Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans



Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans pin

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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans floor

The Décor 

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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans window

The Food

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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans meat

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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans menu

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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans dessert


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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans kitchen

Dress Code

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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans dish

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!

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans bread

Location, Hours

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.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans chef

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.

Fifteen Family Must Do Activities in New Orleans

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans pin

New Orleans is such a unique city in the United States, with its French and Southern influence. Known for its Mardi Gras festival and po’ boy sandwiches, the city is bustling with culture, music, and activities for the whole family. It’s a unique city that’s all about the spirit, and you get a feeling here that you won’t be able to find elsewhere. It’s tough to figure out what would be the most important events or places to see first, especially if you’re a newbie in the city. So we’ve put together a list of fifteen must do activities when visiting New Orleans (or NOLA) for the first time.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans shop

Listen to Street Musicians

Stop and listen to street musicians in the French Quarters. Listening to the musicians isn’t too difficult because they set up shop everywhere! The good thing about street musicians is you can get as close or as far away as you’d like to be able to enjoy the music. Remember: these are tomorrow’s artists, with everything from jazz to R&B to reggae or calypso. Check out these spots for the best street music: Royal Street in the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street in the Marigny, Jackson Square, or along the Mississippi River banks.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans people

Try the Gumbo

This delicious stew was created in Louisiana in the 18th century, and consists of a meat broth, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and celery, bell peppers, and onion. Gumbo is traditionally served over rice. There are several different varieties, including chicken, sausage, shrimp, okra, and can vary in how spicy it is. A quick online search on apps like TripAdvisor and Yelp will give you some great recommendations for where to try to best gumbo in town!

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans castle

Enjoy Freshly Baked Beignets

Beignets are literally “fritters,” and are deep fried pastries served with powdered sugar on top. You can get them just about anywhere, and they are the closest you can get to heaven on this earth. You can also get them stuffed with delicious custard, which might remind you more of a donut than anything else! Take your kids to Cafe Du Monde to watch through the glass windows in the back how they make beignets.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans pastry

Take a Ghost Tour

New Orleans is a city with a broad range of cultures, incorporating French, Southern America, and African belief systems. Put that with the longstanding history of the city, and you are bound to end up with some tall tales of haunted mansions and haunted land. Many ghost hunter circles call this America’s most haunted city, so if you are in the mood to be scared, you should take a ghost tour. If you decide to do the night ghost tour on your own, then stop by the LaLaurie House. Be sure to read about the house on Wikipedia ahead of time.

Visit the Cemetery

If something a bit milder than a ghost tour is more your style, visit a New Orleans cemetery. The cemeteries are unique here because the coffins sit above ground due to the regular flooding. Many cemeteries have memorials for unknown victims and soldiers, such as those who died in Hurricane Katrina or the Civil War. The best visit is the Number Three cemetery that features family mausoleums with elaborate marble statues and multiple family member burial sites.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans grave

Visit the Ninth Ward

The Lower Ninth Ward is known as the area where Hurricane Katrina hit the hardest in 2005. There are some historical buildings as well as a look at how things have gone since Katrina hit. Visitors can still see some of the damage inflicted by the massive hurricane and understand to what levels the water rose on the building walls. It’s a very moving place to visit and somewhat explain to kids what nature can inflict on human life.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans jazz

Attend a Jazz Concert

If there is one kind of music to associate with New Orleans, it is jazz. During the summer, it’s pretty easy to find an outdoor concert, or you can always watch street performers. If you are looking to head indoors, you have to attend a concert at Preservation Hall. There other are clubs and festivals year round, as well as the symphony, but Preservation Hall is the most famous spot to enjoy music and see up and coming musicians. A second best, after the Preservation Hall, is to attend a New Orleans style funeral filled with music and joy to celebrate one’s life instead of mourning their death. This type of funeral comes from the West African tradition of expressing joy at the fact of mortality with music.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans red

Look for Antiques in the Garden District 

A place with so much fascinating history has some interesting antiques if you want to rummage through the shops in the Garden District. Just like any other city, there is also a lot of junk. However, treasure hunters from around the United States visit the antique shops here for their next spectacular find. If you look hard enough, you can find some great, one-of-a-kind deals at decent prices. Before purchasing anything, make sure you Google the item and verify its real value, so you don’t overpay or feel cheated when you bring it home.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans quaint

