Great deals are back in New Orleans restaurants; See 5 ways to prospect, and noisy extras | Where do you eat Nola?

Between shrimp brimming with a scorching edge, okra smothered with butter underneath and a sweet pop of pepper, I tore up a plate one recent night at Palm & Pine (308 N. Rampart St., 504-814-6200) said Summer with every bite. During August, this dish is also part of a very local summer ritual, at least in the New Orleans restaurant world.







Shrimp with Whipped Okra at Palm & Pine in New Orleans, part of their great summer menu. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Shrimp and okra are part of the three-course Coolinary menu at Palm & Pine, the modern French Quarter restaurant that is one of about 80 restaurants across the region participating in this seasonal event.

Coolinary offers set price multi-course menus at various restaurants around the city, using the lure of a dining deal to lure locals and regional travelers to the table when tourism and conventions usually run low.

Below, I offer a few different ideas to split up throughout the next month.

A circle of North Shore restaurants participate in a summer food deal program, as many New Orleans restaurants offer…

Coolinary’s basic parameters are well known. Participating restaurants offer two-course lunches for $25 or less, three-course dinners and brunches for $45 or less, and sometimes with other offerings to sweeten the deal (see examples below).







Soul cupcake

Pastilles Pastilles at Alma, a Baywater restaurant showcasing Honduran cuisine with modern style and global influences. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


The promotion is organized and marketed by The New Orleans & Company, the city’s Bureau of Conventions and Visitors.

Coolinary has been a tool that restaurants and industry boosters have used throughout the pandemic. These earlier efforts occurred even as restaurants were grappling with capacity restrictions and other changing safety rules for the coronavirus. This time around, Coolinary is a return to normal, or whatever goes naturally these days.







Claret tents

Tents cover a lawn patio used by Bower and Claret in the Lower Garden District, creating an outdoor option in most weather.



“We encourage everyone to take the stand to be a tourist in your hometown,” said Maribeth Rommig, a spokeswoman for New Orleans & Co. “If people decide to dine out two or three times in August, we’ll be fine.”

Menus and service details for individual restaurants at neworleans.com/coolinary. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Gather your collection

New Orleans summer can be a social mystery. It’s slow, so there should be plenty of time to get together. But one reason for the slowdown is that so many people are leaving the city. When you can align your calendars, it might be a good time to follow up on friends.

Coolinary could be the organizing principle. Consider places specifically set up for group dining and communal meals.







Costera dining room

The dining room and bar of Costera, the modern Spanish restaurant in Uptown New Orleans. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Costera (4938 Britannia Street, 504-302-2332), uptown modern Spanish eatery, perfects this with its family-style menu. During Coolinary, this takes the form of a four-course meal ($45). Rather than a set menu, people choose their courses from a variety of dishes, meaning that a couple or a larger group can sample extensively.







Claret Vita 2

Whipped feta cheese with rustic bread is on the menu at Bower’s, a related wine restaurant and bar on Magazine Street in New Orleans. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)


The Bower (1320 Magazine St., 504-582-9738) is another good invitation for groups, because in addition to the dining room and bar it has a large covered patio, and the outdoor space feels more free. Bower’s Coolinary menu ($45) includes crudo, dip, pasta, and mussels, all of which are good for sharing, too.







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The main dining room extends down the block at the Pelican Club restaurant in New Orleans. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)


The Pelican Club (312 Exchange Pl., 504-523-1504) is another one that’s good with big parties and has so many options on the Coolinary menu ($45, with optional extras) that everyone in your party should find something to love.

2. Single Dinner

The flip side to holding a group is to have a little time for yourself, perhaps to focus only on food, and perhaps cut a small part of life away from the rest of the world.

A restaurant bar is the perfect place for such a picnic, and this year’s Coolinary menu has some great deals.

I tried that picture of the summer flavor above at Palm & Pine while dining alone at the kitchen counter, an entertaining and welcoming spot for singles.







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A pro-JT BLATTY image – The bar is a prominent feature of Meril, an Emeril Lagasse restaurant built to highlight casual dining at the bar.


Another for this category is Meril (424 Girod St., 504-526-3745) where half the restaurant is the bar, and the Coolinary menu ($45) runs through salmon crudo, roasted quail and peach cobbler bars.







Saint John int.jpeg

The open kitchen with bar food is a central feature of Saint John, Eric Cook’s Creole restaurant in the French Quarter. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)


St. John’s (1117 Decatur Street, 504-581-8120), French Quarter French Quarter-debut Creole restaurant Chef Eric Cook is flanked by bar stools and a kitchen. Cook’s first restaurant, Gris Gris (1800 Magazine St., 504-272-0241) is also good in this respect for Coolinary with its quirky kitchen bar serving food downstairs.







justindr

Justine is a French Quarter restaurant that blends classic and contemporary across its rooms and menu. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


Small bars can also make the place, and the effortless elegance along the marble-topped counter at Justin (225 Chartres Street, 504-218-8533) always entices a one-person French brasserie experience ($45).

