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Antoine’s Restaurant: Guardian of Old New Orleans Cuisine and Culture

Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter serves up classic New Orleans cuisine while preserving Mardi Gras culture and history.

Stop at Antoine's on a culinary tasting tour (Photo: Justen Williams)

In 1840, a confident 27 year old Frenchman was determined to overhaul dining in New Orleans. Fresh out of the kitchens of European royalty, Antoine Alciatore founded what was to become simply known as Antoine’s. While the restaurant no longer sits in its original location, the “new” location on St. Louis St. first opened its doors in 1868. Through the generations, Antoine’s descendants have continued to carry out his vision and guided the restaurant through the years.

Antoine’s menu is flush with old line dishes, such as trout amandine, alligator soup, Chateaubriand, the widely imitated oyster’s Rockefeller (created by Antoine’s in 1889), souffle potatoes, and shrimp remoulade. The shrimp remoulade I ordered on a recent trip seemed a little disappointingly small when it first arrived.

However, my plate turned out to be a culinary clown car , with shrimp after shrimp after amazing shrimp just magically appearing. Not that I was about to complain! The souffle potatoes are another starter I thoroughly enjoyed, while the heartier alligator soup is a perfect way to shake off the occasional chill during the short New Orleans winter.

It is not just the food of New Orleans that the restaurant protects, but also the city’s history and Mardi Gras culture. Antoine’s boasts fourteen different dining rooms with wildly varying seating capacities from 6 to 300! However, each room is a piece of history and has a story to tell. The four carnival rooms are shrines to the old line crews of Rex, Hermes, Proteus, and the Twelfth Night Revelers.

Photos of Mardi Gras royalty and countless royal souvenirs deck the walls of these rooms, along with the name of each queen. The Mystery Room served as a speakeasy during prohibition. To conceal its entrance, the Mystery Room was only accessible through the ladies restroom.

The room got its name from the feigned ignorance patrons would express if the prohibited booze was discovered at their table. When asked where the outlawed beverages came from, the reply was always: “It’s a mystery to me.”

Without a doubt, Antoine’s is as much a museum to New Orleans as it is a culinary mecca. If you have the opportunity to dine at Antoine’s, I recommend making time to take a tour. Start out in the famous Hermes bar, grab a sazerac and prepare for your trip back in time.

For pictures and a history of each of Antoine’s rooms, click here. Not sure you have enough time for the full Antoine’s experience? Don’t forget about Antoine’s Annex around the corner for a quick lunch or a sweet treat!

Antoine’s Restaurant
713 St. Louis Street
All major credit cards accepted. Be sure to dress nice.

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For more fun with food and drink, join us Just Off the Red Streetcar Line!

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