New Orleans' top 10 ways to satisfy your French cravings

New Orleans' top 10 ways to satisfy your French cravings
July 14, 2009
Traci Claussen

In honor of Bastille Day: New Orleans’ Top 10 ways to satisfy your French cravings (translation: premier 10 idées pour la celébration de jour de bastille)

1. My favorite haunt for friends and family is the Napoleon House (St. Louis @ Chartres) widely known for their Pimm’s Cups, and as one of Napoleon’s hideouts, what many do not know is that they have a couple of rooms available for rent overlooking the courtyard right in the middle of all the action. Ask the bartender, Mario, for availability. Few places capture the essence of New Orleans like the Napoleon House: A 200 year old landmark as casual and unique as its French Quarter surroundings. The building's first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. Napoleon never actually made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America, a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of the 20th century. Owned and operated by the Impastato family since 1914, it's a place that suspends you in time, where you can hear Beethoven's Eroiqua, which he composed for Napoleon, and the music of other classical masters, while sipping a Pimm's Cup, and basking in an ambiance that could only be New Orleans.
2. Café Amelie (Royal Street near St. Philip) considered our hidden jewel, you can enjoy a wonderful gourmet brunch, lunch or dinner in a beautiful French quarter courtyard then stroll Royal Street art galleries and shops. Nestled in the historic 150-year-old Princess of Monaco Courtyard and Carriage House on Royal St. in the French Quarter, Café Amelie is a rare combination of superb Louisiana fare served in a lush, enchanting New Orleans courtyard setting. Another favorite for my guests and one I recommend to tourists who stop me on Royal Street looking for a great lunch spot. Café Amelie has quickly become a favorite of New Orleans locals and tourists alike, who faithfully flock to the café for its delicious small plates, salads, sandwiches and entrees.
3. New Orleans’ French Market (St. Philip to Barracks) due in part to its proximity to the river, the French Market was originally an indian trading post, now you can get your fill of New Orleans’ local farmer’s market and local art scene as well as world goods and gifts.
4. Alliance Françoise Nouvelle Orleans ~ take the time to not only think but also speak in French. Je pense; donc je suis.
5. Marigny Brasserie ~ Whether it is Creole tomato season, freshly caught redfish, mirlitons are on the vine, Gulf-harvested shrimp, just ripened Pontchatoula strawberries or Plaquemines Parish citrus, the harvest of local farms and fishermen finds it way onto The Marigny Brasserie menu. And then you'll experience another cool local neighborhood on the other side of Esplanade known as The Marigny/Frenchman.
6. Hotel Monteleone It’s been said that the French Quarter begins in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone. My high-rolling musician friends prefer the Monteleone, and locals love the pool deck. In fact, this venerable establishment sits majestically at the foot of Royal Street, giving guests the best point of departure for all things New Orleans. Visitors need only step outside this French Quarter hotel to discover shop after shop of fabulous European antiques, estate jewelry, Oriental rugs, and art and antiquities from around the world. Quaint restaurants and specialty shops line the cobblestone French Quarter streets that lead to Jackson Square, the Old French Market and the River Walk where tourists and native New Orleanians stroll the levee and watch the steamboats and barges along the Mississippi River. At this New Orleans hotel you’ll find history around every corner.
7. Bienville House ~ The intimate yet elegant Bienville House caters to tourists and corporate travelers alike. The hotel calls to mind a stately French Quarter manor house, with decorative wrought iron balconies and a gracious flagstone courtyard. Inside, tile floors, hand-painted murals, decorative chandeliers and overstuffed furnishings convey an old-world ambience. An old boyfriend's bachelor party memories were so good, that he would become giddy every time we walked by. Grab one of the signature drinks at the lobby bar.
8. Café Degas ~ Space is indeed tight in this small café, and they use the lack of space as an asset. How, you wonder? Well, since there isn't enough space for storage, everything is bought fresh every morning.Through the years Café Degas has become a standard for quality of food and service, as we continuously try to perfect the art of enticing the palate with our deliciously prepared daily specials and wine selection.
9. Café Du Monde ~ the taste for coffee and chicory was developed by the French during their civil war. Coffee was scarce during those times, and they found that chicory added body and flavor to the brew. The Acadians from Nova Scotia brought this taste and many other french customs (heritage) to Louisiana. Chicory is the root of the endive plant. Endive is a type of lettuce. The root of the plant is roasted and ground. It is added to the coffee to soften the bitter edge of the dark roasted coffee. It adds an almost chocolate flavor to the Cafe Au Lait served at Cafe Du Monde.
10. Lilette on Magazine ~ In December of 2000, Chef John Harris fell in love with the intimate space at 3637 Magazine Street that would become his own distinctive offering Lilette. After being open for only a few months, Lilette garnered four beans from the Times-Picayune food critic Brett Anderson. In September 2001, John was named "Chef of the Year" by New Orleans Magazine and has also received mentions in Southern Living and Bon Appetit. In July of 2002, Chef Harris graced the cover of Food & Wine magazine as one of the "Top Ten Best New Chefs in America." Lilette restaurant is also featured in the November issue of Travel + Leisure.
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