EatYourWorld.com
New Orleans/Jazz Fest Food & Drink Guide
Cafe du Monde Beignets

Hi, we are Laura and Scott, founders of the upcoming Eat Your World website. We're taking our years of travel, writing, photography, and, yes, eating experience and applying them to a new online mission: providing readers with the tools to find delicious foods that are distinctive, native, or somehow traditional to particular cities and countries around the world. Foods that are relevant to a place and therefore impart a special experience to the visitor. Where better to start than New Orleans, Louisiana? You're receiving this newsletter because (a) you're our friend, or (b) we heard you're headed to this year's Jazz Fest, April 23-May 2. Between all those shows, guess what? You still gotta eat. And while the food vendors at the fairgrounds will be spectacular, you'll want to hit the town, too.


What follows is a preview of the content you'll find on our website when it debuts later this summer (note: if the images aren't displaying, please click the link at the very top of this email). If, like us, you're a voracious eater and traveler, please join our mailing list at EatYourWorld.com (a placeholder for now) so we can tell you when the site goes live. At that time, you'll find lots of travel advice at EatYourWorld.com for cities like Vancouver, New York, Mexico City, Miami, Bologna, Bogotá, Philadelphia, and more--where to stay, what to do, where to eat--but mostly it's all about the food. Because, let's face it, such is life.


Stay tuned for much more. And if you are en route to NOLA, we're officially jealous. You will be well fed.


NEW ORLEANS


A cuisine born centuries ago when French dishes mingled with African cooking styles and New World ingredients--then met with Spanish, Anglo, Acadian (Cajun), and Italian influence--the delicious mixed-mutt food of the Crescent City will always invite giddy gluttony. Much like the city itself, these foods are rich in history, flavor, and lore; they're bold, proud, even defiant at times--especially where butter is concerned.


Mr. B's BBQ Shrimp
BBQ shrimp


What: First of all, it's not barbecued or grilled in any way (that might be too healthy). New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp means unpeeled, head-on jumbo shrimp swimming in a buttery, peppery, Creole-spiced sauce. It's super rich, messy, and outrageously delicious--more so because once the shrimp are finished, you get to mop up the sauce with hot French bread.


Where: Mr. B's Bistro (201 Royal St.) in the French Quarter is the place for BBQ shrimp. It's a relatively upscale restaurant, but don't let that scare you from donning a bib and getting down and dirty with this dish--you're supposed to get messy and eat with your hands. For a more casual atmosphere, sit at the bar.


When: Lunch: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2pm (bar menu: 2pm-5:30pm); Sun (jazz brunch), 10:30am-2pm. Dinner, nightly: 5:30pm-9pm. Lunch is a great time to go, as the portion is slightly smaller (yet definitely sufficient!) and cheaper, at $16.50 as opposed to $24.50 at dinner (or $22 at brunch). Plus, there are $1.50 Bloody Marys and martinis at lunch--need we say more?


Order: The BBQ shrimp; we also love the chicken and andouille gumbo ya-ya (see this listed below). Thankfully, the staff is generous with the French bread and napkins here.


Alternatively:
Mr. B's shrimp is outstanding, and it tends to be the easiest for visitors to get to, as it's in the French Quarter. Should you want to explore BBQ shrimp in other areas, try the Italian-Creole Pascal's Manale (1838 Napoleon Ave.) Uptown, or, for an interesting twist, get the BBQ shrimp po'boy at Liuzza's By the Track (1518 N. Lopez St.) in Mid-City (see this listed below).

Cafe du Monde Beignets

Beignets (and café au lait)


What: Square, fried, French-style doughnuts, introduced to Louisiana by the Acadians (a.k.a. Cajuns: French descendants by way of Nova Scotia) once upon a time; they're served hot and not so much dusted with powdered sugar as piled with it. These are among the cheapest, sweetest pleasures to be had in town.


Where: The giant, open-air Café du Monde (1039 Decatur St.) in the French Quarter is the quintessential place to eat beignets. It's been around since 1862 (in smaller form, no doubt), it's open 24 hours, and it only serves (aside from sodas, milk, and orange juice) coffee and beignets. Of course, it's also swarmed by tourists much of the day, but the line moves pretty quickly. Keep in mind that black clothes and powdered sugar don't always mix well.


When: 24 hours/7 days (closes for Christmas and "bad" hurricanes only). Come during an off hour (not in the morning or a weekend afternoon) to avoid the big crowds.


Order: At least one order of beignets (three for $2.14) with a café au lait ($2.14 for small). The coffee here is dark-roasted and chicory-spiked: smooth, strong, and delicious.


Good to know: Count on a late-night beignet snack after a night hopping around the music clubs and bars on Frenchmen Street, a short walk away.


