|New Orleans/Jazz Fest Food & Drink Guide|
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
Stay tuned for
much more. And if you are en route to NOLA, we're officially jealous.
You will be well fed.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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).
Beignets (and café au lait)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
When: When available, this dish is on CP's jazz brunch menu, Saturday (11:30am-1pm) and Sunday
Order: Try the eggs Sardou, the turtle soup (see listed below), the shrimp
and tasso henican (see listed below),
the oyster and absinthe
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.
we hadn't had it at CP, we would've gone straight to the
(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.
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
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
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).
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.).
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.
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.
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!
9am-5pm. Your chance of avoiding a long line is better before
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.
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.
Oysters on the
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
has it that Arnaud's
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.
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!).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
6:30am-10pm; Sun, 7am-10pm
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
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
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
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.
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).
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
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!).
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).
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.
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.
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).
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
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
When: Mon-Thurs, noon-2am; Fri-Sun, 10am-3am
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.
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
Located across Lake Pontchartrain in
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.
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
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
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.
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
When: Hermes Bar is open daily,
11am-till. Happy hour is Mon-Sat, 4pm-8pm.
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