Your Last Week on Earth

Make it a good one during Restaurant Week New Orleans.

New Orleans is a place where we spend our lunches talking about what we plan to eat for dinner. We’re proud of our food and love it when visitors want to try turtle soup or beignets for the first time.

For the past five years, a special week in September makes access to some of our greatest restaurants easier for tourists and locals alike.

Restaurant Week New Orleans is the embodiment of the slogan “We live to eat.” It is designed to offer multiple-course, specially priced menus for lunch, dinner and brunch at restaurants in Greater New Orleans. To date, nearly 75 restaurants plan to participate this year.

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Spearheading the effort is the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), which works in partnership with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Wendy Waren, vice president of communications at the LRA, explained the choice of September for the week: “This time of year was selected to drive diners to our restaurants given the decreased tourism traffic and schools being back in session.”

And unlike Coolinary — its partner event that runs for the entire month of August — Restaurant Week is only September 12-18. This creates more urgency for diners to ensure they make their reservations and take advantage of the special menus. “My friends, co-workers and I are already planning our Restaurant Week meals,” Waren says.

The purpose of Restaurant Week New Orleans is to “keep the city’s restaurants top-of-mind with consumers while also building an emotional connection with the local food-loving community.” The focus on locals to increase their patronage and word-of-mouth recommendations impacts the tourism industry as well.

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Visitors to New Orleans during Restaurant Week can try more restaurants than possible at other times of year because of the affordable prix fixe menu choices. For many, dining affordability is key since food is a star attraction in this city. Restaurant Week creates instant affordability, especially considering the lunch menus. The result is additional support of the hospitality industry and tourists experiencing more of the food culture of our city.

That culture is critical to our tourism industry and recognized internationally. New Orleans was recently named “Best City for Food in the United States” by Travel + Leisure in their World’s Best Awards 2016, beating out larger cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. The magazine’s readers noted the ease in finding restaurants offering delicious dishes, whether they crave our famous poor boys or classic ètouffèe.

Who says all the food in New Orleans is the same? On the event website, users can sort participating restaurants by cuisine, neighborhoods and meals offered.

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The cuisine list includes 26 categories. Didn’t make it to Rio for the Olympics? Head to Fogo de Chào Brazilian Steakhouse. Want to learn the difference between “Contemporary Creole” and “Creole?” Eat lunch at Muriel’s Jackson Square and dinner at Tujague’s.

As for neighborhoods, 11 are represented, including Jefferson Parish and on the Westbank.

One of the most exciting aspects of Restaurant Week is that often chefs will use the temporary menu to try new items. “Many of our Restaurant Week participants feature Louisiana seafood and locally grown produce, and we encourage our restaurants to get creative with their menus,” Waren says. “If they’ve been wanting to test the waters on a new dish or menu, this would be a great time.”

She adds, “The addition of brunch—a favorite New Orleans pasttime—gives restaurants who may be considering offering brunch a great opportunity to announce it and deliver their take to diners. This week is a chance for diners to try new restaurants or visit old favorites, to celebrate a special occasion or simply enjoy the best thing about New Orleans—the cuisine!”

To browse participating restaurants and access reservation information for Restaurant Week, visit the website at CoolinaryNewOrleans.com/restaurant-week/
 



Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City.

 


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