Let's do lunch - Most of the time for us, lunch is what we have between visits to our favorite "sights-to-see". Value & great tastes are important - but so is convenience! Less important is the room or waiting in a line for a little while.  With this in mind ... here's our choices in order of our preference, sort of.
Reviewed -   Acme Oyster House   -   Cafe Maspero   -   The Gumbo Shop
            Crescent City Brewhouse -   Delmonico        -   Lucky Dogs

Acme Oyster House 522-5973    724 Iberville between Royal & Bourbon - Open M-Sat 11am-10pm    Sun noon-7pm -   Prices are perfectly inexpensive. Last Visit - March 2006. If you miss the Acme, you have missed an entire segment of New Orleans dining. Like Cafe Du Monde, the Acme is a class act. Though it might not look like it, this is a Five Star Restaurant according to the Underground Gourmet and Dave & Susie ... and literally 100s of people each week that used to be hungry.. This place is on the Canal St. end of the French Quarter and close to the Monteleone Hotel - a 1 block walk when we stay there.

Because the Acme was the very first place we ever tasted food in New Orleans, it is always the first place we head upon returning to the city, and we try to make it the last taste of New Orleans we have before heading back home.  This is honest food that regular New Orleanians eat. Lunch is crowded and noisy, and there will be a line of people waiting to be seated.  Get in line - it'll move pretty fast! After 3:00 p.m. you can sit anywhere you want.  Laura & J took our advice and headed straight for the Acme Oyster house from the airport! Wonderful place - we had oysters and po'boys (and Abita Ambers), and went back on Saturday night for the Medley, crawfish, and fried shrimp! Yum.  Victor and Linda (Feb. 98): We really enjoyed the Acme Oyster House. We never would have gone there in a million years if it weren't for your recommendation. Kipp & Jennifer (Feb. 2001)walked right in at  12:00 noon & waited less than a minute to be seated!  We had the peacemaker sandwich*--fried shrimp & oyster poboy sandwich with tabasco-infused mayonnaise, and the red beans, rice & andouille sausage - it was all amazingly delicious!

-The Room - Indeed, it looks like a dive from the outside with neon signs in the windows! As you enter ACME there's an Oyster Bar (12 for $7 shucked right before your eyes - you mix your own cocktail sauce) on the right hand side. Down from the Oyster Bar there's the Bar - This is a Barque's Root (or Dixie/Abita) beer kind of place. On the left side, there's a small dining area followed by the grill. It is here that magic takes place. Behind the grill there is a pretty big dining area with a t.v. catering to sport channels and news. If you aren't a Saints fan, just be quiet about it until you get outside.

-The Service -  The lunchtime wait staff is overwhelmed and tries to keep up!  from 11:30 until 3:00 or so, you simply stand in line and wait to be seated. Folks are friendly but you'll see, they are in a big rush.

-The Food - If the art of deep frying fish wasn't invented here about 82 years ago, they do a magnificent imitation. These people know exactly what they are doing. We recommend that you come here often enough to taste everything on the menu. Portions are generous & tasty - business folk from the CBD come here to eat every single day. The red beans, rice & andouille sausage can be beat maybe one or two places in the city (maybe at the GUMBO SHOP), but they really know how to fry shrimp, catfish, and oysters here. It is simply amazing - Eating here is just like falling in love. Po-boys are about $6.00 - the bread is crusty and deelish - Gumbo Poopas $5.50 (a hollowed out tube of french bread filled with gumbo), the potato salad is southern and delicate. For non-fish eaters, you can get a fine Meatball Sandwich too. Our favorite is a shrimp plate lunch ($9.75) or seafood platter, six raw oysters, and a couple of Abita Turbodogs. You mix your own horseradish/tabasco/ketchup sauce for these - the freshest raw oysters in the Quarter. One serious indicator of the decline of civilization is the fact that you can now get a hamburger in this place. I think they sold one about a year ago - these kids today!!. *the Peacemaker (once known as la médiatrice),was so named because husbands who stayed out until late in the evening would bring a sandwich of french bread and oysters home in an attempt to remain in wifey's good graces.

Cafe Maspero - 601 Decatur  523-6250. Location is up a few blocks off Canal on the river side of the Quarter and is a great place to eat after running the gauntlet that is the French Market and permanent flea market on the other end of Decatur. $5-$10 range. Very informal - very goooood! Cheeeeeeep and Gooooood! Last Visit March 2006. Because Liz, Carole & Jaime were so hot for this place we decided to try it - and we're only sad we hadn't been there before now.  Maspero has HUGE sandwiches and salads, and a fried seafood platter that has four shellfish, calamari and catfish. There's always a line, which is a good sign, but it moves fast and is worth the wait. Fitzmorris mentioned a local phenomenon in that the whole place is filled from 11am to closing, but that by the time you get up to the front of the line a table magically opens up. And it always does.*  We had the oyster & shrimp platters and Abita's, which was enough food to last us through an entire afternoon of French Market shopping.  Great food at prices well below what you'd expect to pay. *Here's another phenomenon that we've noticed three times now - while standing in line, we always seem to meet someone either from our home state, or my home town of Lubbock. Last time we met a man who actually is good friends with our new daughter-in-law's papa!

Crescent City Brew House 522-0571  527-Decatur St. is a microbrewery and an offshoot of Old River Brewhouse in Madisonville, Louisiana.  Location is convenient for the same reasons as Cafe Maspero. Less crowded and the food is a lot more stylishly served - and you can drink very good beer in here!  Last visit - March 2003. Open for lunch through the evening drinking hours - inexpensive. There is something especially democratic and down right American about this kind of place. The beers brewed on the premises here are full of flavor - the Anniversary Brew offered last time out was on par with Abita Amber. In fact, you can watch the process while dining since the boilers and other equipment is part of the decor. You'd expect good beer from a brewhouse - and you get it here! Red Stallion is a sure bet, and there's a monthly specialty brew. However, the quality of the Food here is something unexpected.

