Updated: Oct 30, 2022
The first restaurant I’d like to talk about is no stranger to appearing in the media. Galatoires is in the middle of Bourbon Street and frequently graces popular travel and food tv shows. It is among the oldest restaurants within the French Quarter and has lasted if it has due to its atmosphere and high-quality menu. While local creole food is partly inspired by French cuisine, Galatoires is an authentic French restaurant. This venue does offer local popular dishes as well ranging from remoulade, oysters Rockefeller, and crawfish Maison; but there are also many French dishes on the menu that you will not find in most local restaurants. Some of these dishes are escargot, foie gras, and bouillabaisse.
The first time I had the privilege of visiting this restaurant was during Mardi Weekend in 2019. Following the afternoon parades on Canal Street, my wife and I went into this restaurant ready for a high-end dining experience and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere when you walk in immediately suggests that this restaurant is meant as a luxury experience. From the white linens to the catering staff in suites; every aspect of this restaurant screams of a European luxury experience. Galatoires does enforce a business casual dress code. I arrived in a 3-piece suite and although this was not needed, I did not seem out of place here. Although there were many others wearing suites, there was just as many in khakis and button-down shirts.
There were many items on the menu that I wanted to try but for this visit, I wanted to emphasize trying something I never had before. To begin, my wife and I started with the Bouillabaisse and Turtle Soup. Although Turtle soup is a local dish, it is not one common to most local restaurants. Bouillabaisse on the other hand, is a traditional French seafood soup. This one does some local flair by using Louisiana crab, shrimp, oysters, and shrimp for their seafood. Both soups exceeded our expectations. For the main course, I tried a strategy I commonly employ when I am having trouble deciding from many menu options at new restaurants. I ask the staff to pick their choice item for me and I was thrilled with their choice. A well season Black Drum fillet topped with jumbo lump crab. Between the exceptional menu and luxury atmosphere, this is frequently a restaurant that I recommend to first time visitors to New Orleans.
Acme Oyster House
From one popular tv show restaurant to another; Acme Oyster House is likely the most filmed restaurant in the French Quarter and offers a more casual dining experience for visitors. In contrast to the high-end luxury ambiance of Galatoires, Acme offers a laid-back atmosphere with food and drink options. Acme serves most local favorites such as po-boys, fried seafood platters, and oysters. The two oyster options that Acme offers is raw oysters on the half-shell or char-grilled oysters which are grilled oysters that are topped with butter and cheese. The seafood platters are popular local items; made up of an assortment of local seafood that is breaded and fried. The options for these are shrimp, crawfish, oysters, fish, and softshell crab. Po-boys are local sandwiches like subs or hoagies in other portions of the country, only served on top of French Bread. Seafood is a popular sandwich stuffer, but non-seafood options are also common. While Acme serves the local favorites such as crawfish or oyster poboys, they also offer several of their own specialty varieties as well. One of my favorite options is the Fried Peace Maker Po-boy, a po-boy made up of friend oysters and shrimp with a tobacco infused sauce.
Due to its popularity, attempting to get a meal in Acme during their peak hours can lead to a long wait with lines frequently stretching several blocks from the door and needing to wait over an hour to get in is not uncommon. For those determined to enjoy a meal at Acme, I would recommend trying to avoid peak hours such as the lunch or dinner rush, especially during Friday’s and Saturdays. We have had a lot of luck showing up during non-peak hours like 2-3 pm and being sat with no wait required at all.
Olde NOLA Cookery
Although also very popular, Olde NOLA Cookery offers a similar menu to Acme without the long lines to get in. Located a couple of blocks from Acme directly on Bourbon Street, Olde NOLA Cookery also offers popular local dishes such as friend seafood platters, po-boys, and gumbo. There are a few additional local staples offered that are worth trying such as a variety of blackened menu items; most notably the blackened fish. Blackened fish is a grilled fish cooked with a blend of dark spices (hence the name blackened). For those interested in getting a sampler of local dishes, Olde NOLA cookery offers a sampler platter that includes gumbo, crawfish etouffee, red beans with rice, and smoked sausage. Another personal favorite item that I would suggest trying out is the BBQ shrimp. Although not BBQ’d in the traditional sense, BBQ shrimp are sautéed in a blend of herbs and spices that simulate a distinct BBQ flavor and is one of my favorite Louisiana dishes. Another highlight to this restaurant is the ambiance. Since the restaurant is in the middle of Bourbon Street, being able to enjoy live music coming in from the street is very common during most days and provides a welcome local flair for your meal.
While all the restaurants we talked about so far are great options for lunch or dinner, I’d like to share one great option to try for breakfast or brunch. Located on Decatur Street, very close to the French Market; Toast offers the standard breakfast platters such as eggs or waffles found in diners across the country, but their standouts are their crepes and the toast that they got their name from. This restaurant offers toasted French bread topped with a variety of excellent options such as egg with avocado or ratatouille. They even offer their version of salmon and loches served on French toasted bread. As with Acme, this is a very popular local restaurant for breakfast, so lines are requiring an hour or two wait are not uncommon, especially on the weekends.
Aside from the toast, the crepes are also a very popular option to try. Whether is a savory crepe filled with mushrooms, spinach, and goat cheese for lunch or a sweet crepe filled with strawberry and chocolate for desert; Toast offers several crepe options that are sure to catch anyone’s attention.
I hope these ideas provide motivation and inspiration for my readers who are considering adding New Orleans to their travel plans. This unique culinary city offers many more amazing restaurants to try out and I look forward to sharing these with you on upcoming posts. But that will have to wait for another day…