My friend Juliet from New York came to town for five days for the holidays. She celebrates Hanukkah, I celebrate ... well nothing really, but we were able to meet in mutual celebration of the fact that we both appreciate food to the point where it's almost sick. (Almost.)
Her five-day visit soon turned into a Foodcation. I'm sure I'm only skimming the surface of New Orleans's culinary glories, but this newly initiated New Orleanean and her cynical New Yorker friend were impressed:
401 Poydras Street
Yep. Lots of tourists. Worse, they created this annoying line that wrapped clear around the block. Juliet and I were starving and ready to kill each other, but all homicidal tendencies abated once we entered to a tray of biscuits being pulled out of the oven.
I never understood the southern obsession with soul food. This was an "Ah-Ha!" moment.
I had an omelet with grits, three biscuits, and a huge slab of butter to slather over everything.
Juliet had a sandwich named Ralph -- a beef po' boy with ham and cheese.
We had to take five minutes after we finished to lean back in our chairs and stare dreamily at our empty plates. The waitress understood and gave us our space. I'm guessing this happens a lot.
209 Bourbon Street
I've read many gushing articles about this place, so Juliet and I got dressed in finery (tight dress ... not a good idea ... no room for expansion) and braved the catcalls of Bourbon Street to pay a visit.
First impression: a lot of "Haw-Haw"-ing and khaki.
But the atmosphere makes you feel just as classy as some of the patrons pretend to be.
We put our trust in the waiter to impress us with some cocktails and he delivered. He got a bit miffed when I unexpectedly changed my wine choice from red to white, but I appreciated his reverence for the food-wine balance.
This is what my lovely dish looked like:
It didn't leave me with that shit-eating Mother's grin, but the potatoes au-gratin had a lotta character, enhanced, of course, by the cavernous ceiling and antique ceiling fans.
Juan's Flying Burrito:
2018 Magazine Street
I ate here during my first New Orleans visit five years ago, and it is still worth every step of the painfully long trek down Magazine.
You can smell the food about a block away. Juliet smelled it too, and looked at me in awe at the glorious culinary images her brain was already conjuring.
You're seated and they immediately get down to business with menus and drink orders. The Margaritas helped us to momentarily forget the yearning in our stomachs, as did the salsa and chips.
Come to think of it, I think this place specializes in preemptive food and beverage strikes, otherwise starving food enthusiasts like ourselves would have long ago ransacked the kitchen and had our way with the black beans and tortilla shells.
We licked our plates -- it doesn't happen often, it's pathetic, but after a plate of glistening black-bean tacos, it had to be done.
Here's a song from their web site that heartwrenchingly lists some of the other menu items:
Dave's Flying Burrito from Juans Flying Burrito on Vimeo.
Various locations around N.O.
A lot of people know about this place, but I have to extol the virtues of their Lebanese iced tea. It's this delicately floral tasting tea with pine nuts floating on top.
I got a cup to go one afternoon (with extra pine nuts), started drinking it while wobbling down Decatur on my bike, and narrowly missed using a small dog as a speedbump -- that's how much I like this stuff.
One messed-up southern tradition that could explode your house, melt one of your limbs off, or create a fireball. Most fire departments issue stern warnings against it.
Men love it:
This a trashcan in front of a house that burned down on Napoleon. Turkey fryer? Highly likely ...