Although we may live in a city unlike any other in the country that existed well before the United States, one that has been so heavily influenced by the French, Spanish, Haitians and Africans that it seems to exist a world apart from the rest of the nation, New Orleans is most assuredly “all-American.” We just do things a bit differently down here . . .
For example, while the rest of the country might be scrubbing their barbecues, getting everything ready for grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, quite a few of us will probably be cleaning our fryers, preparing batters and setting large pots to boil outside in the backyard.
Over on the corner of Freret and Jena Streets, you can get a taste of what we consider “American home-cooked food” at the High Hat Cafe. Local entrepreneur and chef Adolfo Garcia has teamed up with Chip Apperson, a restauranteur from Memphis, to create a neighborhood eatery focused on local food with nods to other Southern flavors. Among other delicious dishes like their rich Gumbo Ya-Ya and buttery BBQ Shrimp, one of the stand out items that you can find at almost any other restaurant in the city (not to mention inside many homes) is their Fried Catfish. Thick pieces of fresh catfish filets are battered in corn meal and corn flour for one of the crispiest fried fish plates, “guaranteed” to go over like a firework display over the Mississippi River. It’s served with tartar sauce, coleslaw, hush puppies and a pile of fries, but I recommend trading out the French fries for some Sweet Potato Salad and washing it down with some Abita beer.
You know you can’t really celebrate without some dessert and what could be more American than apple pie? Cruise on down to Manning’s on Fulton Street in the Warehouse District for a local favorite kicked up a notch or two. Quickly becoming known for one of the best spots in the city to kick back and watch the game accompanied by an unlimited supply of tasty, upscale munchies created by local chef Anthonyale, Manning’s offers dishes like Cochon de Lait “Poutine” and Brisket Pulled Pork & Red Bean Chili. But, for that ultimately American, yet uniquely New Orleans sweet tooth, you’ll want to order a Hubig’s à la Mode.
Created in a New Orleans bakery since 1922, Hubig’s Pies are inexpensive, deep fried delicacies that can be found in almost any store in town. Manning’s has taken this time-tested favorite, warmed it up, topped it with Kleinpeter Vanilla Ice Cream (yet another local tradition) and drizzled it with a thick caramel sauce. If that won’t have you singing the Star Spangled Banner with your mom and dem, I don’t know what will.
*Article originally published in the July 2012 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**Hubig’s Pies is no longer in business