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Where Y’Eat: Getting Creative for Holiday Outings in New Orleans

A beer flight from New District Brewing Co.
A beer flight at a craft brewery

You can feel it everywhere, people are yearning to get back to familiar rhythms of life, and because this is New Orleans a lot of that intersects with our restaurants.

For restaurants however, normal remains a goal they are striving to achieve, not yet a comfortable reality.

The holidays are throwing this into sharp relief. Most restaurants have limited capacity right now - not through any pandemic mandate, for now, but because of a long running reset for the whole industry, with the prolonged effort to restaff and the now familiar problems with supply chains.

That’s a particular issue here in southeast Louisiana, where Hurricane Ida dealt a massive set back to restaurants already under the pandemic’s stress and strain.

The upshot is that getting together this holiday season might mean getting a little creative.

Now, that could be as straightforward as switching up the particulars of your tradition – if your group always goes out for dinner, try getting a lunch table instead, or vice versa. Or, maybe this year you supply the venue. Through necessity in the pandemic, many restaurants that never touched takeout before have grown adept at it.

It could also mean branching out. Brewery beer gardens that are family-friendly gathering spot; local wine shops that double as wine bars, to catch up while you stock up; a visit to a bakery, ice cream parlor or dessert emporium any time of day; even a regular old bar – you know, the ones where everybody knows your name, the ones that were forced to close earlier in this mess – they too can be an easy anchor for a holiday romp. Buy a round, and you’ve made a festive moment.

You can find my more detailed rundown on these ideas on nola.com.

Just remember, with flexibility and – this is always so key – a little empathy, you might be surprised what’s possible. So respect the house rules, tip generously and have yourself a merry little holiday outing.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.