“An unexpected ESSENCE of NOLA, Foooooood, big-bayou style” by Angel Brynner.

Ok.

If you want to have a greatly attended meal that you won’t soon forget during the lull between sets you put your dollar down to see, check out the following. But Make your reservations because you are going to be fighting with Locals for those spots as well as foodies in the tail of the fireball that IS Essence Fest. Mark my words..this year yall tourists are just going to have to deal because the locals are not leaving town for the weekend as hard-core as they used to lol.

” Spots to Make your reservations for in advance[&check out the reviews on Open Table if you think I am steering you wrong].”

Sylvain. On Chartres in the FQ. This is the dark, clean-lined quietly sexy spot to check out. Simple, straightforward menu, great drinks, reminds me of a place i HAD to check out in Venice due to something Lenny Kravitz said about their cardamom ice cream in some random interview. Great courtyard too.

SoBou. Now SoBou is getting on the list with an “assist.” It turns out the folks behind it are also behind Commander’s Palace, which i DO love, and IS purported to be the Official Best Restaurant in town. I must admit, i was surprised they were connected, but it explained some of the ballsy flourishes on the menu. They are in the W hotel in the FQ, great bar scene, better menu.

Commander’s Palace. Now see here is where it gets tricky. CP is in the Garden District and the food really IS fantastic. Their props are rightly given. But can I make a  hedonistic, damn near gluttonous suggestion?

IF you are coming into New Orleans on Thursday or Early enough on Friday to “Do” Lunch, do lunch at Commander’s Palace. Why? Because their take on the standards of New Orleans cuisine ARE Phenomenal…but they are even better when you are caught up in the throes of their Afternoon weekday escapades, which includes 25 cent martinis of the dirty, cosmo, curacao and melon persuasions to punctuate your meal. I have my focused foodie thing in spades, but when i want to have fun with a clatch of chicks here, CP for lunch, with your girls-surrounded by all the boozy lawyers in seersucker and linens drunkenly making deals over OMG Bread Pudding Souffle…to this DAY is one of my fondest NOLA memories. nice plus: the menu during the day is like the same as at night, but like 1/3 the price.

Rue 127.  Ok…This place? You are going to Mid-City, getting your Canal Street Streetcar thing on{flying past Mandina’s, watching the Applebees folks pour out of said streetcar towards it}…and hop out at Canal & Carrollton.  Just to your right you are going to see the small sign for Rue 127  hanging from a quaint little shotgun house, peeking out at you to see if you see it seeing you in its hood. The food at this Beautiful TINY restaurant is ten times better than the fare at the big pink house you just whizzed past. Of all the places I have had the pleasure of dining in New Orleans, this is the spot i have returned to the most. Yes, even more than Restaurant R’evolution, even though they are almost neck in neck. There is not one thing routinely on their menu that you will be sorry you were tempted to try. Rue 127 is also the place that, time after time while dining, i have overheard “this is so&so chef from …” The place where the local CHEFS flock to in droves is the place you really need to give a chance.

I’ve mentioned Restaurant R’evolution umpteen times[ twice in this series alone]. There IS a reason for that. Make the reservation and see why it is i haven’t cried about missing the food in NYC & Miami. Nothing else really to say on that one. Taste & See yourselves.

Stella. also known as the Game-changer for me. Stella is where getting breakthrough on the manuscript of the fourth book was celebrated. & Stella was such an amazing dining experience that i am putting it in this list last because i really, really LOVE this place and i sincerely hope…. Stella was  like the BC/AD divide with me. I can’t go back to who i was before i had my first meal there. It is where i grew up in a way i never expected to grow up…and it is a place that is only going to open up & be that deep to those ready. It’s like the philosopher’s stone in New Orleans, hidden in plain sight. Stella is the equiv of that odd island i keep going back to that has as its motto it “is not for everybody.” Many will go & not get it. Those who do get it will be changed at the core.

*cough*

Anywhoo…. There are MANY, many other places to test out.that is the Greatest thing about New Orleans…the ability to reserve a wonderful foodie experience damn near anywhere at the drop of a dime.

There are spots & areas many may be surprised NOT to see, but they may or may not be showing up on a different list.

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