25 Scrumptious Things to Eat In New Orleans That Aren’t Po-Boys

I’m not on a mission to offend fellow writers or popular publications, but I have a problem with “listicles.” Instead of well-crafted, thought-provoking articles, it seems theses days, most of what people read are just lists. No one cares how long it takes to construct the perfect sentence or pull together a piece that both educates and entertains. Very few people even take the time to read at all, let alone a full, 1000-word piece on the value of honey. There’s just too much information out there, too much to absorb and too little time. Listicles tend to be what my boyfriend calls “click bait” whose sole purpose is to get more clicks, which in turn translates to more page views, which in turn translates to more advertising dollars.

Also, it seems to be what “readers” these days want and who am I to argue?

In an effort to pull my nose out of the clouds and get with the program, I’ve decided to try my own “listicle.” Let me know what you think …

In an unabashed imitation of a Buzzfeed article I saw the other day, here are my “25 Scrumptious Things To Eat In New Orleans That Aren’t Po-Boys.”

1. Cake Donuts from Blue Dot Donuts

With shops in both Mid-City and Uptown, this retired-police-officer-owned donut shop doesn’t mess around. Although some might be all about their specialty donuts (Boston Cream Pie, Red Velvet etc.) their blueberry glazed cake donuts rock my world.

2. All Meat & All Sides from McClure’s Barbecue

New Orleans, for a long time, was not a great town for BBQ, but in the years since the levee failure, ‘cue restaurants have been popping up all over town, including McClure’s on Magazine Street where you  and a friend can feast on ribs, pulled pork, sausages, smoked chicken and delicious sides for $32.

3. Vermicelli Bowl from Ba Chi Canteen

Loaded with BBQ roast pork, egg rolls, fresh veggies and rice noodles, you could do a whole lot worse for lunch! Plus, Ba Chi’s crispy pork egg rolls are second to none.

4. Steak Tartare from La Petite Grocery

I can almost hear people turning up their nose and scoffing at this particular dish. Hey, you know what? If you’ve never tried steak tartare, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you have, and enjoy it, you shouldn’t miss this particular version.

5. Truffled Manchengo Cheese Grits from Green Goddess

Buttery, cheesy deliciousness for a mere $5. Need I say more/

6.  House Ramen Bowl from Noodle & Pie 

Shoyu chicken broth, slow cooked pork shoulder, soft egg, greens, mushrooms and shredded nori make up this big bowl of comfort, but don’t forget … there’s also great pie.

7. Whole Grilled Fish from Peche

Although the type of fish and added ingredients vary from season to season, you can’t go wrong with this whole grilled fish from Peche. Yes, it can be pricey, but believe you me, there’ll be nothing left but bones because you’ll want to inhale every last bit.

8. Mississippi Lamb Meat Pies from Oak

This swanky, Uptown wine bar offers a great wine list, creative cocktails, live music and some incredibly tasty vittles like these Mississippi Lamb Meat Pies that they serve with Crystal Hot Sauce yogurt for dipping.

9. Ham & Gruyere Quiche from Toast 

Never in my life have I experienced a creamier, fluffier or more flavorful quiche (and I have been known to make quite a few of my own). Chef Cara Benson is a freaking magician.

10. “Loaded” Guacamole from Del Fuego Taqueria

As if fresh, bright guacamole wasn’t enough, the folks at Del Fuego have taken it upon themselves to stuff you silly with the addition of chicharrones (a.k.a. cracklins), tomatoes, pickled onion, queso cotija, roasted poblanos, pumpkin seeds, bacon (because the cracklins weren’t enough pork) and pickled jalapeno.

11. Cheeseburger from trūburger

A Chef Aaron Burgau creation, trūburger on Oak Street offers 100% Creekstone Angus Beef burgers, ground in-house and grilled to order. They also make swoon-worthy, hand-dipped corn dogs using Zweigle’s franks. 

12. Double-Cut Pork Chop from Toups’ Meatery

Not only is this pork chop perfectly cooked and drizzled with a cane syrup gastrique, it’s served with the best dirty rice in New Orleans. Chef Isaac Toups is the meat “master” and his super-sweet wife Amanda makes everyone feel like they’re family.

13. Mechada from Mais Arepas

Although there’s lots of great dishes on the menu at Mais Arepas, a Latin-American restaurant in Central City, I can’t help but order the Mechada almost exclusively. Slow cooked skirt steak, sofrito, maduros (fried plantains) and melted mozzarella are stuffed into a thick arepas (corn tortilla) and served with crispy plantain chips. Every time I think about this dish, I have an irresistible urge to return.

