Close to the track, Bud's Broiler is the perfect place to visit before and after the races (Photo by Wiki Commons/Bart Everson).
This list is of my favorite restaurants and bars in New Orleans. They might not be the best but they are where I feel comfortable and go to experience my New Orleans. I know I’m starting multiple arguments by putting this list out because everyone has their own opinions – kind of like horseplayers – but I hope you will enjoy these places as much as I do.
Bud’s Broiler – 500 City Park Ave - Located near the racetrack and across from City Park, this is a place James Carville and I used to visit before and after the track some 30 years ago. Still going strong and possibly using the same grease, this place is a classic. Get a burger and a hot dog – they split it and serve it on a bun – and a chocolate milkshake. Won’t be the best you’ve ever had but not the worst either.
Borgne – 601 Loyola in the Central Business District - A John Besh restaurant that features the freshest ingredients from around the city. The hunting-camp duck poppers are worth the visit. Just a note: any John Besh restaurant is worth a visit.
Irene’s Cuisine– 539 St. Phillip - The bar is in what used to be a two-car garage. Nothing more to say except the soft-shell crabs are a must order. You will have to wait but it is worth a few drinks.
Stanley – 547 St. Ann – Located on Jackson Square, this is Boswell’s place for breakfast/lunch/brunch. You will have to wait but you can go next door and get a bloody mary and set yourself down to a perfect New Orleans breakfast or brunch. Eggs Benedict Po-Boy ... only in New Orleans.
STANLEY IS A GREAT PLACE FOR BREAKFAST
Photo by Wiki Commons/nfrogmation of New Orleans
Johnny’s Po-Boys –511 St. Louis - The name says it all. It’s a joint. Not a dive. Don’t stray too far from the basics like a shrimp po-boy and you will be fine.
Central Grocery – 923 Decatur - For a one-of-a-kind sandwich and service that can be pleasantly insulting get a Muffulatta from Central Grocery and a Barqs Root Beer. Be warned, a half can feed two and a whole will have you wrapping it up and taking it back to the hotel. Don’t do that – it leaves a mark.
Pascal's Manale – 1838 Napoleon - Go for the B-B-Q Shrimp Po-Boy and Turtle Soup and Onion Rings. That is all. It is the best and you are welcome.
Ruth's Chris – 525 Fulton Street - For all you high rollers out there - go. Yes, I know there are Ruth's Chris restaurants all over the country but did you know they originated in New Orleans, and there is nothing like the original. If you hit the superfecta get a personal Surf and Turf. That is a lobster and a filet – two entrees not a combo. You deserve it.
Domenica – 123 Baronne at the Roosevelt Hotel - Go for the Roosevelt Hotel, which is an old New Orleans hotel redone, but eat at this Besh restaurant. The house-cured meat and local cheese appetizers are worth the visit as is the Octopus Carpaccio – one of the best dishes I have ever eaten. If you are in town around Passover – they do a Passover menu that is not to be missed. I am not kidding.
Port of Call - 838 Esplanade - The reason to go to Port of Call is for a Hangover Monsoon and a greasy burger and they deliver both in large portions. The Monsoon is a perfect remedy for a Hurricane hangover. Best done before 12 and you might have to wait.
PORT OF CALL IS THE PERFECT CURE FOR YOUR NEW ORLEANS HANGOVER
Photo courtesy of Port of Call
Parkway Bakery and Tavern – 538 Hagan Avenue - My favorite restaurant around the Fair Grounds. Get the surf and turf which is a shrimp and roast beef po-boy. I know it sounds a bit off, but it is divine. President Obama ate here and so does James Carville. And, yeah, they have a tavern connected to the bakery if you are thirsty while you wait.
Café Beignet – Forget Café du Monde, that is for tourists. If you are serious about your eating, and want the best beignets, you go to Café Beignet for your doughnuts and Café du Monde to just watch the people.
Napoleon House – 500 Chartes - They serve the best drink in the world here – the Sazerac. For the prissier of the horsey set try a Pimm's Cup. This is a drinking place only – do not eat here until you have had three or more aforementioned cocktails.
Pat O’Brien’s – 718 St. Peter - Home of the Hurricane. OK, so I have some rules about New Orleans drinking. They are tried and true and should never be violated – no exceptions - just ask Lee Davis. No. 1 – Never have a Pat O’s Hurricane after midnight – and there is a limit of two. A Pete’s Special or my personal favorite - a Purple People Eater is allowed but only until 2 a.m. No. 2 – Beer is allowed at anytime – and I mean anytime like 6 a.m. No. 3 – Cocktails are allowed after 2 a.m. but stop with the fruit juice and drink like a man – with a little water or straight up. No. 4 – Never, ever, ever drink a Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle or any other joint. EVER. No exceptions. No. 5 – Eat after you finish drinking because the good people of New Orleans love to have drunks eat in their restaurants at 4 a.m. Or, better yet, take out some Ali Baba next door to Pat O’Brien’s after that last Purple People Eater. No. 6 – Never eat a Lucky Dog no matter how drunk you are or how great it looks or smells.
As for Pat O’Brien’s bar, go to the front bar – It’s got the best AC on Bourbon Street – good to know when temperature is 95 degrees outside. The piano bar is always fun as well with the dueling pianos. Yes, I know it’s for tourists but hey, you’re not a local!
Royal Sonesta Street Bar – 300 Bourbon Street – A great place to start a day – at 1 p.m. Grab an Abita and a bar stool and watch the people go by on Bourbon Street while you catch a game on the TV. Good people-watching place but this is a scotch and water bar – please don’t ask for a frozen margarita or you might get thrown out.
ROYAL SONESTA IS A GREAT PLACE TO PEOPLE WATCH
Photo courtesy Wiki Commons/Prayitno
Carousel Bar at Monteleone Hotel – 214 Royal Street - Because the bar goes round and round – that’s what makes this a great bar – that and it is across the street from Mr. B’s Bistro and yeah, I got in a fight here on Election Night one year. Great bar – good times.
Mayfair off St. Charles – 1505 Amelia - I’m not even sure what the address of this place is. All I do know for sure is that they make the strongest drinks in New Orleans. Drinks that will last you an hour or more. It’s off St. Charles behind Superior Grill.
The Columns – 3811 St. Charles - OK, so this isn’t a dive and is kind of not a bar but in March/April it is real nice to get a drink and go sit outside on St. Charles and imagine what the city was like 100 years ago. It’s old and it’s elegant, and it’s New Orleans at it’s best.
Cooter Brown's - 509 South Carrollton - This is uptown bar around the Riverbend and near Camelia Grill – it’s a great place for hamburgers and a mocha freeze. My most lasting memory of this place is three days after Hurricane Katrina – while riding shotgun in a school bus filled with medical supplies – I saw two good ole boys sitting outside in the heat at Cooter Brown's with no electricity, no ice but with huge tubs of hot beer – welcoming anyone who needed a little something to get ‘em through the day. Go here for the beer – try the seasonal Abita - and boiled crawfish on the weekends.