Today is the start of French Quarter Festival, which runs through the weekend. In the 29 years the Fest has been held, it's expanded quite a bit. Over 500,000 people partied in the Quarter last year, and this year attendance will probably top that mark.
Around 65 local restaurants will be serving food at the Fest, and I thought I'd give you some recommendations. Bear in mind that these are just the food that interests me, and not intended as some sort of objective measure of the best food at the Fest. If you think I've missed something, or if you disagree with my choices, please leave a comment below.
Because the Fest lists its food vendors in alphabetical order by location, I'll do the same.
In Woldenburg Riverfront Park, I'd start with Boucherie, which will be serving a roast beef poor boy in which the meat is cooked for 12 hours and served with horseradish cream and pickled red onions for $5, and Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding for $4. The kids at Boucherie got their start with a food truck, so they know a thing or two about doing a high-volume event like this. Their roast beef is pretty awesome, and if you've never had their bread pudding made with the famous doughnuts, you ought to give it a try.
GW Fins is just about the best fine-dining seafood restaurant in New Orleans. They're serving Wood Grilled Gulf Fish Tacos for $3 and Bananas Foster for $4. Chef Tenney Flynn takes fish seriously, and when his menu includes a wood-grilled item, it's always a good choice.
Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant is located in Natchitoches, and is justifiably famous for their meat pies. You can try one without the travel time for $5 at the Fest; a basket will set you back $8. They're also serving crawfish pies for $6 a pie and $9 for a basket, and “Creole Tater Stix” for $4. For $6 you can have “Soulful Shrimp” with your stix. I can't vouch for anything but the meat pies, but those are excellent. I also don't know if they'll have frozen pies available, but if they do, pick up a half dozen to cook at home. Trust me.
In Jackson Square, Antoine's will be serving Oysters Bonne Femme, Baked Alaska with Chocolate Sauce, and Shrimp Regua, each for $6. Anything prepared “Bonne Femme” means it involves bacon, mushrooms and potatoes. It's traditionally prepared with chicken, but oysters are an excellent choice. Shrimp Regua is a chilled dish of shrimp over greens with a horseradish-spiked mayonnaise.
Galatoire's Restaurant has a chilled shrimp dish as well, in this case it's their shrimp remoulade which, along with a fried shrimp "BLT" poor boy, will cost $7.
Plum Street Snoballs will offer snoballs in “regular flavors:" strawberry, bubble gum, cherry, spearmint and grape for $3 or $4. Sugar-free flavors available are raspberry and pink lemonade for $4 or $5, and the cream flavors they'll serve are nectar, coconut, chocolate, cream ice cream and iced coffee for $3 or $4. You can add condensed milk for a buck. It's going to be hot, folks, and a snoball is a great way to cool down. Plum Street Snoballs will also be serving at the Old US Mint. Speaking of which …
The Old US Mint vendors I'll be looking out for include Dunbar's, which will have catfish with potato salad for $7, vegetarian red beans and rice for $4, and bread pudding, also for $4. Hard to beat Dunbar's, and if there are any vegetarians in your group, the red beans and rice is a great option.
The Joint is one of the best barbecue restaurants in New Orleans. They'll have pulled pork, beef brisket, and chaurice sausage sandwiches, all dressed with cole slaw for $6 each. You can also sample their baked beans for $3.
Frenchmen Street standout Three Muses will be selling their lamb sliders for $5, and fries with Feta cheese for $4. The lamb sliders are among Three Muses' most popular menu items, and with good reason. Check them out if you pass by their stand.
I'd be remiss if I didn't note that Abita Brewing Company will be selling their Amber, Light, Purple Haze and Jockamo IPA beers on draft for $4, and cans of Amber, Purple Haze and Jockamo IPA for $5. I've had a few of their canned beers, and I'm happy to say that they didn't sacrifice the high quality we've come to expect from the area's largest craft brewer for the convenience of a pop-top.
So those are my thoughts on food options. There are probably a half-dozen more places I'll check out during the fest, and I'd appreciate your thoughts as well.