When it comes to dining around New Orleans, it’s possible that the worst of times can also be the best of times.
No, this is not a tale of two cities. It’s the story of one hot city, our own, going through its all-too-predictable slow summer season.
Visitors are harder to find and even the normally voracious locals need some buttering up to dine out.
What’s the good part? Necessity, of course, that mother of inventive menus, special dinners and dining deals.
All of it is aimed at drawing restaurant business when it’s slow, and maybe breaking up the doldrums.
Now don’t break your tiny violin yet. The good times in New Orleans do roll long and strong, usually starting sometime around the Saints bye week and ending abruptly after the final brunch seating on Mother’s Day.
But the summer slump can be brutal and it typically doesn’t even reach bottom until sometime in September. Restaurants can’t just wait around for October. They need to get people in seats.
This brings the upside for New Orleans diners and those intrepid visitors you do see here and there, the ones who must’ve booked their bachelorette parties without considering the “feels like” factor. August and September fill the table with different, often offbeat options.
Coolinary is the biggest and best-known perk, with its prix fixe menus served throughout August. One hundred and 12 restaurants are on board this year, a record. Next month brings Restaurant Week, Sept. 10 through 16, with similar deals.
Some make up their own fun in the summer, which can become annual traditions in their own right, with special dinners, guest chefs, even cocktail classes over the bar.
What these different summer restaurant campaigns have in common is a good excuse to convene some friends, maybe those you’ve been promising to catch up with for a while. After all, we’re in this hot, slog together. And if you can’t find time to get together in the middle of a New Orleans summer, you never will.
Find details on the 2018 Coolinary program at coolinaryneworleans.com.
Find details on the 2018 Restaurant Week at coolinaryneworleans.com/restaurant-week.
Other summer restaurant events, specials and dining ideas abound. See a few examples here.