We still have to get through Valentine’s Day before making it to Mardi Gras, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from daydreaming and anticipating the raucous fun that’s about to strike in New Orleans. The town is filled to the brim with good food, and chefs and food lovers from coast to coast travel there constantly lauding the Cajun and Creole flavors that abound. From po’boys to oysters and from French influences to strong cocktails, there is little left to the imagination in one of the country’s most fun cities.
Fridays shouldn't be spent checking emails on your phone — instead go for an old-school lunch at Galatoire’s. It’s grand and classic with their waitstaff in tails and specialties like shrimp rémoulade, escargots, and poisson meunière amandine.
Start Saturday off with a trip to the Crescent City Farmers Market, where you can snap up fresh produce, baked goods, seafood, and oysters.
Then, stop by Patois for an indulgent lunch of gnocchi with lump crab and Parmigiano, Mississippi rabbit terrine, and the Patois burger in a cool, modern setting. Wash it all down with wine from their extensive list that reaches from Oregon to Argentina.
A stroll through town to walk off that lunch will surely be thwarted by a stop at Café du Monde, where the coffee and beignets are of the utmost importance. It’s a true New Orleans classic, with the original Café du Monde established in 1862. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Catherine V)
Despite not exactly sticking to your diet thus far, spring for dinner at Coquette, a bistro and wine bar. As your waiter opens a bottle of wine, you’ll want to order the warm octopus salad, gulf shrimp with sambal and grapefruit, oysters, and the speckled trout. Kick the night off with cocktails, like a true Sazerac or a "Cat and Mouse Collins" which has spiced rum, gin, lemon, and soda.
Get into the Creole spirit with lunch at The Bon Ton Café. Take in the old-school red checkered table cloths as you tuck into turtle soup, shrimp and crab gumbo, and jambalaya. But if it’s a muffuletta or po’boy you’re after, hit up Liuzza’s Restaurant & Bar. Get some fried green tomatoes on the side in this totally informal spot.
Keep the classic New Orleans jaunt going with a quick look at Acme Oyster House — order some oysters and a cocktail, but save room for dinner. Splurge on dinner in John Besh’s stunning August restaurant, which makes you feel like you’re almost in Paris. The bar is lined with dark wood accents and antique mirrors and the menu is seasonal and completely inspired by New Orleans with new and modern twists. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/fuzzydice)