Alternatively: Some people are turned off by Café du Monde's tourist-attraction status; we happen to think the place is pretty great. But if you want to check out another spot serving beignets, there's Café Beignet (two locations: 311 Bourbon St. and 334-B Royal St.), also in the Quarter, serving a full breakfast and lunch menu, too. Just don't make our mistake and order a shot of espresso there: It'll set you back $3.

 
Cafe du Monde Beignets
Boiled crawfish/shrimp

What:
Crawfish boils (or shrimp boils, if it's not quite crawfish season) are culinary events in which hundreds of live crawfish are boiled in a spicy liquid along with meats and vegetables for seasoning. Communal and often chaotic, crawfish boils are most popular in people's homes--if you're invited, by all means, go!--or at informal, often roadside seafood restaurants in the country. Availability, even during their season (generally January-June), depends on what the fishermen are catching; in 2010, an unusually cold winter meant crawfish were scarce in mid-February. Sometimes shrimp will be substituted--still delicious, and still an incredible cultural experience for a visitor.

Where: In New Orleans proper, we found a crawfish boil (shrimp, actually, because of the shortage) at the Maple Leaf Bar (504-866-9359; 8316 Oak St.), a great music club Uptown that does boils every Sunday night around 9pm, courtesy of Shaggy's Boil Inc. It costs $8 for music (Walter "Wolfman" Washington) and the boil, a deal you can't beat.

Order: Ain't nothing to order; just show up and watch for the buckets of food to arrive from outside, because once everything is dumped on the plastic white table, it's every man for himself! Don't overlook the mushrooms, corn, potatoes, quail meat, and andouille and boudin sausages--it's all lip-smacking, mouth-burning, finger-dripping delicious. And don't forget to wash your hands before you use the restroom.

Alternatively: Yo Mama's (727 Saint Peter St.) in the French Quarter usually does crawfish boils on the weekend, offering a more civilized sit-down serving (if that's your thing). Call before you go to check the critters' availability.

Commanders Cochon de lait eggs
Cochon de lait eggs

What: A popular brunch dish in town in which poached eggs are served atop shredded, slow-roasted, melt-in-your-mouth roasted pork and gravy-soaked homemade biscuits, usually with a dollop of hollandaise on top. Heavy, yes, but richly satisfying.

Where: It's a splurge, but Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave.), in the pretty Garden District, is so worth it. The restaurant often has this dish on its brunch menu (the menus change about twice a week, so call ahead to check it's still available). In this version, the biscuits are black pepper and rosemary, the gravy is dotted with mushrooms, and the hollandaise is made with bourbon and bacon fat.

When: Brunch: Sat, 11:30am-1pm, and Sun, 10:30am-1:30pm. Both are jazz brunches--fun times to visit here.

Order: The excellent $39 three-course prix-fixe at brunch includes this as its main course; however, menu items change seasonally, so check ahead of time. The delicious bread pudding soufflé dessert also comes with the prix fixe; we suggest you request the turtle soup (see listed below) for your first course (soup substitutions are permitted).

Jazz Fest note: Do not miss the cochon de lait po'boy sold at the fairgrounds; we've heard its wonders sung.

Alternatively: Ralph's on the Park (900 City Park Ave.) at the edge of City Park also offers this dish for Sunday brunch, with buttermilk biscuits and a roasted jalapeño and tomato hollandaise.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Crawfish etouffee

What: Crawfish tail meat is "smothered," to translate from the French, in a brown stew of green pepper, scallion, butter, and Cajun spices (and tomato, depending on where you're asking), served over rice. Deliciously rich with a hint of spice, it's an absolute must when in New Orleans.

Where: Dive bar Coop's Place (1109 Decatur St.) in the French Quarter does a tasty etouffee in informal digs with a healthy dose of attitude (don't ask for a milk punch here). One peek at the giant, steaming stock pots in the outdoor kitchen out back tells you this place is an under-the-radar gem. Bonus: It serves food late (for NOLA), and is located near the clubs of Frenchmen Street.

When: Daily, 11am-midnight (bar closes at 1am)

Order: Besides the crawfish etouffee ($9.25), the seafood gumbo and rabbit and sausage jambalaya (see both listed below) are excellent here. We also hear the fried chicken and smoked duck quesadillas are something special.

Alternatively: Crawfish etouffee is widely found on NOLA menus; look for it at casual Mother's (401 Poydras St.) and the Bon Ton Café (401 Magazine St.), both in the CBD (Central Business District) or, for fancier surrounds (with prices to match), at K-Paul's (416 Chartres St.) in the French Quarter. Locals' fave Mandina's (3800 Canal St.) in Mid-City offers it on Saturdays only.

Good to know: Crawfish (or shrimp, if you can't find any frozen crawfish meat) etouffee is amazingly, deliciously easy to duplicate at home, as we did shortly after our return.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Creole pralines

What: Introduced centuries ago by the French (who made them with almonds), pralines--sweet little nut-based confections--proved to adapt well to Louisiana's pecan trees and native sugarcane, becoming a unique, popular, cookie-sized treat in New Orleans. Today they are made with pecans, sugar, butter, and milk.

