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.
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.