As the temperatures rise, one seasonal consolation for New Orleanians arrives from top-notch restaurants serving meals for much lower prices than you may expect. Many eateries around town offer creative dining deals during the hot summer season, while others are revealing special menus that showcase seasonal ingredients to lure locals to their doors. Most of the menu specials are available for a limited time, providing the perfectly reasonable excuse to visit that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try or bring you back to an old favorite.
A quarter-century deal in the Quarter
To mark its 25th anniversary, Bayona has a three-course lunch menu for $25, with either soup or salad, any entrée from chef Susan Spicer’s globally inspired lunch menu, and sorbet or house-made ice cream. Martinis for 25 cents a pop sweeten the daytime deal. The anniversary lunches are served Wednesday through Friday for a limited time, and reservations are recommended. While dining at this French Quarter favorite, be sure to try its latest cocktail — the Pocket Square, made with a newly produced gin from New Orleans distillery Atelier Vie.
Bayona, 430 Dauphine St., (504) 525-4455; bayona.com.
Bam for fewer bucks
Seasonal summer ingredients are the stars on the new special menus at each of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s three local restaurants. For their annual Taste of Summer series, which runs through Aug. 31, each serves a four-course dinner for $45, with choices across the courses and optional wine pairings. At Emeril’s Restaurant, for example, chef de cuisine David Slater has added barbecue carrots with smoked chicken and Gulf fish crudo with a peach and beet panzanella to the lineup. All three restaurants also mix refreshing summer libations, like NOLA’s citrus martini.
Emeril’s Restaurant, 800 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 528-9393; NOLA, 534 St. Louis St., (504) 522-6652; Emeril’s Delmonico, 1300 St. Charles Ave., (504) 525-4937; emerilsrestaurants.com
Let the good temps roll
Now in its 21st year, the “Temperature Lunch” at Palace Café has become a summertime tradition at Dickie Brennan’s downtown Creole brasserie. On weekdays, diners get two courses for a price that is equivalent to the highest temperature on the previous day. So, for example, a 91-degree high on Monday brings a special lunch on Tuesday for $9.10. The first course is a choice of either a salad or duck and alligator gumbo, and the second course changes daily and features seasonal ingredients. The Temperature Lunch continues through Labor Day.
Palace Café, 605 Canal St., (504) 523-1661; palacecafe.com.
Salú may be best known for Mediterranean-style flavors, but this summer the Uptown restaurant is shaking things up a bit with a special barbecue-themed menu. This menu, served through July, includes a barbecue mussel boil with grilled corn, smoked sausage and whole garlic; and 14-hour beef brisket with a macaroni and four-cheese skillet and Southern fried greens. If you have room for dessert, try the candied pecan pie. Each menu item can be ordered à la carte or served as part of a prix fixe meal for $40.
Salú Bistro and Bar, 3226 Magazine St., (504) 371-5809; salurestaurant.com
A series for summer
The sleek and alluring Meauxbar is in the midst of a new summer dinner series, which is held on six select Tuesdays through the end of September. Dinner themes include the Vegetarian Tasting on July 28, featuring locally sourced seasonal produce ($45); Summer Wines on Aug. 11, with four flavorful food courses with wine pairings ($75); and East Meets West on Aug. 25, when chef Kristen Essig will create a menu inspired by Asian flavors and cuisines.
Meauxbar, 942 N. Rampart St., (504) 569-9979; meauxbar.com
Cuisine for a Kingfish
From now until mid-October, Kingfish salutes the life and legacy of Huey P. Long with its “1893 Menu,” named for the year of the legendary political figure’s birth. The special menu offers three courses for $18.93, including the farm house salad, a choice of pulled pork sliders or a rotisserie chicken pot pie (insert “a chicken in every pot” joke here), and pecan bread pudding, bathed in whiskey sauce. The 1893 Menu coincides with The Historic New Orleans Collection exhibit, “From Winnfield to Washington: The Life and Career of Huey P. Long.”
Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails, 337 Chartres St., (504) 598-5005; kingfishneworleans.com
Apps by the oaks
What’s better than savoring a superb meal, next to the sweeping live oaks of City Park? Snagging a discount on said meal. Ralph’s on the Park has returned its summer deal of three appetizers and a glass of wine for $33, which is available through August. Choose from starters like grilled octopus with a jalapeño-mango vinaigrette and puffed sorghum; or ya-ka mein soup with soy-glazed pork belly, house-made pasta and a fried egg. Views of the park are on the house.
Ralph’s on the Park, 900 City Park Ave., (504) 488-5100; ralphsonthepark.com
Fresh (and wallet- friendly)
From Sundays through Thursdays throughout July, GW Fins serves its annual “Fins Feast” menu, a three-course dinner for $37. Like all of the menus at this upscale seafood house, the offers change daily based on the freshest seafood available. Some dishes to look for include wasabi-crusted wahoo, seared rare, with pickled ginger slaw; and strawberry shortcake with orange flower whipped cream.