Where: In the French Quarter, we picked up our handmade pralines at Southern Candymakers (334 Decatur St.), where the staff will give you a free taste before buying. Distinctly sugary and creamy, they make a perfect portable snack for when the sweet tooth strikes.

When: Daily, 10am-7pm

Order: Pralines ($18.95 a pound) for sure, but good luck ignoring the other pretty treats here, like the pecan brittle, and double-dipped caramel-chocolate tortues ("turtles").

Alternatively: Pralines are sold all over the place, especially in the French Quarter. Some other trusted spots include Aunt Sally's Pralines (810 Decatur St.) and Leah's Pralines (714 St. Louis St.). Outside the Quarter, Loretta's Authentic Pralines (2101 N. Rampart St.) is the place to go.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Eggs Sardou

What: This classic NOLA breakfast dish is like a Creole take on eggs Florentine, traditionally involving poached eggs atop artichoke bottoms and creamed spinach, topped with hollandaise sauce. 

Where: In the Garden District, Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave.) sometimes includes an amazingly tasty, updated version of this dish on its appetizer menu at brunch (the menu changes about twice a week, so call ahead to check it's still there): A poached egg sits on crab-boiled artichoke bottoms and is topped with creamy green hollandaise sauce (in lieu of spinach). Also on the plate are three artichoke leaves dusted with Cajun spices and three small fried oysters. It's a salty, spicy plate of perfection.

When: When available, this dish is on CP's jazz brunch menu, Saturday (11:30am-1pm) and Sunday (10:30am-1:30pm). 

Order: Try the eggs Sardou, the turtle soup (see listed below), the shrimp and tasso henican (see listed below), the oyster and absinthe dome, the bread pudding soufflé--you really can't go wrong here.

Good to know: 90% of the ingredients used at CP come from within 100 miles.

Alternatively: If we hadn't had it at CP, we would've gone straight to the source: Antoine's (713 St. Louis St.) in the French Quarter, where eggs Sardou is available at Sunday brunch and uses anchovies, ham, and truffles in addition to the usual ingredients. Antoine Alciatore reportedly created the dish for French playwright Victorien Sardou in the late 1800s.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Gumbo: Seafood

What: Perhaps the dish most associated with New Orleans, gumbo is different things to different people, but it's always hearty comfort food--a well-spiced, full-bodied stew served over rice. It's made various ways, but generally incorporates vegetables, seafood, and/or meat (see next entry), and is made thick by filé powder, which is ground sassafras leaves. (Sometimes you will see "filé gumbo" on menus.) One point of contention surrounds the inclusion of tomatoes: Creole chefs (mostly in the city) use it; Cajun chefs (in the countryside) shun it.

Where: The picture above is from dive bar Coop's Place (1109 Decatur St.) in the French Quarter, where the gumbo has a greenish hue and is made with fresh okra, filé powder, and seafood (crab claws, shrimp, whole oysters), served with rice. We are big okra fans, and loved the soupy consistency, rich seafood taste, and spicy finish. 

When: Daily, 11am-midnight (bar closes at 1am)

Order: Besides the seafood gumbo ($4.95 a cup), the crawfish etouffee (see this listed above) and rabbit and sausage jambalaya (see these listed below) are great here. We also heard the fried chicken and smoked duck quesadillas are excellent. 

Alternatively: The gumbo debate always rages in NOLA; if time permitted, we would've tried the gumbo at these places, too: in the Quarter, K-Paul's (416 Chartres St.) or Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter St.); in Mid-City, Liuzza's by the Track (1518 N. Lopez St.); Uptown, Brigtsen's (723 Dante St.) for filé gumbo or Casamento's (4330 Magazine St.).

Good to know: Filé powder is available in groceries all over town, should you wish to cook gumbo at home.

Mr. B's Ya Ya
Gumbo: Chicken and andouille (a.k.a. gumbo ya-ya)

What: Lacking the briny flavor of the sea, gumbo with chicken and andouille--the most common meat marriage in the gumbo world--called "gumbo ya-ya" on some menus, tends to be spicy, thick, and, well, meaty. Everyone has their favorite type of gumbo; this one is ours.

Where: Mr. B's Bistro (201 Royal St.) makes a wonderful gumbo ya-ya with a dark brown roux, generous pieces of roasted chicken and hunks of andouille, and a robust, spicy taste.

When: Lunch: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2pm (bar menu, 2pm-5:30pm); Sun (jazz brunch), 10:30am-2pm. Dinner, nightly: 5:30pm-9pm. We'll remind you again of those $1.50 Bloody Marys and martinis offered here at lunch--sit at the bar for a more informal environment.

Order: The gumbo ya-ya ($7 at lunch) followed by the utterly unmissable BBQ shrimp (see listed above).

