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.