New Orleans is known for many things, but my girlfriends and I went this past weekend for one reason and one reason only: to eat! I stocked our fridge full of food, kissed the babes goodnight, and drove off into the sunset to the good state of Louisiana. (A shout out to my awesome hubby for watching the kids by himself!) After a long night of driving, we drove up to the Ritz-Carlton (thanks to my friend Sujin for her employee discount rate!) at 3am and immediately crashed to rest up for our weekend of good eats. And like the true foodies (fatties) my friends and I are, we ate our way through the entire city.
Despite NOLA only being a 7 hour car ride from Atlanta, this was the first visit for four out of five of us. Restaurant recommendations were sought and we were overwhelmed with the options! Although we weren’t able to go to all of the great suggestions, we were seriously happy with every single place we did eat at. If you only have a couple of days to spend in the Big Easy, here’s our eating itinerary with our favorite dishes in case you need some inspiration. We ate a lot and often, but before you judge us, just know that we always ordered a few dishes and shared. Koreans love family style!
Mr. B’s Bistro for lunch — BBQ shrimp and pasta jambalaya
Sweets at Cafe Du Monde — Cafe au laits and beignets of course
Acme Oyster House for a mid-afternoon snack — Oysters, fried crawfish tails, and soft shell crabs
Sylvain for dinner and drinks — Shredded brussels sprouts, pasta bolognese, and shrimp and hominy
Willie Mae’s Scotch House for brunch — 10:30am is never too early for fried chicken and mac and cheese
Cafe Beignet for more beignets — Iced cafe au laits and air conditioning
Killer Poboys for a pre-dinner snack — Shrimp poboys
La Petite Grocery for dinner with a surprise celebrity appearance — Blue crab beignets and shrimp & grits
Ruby Slipper Cafe for a hearty breakfast — The biscuits are as big as my hand
First stop: Mr. B’s Bistro, an upscale seafood restaurant known for their BBQ shrimp and shrimp & grits. Shrimp & grits are only served for dinner, so we missed out when we came for lunch but we got to partake in their cocktails on the cheap! The BBQ shrimp comes with head and shell on so it can be a little messy, but no worries, paper bibs are provided and so are hot towels at the end of the meal.
You can’t come to New Orleans and not have a beignet at Cafe Du Monde. Although the original location is in the heart of the French Quarter, you can avoid the crowds there and go to one of their many other locations throughout the city. We ended up going to the location inside the Riverwalk outlet mall because we needed air conditioning. And maybe some lounge wear from the Gap.
Friday dinner was at the hipstery Sylvain. While the space is small and dim, we found it to be very cozy and inviting. The homemade cola (although nowhere near the real thing) was cinnamony and sweet and pairs well with your poison of choice. An early dinner was perfect for easy conversation with friends but the bar and restaurant fills up pretty fast and can get loud quickly.
After a morning outing to the gorgeous New Orleans City Park, we hopped in the car with fried chicken on our mind. The outside of Willie Mae’s Scotch House leaves a lot to be desired, but never judge a book by its cover. The outside appeared to be quiet and deserted, but the inside was bustling with patrons and delicious food. The menu boasts “America’s Best Fried Chicken” for $10 (includes a side) — and after having some, I truly believe it. Even the breast meat was so juicy and packed with tons of flavor. I was so preoccupied with how happy my belly was that I left my phone on the table and walked right out of the restaurant. Thankfully for me, we had the best server ever and Derick ran after us to give it back. If this doesn’t convince you to go, maybe the James Beard Foundation award will.
The beignets at Cafe Beignet were more doughey than Cafe Du Monde’s and weren’t quite as crunchy. I’d have to say Cafe Du Monde has better beignets but the atmosphere at Cafe Beignet is more fun and unique. Either way we were thankful to score a table inside to get a respite from the heat and humidity.
Located inside the Erin Rose bar off Conti street (right before it intersects with the chaos that is Bourbon Street), Killer Poboys was a happy find for us. We ordered our shrimp poboys and pork belly poboy in the back, and drinks from the bar in the front. Their shrimp poboy was excellent but differs from traditional versions because of the pickled carrots and radishes (think Vietnamese bahn mi).
Beautiful space and lighting at the former grocery store turned restaurant at La Petite Grocery.
All the dishes at this fine dining restaurant were stellar. Ingredients were fresh, well seasoned, and not too heavy. Petite also has a turtle bolognese pasta for the adventurous.
So it just so happened that as we were paying for our meal, Reese Witherspoon was seated RIGHT BEHIND US. Evidently she and Sophia Vergara are in town filming “Don’t Mess with Texas” and come in to dine frequently at Petite. And contrary to my previous claim about wanting a run in with an A-list celebrity, when bestowed that very situation, I did what any fan would do: I froze. Clammed right up. I could only allow myself a quick look over my shoulder to verify that yes indeed, the beautiful woman in white was in fact, Reese Witherspoon. I dared not look too long for fear of disrupting her conversation with her very handsome dinner dates. While my friend Kathleen was having a major freakout and taking not-so-subtle pictures (see above), I went the other way and completely shut down. Opportunity lost. SAD … but still AWESOME. I wonder if she noticed that five Korean girls started following her immediately on Instagram.
Breakfast on our last day was at a local breakfast chain, the Ruby Slipper, which happened to have a location right next door to the Ritz on Canal Street. While the food was tasty, everything was on the heavy side and portions huge. No yogurt or oatmeal are to be found here. I would definitely recommend sharing dishes with friends.
And this was as far as our bellies would let us go before revolting for kimchi and fresh vegetables, thus concluding our eating spree in the Big Easy. New Orleans, you were so good to us. But now it’s time to diet.
What are your favorite dining options in New Orleans?