One benefit of the New Orleans summer is the way it puts restaurant customers in the driver's seat. Reservations are easier to score as convention and tourism business slackens, and restaurants offer specially priced menus to lure local diners.
A new deal this summer comes from chef Emeril Lagasse's three local restaurants. Emeril's Delmonico (1300 St. Charles Ave., 504-525-4937; www.emerilsrestaurants.com/emerils-delmonico), NOLA Restaurant (534 St. Louis St., 504-522-6652; www.emerilsrestaurants.com/nola-restaurant) and the flagship Emeril's (800 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-528-9393; www.emerilsrestaurants.com/emerils-new-orleans) are each serving five-course tasting menus every night in July for $48. The menus differ by restaurant, and have various options across each of the five courses. Many of each kitchen's respective signature dishes are part of the program. The complete tasting menus for each restaurant are listed at www.emerils.com.
Another good deal is on deck again at GW Fins (808 Bienville St., 504-581-3467; www.gwfins.com), which during the past few summers has offered its "Fins Feast" menu. It's three courses for $35, available Sunday through Thursday until the end of August. The menu has a choice of three appetizers, entrees and desserts each night.
At the other end of town, Mat & Naddie's Restaurant (937 Leonidas St., 504-861-9600; www.matandnaddies.com) is serving its own three-course dinner deal for $28 this summer. The choices for each course are all lighter options, such as greens with blueberries and ricotta, mushroom pappardelle with meatless shiitake "bacon" and lemon icebox pie.
The "Temperature Lunch" special has been a summertime fixture at Palace Cafe (605 Canal St., 504-523-1661; www.palacecafe.com), and the rules remain the same. Each day, the restaurant serves a lunch special with a price based on the previous day's high temperature, with the decimal point moved up a spot. For instance, when the temperature gauge topped out at 93 degrees one recent day, the following day's Creole paella special was $9.30, and an 89-degree day netted a $8.90 price tag for pulled pork over cheddar biscuits. The price fluctuation rarely amounts to much but if saving a dime at lunch correlates to a 10-degree drop on the thermometer, you'll have a better day all around.