14. Crispy Chicken Wings from MoPho

They’re just wings, no big deal … right? Wrong! It’s all about the spicy/sweet sauce with accents of lemongrass and ginger. It’s “mopho-ing” awesome.

15. Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Peanut Brittle Ice Cream from Herbsaint 

It’s hard to pick just one dish from Donald Link’s flagship restaurant Herbsaint, but this one never fails to impress, especially when the warm pudding oozes out after your first forkful. 

16. Shrimp BLT Wrap from GG’s Dine-O-Rama

Whether the name is GG’s Dine-O-Rama or Gott Gourmet, this particular eatery has an abundance of great food. One of my favorites is the Shrimp BLT Wrap with sauteed gulf shrimp, fresh mozzarella, Nueske’s apple smoked bacon, roasted red peppers, avocado, roasted tomatoes, chili mayo and chipotle cream cheese. 

17. Mazorca from Baru Bistro & Tapas

An excellent spot to dine al fresco, Baru offers an array of Latin and Caribbean cuisine. One of the local favorites (and a dish they simply can’t erase from the menu) is the Mazorca with roasted corn, salao cheese, “pink sauce,” and crispy potato sticks. It’s hard not to shovel this in your mouth at one go.

18. Gulf Fish Almondine from Patois

Every dish is wondrous at Patois, one of my all-time favorite restaurants, but this one certainly stands out and seeing it hasn’t changed a whole lot since it first appeared on the menu years ago, it seems I’m not the only one who’s in love. Using whatever is fresh (and appropriate) from the Gulf, this fish is breaded, pan-fried and served with roasted potato gallettes, buttered green beans and drizzled with a citrus meuniere. 

19. Raisin Cinnamon Bun from Gracious Bakery

Baker and co-owner Megan Foreman will blow you away with her amazing pastries and breads, made from only the finest ingredients. Anyone would be the envy of the workplace if they walked in one morning munching on this gorgeous cinnamon bun and sipping on French Truck Coffee

20. Bacon-Wrapped Prawns from Salu

Mammoth Gulf shrimp wrapped in bacon and served in a garlic beurre monté (emulsified butter) … there’s just something wrong with you if the mere idea of this dish doesn’t make you salivate. Go see a doctor or just go to Salu.

21. Kurobuta Pork Belly from Three Muses 

Since it’s inception, Three Muses (and Chef Daniel Esses) have been serving this dish and it is still one of their most popular items. Sit back, enjoy the music and dive into beer-braised pork belly served on scallion pancakes and topped with apple chutney. 

22. Crispy Hen from Mint Modern Bistro & Bar

Spicy, sweet and just downright delicious, the crispy hen at Mint is worthy of a return visit. Not to mention that you get the hen (and everything else pictured) for a mere $8.50. It’s lunchtime!

23. Blackened Shrimp & Grit Cake from Boucherie

In a twist on the traditional Southern dish of shrimp and grits, Chef Nathaniel Zimet offers this stunning dish of blackened shrimp and blackened grit cakes in a warm, house-cured bacon vinaigrette.

24.  Tacos Al Pastor from Cowbell 

Chef Brack May not only offers a fabulous, grass-fed beef burger at Cowbell, he never fails to show off his native-Californian love for Mexican cuisine. Case in point, his sinful Tacos Al Pastor with achiote-rubbed pork, queso fresco, arroz verde, black beans, charred pineapple salsa and corn tortillas.

25. Blueberry Muffin from Maple Street Patisserie

Pastry chef and co-owner Ziggy Cichowski never fails to dazzle, showing off his extensive skill in bread-making and pastry crafting at Maple Street Patisserie. I mean, just look at this blueberry muffin! It’s almost as big as my head, but certainly not bigger than my stomach!

*P.S. This list barely scratches the surface of the incredible food to be had in our beloved Crescent City.

*P.S.S. I was going to do 35 dishes (like the Buzzfeed article), but I got lazy.  

2014 Jazz Fest poster by Terrance Osborne

It might not seem like it, but I’m a serious art fan. Aside from the books on my shelves, the only inanimate objects I care about are my collection. Though I love my family and friends oh-so-very-much, I would be hard-pressed if in an emergency, I had to choose between my photo albums and my art…because I am pretty sure my art would win.

Does that come off as heartless?