Alternatively: Also in the French Quarter, K-Paul's (416 Chartres St.) is rumored to serve a mean chicken-andouille gumbo. Uptown, you might try the duck-and-andouille gumbo at Jacques-Imo's Cafe (8324 Oak St.).

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Jambalaya

What: Simple and filling, taking cues from the French and Spanish in its preparation (it's related to paella, for one thing), this Louisiana classic is made with meats and/or seafood (often including andouille sausage either way), vegetables, stock, and rice--which traditionally cooks in the pot with the other ingredients to complete the dish (as opposed to dishes like gumbo, for instance, where the rice is served as more of a bed). For it to be "Creole" style, as it generally is in New Orleans, tomatoes are included; in Louisiana's Cajun countryside, tomatoes are not used.

Where: The jambalaya at dive bar Coop's Place (1109 Decatur St.) in the French Quarter, made with boneless rabbit and andouille sausage with vegetables (tomato, onion, bell pepper), is excellent: thick, sweet, and spicy. Bonus: Coop's serves food late (for NOLA), and this dish would make an exceptional late-night alcohol absorber!

When: Daily, 11am-midnight (bar closes at 1am)

Order: The rabbit & sausage jambalaya ($4.95 for a cup; $6.95 for a bowl), or order it "Supreme" ($9.95 a bowl) for the addition of shrimp and tasso, a spicy Cajun smoked ham. 

Alternatively: Coop's may very well have the best jambalaya in the French Quarter, but if you're interested in trying another, there's Napoleon House (500 Chartres St.), Remoulade (309 Bourbon St.), or K-Paul's (416 Chartres St.), where the dish includes tasso (and carries a heftier price tag). Nearby, in the CBD, informal Mother's (401 Poydras St.) also serves a good jambalaya.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Muffuletta

What: A football-size sandwich on soft, round Italian bread (itself called muffuletta), filled with Italian meats and cheeses--some combo of Genoa salami, ham, mortadella, pastrami, Swiss, and provolone--and spread with a spicy, salty, garlicky Italian olive salad. It is widely accepted that the Sicilian owner of NOLA's Central Grocery devised this sandwich in 1906.

Where: Old-school Italian market Central Grocery (504-523-1620; 923 Decatur St.) remains the definitive place to buy your muffuletta, which is served quartered, at room temperature, and wrapped in paper. Some people like to eat it at the informal tables in CG, while others take it outdoors to Jackson Square or the banks of the Mississippi. The sandwich is gigantic--if you pace yourself, you can do both! 

When: Tues-Sat, 9am-5pm. Your chance of avoiding a long line is better before noon.

Order: Get your muffuletta ($14.21 for whole) and peruse the shelves: Central Grocery sells some great foodstuffs, including its famous olive salad, but the prices are rather touristy-steep (i.e., get your hot sauces and coffee at a regular grocery store). At least buy some Zapp's potato chips (see this listed below) to accompany your sandwich.

Good to know: Everyone will tell you that CG muffulettas travel well, and in fact they are ideal for picking up the day of your flight home to enjoy on the plane, in the airport, or at home later that night/day. By the next day, however, the bread starts to harden around the edges--still tasty, but not as tasty. Some people have had good luck freezing them. 

Alternatively: Napoleon House (500 Chartres St.) does a good muffuletta ($14 for whole), though it is served hot unless you request it otherwise. Try a quarter ($4.25) and see how you like it--we enjoyed the melted cheese, but personally found that cold is better. Don't forget to try a Pimms Cup cocktail (see this listed below) while you're there.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Oysters on the half-shell

What: These aren't, of course, unique to New Orleans, but oysters are so abundant along the Gulf coast during non-summer months that if you enjoy them raw, you should eat them as much as possible. With a cold beer, or three.

Where: The tourists are certainly on to it, but Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St.) in the French Quarter serves up fresh, plump raw oysters, with lemon and cocktail sauce, in a lively environment. Sit or stand at the bar and befriend your shuckers.

When: Sun-Thurs, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm. Weekday afternoons are a good bet for avoiding the dreaded line here. Keep in mind that Gulf oysters are best eaten raw during the chillier "R" months; many people choose to avoid eating them raw at all between May and August. While they're not necessarily terrible to eat raw during the summer, some taste will be sacrificed. 

Order: A half-dozen ($7.49) or dozen ($10.99) raw Louisiana oysters. Abita beer. Maybe some craw puppies or buttery charbroiled oysters. Repeat as necessary.

Good to know: Oyster shooters ($1.49) make a fun dare, but they're pretty gross--that fine little oyster floats in vodka with a dash of hot sauce, and if you're wondering about the vodka quality, remember how much it costs. Should you feel adventurous, go for it--just don't say we didn't warn you.