-The Room - is all brass, brick, and wood with art-for-sale on the walls - very spacious & comfortable. On nice days, request a table in the courtyard/patio.

-The Service we received has always been friendly, even by New Orleans standards. We remarked to each other half way through, "We'll have to come back here again!". Susie & I started off with a shrimp and asparagus bisque that was very delicate and creamy - they also have a good  gumbo. Susie had, as she describes it, the best grilled shrimp salad she'd ever tasted - two skewers of Gulf shrimp grilled over fire and glazed with a pesto, all resting on greens wrapped in a sesame tortilla and dressed with a bacon and peanut vinaigrette. I have, on previous trips, opted for the shrimp po'boy& beer (what else?) fried shrimp /w Habenera ketchup packed onto a dressed french roll. Ample, tasty portions.  However, this time out I took on the oyster club sandwich. Barb had the veggie wrap, while very tasty, was too large to finish.

The Gumbo Shop 525-1486 - 630 St. Peter St. near the Cabildo side of Jackson Sq. - Prices are modest $15 for a delicious lunch. - Casual dress and all the Credit Cards. Location and crowd factors are less apparent for this spot. One sort of has to make time for The Gumbo Shop because of the tourist lunch crowd. Last Visit - March 2006. Cajun/Creole traditional - souvenir menus have recipes on the back, and they work out really well at home.

-The Room - this is a restored 1794 building, exposed brick, loads of atmosphere - almost always crowded and there's a wait. No reservations. Outside dining in the courtyard.  This old dining room would also provide a nice atmosphere for dinner.

-The Service - energized servers with a generous nature. Friendly and helpful about the city. I asked a question about the difference between their chicken andouille and seafood okra gumbos and the waitress trotted out a bowl of the former - "Just taste this, maybe next time you'll order it." Nice touch, and we did order it the next time.

-The Food - Tasty stuff - they pride themselves on their gumbos which, in my opinion, are always better when cooked in industrial quantities, like it is prepared here. Their chicken andouille gumbo is absolutely great, but the seafood okra gumbo just can't be beat except by someone's mama. Beans and rice is a nice, spicy dish - a little soupy with great chunks of grilled andouille. Bigger appetites might try etouffee's crawfish and shrimp or the fish dinners. Personally, we can't say enough about the traditional dishes. An added plus is that after dining, you are right at Jackson Square and can walk off all those bean calories ... or get a couple of beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

Delmonico1300 St. Charles Ave.  525-4937  This 100 year old establishment is now part of the Emeril  empire of fine dining. We actually found this place by accident, after taking the Garden District Walking Tour up on St. Charles Ave. Didn't have reservations - walked in all tired and hot, and the staff just welcomed us in like so many refugees.  Last visit Nov. '99
Part of its charm is the mural of a Mississippi river scene behind the bar. All in all a very elegant place to lunch and convenient sight seeing along St. Charles Ave. and the neighborhoods. Accessible from the street car line.

-The Room - There are first and second floor dining areas in this old house. Very comfortable and a bit formal. While we were dressed for the walking tour, the other people dining were much more finely attired.

-The Service is simply top rate and well orchestrated.  Five entrees arrived at once, each carried by its own server. The table was cleared in a matter of seconds.

-The Food - Watch out for old reviews of Delmonico.  It was taken over by Emeril some years ago and is a bit pricey now. The table d'hote was priced at $24.  Keep in mind, we've only tried Delmonico once -  while the salads were quite interesting, the traditional seafood gumbo was pedestrian - good but not exceptional.  Oysters Bienville were, however, extraordinary.

Lucky Dogs - Push cart hot dogs up and down Bourbon. Eating a street dog is a lot like having sex that isn't New Testament - It might feel a little dangerous and good while you are doing it, but you immediately feel bad about the whole thing afterward, then you start to worry.   (I can say you should read John Kennedy Toole's A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES before you eat a Lucky Dog. Better yet, have your picture taken next to the cart and just say you ate one).

Reader's Lunch Recommendations

Victor and Linda (Feb. 98) liked The Market Cafe - on Decatur and St. Philip has a very reasonable out-door brunch Saturdays and Sundays with live jazz starting at about 11 am. The brunch isn't spectacular but very reasonable ($6.95 per person) and the jazz is good. They also have a regular menu which is reasonable.

Our friend Liz, who spent some formative years at Tulane has some additional recommendations for lunch:

And Laura and J. recommend - Uglesich's - corner of Baronne and Erato. They write - Bad neighborhood; we took a chance and walked the 2 blocks from St. Charles (we took the streetcar). If you haven't been - it's a total hole-in-the-wall but a great experience (both the food and people). We had fried green tomatoes, I had the "Shrimp Uggie" (sautéed shrimp with peppers, onions, and potatoes in VERY spicy oil/sauce) and J had the N'Awlins special, a roast beef poboy. He regretted it after the waiter reprimanded him for not getting their seafood since that's the best stuff around (plus it was Friday during Lent). Randy adds a note of caution, "If you don't hear any gun-fire, go ahead and get out of the cab.", but recommends the down home food as outstanding.

Becca, a student at Tulane University suggests the Jazz Brunch at The Court of Two Sisters (off of Royal) as a priority. She writes, "It is about $21 per person--and worth more than every penny. They have over 100 truly New Orleans items on a buffet and you can also special order items like Eggs Benedict. It's the quality of Tujague's, but with an almost overwhelming number of choices." Becca also recommends Liuzza's in the Uptown area for lunch.. It is *major* Southern food--fried green tomatoes and the like.

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