Every single piece captures periods (and people) in my life that I never want to forget. For example, I have a giant map of Middle Earth that my first love created for me, an intricate and absolutely amazing amalgam of maps researched from different editions of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Not only does the map embody my favorite literary adventure, it also brings back detailed memories of a most loving, painful, illuminating and exploratory 5-year stretch of my life.

A three-piece collection of bright, Murano glass straight from Italy were gifts from one of my dearest friends back in the Bay Area, and though we aren’t close anymore, whenever I look at the shimmering golden fish or orange dolphin, the years I spent with him come flooding back. A thrift-store find of a knight poised before a castle in the mists done in watercolor symbolizes my freedom and sense of adventure, as it hung in my first (worthwhile) apartment after college and a small print of Van Gogh’s “L’église d’Auvers-sur-Oise” is a constant reminder of a truly unforgettable 7-day vacation in Paris.  

What this all boils down to is a rational, fully verifiable excuse (to myself), so that I might purchase this year’s Jazz Fest poster. In all likelihood, I will not be attending the massive festival because a) I am too poor to afford the tickets and b) I just can’t party like I used to. BUT! That does not change the fact that I would LOVE to own Aural History: Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band by one of my favorite New Orleans artists, Terrance Osborne. I mean, don’t you want it? Osborne is so incredibly awesome to me because he sees New Orleans awfully close to the way I see it in my mind’s eye…colorful, alive, vibrant, joyous, soulful. His paintings automatically paste a huge stupid grin across my face, regardless of my mindset at the moment of viewing. Ultimately, I aspire to own an original painting by Mr. Osborne, but until then a print will definitely do.

Savoring Serendipity

It’s not a case of accidental fortune that I follow Chef Chris DeBarr wherever he may roam. From his days at The Delachaise on St. Charles Avenue to his highly successful venture with Chef Paul Artigues at Green Goddess in the French Quarter, DeBarr has earned my respect and devotion for his delightfully eclectic dishes and willingness to take a chance on something completely different. These qualities remain at his latest restaurant Serendipity, located in the American Can Company building on Orleans Avenue.

Several weeks ago, John and I decided to try Serendipity when they finally opened for lunch. Not only does a lunchtime menu offer us a more affordable option, the light is perfect for picture-taking.

When we walked into the restaurant, there was only one other table filled, so we got to choose where we wanted to sit. We chose a high table near the window and scanned the brand new lunch menu to see what tickled our fancy. While we waited for our food, John and I indulged in a couple of cocktails that were created by the geniuses at Bar Tonique in the French Quarter.  I had the “Serendipity Punch” featuring Quinta Infantado Port, house-made sherbet syrup, fresh lemon juice and Bittermen’s Amere Sauvage. John chose a “Fancy Brandy Cocktail” with Pierre Ferand Cognac, Lucardo Maraschino, strawberry and Angostura Orange Bitters. Both drinks literally danced on our tongues and we didn’t regret the happy little buzz one bit.

We decided to try two, very different appetizers, the first being 3 Sisters Stew made with black beans, hominy and winter squash that was finished with pumpkin seed and jalapeno molé. I thought it was hearty, warm and filling, but some flavor threw John off and after one bite, he wouldn’t take another. More for me! Our second dish was Crab & Corn Johnnycakes, basically cornmeal “blinis” topped with jumbo lump crab meat, roasted red pepper and eggplant puree and a sprinkling of wasabi caviar. While I enjoyed the flavors, I think the dish could have used a touch more of the puree because the thick cakes tended to make even the crab feel dry.

Before we could even gobble everything down, our entrees arrived. I chose a Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Shrimp & Oyster Salad with Romaine lettuce, radish, cucumber, yellow squash and Remoulade dressing. I inhaled the salad and John had to work fast to get a hunk of the shrimp that was wrapped in a slice of thick, smokey bacon. John chose the Two Run Farm Sirloin Steak with chimichurri sauce and a twice-baked potato and suffice it to say, there were no leftovers.

Finally, for dessert we decided to try the Chocolate & Almond Cake ‘Bruschetta.’  The cake was actually grilled (char marks and all) and topped with a honey-whipped ricotta and rich, dark cherries. Although I think it was a brave effort at the first-ever dessert bruschetta I’d ever encountered and the flavors sang well together, I couldn’t help being just a tiny bit thrown by the warm, grainy texture of the ricotta. To each his own! It certainly doesn’t mean I won’t be back to try his Tequila Shrimp Po-Boy or Homage to Hubig’s Pie.

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