch at Chef John Besh's Restaurant August. Chef Besh is New Orleans' other top chef with ten restaurants and awards including Food & Wine's "Top 10 Best New Chefs in America" and the James Beard Award for Best Chef- Southeast.

Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in New Orleans is Restaurant August's weekday prix fixe lunch menu. While a meal at August can be quite pricey, the prix fixe lunch is only $20.13 for three courses! That's almost the price of one appetizer!

The BF and I had a lovely lunch with a bottle of cava and enjoyed the superb culinary creations from Chef Besh. If you're into fine dining, this is another must-do if you're in NOLA during the week.

Restaurant August's Main Dining Room
Cauliflower Custard Amuse-Bouche
Salad of strawberries, chevre, arugula, pistachio and aged balsamic
Pate of local pork with housemade pickles and marmalade
Pork belly and kimchi rice bowl with poached egg and brown sugar vinaigrette
Sheepshead poele with corn custard, green beans, barley and tomato vinaigrette
Dark chocolate mousse with almonds and burnt caramel ice cream
Port of Call

The last stop on our foodie adventure was at a local burger institution called Port of Call. The dive, which I can only refer to as the Kuma's Corner of New Orleans, is known for its strong punch drinks, burgers and steaks. In fact, all they serve are those three items in various forms. We randomly found this place at the far end of Bourbon Street and grabbed two seats at the bar. The wait for a table at this place can be quite lengthy so we were lucky to even get a spot at the bar.

We both ordered a cheeseburger which comes with a baked potato instead of fries. Who knew how tasty a giant baked potato could be? I loaded mine with chives and bacon bits and was in shock when it was also delivered with a 1/4 stick of butter. The burger was indeed fresh and juicy and made me immediately realized why this place is packed by locals and tourists alike. I highly recommend it!

Cheeseburger with loaded baked potato (excuse the poor photo quality!)

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