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A Guide To The Best French Quarter Fest Food & Drink

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French Quarter Fest. It's FREE. It starts tomorrow and goes to Sunday, April 13, and now in its 31st year, the fess has morphed into a huge draw for locals and tourists alike, meaning there are some things you should know if a.) you've never been before and b.) you've been, but want to plot your day around exactly what food you'll be trying. There are 70 food vendors this year. 70! Also worth noting, this fest is a little different than others, in that all new vendors MUST be restaurants, and seeing as 200 restaurants are currently on a waiting list to get in, the fest is likely going to burst out of its britches and Drunk 2 tee sometime in the near future.

Here now, Eater offers a guide to all things food and drink at French Quarter Fest... We've rounded up all the latest local coverage, and included some other recommendations. So happy fessin' and keep it safe out there.

French Quarter Fest Food & Drink

For statistics nerds: Todd A. Price brings you tons of food by the numbers at this years fest, including 10 crawfish dishes, 6 bread puddings, and 3 pies including Bennachin's sweet potato version. []

For those in search of something new: Seven new vendors are on hand this year including Broussard's seared scallops and a smoked duck/mushroom strudel, Ruth's Chris' steak slider with BBQ butter, and more from Theo's, Cafe Reconcile, Loretta's Authentic Pralines, Ninja Restaurant, and Rib Room. Marci Schramm suggests you "Scoop up some Lamb Sliders with Feta Fries from Three Muses and sip on limeade, infused with strawberry, from Cool Fruit Sensations... Or sample a taste of African cuisine from Bennachin. At high noon, swing by Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint for Rouse's Crawfish Contest, where platters, "with all the fixins'," will be available." [Advocate]

For the strawberry lover: Abita Strawberry will be available on tap this year. []

For the do-gooders: NoDef reports that Non-profit Cafe Reconcile will be on hand with shrimp and grits in a bread bowl, BBQ shrimp, and bananas foster bread pudding. Judy Walker reports that tips at the booze booths will go toward paying musicians, which helps keep the fess free. [NoDef,]

For those needing Hair of The Dog: Pat O'Briens will be on hand with Bloody Marys. []

For gluten-free: Try Galatoire's shrimp remoulade, Jacques-Imo's crab & artichoke salad, and Bennachin's Jamaican jerk chicken with rice and veggies. All food. [Official Website]

Crawfish for the win: Saturday at noon, Rouse's again hosts their World Championship Crawfish Eating Contest at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint. All special events. [Official Website]

For the street food enthusiast: Ian McNulty reports the following have the "order-pay-and-eat rhythm of street food" down to an art form: Muriel's crawfish crepes, Crescent Pie & Sausage Co.'s boudin links on sticks, GW Fins' fish tacos, Praline Connection's grilled chicken livers and Antoine's baked Alaska. [Advocate]

For those who don't want to get messy: Keep things neat with Audubon's/Lakeview Harbor's crawfish bread, Little Tokyo's chicken on a stick, Something Else Cafe's alligator corndog, Trey Yuen's egg rolls. The Times-Pic suggests you head to Chart Room, Cosimo's, The Erin Rose, Flanagan's, and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. []

For the best post-fess drinking: Booze whisperer Laura McKnight suggests hitting up Cane & Table, Carousel Bar, Kingfish, SoBou, and Sylvain. []

For the full food vendor listings: A list of all food at French Quarter Festival by stage area. [Official Website]

French Quarter Fest, Non-Food Related Coverage

For the lost souls: The official map of French Quarter Fest, plus links for a North Shore shuttle, bike parking, and more. [Official Website]

For history buffs: Errol Laborde discusses the history of French Quarter Fest and the political grumblings the fess has brought over its 31 years. []

For a keepsake: Here's the 2014 poster, which features Dr. John (who performs Friday, April 11 at 4:30 p.m) and a link to purchase it ($45/poster). [OffBeat]

For newbies: The Times-Pic offers a how to guide perfect for everything, from directions to the Quarter to who will be playing and when. []

For events besides live music: Alex Woodward reports there are dance lessons at many stages. A large kids' area on the Riverfront. Plus, free film screenings at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre on Sat/Sun, and panel discussions about local music at the Old U.S. Mint. [Gambit]

· All Fess Coverage [-ENOLA-]