To celebrate the start of baseball season, cities across the Eater universe are offering up guides of where to eat while watching the boys of summer. New Orleans doesn't have a baseball team, but there's still a month left in basketball season and Hornets tickets are available for as little as eight bucks. But where's the good food in the Arena? If you know where to look (hint: avoid any place that serves a "French Quarter Frank"), you can actually get a pretty decent meal while enjoying the New Orleans Hornets (or even the New Orleans Voodoo!) game.
Here, then, is a guide of what to eat in and around New Orleans Arena, and where to find it:
* indicates special Eater recommendations
The Arena's website claims that "for certain events" there's a stand on the ground floor serving food. Eater NOLA was there for a recent Hornets game and this stand was not open, so presumably Hornets games are not among those "certain events."
Half Court Grille, section 104. Forgive them for their cloying use of the word "grille." The burgers really aren't half-bad (that's how low the bar is here). There's another one of these on the 300 Level.
*Zatarain's, section 111. Along with the Louisiana Seafood stand on the other side of the lower level (see below), the Zatarain's concession stand is one of the only places where Hornets or Voodoo fans can get real, local dishes.
Audubon Café & Winery, section 112. This wine bar at the Arena has just a small handful of food items, including sandwiches on ciabatta and croissants.
Whole Hog Café, section 116. The name makes it seem like there's something nose-to-tail going on here, which is complete bunk. But this is the spot for pulled pork or pulled chicken barbecue sandwiches.
*Louisiana Seafood, section 122. Yep, there's seafood here, primarily in po' boy form. For best results, get the fried shrimp po' boy.
*North Club. Zatarains-branded dishes like jambalaya and red beans & rice, plus food from the downtown restaurant 5 Fifty 5, located inside the Marriott on Canal Street.
South Club. Whereas the North Club features local fare, the South Club is more high-end stadium food. Beef tenderloin sandwiches, foot long hot dogs, and the terrifying-sounding "ultimate nachos."
It's slim pickings up here in the cheap seats. The website touts "the only Latin American style food concept in the building," but seriously, avoid that place.
Half Court Grille, section 303. Burgers, just like downstairs.
Stinger Wings, section 311. Exactly what it sounds like: hot wings.
Fowl Line, section 329. Fried chicken, chicken tenders and the like.
Near the Arena, before or after the game
Borgne, 601 Loyola Avenue. The new homestyle seafood restaurant from chefs John Besh and Brian Landry on the bottom floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Loyola Avenue. Also inside the Hyatt are Vitascope Hall and 8 Block Kitchen & Bar.
Whole Hog Café, 638 Loyola Avenue. Right next door to Borgne, kinda-sorta still in the Hyatt. This is the same place as the barbecue stand in the Arena.
Ste. Marie, 930 Poydras Street. This restaurant aspires to be like the great champagne houses of France. It's had some ups-and-downs since it opened, but is a solid pre- or post-game stop for oysters and drinks.
City Greens, 909 Poydras Street. Soups, sandwiches, salads and more healthy stuff. So, completely unlike anything else on this list.