If you’re lucky enough to be in the Big Easy, put this on your itinerary.

Down on the corner of Coliseum St. and Washington Ave. in New Orleans, Louisiana, across from the Lafayette Cemetery sits another local icon: Commander’s Palace. You can’t miss it; the Victorian mansion (more accurately, it’s been called “Victorian Cuckoo”) is painted a vibrant, deep teal, complemented by an equally cheery white-striped awning. You’ll know you’re there by the crowd of tourists and locals alike that have flocked to the Garden District landmark. 

Built by Amil Commander in 1893, the restaurant has been serving up creole and cajun favorites for 124 years, with a constellation of other influences and flavors mixed in. A New Orleans restaurant dynasty, the Brennan family, took over in 1974, and since then the restaurant has been home to four outstanding chefs, Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon, and now Tory McPhail.

Despite the fact that the daughter of Ella Brennan, Ti Adelaide Martin, and Brennan’s niece, Lally Brennan, now hold the keys to the establishment, they say Commander's belongs to the city. “It belongs to New Orleans,” Lally says. “Our locals mean so much to us. Not only are they our friends, but they are our support. We've created lots of dining memories, so I think the people of New Orleans feel like Commander's is their restaurant.”

Southern Living associate travel editor Hannah Hayes writes that, “The restaurant remains so beloved that fans have written clauses in their wills calling for loved ones to enjoy a meal at Commander’s in their honor.” If that’s not a good enough reason to stop by at least once, we don’t know what is. (Though you’ll definitely be back.)

Stop by for lunch Monday-Friday, or dinner any night of the week. Play your cards right, and you can catch Jazz Brunch, a lively affair every Saturday and Sunday. Check website for time and details.