I must admit: When we showed up at Nola on Wednesday night, around 6 o'clock, I didn't expect much of a crowd. But the bar was pretty full and there were people (mostly smokers) spilling out into the street. Things were looking very promising. Because even if the food was just-okay, at least Nola seemed like it would be a good time.
And it was. Plus, the food was actually delicious!
The hostess originally tried to seat us downstairs, but we requested a move to a table upstairs, overlooking the courtyard. That area just has more of a New Orleans-vibe than the dining room that faces Ramona Street. So definitely ask for to be seated upstairs if you come here.
There were four of us, and we shared two appetizers: Hot Crab Dip and N.O.La Frites. I would highly recommend both of these dishes. But I wish the dip came with a few more slices of garlic bread. And of the three varieties of frites, the sweet potato ones were a slight disappointment; I wanted them to be thinner and crispier. Still, the Cajun fries and zucchini chips more than made up for it. They were so good!
For my entree, I picked the Southern-style Fried Chicken. The free range chicken was juicy on the inside, but I wanted a little more crunch to the outside. The corn was tasty though, and the mashed potatoes were awesome. Jon went with the mini Ahi Tacos (it's an appetizer that includes four of them), as well as a fried chicken Po-Boy. He had the same gripe about the chicken batter that I did, but aside from that, loved his dinner. Others at the table enjoyed the Nawlin's Spicy Jambalaya and the potato-crusted Mahi Mahi.
We still managed to leave some room for dessert, and went with the Beignets Du Monde and Big Fat Decadent Sundae. While they both get a thumbs up, I have to warn you that the beignets here are not like those from Cafe Du Monde. (Maybe it's true that you really can't find that style of beignet anywhere outside the New Orleans city limit.) Nola's version is denser, and definitely needs a dip in one of the three sauces that accompany the beignets. They're good, but more like donuts than the light and airy beignets in the Big Easy.
With drinks and dinner, it was about $40 per person. So not a super-cheap night out, but like I said, it was a fun night out.
Unfortunately, once Jon and I pulled into our driveway, I realized that I forgot my sunglasses. So we had to go back to Nolas to retrieve them. And you know what? The restaurant was even busier than when we had left after dinner! People just kept showing up! Didn't they know it was a school night!? I was both shocked and pleased that a place in downtown Palo Alto could pull in such a crowd. There is some semblance of a nightlife in the suburbs!
535 Ramona Street
Palo Alto, CA