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Spring 2006 | Dining in New Orleans

Spring 2006 | Dining in New Orleans

The sweet lowdown on the Big Easy's gay-popular restaurants

New Orleans is gearing up for the 150th anniversary of Mardi Gras, and while the celebration will be slightly smaller than the two-week event of past years—11 days, February 18-28—most residents are welcoming it as the symbolic rebirth of the city. Though the recovery can seem to move slowly, the Big Easy that tantalizes the hearts of gay and lesbian travelers has changed very little: Horse-drawn carriages clatter on the backstreets, lone musicians play in Jackson Square, and body parts are still bared from balconies. But if you're planning a visit, start with the food—menus at gay-popular restaurants are growing every day!


New Orleans's cuisine is a creation of its own history and the joie de vie that integrates the mixing and mingling of French, Spanish, and Caribbean cultures since the city's conception in 1718. While it's all lumped together as Louisiana cooking, many of the dishes are a unique combination of both Creole and Cajun food. As a mixture of African, European, and Caribbean influences, Creole cooking makes hefty use of the tomato, most notably in shrimp Creole, a stew of shrimp and tomatoes with spices served over rice. Cajun food is derived from the French Acadians who fled from Nova Scotia in 1755 and made their homes in the backwoods and swamps of Louisiana. Living off the land, they threw anything that was available into cast iron pots and created ?one pot meals—such as gumbo and jambalaya. Today, these two styles are blended together, mixed with modern techniques and transformed into a style of cooking that is intoxicating, spicy, and sensual. It was only a week or so of canned foods and military rations before those remaining in New Orleans scrambled for their usual—things like crawfish ?touff?e, stuffed artichoke, chayote (known as ?mirliton? in Louisiana), jambalaya, shrimp Creole, and red beans and rice.


More and more restaurants are reopening in the French Quarter, but because of labor shortages, many have shorter operating hours and limited menus. Be sure to call in advance of your visit.

Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St., 504-522-7261)
Favorite: Jazz Brunch Buffet—grillades, turtle soup, shrimp étouffée, pasta salads, marinated artichokes, bananas Foster, bread pudding
Ambiance: Gay-friendly dining in one of the French Quarter's most beautiful courtyards

Clover Grill (900 Bourbon St., 504-598-1010)
Favorite: A half-pound fresh pure beef burgers cooked under an American hubcap
Ambiance: Casual, gay-popular Bourbon Street grill

Feelings Café (2600 Chartres St., 504-945-2222)
Favorite: Duck Bigarade—half a Long Island duck, boned, roasted, and glazed with a semi-sweet orange sauce made with Grand Marnier and served on a bed of pecan rice
Ambiance: Romantic gay-owned restaurant with courtyard and piano bar

Petunia's (817 St. Louis St., 504-522-6440)
Favorite: Cajun pasta with shrimp and andouille—plump shrimp and spicy Cajun sausage, seasonings, parmesan cheese, and butter over angel hair pasta
Ambiance: Casual gay-friendly dining in an 1830s French Quarter townhouse

Red Fish Grill (115 Bourbon St., 504-598-1200)
Favorite: Hickory grilled redfish—filet of fresh redfish, grilled over hickory, served with smoked pork pontalba potatoes, exotic mushrooms and topped with Louisiana blue lump crabmeat and lemon butter sauce
Ambiance: Casual dining amidst a bold Louisiana- and sea-themed interior

Our full report on the recovery of New Orleans's gay and gay-popular restaurants appears in the Spring issue of The Out Traveler.

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