Gawk at the Mansions

The Southern United States is known for its grand mansions, and New Orleans is no different. Rathbone Mansions are two mansions on the Esplanade that are open as hotels and are worth a walk around. You can find historic homes from the 1800s all around the city and beyond if you know where to look. The best place to explore if you want to walk around by foot is the Garden District. You can reach the area by the famous trolly from Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. There are also some incredible opportunities for photographs.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans food

Get your Palm Read

Remember earlier how I mentioned that there is a range of belief systems here? Well, here is a perfect example. Palm reading is a pretty popular activity here, and visitors can get their palm read everywhere from a voodoo shop to a teashop. The best places to go for this experience are around Jackson Square. Make sure that you agree on a price before the reading to avoid any unpleasant misunderstandings.

Carriage Rides around Jackson Square

A carriage ride is a unique way to tour the area and learn about the history of New Orleans. In the past, it was the only way to get around town, so it can be fun to experience the city as some of the original inhabitants did. There are several tours available around Jackson Square and the French Quarter, depending on what you are looking for and the timing of your trip.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans carriage

Check out the Cathedral

Whether you are a practicing Catholic or not, the St. Louis Cathedral is a sight to behold! As one of New Orlean’s most notable landmarks, it is the oldest Catholic Cathedral still in use in the United States. You can attend mass (if you are Catholic), take a tour, or just look around on your own and marvel at the beautiful glass windows. The stunning artwork is sure to impress visitors of all ages!

Buy a Voodoo Doll and Beads at the French Market

Voodoo is a cultural system based on African religions developed by African-born slaves during this time in America. It is still alive in the city today but is also a symbol of Louisiana, which makes a voodoo doll/beads a super unique souvenir that will always remind you or the recipient of the gift of this particular city. Some of the dolls can be a bit creepy with screaming faces or even visible wounds, but others are cute. The French Market is known as the best place to find this kind of souvenir, but make sure to haggle over the price if you decide to buy one.

Cruise on the Mississippi

A little fancier that Tom Sawyer’s adventure boat on the Mississippi, visitors should take a paddle boat mini cruise. These grand white ships with red paddles in the back will transport you back in time as you sip a drink on the deck. We took the Natchez Mississippi cruise boat on a Sunday. We got to not only take in the views up and down the mud brown Mississippi river but enjoy a scrumptious southern hospitality filled brunch.

Fifteen Must Do Activities when in New Orleans night

Armstrong Musician Park

The best place to hear jazz outdoors when the weather is still beautiful is the Armstrong Musician Park just outside the French Quarter. The park features free live music and concerts in September and October. You can listen to local musicians at the park on a regular basis throughout the year. Here, you can bring your family for a few hours and have a picnic on one of the benches. Located at 701 N. Rampart Street, the park is considered a National Historical Park.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Some supernatural activities in New Orleans, from the haunted house tours to the voodoo dolls, might either fascinate or frighten your kids. Think carefully about which category your child falls in before taking them on any of these excursions.
  • The ghost tours are definitely for older kids. They take place in the dark, and they are fascinating, but might be too much for younger children to bear.
  • While the Armstrong Musician Park is quiet on an average day, during festivals and concerts it can get crowded and loud. If your family does go to a music festival, pack earplugs or noise canceling headphones.
  • Many people with autism suffer from digestive issues. Pack heartburn medication and watch the fat content of foods like gumbo.
  • Some of the stuff sold in the French Market might be dangerous for kids that put things in their mouths. I found my son putting the pins from the voodoo doll in his mouth.

Top Five Family-Friendly Cemeteries


Exploring a cemetery may seem like an odd option to pass a morning or afternoon, but in the past decade, a growing number of families have discovered the benefits of becoming budding taphophiles*.

In fact, visiting a cemetery can be the perfect budget friendly way to interest school-age children in a city’s history and dignitaries as well as start the conversation about concepts of mortality and immortality.

Our sons went on their first cemetery excursion at the age of seven and have enjoyed visiting local cemeteries in the different countries ever since. After touring the world’s most intriguing cemeteries, we’ve compiled our top five family friendly cemeteries in the list below.

*A Taphophile -an individual who has a passion for photography, art, and history of cemeteries.


 Top Five Family-Friendly Cemeteries cemeteries-WWII

American  Cemetery in Normandy, France

Located east of St. Laurent-sur-Mer and northwest of Bayeux, Normandy the American Cemetery contains the grave sites of 9,387 US soldiers and a memorial to 1,557 others whose remains were never found.

The cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel showcases what seems like endless rows of white marble Latin Crosses and Stars of David surrounded by vast lawns and manicured trees.
Touring the D-day battlefields and cemeteries was one of the most emotional days we’ve experienced in our decade of travel and like many others, we stopped by the tombstones of Robert and Preston, the Niland brothers who inspired in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Saving Private Ryan’ movie to pay our respects.

For a sensory and educational experience take your kids for a walk along the beach so they can see the area from the soldiers ‘ perspective.
Pack an extra set of clothes to change into since the ground is uneven and can become slippery during the rainy season.

 A Do-it- yourself tour is a good option if you can do some research on the internet and learn about the different areas in advance.The underground visitor center provides an exceptional multimedia presentation of the D-day stories told by actual survivors.


Top Five Family-Friendly Cemeteries la recoleta

La Recoleta  Cemetery in  Buenos Aires, Argentina

The immaculate 13.5-acre cemetery features impressive entrance gates, gargantuan mausoleums and maze-like paths that lead the visitors to an adventure of exploration.

Even though Eva Duarte de Peron is La Recoleta‘s  most famous resident, other tombs like Facundo Quiroga’s (buried standing upright) and the Argentinean politician Sarmiento are impressive too.
However, the real show stealers are the 70 plus feral cats that roam the premises undisturbed and follow the tourists around.

If you are planning to visit in summer with a  heat intolerant kid, you should arrive early as possible since the cemetery doesn’t have shaded areas, and the cement structures make the place feel quite hot.
There are several coffee shops and restaurants across the street. If you need to take a break.
Free  English guided tours are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11, but you can also print a map off the internet and just walk around.


 Top Five Family-Friendly Cemeteries pere la chaise

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France

Located in Paris’ 20th district, Pere Lachaise is the final address for over 300,000 people, including some French and international dignitaries. The most visited grave site by far is Jim Morrison’s of The Doors fame who died at young age of twenty-seven, but the tombstones of painters (Modigliani, Delacroix), writers (Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde) and musicians (Edith Piaf, Yves Montaigne) are popular too.

The cemetery named after King Louis XIV’s  Jesuit confessor encompasses over 100 acres of cobbled avenues and tree-lined paths weaving around 19th-century monuments, making it one of the more romantic places to stroll in the city of lights.

Additional tips:
Enter by the Gambetta Gate to catch gorgeous city views and walk downhill since the ground is uneven (muddy and slippery on rainy days) and somewhat difficult to negotiate.

There are benches throughout so you can take a break, sit and enjoy a snack and drink of water.
You can tour on your own with a downloaded map from the internet or purchased one from the flower shop by the entrance.
Guided tours are given by City Hall for approx 6 Euros.


 Top Five Family-Friendly Cemeteries NOLA

St  Louis One in New Orleans, Louisiana (U.S.A)

Opened in 1789, St Louis One is the city’s first and best-known cemetery located a short distance from the French Quarter.Like all other New Orleans cemeteries, the tombs are built above ground to prevent the caskets from floating away after the rain storms.

Among the famous locals buried here are Etienne de Boré, pioneer of the sugar industry, Homer Plessy, the plaintiff from the landmark 1896 civil rights lawsuit, NOLA’s first African-American mayor ” Dutch ” Morial and infamous Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau ( believed to be resting in the Glapion family crypt).

Tips :
If your child is temperature sensitive go early in the morning since the cemetery has no real shade or benches to rest.
Forewarn your kids not to comment if they notice strange objects in front of Marie Laveau.
Touring on your own is not especially recommended for the area is a bit sketchy.Guided tours are available.


 Top Five Family-Friendly Cemeteries FOREST lawn

Forest Lawn  Cemetery in  Glendale, California(U.S.A) 

Dr. Hubert Eaton envisioned an uplifting cemetery where people came to remember their loved ones and enjoy art and life. So, he created Forest Lawn -a park filled with towering trees, sweeping lawns, and elegant fountains. But Forest Lawn also boasts a Chapel ( where Ronald and Nancy Reagan were married), and a museum filled with artifacts from around the world.
The museum ‘s permanently exhibit includes an extensive stained glass collection from medieval France and Germany, a bronze sculptures collection, a  wall mosaic depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, replicas of the British crown jewels, and even an authentic Easter Island statue nicknamed Henry.The cemetery ‘s residents include many Hollywood icons like Sammy Davis, Clark Gable, and Elizabeth Taylor, but most visitors come to pay homage to the late King of Pop Michael Jackson whose grave site is not even accessible to the general public.
Forest Lawn is by far the most autism-friendly cemetery providing visitors with many different outdoor and indoor options.

