My biggest request from new visitors to New Orleans is to list restaurant suggestions. Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically, Berkeley, I am somewhat already spoiled when it comes to eclectic menu combinations, and trendy presentations. I will always try new suggested spots when in town, but I often find that they are all sizzle, no steak. Thus my easy list of perennial faves center around real food presented, and plated as such. Consistent quality, service, and fairly priced are common factors. After 15+ years of visits, I still have not tried popular, high-end places because after a lifetime in San Francisco, the same is true.
The following with/without brief comments await your Googling or YELPing for more details:
My number one suggestion for a fine dining experience is IRENE’S CUISINE. Irene DiPietro, owner, has been my friend for most of my New Orleans life, ever since she responded to my letter of introduction, phone call, and personal visit so many years ago. She is warm, sincere, and somehow manages this very popular restaurant with always consistent quality. Legitimate complaints from some may be the long wait to get seating, sometimes even with reservations…this does happen occasionally. Also, the multiple small dining rooms feature round tables that are close together, and the noise level can be high. But I suggest you give it a try and see for yourself…I have yet to have anyone that I’ve sent fail to enjoy their dining experience there. I usually try to go there twice each trip!
From left to right: LEFT: Irene’s sign. Look for it on St Phillip street in the French Quarter. MIDDLE: With New Orleans musicians, LEROY JONES, KATJA TOIVOLA, and Irene DiPietro: We closed da place!! RIGHT: The simple but elegant Special that night!