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Great Eats: New Orleans
By Margie Goldsmith

If you’re a foodie, the place to be is N’awlings, one of America’s greatest culinary carnivals. The Big Easy offers a blend of West European, African, Creole and Cajun influences, serving up gourmet meals and local mouth-watering specialties. Think po’boys, crawfish etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya, and pralines and more. There are more than 1,400 restaurants in this city that loves to eat and you can find it all – from $7.00 po’boys to pricey fine dining. Here are a few of our favorites…

Café du Monde
The line is equally long for both take-out and a table at this authentic NoLa mainstay. Packed with tourists and open 24/7 except on Christmas, Café du Monde is famous for its dark roasted black or au lait chicory coffee and hot beignets. These square fried French-style fluffy fritters which were introduced to Louisiana by the Acadians from Nova Scotia, are served here in orders of three (on paper plates), topped with powdered sugar. Warning: you seat yourself here, so as soon as you see someone get up from the table, grab it. Cash only.

Start with a Bloody Mary garnished with a spicy boiled shrimp at this authentic local seafood hotspot, which locals call New Orleans’ Best Seafood Restaurant. Here, the portions are huge and the prices are reasonable. Sit in the main dining room or choose the traditional Vieux Carre courtyard. Your meal begins with boiled potatoes spiced with seafood boil spices simmering in seafood pots and which tastes delicious, like no other boiled potato you’ve ever tried (Deanie’s replacement for bread). Choose from grilled or charbroiled oysters (some of the biggest oysters in the Big Easy), BBQ shrimp, crab duo, a crunchy po’boy, fried crawfish, or the catch of the day, perhaps blackened redfish cooked to perfection. Here, you can’t go wrong no matter what you eat. And save room for their famous coconut custard bread pudding.

Napoleon House
No visit to NoLa would be complete without a visit to the oldie-worldy Napoleon House, a National Historic Landmark that has been around for a little over a century and is in the heart of the French Quarter. There is indoor seating, but choose, instead, to sit in the shade of potted palms and a gurgling fountain in the interior open-air garden courtyard. Start with a Pimm’s Cup cocktail, which debuted at the Napoleon House in the 1940’s. This restaurant is known for its quintessential New Orleans sandwich, the muffuletta. Also delicious are the grilled alligator sausage po'boy and shrimp remoulade salad.

Peche Seafood Grill
This upscale “in” spot is in the Warehouse District, honored with two James Beard Awards as well as Best New Restaurant and Best Chef awards. The ambience is excellent with an open kitchen offering an eye-level view of the roaring wood-fire grill. It is said the seafood is so unspoiled you’ll leave itching to bait a hook. Peche is not cheap, but the simply-prepared coastal seafood is worth the splurge. If you can’t get a reservation, eat at the bar which serves the full menu. Peche is an excellent place for sharing. A whole fish is always gigantic and enough to feed at least four to six people. Do not miss the fried brussel sprouts with chili vinegar.

Dickey Brennan’s newest upscale Creole sizzling hotspot offers old-world southern Southern charm with a NoLa ambience and a live band of jazz. The ideal location – just off Jackson Square – is excellent and you can sit on the balcony overlooking the courtyard or the square and people-watch. Come for “Le Petit Breakfast,” brunch, lunch, happy hour or dinner for such specialties as truffled crab fingers, fried oysters maison, seafood gumbo, Creole pulled pork, BBQ shrimp and grits, and perhaps strawberry shortcake for dessert.

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