Spend a few hours on the parade route screaming for beads and a family can work up quite an appetite. Picking a spot to eat at the height of Carnival season can be a daunting proposal however. Parade routes cut off access, parking is never easy and sometimes impossible and many restaurants curtail their menus or service format.
But don't give up. Below are four picks for places that are central to the parades, good quality and are casual enough that a bead-strung family can walk right in and feel comfortable.
1432 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-595-6755
This family-friendly pub features chef-driven Irish grub, and it knows how to handle a party. The parades pass just outside its windows as well as its large, fenced-in parking lot that's turned into something of a festival grounds. If you're getting an early start on the day, remember that Irish House serves one of the city's great morning feasts, a traditional and hearty Irish breakfast heaped with meats and eggs.
New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co.
4141 St. Charles Ave., 504-247-9753
This locally-based chain has been around since the 1980s, but lately it has been expanding and rebranding itself with impressive results. The St. Charles Avenue location is the flagship for this new approach, and while it's right in the middle of Mardi Gras madness on the parade route, the restaurant does a good job of managing the crowd and serving its menu. Burgers and thin-cut fried catfish are the marquee items, but now the menu also has a lot more oyster dishes, entree salads and interesting appetizers. The addition of an ice cream and beignet shop under the same roof doesn't hurt a bit.
Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar
1009 Poydras St., New Orleans, 504-309-6530
A few blocks from the route through the CBD, this sprawling sports bar is always ready for a crowd, with a laidback atmosphere and a platoon of waitresses. The restaurant's menu mixes up familiar tavern standards like burgers and cheese fries and adds both Louisiana and Tex-Mex options, like fried seafood and quesadillas. The immense serving of thin-cut onion rings must be seen to be believed, though it's also possible to eat somewhat lighter here with turkey burgers and surprisingly robust entree salads.
Three locations: 411 N. Carrollton, 504-288-8226; 6215 S. Miro, New Orleans, 504-309-2776; 301 N. Peters St., New Orleans, 504-267-4406
The three locations of this local taqueria are well suited to post-parade meals, and the newest one in Mid-City is directly on the Endymion route. They all serve a quick, cheap, convincingly authentic Mexican menu of burritos and tacos that provide a refreshing alternative to fast food and sandwiches when you want an easy meal out. Most basic items are less than $5 and you can easily get a full meal here for under $10. The tasty food is prepared to your specifications before your eyes and it's priced right. That's a winning formula, and Felipe's has it down pat.