Alternatively: Any oyster-loving local will undoubtedly insist on his or her favorite spot, but in truth, good fresh oysters aren't too hard to find in NOLA during the cooler months. Acme and Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar (739 Iberville St.), its across-the-street neighbor, are both conveniently located and great for raw and cooked oysters; Felix's is less likely to have a line to get in. (There's no reason to stand on that Acme line ever, really. Avoid it by going at an off hour or just go to Felix's--same same.) If you can get out of the Quarter for your bivalve fix (and it's not a Sunday, Monday, or June-August, when they close), go to Casamento's (4330 Magazine St.) Uptown--most locals agree it's the place for oysters. Order them raw (they're much cheaper here, incidentally) with a fried "oyster loaf."

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Oysters Bienville

What: For this Creole dish, named for the French governor of Louisiana and founder of New Orleans, oysters on the half shell are coated with a sauce including butter, wine, finely diced shrimp and mushroom, cheddar and Parmesan cheese, and then broiled and served over rock salt with lemon. This tastes much better than it may sound, we assure you.

Where: No-frills Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar (739 Iberville St.) in the French Quarter does a great rendition of this dish. Sit at the bar for a lively atmosphere.

When: Mon-Thu & Sun, 10am-10pm; Fri-Sat 10am-12am

Order: The oysters Bienville ($9.95 for 6), perhaps a few on the half-shell, Abita beer.

Alternatively: Legend has it that Arnaud's (813 Bienville St.) in the French Quarter invented this dish, and it's still available there--as well as at Antoine's (713 St. Louis St.), also in the Quarter. Both places are more formal, however, and you'll pay a few bucks extra.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Grocery store goodies: Hubig's pies, Zapp's potato chips, Big Shot soda  

What: Nothing gourmet here, just three beloved grocery store items from the area: Hubig's Pies, a family business in New Orleans since 1922, are little fried pies coated in a light icing that cost 99 cents apiece; they come in white waxy packages and have flavors such as lemon, apple, pineapple, and chocolate, plus seasonal varieties like strawberry, banana, and sweet potato (they do actually use local produce). Zapp's are a brand of kettle-style potato chip from Gramercy, LA, that are popular in town; they usually incorporate interesting spices and New Orleans-appropriate flavors, like Cajun Crawtator and Spicy Creole Tomato. Big Shot--recognized for its fedora-wearing, cigar-smoking "Big Shot" character--is a soda company with flavors including grape, pineapple, strawberry, black cherry, and root beer. It's been bought out by National Beverage Corporation, but is still most widely available in Louisiana. 

Where: Look for 'em at any grocery store or gas station.                                           

When: Anytime you want! Hubig's packaging suggests you heat the pies up 25 seconds in the microwave before eating (we agree that's a good idea). All three items travel well; take one of each home with you and support some local businesses.
                                                                                                    
Order: A matter of personal choice here. As far as Hubig's pies go, the apple variety was pretty good, tasting a bit like what we remember McDonald's pies tasting like (apologies to New Orleanians!).            

Good to know:
 Vegetarians be warned, the fryers at Hubig's factory use beef fat (as per their tradition). Also, while you're in the grocery store, pick up some filé powder, spicy Creole mustard, and Louisiana hot sauce as culinary souvenirs.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Oysters Rockefeller

What: Famously named for John D. Rockefeller because of its "richness," this dish consists of oysters baked with a green vegetable puree. Its backstory is perhaps more interesting than the dish itself: Mr. Antoine Alciatore of Antoine's Restaurant (see eggs Sardou) created oysters Rockefeller in 1889 because, reportedly, he didn't like waste--so he devised a green sauce using seven vegetables he often saw his staff throwing away. Brennan's, another famed restaurant still chugging away in the Quarter, allegedly wanted the recipe but couldn't crack its ingredient code, so its chef started using spinach to make the dish's sauce--thus inventing the manner in which most Americans know oysters Rockefeller today. But the original original is only at Antoine's, and the ingredients are still a secret...though our chatty waiter did hint that while no spinach is used, watercress "might" be.

Where: Of course, it has to be Antoine's (713 St. Louis St.), a grand old dame of a Creole eatery in the French Quarter that claims title to America's oldest family-run restaurant (it opened in 1840). Its new Hermes Bar, which opens onto the street next to the restaurant's main entrance, offers a more casual setting for noshing if you don't want a full meal.

When: The restaurant's hours are Mon-Sat, 11:30am-2pm and 5:30pm-9pm; Sun (jazz brunch), 11am-2pm. The bar is open daily, 11am-"till"; happy hour is Mon-Sat, 4pm-8pm. Martini drinkers, Antoine's also offers 25-cent martinis at lunch.

Order: Oysters Rockefeller (6 for $13.75), definitely accompanied by a proper Sazerac (see listed below). You might also want to try the oysters Foch, yet another creation of Antoine's.

