The Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans is a sight to see. This grand restaurant has been open since 1890 when it was owned by Emile Commander. Over time, the restaurant switched owners, first to Frank G. Giarratano in the 20s, then to the Morans in 1944. Thirty years later, the Brennan family took over, painting the outside the iconic “Commander’s Blue” that makes the restaurant so distinct as well as redesigning the interior, adding large windows, and putting in custom paintings. Today, the restaurant is a culinary icon for the city, serving great New Orleans staples in a high-quality environment.
The building is hard to miss with it’s white and teal striped siding reminiscent of a whimsical Disneyland Main Street restaurant. The inside rivals any modern fancy dining room. Old-fashioned chandeliers light the room and elegant brown and lavender walls which boast elaborate designs. The tables are all decked out with white tablecloths and a single miniature lamp. Wide open windows and mirrors help bring more light into the room while giving the illusion of an even larger space. The décor and the setting make for a great anniversary or birthday meal.
The cuisine is a blend of Creole and Louisiana flavors. Patrons can try various unique dishes such as shrimp beignets and turtle soup, and of course traditional dishes such as gumbo.
The food is a bit upscale and certainly on the more on the expensive side. However, as we found out, the food is well worth the price (and the Yelp reviews agree). When we visited the Commander’s Palace, I had a Nellie, which consisted of rye whiskey, dark rum, orange liqueur, bitters and citrus and cost a whopping ten dollars! But as soon as I started drinking, I found it was worth every penny. My husband ordered a big daddy of Grand Mariner with fresh squeezed lemon and likewise enjoyed his order.
The must-try dish is their famous Commander’s Bread Pudding Soufflé with Whiskey Sauce. It is a delicious sweet dish with custard that anyone in the family is sure to enjoy.
Try it at home
There are a few recipes posted on their website for those who want to try their hand at some Louisiana cooking once they get back home! If anyone in the family has something they love, parents can ask the staff if they can track down the recipe before leaving. Of course, there are always adaptation recipes, like this one for the Bread Pudding Soufflé. But the staff is typically more than happy to give interested patrons the authentic recipe from the source.
We recommend making a reservation online or over the phone for those planning their trip to New Orleans. The restaurant takes phone reservations at (504) 899-8221 between nine am and nine pm daily.
There is a dress code at Commander’s Palace that families should know about before visiting. The best way to sum up the required attire is Business Casual. They specify on the website that gentlemen must wear collared shirts and closed toe shoes, and jackets are preferred. No one can wear shorts, flip-flops, t-shirt, sweatshirts, or sweatpants, and jeans are discouraged.
There is a particular environment that the staff likes to keep up down to the last detail in the restaurant. As an example, one woman on TripAdvisor mentioned that when she came to the restaurant in a black dress, the staff switched her napkins from white to black.
The surprise factor as we discovered is the staff encourages patrons to visit the kitchen!
The Commander’s Palace Restaurant is located at 1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130. It sits at the corner of Coliseum Street in the Garden District, close to the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. Visitors can enjoy the complimentary valet parking service at the restaurant if they drive there.
The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. They temporarily closed to prepare for dinner for a few hours. The restaurant then opens again for dinner hours from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Autism Travel Tips:
- There isn’t a ton of room between tables, but there is typically enough room to have a conversation without shouting. Parents of children with autism might want to request a quiet table away from the center.
- The restaurant is not necessarily wheelchair friendly. However, some tables could accommodate a guest in a wheelchair.
- The restaurant does occasionally play live Jazz music, during brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Parents of children for whom this might be a problem should request a table away from the performers.
- The restaurant does offer some private dining options. These are usually for large parties, though interested families of four can reserve the Chef’s Table.
- Some of the food items, particularly the alcoholic drinks, can take a while to prepare and bring to the table.
- Kids with no smell sensitivities might get a kick out of touring the kitchen to see how the cooking is done.