2 Fleur
Average check per person $5-$15
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchNo Lunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerNo Dinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Napoleon House

French Quarter: 500 Chartres. 504-524-9752. Map.
Casual
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
It’s the kind of crumbling ruin that seems perfect as the French Quarter’s most famous tavern. Now that the Napoleon House is once again open into the evening hours, New Orleanians are returning there for extended lingering over Pimm’s Cups and other beverages, Creole and Italian appetizers, and some of the best muffulettas in town.

WHAT’S GOOD
The menu grows with every visit, but most of the food is still eaten with the hands. The muffuletta has long been one of the best, with first-class meats and well-made olive salad. They automatically heat it; I recommend having it at room temperature. The rest of the menu consists of charcuterie, salads, and other sandwiches. Despite the fame of the bar, the drinks here are just okay. The popularity of the Pimm’s Cup is beyond my understanding.

BACKSTORY
The building went up at around the time of the Louisiana Purchase. When it was the home of Nicholas Girod, the former New Orleans mayor offered an apartment in it to Napoleon in exile–hence the name. (The deposed emperor demurred.) The Impastato family opened the present business in 1914, when the French Quarter was a largely Italian enclave. For decades, the Napoleon House was the leading hangout for people who lived in the French Quarter, or who wished they did. Relative to its long history, food is a recent development. One day about forty years ago they started serving muffulettas, and the eating grew from there. Before the hurricane, a gourmet bistro called Girod’s was doing some serious cooking in the courtyard and in the upstairs private dining rooms. The Napoleon House came back very slowly from Katrina; for a couple of years, it wasn’t open in the evenings at all. Girod’s is still not back.

DINING ROOM
The two main rooms open onto the sidewalk and the courtyard, where a few alfresco tables are available. Classical music plays in the background, and the regulars talk about drinking Pimm’s Cups (but more often drink something else). As old as the place and its staff are, the clientele has always tended to the young side.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Antipasto
Charcuterie plate
»Boudin blanc with Creole mustard
»Red beans and rice
»Muffuletta
»Pastrami sandwich
»Corned beef sandwich
Italian sub
Jambalaya
»Cannoli
»Torroncino ice cream (almonds and cinnamon)

FOR BEST RESULTS
The best way to enjoy the Napoleon House is to get there at dusk and hang out there until they close, ordering all the drinks you can safely consume and interspersing it with food and conversation about how great it is to live in New Orleans.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
I can think of a hundred ways the drinks could be better. They could be more generous, for one thing–but the prices are low. Service has never been a hop-to kind of thing.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency +1
  • Service-1
  • Value +2
  • Attitude
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness +1
  • Local Color +3

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Sidewalk tables
  • Romantic
  • Good view
  • Good for business meetings
  • Many private rooms
  • Open Monday lunch
  • Open after 10 p.m.
  • Open all afternoon
  • Historic
  • Quick, good meal

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