I have wanted to eat at a Margaritaville since the one in Las Vegas first opened. I’m not a Parrothead and really only like a handful of Jimmy Buffett’s songs. But the restaurant sounds like such a fun place to belly up to the bar, have some drinks and good food, listen to music and make some fun new friends. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, I haven’t fulfilled this desire in Las Vegas. So when I saw that there was a Margaritaville in New Orleans, I decided to make it a “must do” during my recent solo travel to New Orleans. Especially after I looked at their online menu. On Saturday, when I was in the French Market area of the French Quarter, I stopped in for lunch.
I was more than a little surprised by the appearance of the exterior of the restaurant. I somehow expected it to look like the one in Las Vegas (it is a chain, after all), but it doesn’t. It is housed in a building like any other in the French Quarter, painted a pale yellow. I almost missed it, but for the sign out front.
The food could be the worst in the world (it isn’t, by a long shot), and this place would still appeal to me for its decor alone. There were bright colors everywhere, tropical and ocean scenes painted on the walls, bartop and furniture, and a prop airplane right inside the restaurant. The theming put a smile on my face as soon as I walked in. I’m a sucker for theming.
I didn’t actually “belly up to the bar.” I allowed myself to be seated at a two-top table against a wall in a cozy sitting area raised up from the main floor of the dining room. I also only drank water, because I’d been so busy taking pictures all morning I forgot to drink any and was pretty dehydrated. (I know, I know. What a waste of my first and only trip to a Margaritaville.) So my vision of a rollicking good time of alcoholic fun at a Margaritaville bar remains unfulfilled. Someday.
Service was friendly, quick, and efficient here. By dining alone, I had the opportunity to observe a variety of servers come and go, as well as watching an experienced member of the staff provide some direction to a newbie on the order in which to serve people around a table. I was impressed.
My first and only real disappointment at Margaritaville was that the menu I’d seen online wasn’t a current one. The two items I’d hoped to order (a catfish ruben and an avocado tomato salad) weren’t on the menu in the restaurant. So instead, I ordered the cajun cheeseburger with a house salad and onion rings. The house salad was what you would expect. The cheeseburger was the most unique I’ve ever had. It came with andouille sausage, crawfish, shrimp and cajun sauce on top. It was delicious, but very, very spicy (thank goodness for the water). Underneath the spices was a well-made cheeseburger. Now I understand why these restaurants have the reputation they do for their cheeseburgers. If only every restaurant (or me, for that matter) could make a cheeseburger this good. The onion rings were slightly spicy, too, so they must have had some kind of cajun spices in the breading. Overall, it was a very satisfying meal.
After I ate and took some pictures of the restaurant, I naturally had to tour the ubiquitous Margaritaville store,with its tee shirts and margarita glasses and tiny painted surfboard signs. Jimmy Buffett is some kind of branding genius, that’s for sure. The staff mentioned the live music later in the day, but I had other plans. I should have gone back in the evening on Sunday or Monday. That’s okay. As with so many things I regret I didn’t do in New Orleans, it gives me something to look forward to next time.
The Margaritaville New Orleans is located at 1104 Decatur Street (right next to the entrance to the French Market). It’s not far from trolley stop number 2 on the Riverfront Streetcar line.