“Good morning, America, how are you? Don’t you know me, I’m your native son. I’m the train they call the City of New Orleans. I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done…” Name that tune…? Answer at end of article ;)
And boy will I be hungry! Lest you worry about that, let me tell you that NOLA can stand up to Miami and LA, and those other cities with the “Top 3” hot places to dine featured here on ProgressivePulse.com (See Top 3 Restaurants in Miami and L.A.)
So, where should you go in the food-spectacular city? Well, I was there again for Jazz Fest 2013 and can happily report that the food is as hot as the jazz yet again in 2013. So, where, in addition to the Bayona’s, Clancy’s, Brightsen’s, Emeril’s Delmonico, Commander’s Palace should one go…based on this year’s splendid tastes, I’d say run, don’t walk, to Restaurant R’evolution in the French Quarter, Coquette’s up Magazine Street and (yes I told you about it last year but it’s so good it deserves another shout out) Stella! Oh, I said “shout” and “STELLA!” in the same sentence!! Fun!!!
These places are so darned good, I can’t say enough about them. R’evolution is the new False Tramanto spot (if you saw Top Chef Masters you know of Rick Tramanto from Chicago who puts his chops firmly into NOLA), Coquette is local and home grown good eating and fun, and Stella! simply is “can’t touch this” haute cuisine meets spectacular, though not stuffy service. I simply love a city that makes picking 3 or 4 days meals such a hard choice that you wish you stayed longer. But, since we are doing the 3, here goes:
1. Restaurant R’evolution: This amazing, highly stylized but dam good restaurant just opened at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter. The details are: 777 Bienville Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-553-2277 http://www.revolutionnola.com/restaurant_revolution. My Jazz Fest friends and I heard about this place from the phenomenally talented John Gros (and his equally spectacular bride Becky) of the New Orleans classic funk fusion/jazz group Papa Grows Funk. John and Becky know a thing or two about great food, and are incredibly respectful of those restaurants that take the New Orleans tradition and make it fresh and fun. This place does that in full Fleur de Lys fashion. The place is the birthright of local legend John Folse and Chicago superstar Rick Tramanto. The food is creative and stylized, but not in a pretentious or fussy fashion. It’s just great eating, but taken to a higher realm. And the cocktails can’t be under-emphasized. In fact, I had my number one favorite cocktail of the year…The Southerner. Wow! One dish after another were off the charts. From the Oysters to the Pork to desserts that can’t be described, it is simply a foodie fantasy. Great wine list too. Very creative 2013 cooking and cocktails. Book early as it is a tough gig to get in to. But try it out. I am back in New Orleans in November and am making this my number one go to spot.
2. Coquette: This is truly a local new wow-spot. It is unpretentious, wear jeans and just eat and enjoy kind of place. The details are: Coquette,
2800 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115 504-265-0421, http://coquettenola.com. This is also a food forward, 2013 kind of place, with great signature cocktails and no fear of trying new ways to present classic food. I had a dish of pork cheeks that would make a Roman howl for jowl (and no one does pork cheeks like the Romans–though Coquette comes close in a contemporary fashion). The food was great and the ambiance, festive bar scene, great yet casual service makes me look forward to returning again soon (like R’evolution, I will be back to check it out next November and will report in). The location, up Magazine Street in the Garden District, also makes this special. There is great shopping and hip fun walking in this area. But, honestly, Coquette is a destination spot on its own.
3. Restaurant Stella!: What can I say–this somewhat new icon of New Orleans modern cooking still rocks! The details are: 1032 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, 504-587-0091,
http://www.restaurantstella.com. This place is so darned good and the feeling is so special that I must make my pilgrimage there every time I am in the city. From the smoky vodka to the caviar menu, to the Asian Barbeque Shrimp (New Orleans meet Hunan Province!) to the Duck 5 ways, to just about everything they do, it is a food seduction. The place hums instead of rocks. They let the food do that. But, it is a sublime evening and the tastes are terrific, the wine list and sommelier outstanding and clearly service that exceeds most restaurants I know. Booking is critical and I would do that early on once you know you will be visiting.
So, I would make the 500 mile journey on a rail car simply to try out some of the most cutting edge cooking, classically brilliant service,
fun wine lists and a very 2013 cocktail culture that is today’s New Orleans. These three spots brilliantly take the foodie traveler to new heights. And all before you sing: “Good night, America, how are you. Don’t you know me, I’m your native son. I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans. I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”
And, in all due respect to songwriter Steve Goodman and the phenomenal Arlo Guthrie, you gotta here John Boutte sing “The City of New Orleans”–chills and joy! And that my friends epitomizes why I love New Orleans so much. Go and enjoy!!!