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IRBINO (I'd Rather Be In New Orleans)

February 14, 2008


The city is coming back slowly but let me say that the dining and imbibing, music and joie de vivre is alive and well, the Quarter is delightful as is Uptown. And the BigEZ restaurants and hotels are keeping the spirit of our wonderful culinary and hospitality industries alive. Check for the most up-to-date information on all things New Orleans…also check hours of the businesses as some are operating with somewhat limited hours. When visiting the Big Easy, it is usually hot but, always cool, dress likewise, layering works as the temperature fluctuates frequently hourly.

St Charles Streetcar - finally back all the way to Carrollton Ave, take a ride and view the beautiful mansions and sultry breeze

John J. Audubon River Boat ride - Mississippi River from the French Quarter (¼) to/from Uptown/ Audubon Park Lazy trip upriver,

Audubon Park and the Zoo is delightful, visit Breaux Grocery in the Cajun Swamp, named after Lynne’s grandfather, Prospère Breaux

Jackson Square, Chartres and Royal Streets - has some fabulously unique shopping experiences

Rendezvous - feminine, lacey Victorian treats

The Little Toy Shop - great toy selection

Faulkner Books - 624 Pirates Alley
Great cozy book store, filled with NOLA books and more

Louis Sahuc - 839 Charters corner Dumaine 504-593-9090 Excellent, evocative NOLA photographs, et al A few random restaurant suggestions, but there are many more great places:

Acme Oyster House - 724 Iberville Quarter 504-5222-5973 Boisterous, raunchy, delicious po-boys, oysters, crawfish in season

Central Grocery - 923 Decatur St. Quarter 504-523-1620
Go early grab (a ½ for two is substantial) scrumptious muffaletta and a root beer, find a bench on the levee and enjoy

Bon Ton Café - 401 Magazine St. Central Business District (CBD) 504-524-3386
Incredible, traditional food - catfish, crawfish étouffe, bread pudding, etc., oldest Cajun restaurant in NO, in the CBD across Canal Street from the ¼, only open weekdays, 11am-2pm and 5pm-9:30pm

The Coffee Pot - 714 St. Peter St 594-524-3500
Quarter Great traditional NO food, super breakfasts, Poached Eggs Conti-sublime chicken livers, biscuits gravy and grits, perfect Bloody’s, lovely patio and super staff, all back post-Katrina and continuing unsurpassable NOLA hospitality

The Gumbo Shop - 630 St. Peter Street 504-525-1486
Basic good Cajun/Creole, seafood gumbo good but the chicken and andouille gumbo is fantastic

Johnny’s Po-boy - 511 St Louis St. 504-524-8129
Breakfast and lunch in divey splendor, delicious sweet LA shrimp po-boy dressed…heaven

Clover Grill, a.k.a. Clever Girl Bourbon Street Quarter All day and night diner dining, great burgers and breakfast, real characters, gay zone, if Earl’s on duty it’s better performance art than NY

Café Amelie - 912 Royal St. Quarter
504-412-8965 Glorious, romantic, lush, quintessential New Orleans patio, cozy Carriage House, spare menu with deliciously simple sophisticated food

Napoleon House - Chartres and St. Louis Sts. Quarter
Great patio, opera, Pimm’s Cups and super shrimp/avocado rémoulade, historic building and decor

Café Giovanni - 117 Decatur St. Quarter 504-529-2154
Homey, Operatic, good Italian, very hospitable Muriel’s Restaurant, Jackson Square 801 Chartres St. Quarter
(504) 568-1885 Beautiful, elegant ambiance, great Creole menu Of Course, café au lait and beignets at…

Café du Monde - Decatur St. Quarter

The Omni Royal Orleans Hotel - 621 St. Louis St Quarter 504-529-5333
Where Lynne worked for many years, Rib Room good food, great drinks, old time staff Roof top great view of ¼ and Mississippi River

Galatoire’s - 209 Bourbon St. Quarter 504-525-2021
No reservations, even biggies stand in line. Real New Orleans, Dahling, the to-be-seen social scene, go for lunch, imbibe and people-watch till dinner, very good food

Bayona - 430 Dauphine St. Quarter 504-525-4455
New New Orleans cuisine, best sweetbreads in the world, Susan Spicer, chef/owner, is also deservedly Award winning.

The famous ones are still delicious and special:

Commander’s Palace- Uptown and Brennan’s, Arnaud’s, Antoine’s in the Quarter

Beyond the Quarter Praline Connection - 630 Mandeville Street,

Faubourg Marigny, Nice walk across Esplanade from the ¼,
happening music neighborhood but do be careful after dark. Best soul food in NO, greens, fried chicken, chicken livers.

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar - 3232 No. Arnoult Road at 17th St.., Metairie, La 70002 504-888-9254
About a 20 min. ride from the French Quarter (¼) but worth it, depending on your time. Down the street and around the corner from a Breaux Mart, across the street from Lakeside Shopping Center or go to/from airport between airport and the Quarter.

Hilton New Orleans Riverside - 2 Poydras Street CBD 504-584-3911

Fortunately another Drago’s has opened downtown, a nice walk from the Quarter The best char-broiled oysters on earth, Tommy Cvitanovich is the owner and very active with the National and La. Restaurant Associations.

Restaurant August - 301 Tchoupitoulas St. CBD 504-299-9777 New, non-traditional and delicious. Upscale but not pretentious, John Besh chef/owner is deservedly Award winning. Their shrimp and crabmeat corn soup, named as one of 2007’s Dishes of the year.

Luke - 333 St Charles Ave. CBD 504-378-2640
Another John Besh winner, Franco-Viennese ambiance and cuisine, open breakfast, lunch and dinner-all delicious

Mosca’s Restaurant - 4137 Hwy 90 W Avondale, LA 70094 504-436-8950
Worth the trip across the Mississippi River, the real deal, authentic Italian, Award winning, USA TODAY just named Shrimp Mosca as one of 2007’s Dishes of the year, and Oysters Mosca and everything is amazing, full disclosure-Lynne’s sister is married to the Mosca family! Very New Orleans

Celebration of History, Culture, and Cajun Country Charm by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler Pick up this really charming and informational little book

Have fun, spend money and slow down cuz NOLA is not called The Big EZ for nothin’.

Relax, eat, drink, walk, talk and pray for the full recovery of a truly unique and special world.