New Orleans has many, many choices where you can blow your budget, but these two give you the old and new of its famous cuisine.
Commander's Palace is set in the heart of the Garden District, with its gentle streets full of gracious mansions and quirky shotgun houses. You'll find all the Creole classics � gumbo, turtle soup, beautiful fish preparations, and of course, bread pudding for dessert. Sunday brunch will be just the ticket to fuel a long walk through the district. The restaurant doesn't allow short shorts or flip-flops and asks men to wear jackets at night, so wear your packable dress or nice pants and flowing scarf. 1403 Washington Avenue New Orleans, LA 70130-5798 (504) 899-8221 www.commanderspalace.com.
Restaurant August I have a crush on Chef John Besh. He has brought the city's cooking into the modern era, focusing on farm-to-table preparations, with as many ingredients as possible from local producers. You'll find dishes like homemade gnocchi with local crab, speckled trout, and cornbread pudding. You might try August for lunch, when you'll mix with other visitors as well as New Orleans business people. It's also easier to get a reservation then. 301 Tchoupitoulas Street New Orleans, LA 70130 (504) 299-9777 www.restaurantaugust.com
EASY ON YOUR BUDGET
My last visit to New Orleans was with Tess Vigeland, the host of Marketplace Money on public radio. We decided we were going to focus on affordable dining and hit the bull's eye.
Cafe Atchaflaya Atchafalaya (at-cha-fah-LIE-ya) is bistro sized, hip, with tables outdoors and inside its small dining room. The menu has classics, like shrimp and grits and gumbo, but it also goes farther afield with pan roasted chicken and well-prepared Angus beef. Sunday brunch features jazz and one of the best French omelets I've ever eaten � pillowy, and full of crab. There's also a Bloody Mary bar. 901 Louisiana Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 (504) 891-9626 www.atchafalayarestaurant.com
New Orleans is a cocktail city, and you can also dine at these three places.
Cure Intriguing cocktails are all the range now, but Cure takes them to a higher level. It makes its own bitters and will mix a cocktail to your liking. It is set in a former bank building on Freret Street, an up and coming area of New Orleans that in 2012 still shows signs of the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. 4905 Freret Street New Orleans, LA 70115 (504) 302-2357
Mr. B's a Creole bistro in the French Quarter, has some of the nicest bartenders and best values in the city. Even though the British consider it a summer drink, New Orleanians love to drink Pimm's all year around, and Mr. B's Pimm's Cup is refreshing. Have a cup of gumbo, too. 201 Royal Street New Orleans, LA 70130 (504) 523-2078
The American Sector A bar in a museum? The American Sector is Besh's contribution to the National World War II Museum, and a little gem for thirsty visitors. Happy hour features half-priced drinks and sliders (mini-hamburger sized sandwiches) for just 75 cents each. There's an outdoor terrace with umbrella tables overlooking the warehouse district, and a cool indoor bar in case the heat is overwhelming. 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130 (504) 528-1940
I won't make you choose: go to both. (They're almost next door on Magazine, where you can spend days exploring.)
Sucre is where someone in the food business sent me for the best cappuccino in New Orleans. It's also famous for its homemade chocolates, pastries and macarons. 3025 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA 70115 (504) 520-8311 www.shopsucre.com
La Divina is mainly known for one thing: gelato, the dense Italian ice cream. It rotates its house made flavors daily. Both stay open into late evening and make a fine last stop after dinner. 3005 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115 (504) 342-2634 www.ladivinagelateria.com
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