The Long Lunch: Why you should play a little bit of hooky


OK, It's not like I'm actually encouraging you (as an attendee of the fabulous ConFab) to actually DITCH a midday session: but I'd actually make the argument that as a traveler in New Orleans, you kind of OWE it to yourself.

Let me 'splain:

Like leisurely afternoon strolls and bar hopping (another storied Crescent City tradition), the multi-hour long-ass lunch is one of the rituals revered by locals and knowledgeable travelers alike.

The long lunch (preferably in a somewhat dressy Old Line Creole establishment) gives you a chance to engage in multiple indulgences simultaneously: have a few drinks with lunch, try out local delicacies (seafood especially) and feel like you're dining in a fancy version of grammaw's house. In 1962. With tux-clad waitstaff. And midday cocktails with NO hint of judgmental side-eye.

C'mon… your mama will never find out you skipped…



The reigning monarch of the old-school Creole crowd and a fantastic scene on Fridays. Come dinnertime, gents will need a coat, but things roll a bit more casual at lunchtime. The menu is seafood-centric (thanks to the nearby fishing grounds and 300 years of cheffery) and absolutely genre-defining.

Start off with an order of "soufflé potatoes" (essentially the love child of the perfect potato chip and a zeppelin) with béarnaise sauce, and then move on to Crabmeat maison and/or shrimp remoulade, oysters en brochette (fried oysters and bacon like they eat in Heaven's lunchroom), and whatever the gulf fish is topped with lump crabmeat. Cut the richness with anice glass of white wine or a stout Sazerac (our local riff on the Old Fashioned, which is also the city's national cocktail).

And take your time. Take your cues from the preternaturally charming waitstaff. They've got stories, and it will behoove you to hear a few of them.



Commander's Palace

This one is a bit farther Uptown in the Garden District, so it's basically an easy reach by cab with a leisurely return by streetcar.

The midday draw here is not only the borderline-surreal décor — three-dimensional songbirds emerge from the bird-motif wallpaper on the main floor, the second-floor room is like MawMaw's treehouse— or the near-psychic hospitality or the updated riffs on Creole classics. (Though ALL are notable.)

The hilarious draw here is the weekday-only liquid lunch special that accompanies a reasonably-priced "fancy lunch" menu— twenty-five cent martinis.

Yep. Martinis (and a list of martini-adjacent tipples like Cosmopolitans) for one quarter of an American dollar. (With lunch, limit three, because otherwise, could you IMAGINE the late afternoon shitshow?)

The beautiful thing here is that EVERYBODY in the room is taking advantage of the special, but with the appropriate amount of "inside joke" reserve. The waitstaff will ask you if you'd like another, even ENCOURAGE you to be a little bit naughty. C'mon.. have another sip. It's like getting a little bit lit at Christmas dinner, but on a FRIDAY. IN NEW ORLEANS.

And if you play your cards right, you'll be seated next to a table of octogenarian Uptown "ladies who lunch" who are ALSO taking advantage of the special. For the third time this week. More often than not, the eavesdropping possibilities are AMAZING.

Pro tip: if they ask you if you'd like the Bread Pudding soufflé with whiskey sauce? The answer is always YES.


Bourbon Street: the Neon Zone and A Word to the Wise

Bourbon Street: Welcome to The Neon Zone

If you're a first time visitor to New Orleans, there's just no avoiding it. 

After hearing so many tales of decadence and city-sanctioned overindulgence, after seeing Mardi Gras video footage and late-night infomercials; after feeling the gravitational pull of near-flammable frozen drinks, questionable "gentleman's clubs"  and pedestrian cocktail culture -- folks just have to have their own personal Bourbon Street experience. And for that, they've got to hit the Neon Zone. 

When visitors hear the phrase "Bourbon Street," they conjure up images of this seven-block stretch of Bourbon between Canal and St. Anne streets. It's a wonderland of boisterous cover bars, topless clubs, streetside beer vendors, and barkers that try to sell the sizzle to anything on two legs. It's the natural habitat of boa-draped bachelorette parties, whooping herds of greek-lettered students and 14-year-old boys of all ages. Off-hour conventioneers, nice Christian families, porcupine-pierced gutter punks and pneumatic exotic dancers in spray-on shortshorts roam this pedestrian-only zone looking for their personal version of action as bright neon lights bathe it all in a soft, eerie glow. 

For first timers or any attendee of a regional sales conference, the Neon Zone has "moth to flame" appeal-- bright, shiny, and prettymuch unavoidable. 

It is also the section of New Orleans most responsible for the city's saucy, somewhat illicit, and gloriously tacky reputation. Shot bars. T-shirt shops. Dance clubs. Off-season bead emporiums. Closet-width storefronts that magically contain a thousand churning frozen daiquiri machines. The distinctive smell of stale beer, cigar smoke, grain alcohol fried foods, and various bodily fluids. And sitting on the sidelines, the gigantic steel weenies and half-lidded gazes of the Lucky Dog vendors. 

Which is not to say that the Zone doesn't have its share of gems; many of the city's historic old line Creole restaurants--Galatoire's, Antoine's, Broussard's and Arnaud's to name a few --  are either a half block off Bourbon or smack dab in the middle of the boozy affair.  

A few blocks closer to Esplanade, Bourbon turns quiet; just another secluded residential street on the downriver end of the historic Vieux Carre. Outside the Zone, even Bourbon Street takes a breather. 

If you're here to do the things that you wouldn't dream of doing in your own town -- New Orleans gives you a brightly lit, no-holds-barred place to go wild for the weekend. But if you want to know the true nature of the city, walk away from the Neon Zone and see New Orleans in a more natural light. No beer goggles required.

Welcome to New Orleans

Dear Confabbers:

Glad tidings and welcome to New Orleans!

I am Pableaux Johnson, longtime friend of the Confab, local writer, photographer, and cautionary tale for children of all ages.

When I heard you were coming, I wanted to steer you to the culinary wonders that our compact, historic little city has to offer. What we lack in pure size we more than make up for in joie de vivre, alcoholic content and ambient butterfat.  

So to this end, I present to you few recommendations for various edible/libationaladventured in our fair city, most within easy walking/stumbling distance of the Montleone.

Since I'll be working around various deadlines, I'll start with a few liquor-based suggestions to get you started and add little things as we go.

Enjoy the conference and most of all, Eat and drink well



French 75 Bar

A beautiful old parlor-style saloon bar that's home to the inimitable Chris Hannah, America's most understated barkeep. This fussy little room is decidedly old-school and in one of city's Old Line Creole restaurants. They open at 5:30, so a great evening desintation.




Cane & Table

Fantastic room that specializes in complex "proto tiki" rum drinks. Great kitchen and courtyard that's a throwback to Havana, 1923. Take advantage of the seasonally mild weather and tipple a few here. (Caution: No real sign out front, so keep a sharp eye out). 



Bar Tonique

For when you want nicely-made cocktails with a decidedly divey ambiance. One of the better day-drinking bars in the Quarter (on its outer edge, to be exact), especially for the Corpse Reviver #2.