For a Do-it-Yourself tour, you need to do some extensive Internet research, especially if you are interested in visiting specific grave sites many of which are not accessible to the public.

Be aware the staff is not helpful or willing to moonlight as tour guides. Guided tours are offered but bundled with visiting other sites in L.A, so you end up spending a limited time in the cemetery.

Have you ever taken your kids to explore a cemetery- how did they like it?




Visiting New Orlean’s Lower Ninth Ward

Reading Peter Greenberg’s post about New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward tours brought back thoughts and memories of our tour in 2010.
We went on the Katrina Tour on our last vacation day in New Orleans. My husband wasn’t feeling well, and the weather was a nasty blend of rain and wind.

We had already marveled at NOLA’s main highlights, sampled the incredible Creole cuisine, paid our pilgrimage to Cafe du Monde’s beignets and cruised the Natchez down the Mississippi.

However, it was the visit to the devastated Ninth Ward we found the most compelling and memorable out of the entire trip.

Visiting New Orlean's Lower Ninth WardXSUNSET

A glimpse of the neighborhood

Roll back five years: our kids were twelve and ten-year-olds when Katrina struck New Orleans in September of 2005. We all became glued to our TV sets as the reports continued to pour in of the massive destruction, panic, and helplessness in the city. You just couldn’t escape the intense media coverage.
It became the topic of conversations in the workplace,  school settings even in our home. Our son with autism was extremely affected, almost obsessed by the subject.

It was the first time he had been exposed to a disaster of this magnitude (he had been only seven during the 9/11 attacks and did not remember them).

He and his younger brother decided to organize a yard sale (the first one we’d ever haD) and sell some of their most prized possessions, including his Disney DVD  collection he loved. Other neighborhood kids chipped in, and the yard sale( proceeds went to the American Red Cross) ended up a huge success.


Visiting New Orlean's Lower Ninth Ward HOUSE

A newly renovated home

Our Ninth Ward Tour

So five years later, when we visited Nola for our first time, booking the Katrina tour was on our ‘Must -Do’ list! We all wanted to see the rebuilding progress made not as a way to scratch it off some imaginary travel bucket list but to express our on-going support for the people who had endured that awful first week of September 2005.

The tour started with a view of Lake Pontchartrain and its refurbished levees as a backdrop to some powerful images to come.

We were first taken to observe the newly built homes. Seeing these neighborhoods was a heartwarming experience – akin to witnessing a  green leaf resurface on a plant that survived an incredibly harsh winter. But then the tour proceeds to drive through the non-refurbished areas with marked doorways, and wood boarded windows.

Coming from California and having completed our  CERT (community emergency response team) courses, we recognized the grim meaning of the black markings still visible on the doors marking the number of the living or dead persons found house after house. And that’s when the enormity of it all hit us.
It is such a different experience to watch gruesome news reports unfold on TV than to have to face it in person. And that’s where I have to admit the tour did an excellent job in making us understand the discrepancy between what the recovery made and what was still needed to be completed.

Visiting New Orlean's Lower Ninth Ward BOARDED HOUSE

One of the many homes still marked by the different rescuers-check the door and the caption on the right next to the window

Over the past years, I have heard  some criticizing these tours as “exploiting the devastation and the people living in the  run-down neighborhoods.” I respectfully beg to differ.

For us as travelers and parents to an autistic teen, it provided an extraordinary visual aid of the ravages and suffering a natural disaster can inflict, first hand. It turned out to be an excellent way to start the conversation and educate the kids about the importance of helping fellow citizens.
It also contributed to raising awareness to the steps we can take as individuals to protect ourselves against natural disasters

Just like other sites of immeasurable human tragedy around the world, the Lower Ninth Ward should be remembered not so much as a symbol of destruction but as a testament of human determination and endurance.

I, for one ,would like to see these tours continued and expanded to include featured docents relating personal experiences with pertinent monetary proceeds donated to help rebuild the shattered communities.



Visiting New Orlean's Lower Ninth Ward MEMORIAL

The Katrina Memorial in the Lower Ninth Ward




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