You might as well not even think about traveling to the New Orleans French Quarter if you’re not going to eat what locals do. And so we heed our own advice: plan your next meal; then tour what’s nearby! Although we’re frequent travelers to the Big Easy (Spent honeymoon there and many other trips in our 48 years together), we’d never been to Napoleon House. Recommended to us by Oscar and Sharon Southall (longtime Denham Springs, Louisiana, residents who’ve made hundreds of trips to New Orleans) Napoleon House was everything they said it was: a well-preserved historic place with a short but perfected menu of foods of the Quarter. (Think gumbo, muffulettas, boudin, jambalaya, and grilled alligator sausage!)
Napoleon House, a New Orleans fixture for 200 years, was once the residence of Nicholas Girod who served as mayor of New Orleans from 1812- 1815. Girod offered the place to Napoleon as a refuge during his exile, and, even though Napoleon didn’t take him up on the offer, the name Napoleon House stuck anyway.
Known as a gathering place for artists and writers, Napoleon House was operated by the Impastato family from 1914 until Ralph Brennan (known for Red Fish Grill, Brennan’s New Orleans, Ralph’s on the Park and other great dining establishments) purchased it in 2015 with plans to expand and accommodate larger gatherings and parties.
Rooms in Napoleon House look about the same (well, that’s our judgement) as when Girod lived here: bunched-together random hangings of art and photos. Peeling paint walls. Shadowy lighting. It’s intimate. And definitely interesting.
The courtyard offers light and fresh breezes as you sit among the palms and dine on white tablecloths in what we’ve deemed “the epitome of a Deep South experience.”
Food, of course, is what we came for, and no disappointment there. Napoleon House gumbo became a favorite with lots of seafood in a cooked-just-right roux. Although twilight lighting didn’t enhance my pictures, we encourage you to check out TripAdvisor for tourist photos of creole cuisine done right. (Note to diners: Unless you’re really hungry, order half a muffuletta — it’s on the menu that way — ’cause this sucker’s huge!!!)
Not one to sit quietly and wonder, I just outright asked our waiter What’s upstairs? He replied, That’s where we have parties and gatherings. Want me to see if the manager will take you up for a look? And that’s how we hooked a private mini-tour of the elegant, beautifully preserved second floor!
If you appreciate old buildings with preserved fireplaces, chandeliers, doorways, floors, etc. — Napoleon House is almost a museum as most of its 200-year-old interior remains intact. But it’s first and foremost a great place for eating while you soak up that authentic French Quarter ambiance. C’est si bon!
For more information:
Napoleon House, 500 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70130; 504-524-9752; napoleonhouse.com
For private events: 504-934-4704