Alternatively: There's no alternative to this particular oysters Rockefeller, but if you're up for an old-school comparison tasting, try 'em at Brennan's (417 Royal St.), too.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Po'boy: BBQ shrimp

What: The combination is nontraditional, but it's a wonder no one thought to combine these two NOLA staples sooner: buttery, peppery BBQ shrimp and fresh French bread. The loaf is partially hollowed out so its crust really envelops the shrimp and holds together (most of) its piping-hot sauce--a genius technique that allows for more shrimp and less bread, and makes the sandwich much easier to eat. Somehow the bread doesn't get too soggy, though be forewarned that each bite is like hot lava squirting from the bread's chewy innards...delicious hot lava, of course.

Where: Casual, locals' favorite Liuzza's By the Track (1518 N. Lopez St.) in Mid-City is the only place we know of that serves this po'boy. Its BBQ sauce is extra peppery, its shrimp fresh and plump.

When: Mon-Sat, 11am-10pm

Order: The BBQ shrimp po'boy ($12.95); we also hear the Creole gumbo, "breathtaking beef" (garlic-stuffed roast beef), and garlic oyster po'boy are worth making the trip for. Definitely get an Abita Amber here; it's served in big, frosty, chalice-like glasses (see "local beer" listing below) that make it taste better than it actually is.

Good to know: From the French Quarter, it's very easy to get to Mid-City (the 'hood of Parkway Bakery & Tavern, too, see below) by taking the Canal Street streetcar. Mid-City has a wonderful neighborhood feel. If you're there during the day, spend some time exploring nearby City Park, Bayou St. John, and St. Louis Cemetery #3.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Po'boy: Debris/Roast Beef

What: "Debris" refers to shredded roast beef that's been simmered extra long so it absorbs more gravy and seasoning, and/or it's moistened with pan drippings--resulting in tender, falling-apart meat with lots of juicy flavor. We're combining this entry with regular roast beef po'boys, since they're often prepared with gravy too, making them similar.

Where: Mother's (401 Poydras St.) in the CBD is famed for its debris sandwich, which, when "dressed," comes with cabbage, pickle, and mayo (confession: we asked for mustard instead). We liked that it's not overflowing with messy meat; though really moist, the meat only soaks a bit of the bottom part of the bread, keeping the sandwich intact.

When: Mon-Sat, 6:30am-10pm; Sun, 7am-10pm

Order: The debris sandwich, dressed ($10 full size; $9 for 2/3 size). This place is really popular (especially among area business trippers) for breakfast (lots of eggs and grits) and lunch (served after 11am), when you can try all the Creole standards.

Good to know: If you come during prime breakfast or lunch hours, expect a line--sometimes out the door. It moves relatively quickly. You'll be in the company of more locals if you go on a weekday.

ALSO:

Where: Parkway Bakery & Tavern (538 Hagan Ave.) in Mid-City does a mean hot-roast-beef-with-gravy po'boy in which the roast beef is homemade and slow-cooked for 12 hours. Attention carnivores: The sandwich itself is very heavy on the meat and gravy, so heavy on ours that the bread quickly sogged up and couldn't be eaten as a sandwich (and who wants to use a fork to eat a po'boy?). Tasty, but very messy. "Dressed" includes pickles here, FYI.


When: Daily, 11am-10pm


Order: The roast beef with gravy, dressed ($6.65), on French bread (they offer other breads here)--notice the prices are less touristy; it's a great local spot with outdoor seating to boot--or try one of the fried seafood po'boys (see listed below). Sweet potato fries ($3.75) make a delicious accompaniment.


Alternatively: Depending on whom you ask, the other "best" roast beef po'boys in town are at divey Parasol's Restaurant & Bar (2533 Constance St.) in the Garden District, and R&O's (504-831-1248; 216 Metairie Hammond Hwy) in Metairie, where the bread is crustier--but you'll need a car to get there.


Cafe du Monde Beignets
Po'boy: Fried seafood

What: Fried shrimp, oysters, catfish, or soft-shell crabs (in season) are stuffed into French bread and dressed (if desired) with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

Where: The oyster po'boy at Parkway Bakery & Tavern (538 Hagan Ave.) in Mid-City is just as it should be: filled with plump, very deep-fried oysters. As with the roast beef, "dressed" includes pickles.

When: Daily, 11am-10pm

Order: The golden-fried oyster po'boy, dressed ($10.20), on French bread, or try the roast beef with gravy po'boy (see listed above). Also an awesome seafood bet? One of the half-and-half combos, like fried oysters and fried shrimp.

Alternatively: Once again, Parasol's Restaurant & Bar (2533 Constance St.) in the Garden District, and R&O's (504-831-1248; 216 Metairie Hammond Hwy) in Metairie (you'll need a car) are highly recommended, as well as Domilise's (504-899-9126; 5240 Annunciation St.) Uptown and the newer Mahoney's Po'boy Shop (3454 Magazine St.) near the Garden District, which offers both classic and nontraditional po'boy fillers (for instance: chicken livers and Creole slaw; fried oysters, bacon, and cheddar).

