Considered New Orleans’s consummate old-line Creole French restaurant, Galatoire’s is a time-honored, fine-dining classic beloved by generations—perhaps because their families are beloved by Galatoire’s. Or perhaps because Tennessee Williams supped here, as did his characters Stella and Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. It oozes tradition: Ceiling fans whir, bentwood chairs strain, mirrored walls reflect the civilized frivolity. But the jovial obsequiousness that the tuxedoed waiters lavish upon their regulars isn’t always bestowed upon moi et toi. Things are a tad more somber in the (lesser—but perfectly fine) upstairs dining room. Either way, the drinking commences upon arrival, and doesn’t (and shouldn’t) let up for a few hours.
No one comes here for great gastronomy, but Galatoire’s does know fish (it’s had 110 years of practice, after all). Go with a classic shrimp rémoulade, crab maison, or the eggplant fingers. Ask the waiter which fish is best today, get it a la meunière and topped with crabmeat; or order the soft-shell crab if available and some creamed spinach. We’re not fond of the heavy sauces they ladle on the fine fish, but don’t scoff at asparagus with spot-on hollandaise. The puffy soufflé potatoes are legally required. Skip the meh desserts; order a glass of port instead. Reservations accepted for upstairs only; reserve well in advance. Worth mentioning: Galatoire's regulars have known for years that these seafood specialists grill a mean steak. That's the specialty at Galatoire's 33 (215 Bourbon St.; www.galatoires33barandsteak.com; 504/335-3932), the offshoot next door (which also corners the Galatoire's bar scene).