Super Nola: Insider's tour of New Orleans

Don't expect to see the big-name chefs regularly cooking in their kitchens, but you might spot one in-house.

Emeril Lagasse has three restaurants ( in New Orleans: the flagship Emeril's (800 Tchoupitoulas St., in the Warehouse District), rustic trendy with the most celebrities, "'New' New Orleans dishes" and $22.50 three-course, weekday lunches; NOLA (534 St. Louis St., in the French Quarter), more casual, with a daily gumbo and Vietnamese po-boys; and Emeril's Delmonico (1300 St. Charles Ave., near Lee Circle), contemporary Creole, extensive menu, dressier.

When Paul Prudhomme opened his K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen (416 Chartres St., in 1979, the former Commander's Palace executive chef's blackened redfish became an international sensation. He expanded from 62 to 200 seats and now accepts reservations and credit cards. Deli lunch specials include gumbo, sandwiches and plate lunches.

John Besh ( owns seven restaurants in the New Orleans area. His flagship is the James Beard award-winning August (301 Tchoupitoulas St.) in the Central Business District. It's formal and serves French dishes with Louisiana ingredients. The casual Domenica (123 Baronne St.) in the Roosevelt Hotel half a block from Canal Street, has creative pizzas (my favorite is Gorgonzola with pecans, speck and a seasonal fruit). Besh's American Sector serves classic American meals and sandwiches in the National World War II Museum in the Warehouse District.

The classics

Only a couple receive critical raves, but when New Orleanians of a certain means and social status want to celebrate, they often head to Antoine's, Arnaud's, Brennan's (home of bananas Foster) or Galatoire's — all in the French Quarter — or Commander's Palace (bread pudding souffle) in the Garden District. Locals always wear so-called Sunday clothes to eat at any of these, and they look askance at tourists who do not.

Antoine's (713 St. Louis St., and Arnaud's (813 Bienville St., have casual annexes. Antoine's Hermes Bar, a front room with a huge mahogany bar and live music on weekends, opens to the street and offers the regular menu, bar food and po-boys (try oysters Foch). Arnaud's family-oriented cafe is Remoulade (309 Bourbon St.,, with a raw oyster bar and plate lunches (shrimp creole), besides some Arnaud's menu items. You don't have to eat at Arnaud's to tour its free Mardi Gras Museum. Also, its French 75 Bar is a classic antique with legendary cocktails.

Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St., is popular any time, especially for Friday lunches that linger through dinner. Don't book a table upstairs. No reservations downstairs, but it's a slice of local life, with table hopping and waiters leading "Happy Birthday." Trout almondine, stuffed eggplant or whatever your waiter advises.

The sound of music

The heart of the New Orleans music scene is the 500 and 600 blocks of Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny Triangle directly behind the French Quarter.

Names of the clubs don't matter as much as who's playing inside: Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, Glen David Andrews, John Boutté, Davis Rogan, Spencer Bohren, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Jon Cleary, Topsy Chapman, Sunpie Barnes, Tom McDermott, Treme Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins (a huge favorite, he plays everywhere; schedule at Legendary musicians such as jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis (patriarch of the Marsalis clan) and singers Charmaine Neville and Germaine Bazzle are among the regulars at Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen St.).

The sound of bowling balls knocking down pins mixes with live music every night at Rock 'n' Bowl (3000 S. Carrollton Ave.,; Thursday is Zydeco night. Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave.) dates to 1977, and the greats still perform there. Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St., features many of the Frenchmen Street performers. National and local musicians play at the House of Blues (225 Decatur St., Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse ( in the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street provides local music in posh surroundings.

For listings, go to, and the music magazine

Magazine Street

This two-lane, 6-mile corridor from Canal Street to Audubon Park includes old and new restaurants (Coquette, La Petite Grocery), antiques and clothing shops, coffee, bakeries (macaroons at Sucré, 3025 Magazine St., are better than those at Ladurée in Paris), everything.


This is a French word meaning "a little something extra," as in other good bets.

The National World War II Museum (945 Magazine St., honors "the greatest generation." It started small but now is a big complex; the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center is now open. You can see a movie, WWII shows and, even now, some old veterans.

Faulkner House Books (624 Pirate's Alley, between the Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral, is dedicated to works by William Faulkner and other Southern writers. Owner Joe DeSalvo Jr. is a literary gem himself.

Good swamp tours are available within an hour of the city. But the new Lost Lands Environmental Tours ( gives a close-up of the disappearing wetlands that's well worth the price; tours begin at $90 a person.

Clever souvenirs and NOLA T-shirts are the specialty at Fleurty Girl (, with four shops, one at 632 St. Peter St. in the French Quarter.