Good Eats in NOLA

I left New Orleans wishing I had a second stomach (and an additional liver wouldn’t have hurt either). My experience with Cajun/Creole food is … wanting. I once bought a box of Zatarain’s dirty rice in college and more recently I had a cup of gumbo at a Chicago establishment called Heaven on Seven. Hence I was very much looking forward to eating the real McCoy, namely gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, muffuletta, and of course, po-boys.

Let’s start with the Gumbo: I had a cup at The Pelican Club and it was okay. Dev had some broiled oysters which were good, but dinner overall was just marginally good. Not worth the final bill. Unfortunately this is the only place I tried gumbo.
Jambalaya: Did not have. I figured I’d eat it with my second bowl of gumbo which never materialized.
Beignets: The line at Café du Monde at all hours of the day was ridiculously long. So we didn’t have any beignets either.
Muffuletta: I was salivating for a piece of this since I read about the legendary muffuletta at Central Grocery in the French Quarters. But a million other people had read the same reviews and the line at CGM was also ridiculous. And sadly they were closed on Sunday and Monday. People who had both the beignets and the muffuletta probably didn’t get much else done given the waiting period.
Po-Boys (or as Steph calls them “poor boys”): Mother’s was the recommended place but every time I had room for a po-boy I was nowhere near this fine establishment.

Thusly, the five major food groups of Cajun food went un-eaten in my short little trip.
This brings me to what I did eat.

Oysters: Oh baby. I thought mussels were my favorite, but after having broiled oysters I am not sure anymore. Desire Oyster Bar and ACME Oyster House are two great places to get your fix.
Pralines and Candy: I did not know that New Orleans is famous for pralines until I got here and saw that every corner has a store of the “world famous pralines”. They are much too sweet but still worth trying. We bought a bag from Southern Candy Makers since they make theirs on site. Another great place for your sweet tooth is Laura’s Candies which have excellent orange confetti covered in dark chocolate.
Cheese: Dev found a place called St. James Cheese Company a bit off the beaten path. We hopped on the street-car and worked up an appetite while ooh-ing and aah-ing at the houses in the Garden District. I had the Manchego salad and Dev had the Kim Jung mmm sandwich; we shared a cheese plate. Next time, we will get lunch to-go and have a picnic at the nearby Audubon park.
Ice Cream: We walked out of SJCC complaining of eating too much and then immediately walked in The Creole Creamery conveniently located right next door – a dangerous block for lactose intolerants like Dev, but don’t let that stop you. It’s a mom and pop shop which only accepts cash. We had four mini scoops for $4ish – goat cheese with Figs, chocolate caramel with salt. mascarpone with nuts; bread pudding. So creative and so tasty.
August: We had lunch at John Besh’s August. Prix Fixe lunch menu is only $20.12; extremely small price to pay for the quality of food and flavores. Loved it.
Fast Food: While listening to live Jazz on Frenchmen St. we lost track of time and found ourselves on a Sunday night with very few dinner options. Dev opted for a couple of chicken sandwiches from Krystal. I will not recommend you to eat here if you can help it.

Time to eat with your eyes. I miss you New Orleans.

Corn with butter and Cajun seasoning at the French Market.
Manchego salad at St. James Cheese Company.

Kim Jung Mmmm sandwich at St. James Cheese Company.

Cheese plate at St James Cheese Company.
4 mini scoops for $4 (cash only) at Creole Creamery.
Libations during lunch at Chef John Besh’s August.
Amuse-bouche on the house at August.
Pate de Champagne at August.
Salad with pumpkin seed brittle at August.
Cheese plate at August.
Broiled Oysters on the half shell at Desire on Bourbon St.
Hurricane while strolling the streets. No biggie.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. She writes about everything from travel, food, books, and family. Her current project includes a series of children's books to teach Hindi. She is a native Tar Heel who has also lived in Washington DC and Chicago.

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