Galatoire's Restaurant was founded in 1897 by Jean Galatoire, an immigrant from a small village near Pau, France in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. The restaurant is still run by his fourth generation descendants. Galatoire's moved to its current location in 1905, when Galatoire purchased Victor’s Restaurant, in business at the location since 1830. He renamed the restaurant and began cooking the dishes from his homeland. Galatoire’s specializes in French Creole cooking. The main entrance, a French door, leads into the first floor dining room. The first floor dining room is a mix of high ceilings, slow moving paddle fans and mirrored opposing walls, maintaining much of the look of a mid-19th century restaurant. The second floor dining rooms, opened in 1999, comprise smaller rooms overlooking Bourbon Street. At lunch men may dress casually, although after 5pm, and all day on Sundays, men must wear a jacket.
Until 1999, the restaurant did not accept reservations, leaving patrons to stand in long lines on the Bourbon Street sidewalk. With the addition of the second floor dining rooms and bar, standing on Bourbon Street is only needed for first floor dining room seats, which are still always first-come-first-served. Exceptions to their first-come-first-served policy have never been allowed. According to the restaurant, "one Friday then-President Ronald Reagan placed a call to then retired U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, who happened to be waiting in line for a table. After the President’s call had ended, Senator Johnston graciously returned to his position in line.
Most of the waiters are long-time employees who are professionals and local to southern Louisiana.