Overlooking St. Charles Avenue, Mia's Balcony offers Mardi Gras revelers a central view of grand, glittering floats and shimmering beads. But the restaurant isn’t content to host a party once a year; on the other 364 days, visitors cheer on the college, professional, and sock-puppet football games broadcast over the patio's outdoor televisions, and a banquet room is available for private soirees. While watching a Saints or LSU game or just chatting, guests can share small plates of seared scallops on the half-shell or fish croquettes or dig into substantial entrees such as pepper-jelly lamb chops. On weekend mornings, the chefs prepare brunch dishes including creole omelets and veal grillades over grits.
Local artwork, exposed-brick walls, and fireplaces set an inviting scene indoors. Bartenders fill glasses with craft beers, wine, and potent cocktails such as the French 75, a champagne- and gin-based drink based on a vintage recipe.
O'Henrys has served baskets of complimentary salted peanuts to guests since its founding in 1982, and the floors remain whimsically festooned with shells to this day. Owner Rhonda Conley, with more than 20 years at O'Henry's under her belt, works to keep the tradition of the restaurant alive at both locations. Waiters crunch across dining rooms from midday to midnight, bearing plates of freshly ground filet mignon burgers, hearty steaks, and signature Monica cream sauce dishes. Outside, an outdoor balcony scattered with tabletops wraps around the restaurant. The eatery boasts private dining rooms for parties of up to 25 people. It also treats guests to a free new york strip steak if they can prove it's their birthday with a valid ID or by showing video tapes of them not celebrating their birthday the previous 364 days.
Sammy's Seafood Restaurant sits at the center of the French Quarter, surrounded by 18th-century buildings and iron balconies that personify the district. A candy-stripe awning shields a dining patio, filtering sunrays and airborne Mardi Gras beads while offering a view of Bourbon Street's perennial foot traffic. In this quaint setting, chefs prepare fried alligator and crawfish étoufée, just two of the seafood dishes on the creole-inspired menu. Blackened, fried, and heavily spiced dishes comprise the majority of options, hearkening Cajun preparation techniques. Patrons who dine indoors find themselves in a cozy dining room flanked by wooden walls and a brick fireplace.
On a residential street near the river, a little white cottage with a hand-painted sign hosts heaping platters of crustaceans, catfish, rib-eye steaks, and creamy Southern sides. Creamy baked macaroni and potato salad escort fried redfish, frog legs, and soft-shell crab from a kitchen praised by Lonely Planet as "working in its own rarefied air," with each dish ceremonially blessed by a mermaid. Tuesday through Friday, lunch specials pack salads and po boys with oysters and shrimp. A glass of sangria from the bar offers a refreshingly fruity counterpoint to the flavors of the sea.
Captain Sal’s is a family-owned eating oasis serving up seaborne repasts and poultry-anchored feasts that are great for busy, on-the-move locals and tourists on lunch breaks from the Fodor’s-suggested all-bead scavenger hunt. Shrimp po’ boys are served on buns or french bread ($5.49–$6.99) and, like ketchup keg parties, go great with fries ($1.49–$2.99) or onion rings ($1.89–$3.99). Seafood gumbo warms souls chilled over by the sight of rat-tail haircuts ($4.49–$6.49), and chicken is available in four ($3.49 white; $4.49 dark), eight ($6.49 white; $8.49 dark) or 15-piece ($9.49 white; $11.99 dark) sets. Fitting for retired fishermen who still want to reap their craft’s edible benefits, Captain Sal’s provides subtly spiced seafood sublimity.
The Grill's seafood-slinging menu draws on locally sourced ingredients to offer fresh dishes with Louisiana flair. Try out an appetizer of Louisiana catfish strips with green onion tartar sauce ($7) to hold your dinner at bay. For the main course, steer your mouth into a hearty entree of crab cakes with roasted corn maque choux ($12), or lead your hunger to wrack and ruin along the mighty reefs of the riverbend chicken, with crawfish tail and portobello sauté ($14). Order the grilled fish of the day and surprise your face with the freshest catch, served with lemon butter sauce, mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus ($19). For a classic Louisiana dish that will fill you up and completely obliterate your cravings, order the shrimp and cheddar grits, with hickory bacon and green onion ($14).