The Plate Lunch

If the title didn’t make it obvious, the whole purpose of this monthly column is finding scrumptious dishes of all shapes, sizes and flavors that won’t break the bank, ultimately less than $15. We all love it, but dining out is indeed a luxury, an unneeded expense, especially amidst this bleak financial storm we’ve all been trying to weather lately. Even fast food has become ridiculously expensive, considering the quality you receive…or lack thereof. Up steps the plate lunch.

Ahhh…the ubiquitous plate lunch. Home-cooked food that reminds you of Mom like baked chicken, steamed rice, mixed veggies and pan gravy are whipped up in your friendly neighborhood gas station or corner store and served in Styrofoam containers with a ton of napkins and plastic cutlery. Add a drink to that order and at most places, you’ll still walk out with change from a ten spot in your pocket. There are few more exceptionally economical meals you can find, not counting free church fish frys and hippie burritos.

Secluded among art galleries and office buildings on Julia Street, there’s a popular little convenience store called Louisiana Products marked by large green shutters and a full-sized American flag. Open for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday, this little shop hops from the moment they open their doors in the morning. Business-owners and art dealers all around swamp the tiny place, making Louisiana Products their daily go-to for breakfast or lunch…or both!

They’re well-known for their Tuesday ribs, Friday fish frys and super-affordable sandwiches that you can catch premade if you get there early enough. Not too long ago they were serving “Pastitso” (Greek Lasagna) with layered, lightly spiced ground beef and macaroni topped with a creamy bechamel sauce, but it was hard to resist the simplicity of roasted chicken with broccoli and mashed potatoes smothered in pan gravy. Both lunches were less than $8 each!

Across town on Bienveille and North Jeff Davis, it’s hard to miss the neighborhood’s only restaurant guarded by two imposing statues of Neopolitan Mastiffs, Neyow’s Creole Cafe. The cafe is frequently packed during lunchtime, but there is a convenient, free parking lot across the street set aside specifically for Neyows and plenty of outdoor tables with shady umbrellas in case you just can’t wait.

Neyow’s is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner with specials each day. You can find plates featuring everything from rib eye steak to bell peppers stuffed with ground beef, shrimp and crab meat. Like many other cafes, bars and convenience stores in New Orleans, Neyow’s offers a humongous plate of creamy red beans on Mondays served with white rice and your choice of fried chicken, crispy, breaded pork chops or spicy hot sausage. Plus, every lunch also includes thick, crusty slices of French bread and butter. All that food will only set you back $7.75! You’ll even have enough left over for a $5, house-made dessert like a sweet, sticky slab of Pecan Cobbler.

*Article originally published in the August 2012 issue of Where Y’at Magazine

**Louisiana Products is closed

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