If you are looking for an escape from the party atmosphere of the French Quarter for your Saturday or Sunday morning brunch, may I recommend Atchafalaya Restaurant on Louisiana Ave. Here you will find a tranquil home-like setting serving contemporary Creole cuisine and a self-serve Bloody Mary Bar. That got your attention didn’t it. Ask any of the locals and they will tell you that Atchafalaya is one of the best places to go for brunch in New Orleans. It’s casual, friendly, and they even have live music playing while you eat. This is quintessential New Orleans, and I can’t wait to taste some good old comforting creole food.
First I think you need a lesson is how to say Atchafalaya. I got it wrong the first few times until a waiter corrected me. When you say it, the “t” is silent, so it sounds like this, uh chaf uh lie uh. It is the Choctaw Indian word for “long river” that obviously refers to the Mississippi River which is just four blocks from the restaurant. Now that you know how to say Atchafalaya you can find them at 901 Louisiana Ave. It is a single bus ride down Magazine Street from Canal Street or a St Charles Street Car ride and a ten-minute walk, whichever you prefer. Either way the trip is worth it I promise.
I took the bus and from hotel to restaurant, the journey took a total of about twenty minutes from start to finish. It is hard to miss the restaurant with its brightly coloured orange umbrellas lining the sidewalk providing shade for the patio tables. When I arrived, there was a line up outside, so I popped my head inside to speak to the Host and put my name on the list. Lucky me, because I was flying solo today the host took me right to a table. No waiting in line or me today, woot woot. Of course, if I had to wait I would have ordered a cocktail and listened to the live band playing in the bar. Only in New Orleans do you get live music with your brunch
Straight through one dining room and into another my host takes me to my table. The decor is a funky mix of Southern, French, American and to add some additional flavour they’ve incorporated some reclaimed items from the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina. If it doesn’t kill you, it becomes a floorboard or a light fixture.
The first item on my agenda to order is a coffee and a cocktail. I choose the classic French 75 because I’m feeling in the mood for some bubbles, but I’m guessing if it was you ordering you would have gone straight for the Bloody Mary’s. To order a Bloody Mary you first choose your spirit that they then bring to you in a glass. The next step is to visit the Bloody Mary Bar back in the front lounge area. Here you have everything you need to make your perfect Bloody Mary. You can make it as spicy as you want. I’ll stick to my coffee and French 75 I think.
There is now only one thing left for me to do, and that is to order brunch. I am starving this morning, so I order a side of Jalapeno Carn Bread Muffins, some Alligator Sausage and the piece de resistance Eggs Atchafalaya. Let me start with saying nom nom nom, delicious. The corn bread is super fresh; the Alligator Sausage has plenty of flavour and the Eggs Atchafalaya with fried green tomatoes and lump crabmeat all covered in Hollandaise sauce are divine. Here is Creole cooking at its Brunch best. I think I want fried green tomatoes instead of English Muffins on every Eggs Benedict from now on.
What more do you need to have a great brunch? Great food, live music, great cocktails including a Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar and it is in a beautiful setting just a few hundred feet from the Mississippi River. I’ll be seeing you again Atchafalaya and next time I may try a Bloody Mary.