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Red beans and rice

What: A simple, hearty, and delicious Cajun classic, red beans and rice is traditionally served on Mondays here. Why Mondays? We were given a two-part answer: Back in the day, ham was usually eaten on Sundays, and so what remained of it (and any other leftover pork in the fridge) was thrown into this dish on Monday--which also happened to be laundry day, so women could let the beans cook unattended all day while they washed clothes. Despite its vegetarian-seeming name, there's always some ham and/or sausage involved here.

Where: Many restaurants still serve red beans and rice as a special on Monday, including the recently renovated St. Charles Tavern (1433 St. Charles Ave.), near the Garden District. This friendly 24-hour diner-like bar offers it with pork chop; we requested andouille sausage. After an evening in the music clubs Uptown, it makes a tasty late-night meal.

When: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's on the specials menu for Mondays, but is available all week long.

Order: Red beans and rice ($10.95); any of the all-day breakfasts are quite good, too (be sure to get the creamy grits). Next time, we'll also try the fried boudin balls ($6.95) and spicy chicken-and-andouille hash breakfast ($8.75).

Alternatively: Mandina's (3800 Canal St.) in Mid-City does a popular red beans and rice special on Mondays. In the Quarter, you'll find this dish daily at Creole cafes like Remoulade (309 Bourbon St.) or dive bar Coop's Place (1109 Decatur St.), where you can have it with pork chop, sausage, or Cajun fried chicken (hello, making a good thing better!).

Cafe du Monde Beignets

Shrimp & tasso henican

What: Admittedly, we're bending the rules a bit here: While this dish's components are New Orleans all the way, it is unique to one restaurant so can't exactly be considered classic NOLA cuisine. That said, it is so insanely and uniquely delicious that it warrants inclusion here: Four plump Louisiana shrimp are threaded with hunks of tasso (a spicy Cajun smoked ham), coated in a Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc, and served with pickled okra atop a sticky plate of sweet, confetti-like five-pepper jelly.  The clear, speckled jelly, which has the consistency of honey, is visually stunning--and a sweet-and-spicy thrill to eat.

Where: The culinary wizards at Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave.), in the Garden District, are the creators of this dish.

When: Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm and 6:30-10pm; Sat jazz brunch, 11:30am-1pm, and dinner, 6:30pm-10pm; Sun jazz brunch, 10:30am-1:30pm, and dinner, 6:30pm-10pm. Sunday brunch is a great time to visit, or, to keep costs (slightly) down, go during weekday lunch (and expect 25-cent martinis).

Order: Have this as an appetizer ($10), along with the turtle soup (see listed below) and the oyster and absinthe dome. 

Good to know: 90% of the ingredients used at CP come from within 100 miles.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Turtle soup

What: This dark, complex Creole soup is made from a thick brown roux and contains, among other things, turtle stock, hard-boiled egg, shredded turtle meat (snapping turtles, which locals will assure you are plentiful and certainly not cute), and sherry, which is often offered to the diner to adjust the taste accordingly. Consistency varies widely--it can be very thick--but it's always rich and robust in flavor.

Where: Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave.), in the Garden District, does a killer turtle soup: not too thick or thin, but smooth and vivid, with a floater of sherry provided at the table.

When: Mon-Fri, 11:30am-2pm and 6:30-10pm; Sat jazz brunch, 11:30am-1pm, and dinner, 6:30pm-10pm; Sun jazz brunch, 10:30am-1:30pm, and dinner, 6:30pm-10pm. Sunday brunch is a great time to visit, or, to keep costs (slightly) down, go during weekday lunch (and expect 25-cent martinis).

Order: If you've read, or even skimmed, this whole newsletter, you're well aware of what don't-miss dishes we recommend you follow the turtle soup ($8) with: shrimp and tasso henican, oyster and absinthe dome, bread pudding soufflé, eggs Sardou. 

Alternatively: The turtle soup at Galatoire's (209 Bourbon St.) in the French Quarter is rich and meaty, using three types of turtle meat; other wonderful variations of this classic can be found at K-Paul's (416 Chartres St.), also in the French Quarter; Mid-City joint Mandina's (3800 Canal St.); and Ralph's on the Park (900 City Park Ave.), on the edge of City Park (where, incidentally, they also do a drool-worthy boudin-wrapped Cajun scotch egg).

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Hurricane

What: A bright pink, super sweet, fruity cocktail made with rum, lime, and passion-fruit syrup, garnished with cherry and an orange slice, served in an oversize glass shaped like a hurricane lamp--unless, of course, you order it "to go," in which case a plastic cup will be your vessel.

