The New Orleans Smoothie King Center is ground zero for concerts, shows, conventions and sporting events. It's a safe bet that if you're heading in that direction, you're going to need to graze. Situated on the edge of the Central Business District, the arena is surrounded by restaurants of all stripes, from casual sports bars to French bistros, all within walking distance.
What are you craving? From tacos to po'boys, sushi to burgers and fries, it's game on at these area eateries.
The wildly popular Pelicans are playing hoops at the arena these days. After a great win, or good game/close loss, head on over to Walk-On's. There, you can commiserate with fellow fans while catching up on the remaining sports action and highlights on the literally hundreds of screens that circle the bar.
If you happen to be staying at the Hyatt Regency or Loews New Orleans, satisfying your hunger is even easier at the excellent restaurants onsite.
Gordon Biersch is a large restaurant/sports bar on Poydras Street in the heart of the CBD, close to Harrah's and the Convention Center and an easy walk to the game. The venue has outdoor seating allowing you to view the bustle of the downtown. Inside, their are a handful of plasma television screens as well as direct views of the brewery where actual beer making goes down. You can really make a day out of Biersch's by planning a brewery tour for before or after the sporting event you plan to watch. If lucky, you'll be in the house when the staff decides to give out free beer samples (it does happen).
Eat - Drink - Cheer is the perfect description of Manning's, the upbeat sports bar and restaurant located in the lively Fulton Street corridor. This is one of the best places to cheer for the home team in New Orleans, a partnership between the casino and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning, who spent 12 years playing at the Superdome. The restaurant is heaven for any fan of the Manning family, with all kinds of memorabilia from Archie Manning's playing career, and that of his sons, Peyton and Eli. The sports theme at the 210 seat restaurant is driven home by 30 flat screens always tuned to one game or another. There's even a giant screen in a section called the End Zone. As for the menu, it's an intersection between Mississippi delta and Creole, with specialties like shrimp and grits and local red fish.
Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar is located on Poydras Street in the CBD of New Orleans. Close by to both the Smoothie King Center and the Superdome, this joint is the preeminent spot to be for pre- and post-game food and drinks. Walk-On's has televisions nearly everywhere, including outside on their 2nd floor terraced balcony. Bar food isn't the only option here. The menu is filled with regional specialties, including seafood po-boys, fried catfish and andouille-filled quesadillas. The bar area is a great place to watch your favorite team in action. Grab a few buds and a pitcher of ice cold beer and spend some time at Walk-On's.
Mother's has been a New Orleans tradition since the 1940's and it is still creating happy customers today. If you are looking for a hearty breakfast or a "meat and three" for supper and don't mind standing in line, this cafeteria-style eatery is sure to please. And do not miss the po'boys, the roast beef debris and gravy is revered by local fans. Also a winner: the New Orleans style, chicory-flavored coffee. Mother's is located on Poydras in the Central Business District, and is known for attracting heaping amounts of visitors during weekends. Try sneaking your Mother's trip in mid-week to avoid long lines.
Capdeville takes a British ale house and throws an American spin on it. Located in the CBD of New Orleans, and tucked away, this spot is truly one of a kind. The drinks are always flowing and the crowds friendly and usual. The burgers, fries and truffle mac and cheese get great reviews. This is a great spot to try if you want to get away from the crowds, and enjoy a conversation with your companions and/or the amiable staff. For the drinkers among us, Capdeville has an enviable stash of American whiskeys at their disposal that they would be more than welcome to serve you.
Reginelli's is a pizza joint with a few spots around town (one in the CBD and the other in Uptown). They offer more than just pies though, with specialty salads, pastas, sandwiches and calzones gracing the menu. They've been a staple college favorite for years and are now fully recognized by the city as having outstanding food at great prices. They always have a great selection of beer on tap, including locally brewed Abita. Midweek pitcher specials can have you and your pals drinking on sofa change. Their locations are super casual, and if you don't feel like eating out, grab to go or have them deliver.
Borgne is a seafood restaurant located inside the Hyatt Regency in the CBD of New Orleans. Superstar chef John Besh overseas this restaurant, which he created along with the menu which features Coastal Louisianan cuisine. The restaurant serves many purposes. It's a great spot for a casual lunch. It doubles as a excellent venue for a meal before a Saints or Pelicans game. It triples as a solid place for larger groups to get together to catch up over a tasty bite any night of the week. Lunch is great because Besh has created revolving $10 lunch specials. Ragout of Louisiana rabbit, smothered catfish and red beans & rice are some of the day's offerings.
Located in the fab Loews Hotel, the Brennan family-run Café Adelaide is named for colorful Ti Adelaide Martin, co-owner of big sister restaurant Commander's Palace. You'll be happy starting with the bacon and cornmeal crusted fried oysters, and the shrimp and tasso corndog with five pepper jelly is like nothing you'll ever taste at a country fair. The menu is served at the Swizzle Stick bar next to the restaurant, a tasteful homage to Adelaide Brennan, also known as "Queenie" and "Auntie Mame," who did her share of living the good life. The restaurant recently adopted an All American approach to its wine list, with some 200 selections derived from North, South, and Central America.
The Mexican love child of local uber chef John Besh and Food Network wunderkind Aarón Sánchez, Johnny Sánchez is the best thing to happen to Poydras Street since Sculpture for New Orleans. A place that gives the option of roasted grasshoppers on the freshly made guac gets a body's attention. The menu is locally charged and full of authentic Mexican flavors. A seasonal specialty, the fried Brussels sprouts "salad" is really a revelatory warm veg dish tossed with bits of roasted squash, pomegranate and queso. The pork belly tacos are sweet with pineapple glaze and savory with swiney goodness. Lamb enchiladas, yellowfin tostados, grilled sweetbread tacos with chorizo, winning flavors abound. There are some interesting (and pricey) wines by the glass along with a very good house margarita and a full list of sipping tequilas. By the way, the place also happens to be gorgeous, bright with a colorful Day of the Dead wall mural and Chihuly-style overhead chandeliers. Service is informed and attentive.
Rooftop hotel bars are popping up all over New Orleans, popular at the Ace, Hotel Pontchartrain and longtime fave Hotel Monteleone. The new Troubadour Hotel, a slick CBD redo of a former office building, is leading the pack with Monkey Board, a hip bar scene popular with twentysomethings in search of libations and tasty bites. Named for the narrow elevated platform commonly used on oil-drilling platforms (this was a former oil & gas building after all), Monkey Board delivers 180 degree views of the city along with cozy cushioned seating straight out of Casablanca. The menu is designed to pair well with drinking everything from local craft beer to bubbles - big ass pretzels with beer fondue, grilled veggie pita with huymmus, pork sandwich with rapini slaw, slices of birthday cake. It's all delish and the views will take your breath away.