A British journalist coined the word “brunch” in 1895, describing it as a Sunday repast for “Saturday night carousers.” New Orleans has no shortage of carousers every night of the week, and we take brunch to another level by adding music to the menu. Following are five great spots to treat your tastebuds and your ears.
Arnaud’s Dixieland Jazz Brunch
Brunch at Arnaud’s is an essential New Orleans experience, not only for the restaurant’s classic Creole brunch menu but for the sweet roving Dixieland jazz band. The Gumbo Trio strolls through jazz standards and takes requests from diners (the trio also plays seven nights a week at Arnaud’s Jazz Bistro). If you’re a tippler, start the meal with Arnaud’s house specialty, the French 75 Champagne cocktail, and don’t miss the famous shrimp remoulade, a bracing combination of boiled, chilled shrimp lacquered in Arnaud’s signature remoulade. The restaurant is a beauty, replete with beveled glass, a pristine, vintage tile floor and the requisite, lazily turning ceiling fans. But don’t let the formal environs fool you: the spirited crowd and strolling musicians keep things on the rowdy side at brunch.
Details: Brunch served Sundays from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Arnaud’s (813 Rue Bienville, 504-523-5433)
Neither off-the-beaten path nor tourist haven, Buffa’s strikes the perfect chord with a Sunday brunch featuring Some Like It Hot, a traditional Dixieland Jazz band with one of the most rousing shows you’ll find in New Orleans. A casual dive bar/restaurant in the Marigny on the cusp of the French Quarter, Buffa’s is that rare place in New Orleans that caters to both a faithful local following and savvy visitors who stray from standard travel guidebook recommendations. Get a Bloody Mary and dig into the kitchen’s diner-style menu. Crowd favorites run from the Buffa burger (which gives nearby Port of Call a run for its money), shrimp and grits and the shrimp Creole omelet to the simple BOB (Breakfast on Bread). Two reasons you’ll love it: the authentic neighborhood feel and “local” prices. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself ordering a second round of drinks, and don’t forget to tip the band.
Details: Sunday brunch served Sunday 11 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Buffa’s Lounge 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Buffa’s Restaurant and Lounge (1001 Esplanade Ave., 504-949-0038)
House of Blues
House of Blues’ Sunday Gospel Brunch is a mainstay in New Orleans musical brunches, but the Creole/Southern-style buffet unquestionably takes a backseat to the main event: the roof-raising gospel harmonies of the Electrifying Crown Seekers, the Zion Harmonizers, or The Rock of Harmony. These saviors of gospel are regulars at Jazz Fest, but the intimate environs at the House of Blues make it one of the most magnificent places for worshipping the music.
Details: Sunday Gospel Brunch seats at 10 a.m. Buffet ends at 11:30 a.m. at House of Blues (225 Decatur, 504-310-4999)
Atchafalaya (901 Louisiana Ave., 504-891-9626)
Walk through the door of Atchafalaya in Uptown, and you’ll know why this place regularly ranks in the top brunch spots in New Orleans: the neighborhood joint is jumping with a changing lineup of top-flight New Orleans jazz, blues and funk players. You will probably wait (and wait) to be seated, but there’s a Bloody Mary bar to ease the pain. On the subject of pain, we give you this fair warning: The music is loud and the place is bustling with bright-eyed brunch-goers, which means Atchafalaya is not the place to go to soothe a searing hangover unless you can bring it full circle with a few mimosas. Don’t not miss house brunch specialties like Eggs Rockefeller, Bananas Foster French toast, and grits and grillades.
Details: Brunch served Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Court of Two Sisters (613 Royal St., 504-522-7261)
You don’t have to wait for the weekend if you’re craving brunch – the Court of Two Sisters serves it up seven days a week. And while the hot and cold brunch buffet may not qualify for culinary awards, there’s a reason visitors flock here: the restaurant boasts the French Quarter’s largest outdoor patio, where an explosion of tropical plants bloom from every nook and cranny, seemingly year-round. You’ll find standard breakfast offerings in the morning, including an eggs-to-order station, and heartier Creole fare in the afternoons.
Details: Open daily for brunch, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.