Lots of people from out of town ask me for recommendations, and when I have the time to respond I’m happy to do so. I start by asking a few questions of my own, though. What sort of food are you looking for? Do you want boiled crawfish or a poor boy, or were you thinking more haute cuisine? Do you understand that while we have a number of outstanding Cajun restaurants, that’s not really New Orleans food? Do you have any dietary restrictions? What is your price point?

Then I always ask where they’re staying and if they mind traveling for a meal. That last question is every bit as important as the others, because while I’m entirely capable of recommending restaurants in just about any category to folks who are staying in the Quarter and want to walk everywhere, if they’ve got a car or are willing to pay for a ride, the options expand exponentially.

Mosca’s, moscasrestaurant.com, for example, is a restaurant I consider quintessentially New Orleans despite the fact that it’s technically in Westwego. Then there are places like Brigtsen’s, brigtsens.com

or Lilette, liletterestaurant.com

or Coquette, coquettenola.com

or Gautreau’s, gautreausrestaurant.com

or Upperline, upperline.com

or Jacques-Imo’s, jacques-imos.com

or Patois patoisnola.com

…and a whole lot of other places that, if you live here, you’re probably annoyed I didn’t mention. Some of those restaurants have been around longer than others, but they’ve all operated long enough that they’re established and every one of them is outstanding.

The reason this topic came to my mind was a lunch I had with a friend recently at another place that fits the category: Clancy’s, clancysneworleans.com. I’ve eaten at Clancy’s many times, and I’ve never had a bad meal. Most often the food has been outstanding, and at times sublime. That’s a remarkable thing, which is probably why I’m remarking about it.

Over the years I’ve had just about everything on their regular menu except the Cobb salad, because I do not eat Cobb salad unless I’m under duress and I’ve never been under duress at Clancy’s. Indeed, the service is one reason that Clancy’s has such a devoted following among locals.

What’s puzzled me, and I suspect a lot of folks, is why Clancy’s hasn’t garnered the attention some other local standouts have gotten in the national press. Usually when this topic comes up, it’s discussed with a sigh of relief – the idea being that if Clancy’s ever got too popular with tourists, it wouldn’t be the same. I don’t think anything would change Clancy’s, and thus I have no issues recommending it to anyone who wants a great, truly New Orleans dining experience.

As I intimated above, I’ve left out dozens of restaurants similar to Clancy’s and the other places I mentioned. I’d be delighted to hear from you on my omissions, either in the comments or by email.

When you’re suggesting a place that visitors can get a real New Orleans meal that’s not within walking distance of the Quarter, where do you steer them?