Where: Loud, sprawling, multi-bar Pat O'Brien's (718 St. Peter St.) is the original home of this drink: As the story goes, it was invented by bartenders here in order to dispose of giant surpluses of rum. Try to snag a table in the outdoor patio if it's a breezy night--or at least wander out there to see the famed "flaming fountain."

When: Mon-Thurs, noon-2am; Fri-Sun, 10am-3am

Order: Yes, this bar is one big tourist attraction, and no, this drink does not exist in nature, but it's kind of a must to try at least one Hurricane ($11) here during your lifetime. Finish it, and you'll be drunk.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Local beer

What: New Orleans has a long tradition of beer brewing (at one time there were some 30 breweries in town) that nearly completely died out, but the craft is making a comeback. So between all the unique cocktails here, don't overlook beers from local breweries: Abita, Heiner Brau, and NOLA Brewing Company (production of Dixie Brewing's beers has been based in Wisconsin since Hurricane Katrina).

Located across Lake Pontchartrain in Covington, Abita, the Southeast's oldest (since 1986) and largest craft brewery, is by far the most prevalent local beer, found in just about any bar or restaurant; the easy-drinking Amber lager is especially common, though we preferred the darker, richer Turbodog (fruit lovers, try the Purple Haze raspberry wheat beer). Keep an eye out for Abita's seasonal harvest beers (like Pecan Harvest and Satsuma Wit), which incorporate Louisiana-grown ingredients. Also in Covington, German-owned Heiner Brau specializes in Bavarian beer styles, like Kölsch, Maerzen, and seasonals including Oktoberfest and Hefe-Weisse. New Orleans-based newcomer NOLA Brewing Company (NOLA = New Orleans lager & ale) has a small but fine selection of malt beers, including the appropriately hoppy Hopitoulas IPA, a nutty Brown Ale, and a French saison-style seasonal called Hurricane Saison.

Where: Abita and Heiner Brau offer regularly scheduled tours, but you'll need a car to reach them. Easier to visit is NOLA Brewing Company (3001 Tchoupitoulas St.), as it's located within city limits, in the Irish Channel neighborhood. Free tours run every Friday at 2pm. As far as bars go, you won't have trouble finding Abita in the city; we enjoyed the frosty Ambers, pictured, at Liuzza's By the Track (1518 N. Lopez St.). The previously mentioned Maple Leaf Bar (504-866-9359; 8316 Oak St.) Uptown has some good local beers, including those by Abita and NOLA Brewing Company. Other great beer bars are d.b.a. (618 Frenchmen St.), located just outside the Quarter in the Marigny neighborhood, and Cooter Brown's Tavern & Oyster Bar (509 S. Carrollton Ave.) Uptown, where you'll find some 400 beer offerings, including locals.

Good to know: New Orleans has two operating brewpubs as well: the somewhat touristy Crescent City Brew House (527 Decatur St.) in the French Quarter, and chain pub Gordon Biersch (200 Poydras St.) in the CBD, near the Harrah's Casino. Not our favorites, but they can be fun if you want to try samplers of house-made brews.

Cafe du Monde Beignets
Pimm's Cup

What: This cocktail combines the British gin-based liqueur Pimms No. 1 with lemonade and 7-Up; it's served in a highball glass and garnished with cucumber. Cooling, a bit sour, and definitely refreshing.

Where: Historic Napoleon House (500 Chartres St.) in the French Quarter is the place for Pimm's Cups. There's a great little courtyard out back, or sit at the bar, which is dark and atmospheric.

When: The bar's hours are Tues-Sat, 11am-till.

Order: A Pimm's Cup ($5.50), for there or to go (or both); Napoleon House is also a great place to try a warm muffuletta.
Cafe du Monde Beignets
Sazerac

What: This trademark NOLA cocktail combines rye whiskey or bourbon with a bit of simple syrup and local Peychaud's bitters (which gives it its bright-pink hue) in a glass that's been coated with Herbsaint, the local licorice-flavored liqueur (and one-time absinthe substitute). Potent, old-fashioned, classic, and fun to drink, it is usually served straight up with a lemon twist.

Where: There are plenty of classy bars in which to drink a well-crafted Sazerac. We enjoyed one in the new Hermes Bar (725 St. Louis St.) at Antoine's--it seemed fitting to sip a Sazerac in historic French Quarter surrounds.

When: Hermes Bar is open daily, 11am-till. Happy hour is Mon-Sat, 4pm-8pm.

Alternatively: Other great bars for Sazeracs include the swanky new Sazerac Bar (123 Baronne St.) in the renovated Roosevelt Hotel, just outside of the French Quarter; the cool Carousel Bar (214 Royale St.) in the Quarter's Hotel Monteleone, which features an actual, slowly rotating carousel for a bar; and Arnaud's French 75 (813 Bienville St.) cigar bar, also in the French Quarter (P.S. try the namesake cocktail there too).

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Happy eating and safe travels,
 
Laura & Scott
founders, EatYourWorld.com