“The Lion wants courage, the Tin Man a heart, and the Scarecrow brains. Dorothy wants to go home. What do you want?”– Wicked
There’s just no denying the sage words of of that pig-tailed little girl with ruby-red shoes and a scruffy little dog in tow…there really is no place like home. Home is the archetypal symbol of warmth, safety, comfort and, if you were lucky, good food. Many restaurants all over the country, even the world, have been striving to provide that sense of contentment with a focus on everything being “house made” and dishes “like grandma used to make” and the eateries in New Orleans are no exception.
One of the most homey places to eat breakfast in the city is the Trolley Stop Cafe on St. Charles Avenue. Not only is it inexpensive and casual, but the people who work there are always friendly and welcoming and the food reminds me of breakfast in my mom’s kitchen with lots of hot coffee, bacon, waffles, hash browns and grits. Pull up a chair near the window and watch the streetcars rumble down the avenue while you enjoy dishes like their French Special with two eggs, two slices of French Toast, two strips of bacon, a choice of ham or sausage and a large helping of grits. Or, if you’re feeling extra nostalgic, order the Pigs in a Blanket – three fluffy pancakes rolled around link sausage served on another pancake and topped with powdered sugar and whipped butter for only $6.75. Be sure to clean your plate!
There’s another neighborhood spot for a nice breakfast that’s hospitable and cozy, replete with live music and outdoor tables, so you can dine al fresco in the warm, morning sunlight. Located on the corner of Oak and Dublin Streets, the Oak Street Cafe serves breakfast all day till it closes at 2 pm and offers everything from bagels and donuts to a full, traditional and not-so-traditional dishes. Try one of their breakfast po-boys like the “Mexican Stand-Off” with scrambled eggs, grilled onion and bell pepper, fresh salsa, sour cream and guacamole or just a simple Huevos Rancheros. Although it rings in at a whopping $10.99, the fan favorite is the Eggs Beauregard with two, over-easy eggs and two sausage patties atop flaky, buttermilk biscuits and everything smothered in white sausage gravy.
For those living in the city, this Harahan restaurant on Jefferson Highway is a bit remote, but worth every extra minute it takes to get there. Charlie’s Seafood is owned by the well-known, extremely capable Chef Frank Brigtsen of Brigtsen’s Restaurant fame. A low-key, comfy diner, Charlie’s serves excellent local seafood, both boiled and fried. Any Louisiana seafood you could dream of gorging on is available here, most at a price under our $15 mark, including spicy, boiled crawfish (fixings as well), shrimp, crab, catfish, oysters…you name it. Plus, they also offer rich gumbos, creamy corn & crab soup and a syrupy-sweet pecan pie with a buttery, flaky crust. You definitely won’t regret going that extra mile.
Finally, this piece would be remiss without mentioned the neighborhood favorite, Joey K’s. Located on the corner of 7th and Magazine, this eatery has become immensely popular with tourists, but the locals have always appreciated its value. Sure, Joey K’s offers po-boys and seafood plates, but some of their most-loved dishes are the daily specials, stuff you’d find at your “momandem’s” like Stewed Chicken with mashed potatoes and green peas, Beef Brisket with cabbage and gravy, Stuffed Bell Pepper served with gravy-laden rice and Meatloaf with a side of baked macaroni and fresh green beans. There’s always new, home-like specials on the chalkboard, but if you can, don’t leave without trying their Blackberry Cobbler a la mode….just like mom used to make.
*Article originally published in the April 2013 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**The Oak Street Cafe is closed and Charlie’s Seafood is no longer owned/operated by Chef Frank Brigsten