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Commander's Palace, renovated and reopened
|Food type||Louisiana Creole|
|Street address||1403 Washington Ave|
Emile Commander established a small saloon at the corner of Washington Avenue and Coliseum Street in 1893. Within a few years he turned it into a restaurant patronized by the distinguished neighborhood families of the Garden District. By 1900 Commander's Palace was attracting gourmets from all over the world. Legend has it that stored alcohol was ferried across from the adjacent cemetery during prohibition for patron beverages.
In the 1920s, Frank G. Giarratano was the owner of the restaurant. He lived above the restaurant with his wife, Rose, and their two sons. There were rumors that there were private dining rooms upstairs rented to riverboat captains, visitors, etc. The upstairs rooms were the private residence of Mr. Giarratano and his family, while the downstairs, with a separate entrance, remained a family establishment. Fearing that the restaurant business would decline from what it had been during World War II, and Giarratano's declining health, in 1944 he sold Commander's Palace to Frank and Elinor Moran, who refurbished it and carried on its tradition of excellence with an expanded menu including many recipes still used. The Morans lived in the adjacent home facing Coliseum. Weather permitting, dining on the restaurant courtyard was encouraged—around a large Goldfish/Koi pond, with a large bank of electric heaters available to ward off the chill during the mild New Orleans winters. It was during this post-WWII period that many New Orleans restaurants, including Commander's Palace, received wider national/international recognition and broader acclaim.
In 1969, the famous Brennan restaurant family of New Orleans purchased the restaurant and began a redesign of the interior to complement the outdoor setting. Large windows replaced walls, and custom trellises and paintings were commissioned. Through the years, additional changes have included a redesign of the courtyard area, facility expansion into the back/side property, and the removal of much of the fence that had long separated the restaurant from the neighboring owner residence.
Awards and honors
In 2013, Executive Chef Tory McPhail won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: South. In 1996, the Foundation awarded the Most Outstanding Restaurant honor to the restaurant. Other James Beard Awards include Lifetime Achievement Award (Ella Brennan) 2009, Outstanding Service Award 1993, and Best Chef, Southeast Region (Jamie Shannon) 1999.
Since 2012, Commander's Palace has been a recipient of the Wine Spectator Grand Award. Zagat has listed Commander's Palace as the “Most Popular Restaurant in New Orleans” for 18 years. In 2008, the restaurant was inducted into the Culinary Institute of America Hall of Fame.
Recent Commander's Palace accolades include 10 Best New Orleans Restaurants by Nola.com, 100 Best Wine Restaurants by Wine Enthusiast and the number one wine list in the U.S. by The Daily Meal.
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- Times-Picayune. 1880: "Humble beginnings for Commander's Palace, a landmark New Orleans restaurant." September 16, 2011. 
- "Chef Tory McPhail - Commander's Palace". New Orleans Online. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Anderson, Brett (May 5, 2015). "James Beard Award winning restaurants in New Orleans". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on 2015-07-15.
- "Commander's Palace". Wine Spectator. 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2015-08-19.
- "COMMANDER'S PALACE: CIA OF THE SOUTH". Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2014-11-10.
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