Every Thursday we give you the scoop on NOLA’s Dinner. Register today.

3. New or new for you

Coolinary can be the incentive to try a new restaurant – whether it’s already new to the market or new to you.







Alma Melissa

Melissa Araujo created her restaurant Bywater Alma to showcase Honduran cuisine with modern style and global influences. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


This year’s Coolinary roster features a number of first-time entrants. The first is Alma (800 Luisa Street, 504-381-5877), a modern Honduran restaurant, which has been around since 2020 but only recently expanded its range from traditional brunch and lunch menus to include more modern Honduran flavors at dinner.







jewel tongue

Wagyu beef tongue with radish and pickled vegetables, part of Jewel of the South’s great August 2022 menu. (Staff photo by Ian McNulty, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)


This is the first gorgeous Jewel of the South gallery (1026 St. Louis Street, 504-265-8816), a masterful style of cocktail (from Maestro Chris Hannah) paired with Chef Phil Whitmarsh’s modern British cuisine. The result is quite different than anywhere else in the city – with many vegetarian dishes and creative presentations of familiar staples. You can sample three courses for $45.

Others making their Coolinary debut this year are Couvant (317 Magazine St., 504-342-2316) and Commons Club (550 Baronne St.), the restaurant at the (also new) Virgin Hotel.

4. Revisit the classic version







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A group of regulars celebrate Antoine’s reopening in New Orleans, Friday, September 25, 2020.




On the contrary, Coolinary can also be a time to revisit all your favorites. You may be surprised by what you will find. Just like the Reveillon menus rolled out in December, Coolinary gives traditional restaurants a different setting for branching.

Antoine’s Restaurant (713 St. Louis Street, 504-581-4422), New Orleans’ oldest, deviates from its deeply defined French Creole script for Coolinary, and this summer’s release ($45) brings in gazpacho or watermelon salad, hung steak or bouillabaisse, and peaches Roast and cream.







Arno Bacchus room

The Bacchus Room at Arnaud’s, one of the many rooms for private dining in the historic French Quarter.




Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon St., 504-525-2021) and Arnaud’s (813 Bienville St., 504-523-5433) both returned with Coolinary listings, as did Tujague (429 Decatur Street, 504-525-8676), The second oldest restaurant in town, although it is now located in its new home a few blocks from its old address.







Chef Milton Prudence at The Annunciation

Milton Prudence, chef at The Annunciation Restaurant, located at 1016 Annunciation Street in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 24, 2019.




Some restaurants that are much smaller than these still operate in classic style, and two on this year’s Coolinary list that fit the mark are Annunciation (1016 Announce St., 504-568-0245) and Gabrielle (2441 Orleans Ave., 504-603- 2344).

5. Coolinary, then continue the night

Dinner outside is wonderful. Even better is dinner out with a nice cocktail at the first stop, or the promise of an after-meal on the street or perhaps a show or some live music afterwards.

Consider making your Coolinary dinner the centerpiece of an outing that takes on some other aspects of New Orleans culture.

With so many Coolinary restaurants clustered in the French Quarter and downtown, there’s a natural fit there for a slightly more involved sophomore itinerary.







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Honduran breakfast in Alma includes cereal with cream, eggs, plantain, avocado, and queso fresco.




This doesn’t have to be at night either. There are more than 30 restaurants with cold lunch menus and 17 restaurants with cold lunch menus. You can sort through options and find listings online at neworleans.com/coolinary.

liquid lagniappe

Some great menus come with extras, optional or included. To my surprise, most of them include alcohol. Here’s the run down:

These restaurants offer optional pairings of wine for $20 to $25 with their great dinner menus (all $45): Baru Bistro & Tapas, Briquette, Domenica, Meril, and Saint John.







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Copper fermentation tanks and glass jellyfish decorate the bar at Crescent City Brewhouse in the French Quarter.




Crescent City Brewhouse, add three 12 oz. Homemade beer for $10 to the dinner menu ($29)

Couvant adds bottomless mimosas and other morning cocktails for $20 with their brunch menu ($35).







The Ultimate Guide to New Orleans Barbecue

Frey Smoked Meat Co at 4141 Bienville Street in New Orleans on Thursday, May 4, 2017 (Photo by Brett Duke, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune)




Frey Smoked Meat Co. adds. A daily cocktail for $5 to the bargain dinner menu ($24.50), the cheapest on this year’s Coolinary menu.

Pizza Dominica has an avogato (espresso on ice cream) on its dinner menu ($35), and for an extra $6, you can top up this dessert with an amaro.

Some menus dispense with sweets, giving you an extra savory course. Such is the case at Sala at Dinner ($45). At the Country Club, one of the dinner courses ($45) is actually a margarita cocktail, which sounds better than a salad anyway.

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