It’s true. Aside from an incredibly vast array of performances from musicians all over the world, many folks also attend our city’s annual Jazz Fest for the food. Who can resist crab meat po-boys, cochon de lait, alligator pie, muffulettas and of course, the ever-popular Crawfish Monica? But, if you didn’t get enough to eat while in the fairgrounds (boogieing and beer-guzzling can be extremely time consuming, after all) there are plenty of spots around the festival that will fill your belly without putting a massive dent in your wallet.
One of the most obvious choices for post-festival munchies is Liuzza’s by the Track. Located a mere two blocks from the fairgrounds on North Lopez Street, Liuzza’s is one of those “divey”, neighborhood joints that features po-boys, seafood platters, gumbo and burgers. Their signature dish, a BBQ Shrimp Po-Boy, cuts it pretty close to the $15 mark, but it features a ton of fresh, local shrimp that have been sauteed in a peppery, buttery sauce and stuffed into a pistolette. Whatever shrimp they can’t fit inside the bread (at least a dozen) tumble freely out onto the plate. This decadent sandwich is next to impossible to eat with your hands, but if you don’t mind butter dripping down your chin, strap on the bib and prepare to get your money’s worth. Liuzza’s also offers a rich, wonderful chicken and andouille sausage gumbo by the cup (a small-ish bowl), or by the bowl (a really big bowl) that’ll warm your insides. The only problem is the devastatingly long line you’ll encounter trying to get a table during Jazz Fest.
Looking for something a bit different from the usual New Orleans fare? Why not try Santa Fe Restaurant on Esplanade Avenue, another spot that’s also only a few short blocks from the fairgrounds. Instead of po-boys and gumbo, Santa Fe (like the name implies) offers Southwestern fare like spicy gazpacho, fresh ceviche and bright guacamole with warm, house made tortilla chips. Sip on their signature margarita’s made with fresh ingredients and enjoy a Tuna Tostada with seared yellow fin tuna, black beans, corn salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream and jalapenos or a gigantic, pulled-pork burrito topped with cheese and served with sour cream and guacamole. Santa Fe is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am to 10pm and offers a large patio dining area so you can enjoy your meal al fresco.
Just down the road a way, there’s a new casual Italian cafe and pizzeria that dubbed Nonna Mia. Owners Kathleen Turpel and Palermo native Alessia Lepanto threw open the doors back in 2009 and the neighborhood has embraced them ever since, with regulars visiting the eatery almost daily. There’s a variety of different pastas and pizzas, all extremely affordable and like most Italian food, hearty and filling. Enjoy Sicilian-Style Cannelloni, Eggplant Parmesan, Caprese Panini, or a personal-sized Margherita pizza. Nonna Mia also offers several house made sweets like tiramisu and cheesecake, as well as gelato from the famed Angelo Brocato’s.
If you aren’t too weary and are willing to take a short hike, head over to Broadview Seafood on N. Broad Street for some of the spiciest seafood in the city. Open daily from 11am to 7pm, this standing-room-only eatery offers boiled crab, shrimp and crawfish by the pound with all the fixings (including turkey necks and pigs feet), not to mention huge, staggeringly inexpensive po-boys and seafood plates replete with salad, toast and a choice of fried rice or French fries. The employees can sometimes seem a little brusque, but with the fabulous seafood they offer, this spot is always packed with hungry patrons eager to get their grub-on.
Near City Park, on the other side of the Bayou St. John from the fairgrounds, there’s a perfect spot for lunch on the corner of North Carrollton Avenue and Dumaine Street called Toups’ Meatery. Although this restaurant has only been open a short time, it has quickly become a local favorite for obvious reasons. Chef Isaac Toups shows flexes the culinary muscle that he grew through his upbringing in Rayne, Louisiana and perfected while working within the Emeril’s Restaurant Group, including the upscale, St. Charles Avenue restaurant, Emeril’s Delmonico. For a fabulous, yet affordable, lunch at Toups’ try his Fried Chicken Sandwich with capicola, brie and green onion aioli or perhaps one of his special burgers made with ground pork and beef and topped with pickled squash, sharp cheddar, thick-cut bacon and herbed aioli.
*Article originally published in the April 2013 issue of Where Y’at Magazine