The 10 best restaurants to have a birthday party in the NOLA MetroPosted by TulaneLSU on 1/31/12 at 10:47 am 00
Did you know that for much of Christian history, birthdays were not celebrated? The rationale behind the dourness rested on the belief that birthdays were pagan holidays. A Christian's real birthday was the day he or she was baptized and born anew of the Spirit. As a result, if there was a celebration, it came on the naming day, when a person received her Christian name.
In the 1500s, nobles began celebrating their birthday, but it was still frowned upon by the Church and not publicly done by the peasants and the nascent middle class. What has this to do with New Orleans? In 1700, the Society of Jesus, the first Jesuit arrived in New Orleans. His name was Father Paul Du Ru and he was a chaplain for Iberville. As the French colony grew, the Jesuit influence grew. More and more missionaries were sent to the floundering colony, with the hopes of converting the Native Indians and the French settlers, many of whom were prisoners and gold diggers, in the sense that Kanye used the term. The Jesuits were given land grants from the French crown for much of the present city. The Jesuits did not allow the common men in New Orleans to celebrate their birthdays.
By 1863, the Jesuits were entrenched in New Orleans. But that was all about to change. European monarchs, loyal to the Vatican, got a little upset at the Jesuits. They believed the Jesuits were meddling in politics and trade too much and feared the Jesuit power. They cried to Rome with an ultimatum: the Jesuits or us. Both of us can't stay. Pope Clement XIV decided, for the good of the Church, to remove the Jesuits from many European nations and their colonies. In July of that year, the Jesuits were expelled from New Orleans, and all properties were sold at auction. Some have said it was a land grab. Maybe.
Of historical significance, though, was the birth of the modern birthday celebration. And you guessed it -- it started in New Orleans. With the restrictions gone, the French noblesse and peasant alike went to town. Guns were shot. Food was eaten. Wine was spilled. And birthdays were celebrated. This revelry was not lost on the free blacks and slaves. They too joined the festivities. One tradition they all shared was pinning a ribbon to the celebrant as a sign to all that it was his birthday. New Orleans was a bullion economy for its early days, so pinning coins was impractical. However, in 1836 paper money became sporadically used in the city. Gradually, the birthday ribbons turned to birthday bills. A new tradition was born.
By the early 1800s, the Jesuits returned to New Orleans, but the birthday celebration traditions had grown too engrained in the culture for the Jesuit return to threaten the continuance of the celebrations. Since that time, the birthday celebration has been a major part of New Orleans culture, and from New Orleans, it has spread throughout America and the world.*
New Orleans is America's birthday city, and it is high time we made a list of the top ten birthday restaurants in the area. As always, please add your own top ten or critique this list. We learn by discussion.
10) Galatoire's - For some reason, people really enjoy celebrating their birthdays here. Proximity to the Quarter is a major plus.
9) Parkway Bakery - Casual and there is ample outdoor seating. Weather is a factor, and it can be ridiculously crowded, but when you hit it right, how better to celebrate a birthday than with a great po-boy?
8) The Crab Trap - Probably off the radar for most due to its location. With indoor and outdoor camp dining, the best seafood in the city, and a fantastic view of the lake, The Crab Trap should not be overlooked.
7) Muriel's - Private party accommodations are very nice, as is the view over Jackson Square. The food is remarkably reasonably priced and good.
6) Chuck E Cheese's - Balls, a giant monkey that plays the piano, pizza, and, really, the best off Broadway theater anywhere, how can you deprive your children of this experience? It's where a kid can be a kid.
5) The Columns - Delightful jazz, sweet fragrances, creaky old wooden floors, outdoor seating, and Spanish moss dripping over your head. A hit for older, more refined kids who think Chuck E Cheese's is beneath them.
4) Commander's - Another Uptown/Garden District favorite for those more inclined to pomp than fun. The jazz quartet will sing happy birthday. How about that.
3) Mo's Pizza - With long table seating, huge pizzas, and sporting teams always running around, it seems like Mo's is hosting a perpetual party. And it just may be.
2) Dat Dog - With the opening of Dat Dog 2 across the street, Dat Dog will finally have the facilities to be a great party location. It already has great dogs and sausages for cheap. Its atmosphere is fun and upbeat. It's just an all around great place to host people on a budget who love fun and good food.
1) Ye Olde College Inn - The food is good, the atmosphere is jovial, and its proximity and relationship to Rock-n-Bowl puts it above all others. Have fun.
* The last two paragraphs about the birthday history are historical fabrication. It could be true, but probably isn't.