New Orleans is a pilgrimage every foodie should take. Having returned from a family vacation in what might be the hottest city in August, it was a reminder that fried food should not be a part of our daily diet. They say when in Rome, or the French Quarter, you just can’t help yourself. You need to be a part of the food culture that has made New Orleans one of the premier restaurant cities in our country.
In preparation for our trip, I scoured the internet and talked to our seasoned foodie friends. I gathered lots of tips and reviewed all the lists of restaurants hailed for their traditional NOLA cuisine. I was determined to plan every meal in advance. A worthwhile task I might add. Here are a few highlights of what turned out to be a very delicious summer adventure.
Breaux Bridge Benedict. Up until this point in my life I’ve never ordered any type of Benedict. But look at it! Towers of French bread with smoked ham, homemade boudin (a regional sausage specialty), cheese, poached eggs and creole hollandaise sauce. Good grief! I think this was the moment my arteries prepared to harden, and we just got there.
Beignets. You can happily overload on this deep-fried dough and mountains of powdered sugar. Just don’t inhale when you take a bite.
Oyster Po’ Boy. You can’t go to NOLA and not have a Po’ Boy. It would be like visiting Philly and not having a cheese steak. After researching where to find the best Po’ Boy, Johnny’s kept coming back as one of the best places to go. I opted for the classic oyster poor boy.
By far, one of the best dinners I’ve EVER had. Cochon is the French word for pig, so it’s no coincidence that it was the focus on the menu. I say Hail to the Pig! Praise the Lard! However you want to phrase, it was mind-blowing beginning to end, including my Sazerac.
Wood-fired oysters with chili garlic butter were my favorite dish of the night, hands down. I wish I ordered seconds.
Macaroni and cheese that you have to dig through the crunchy top to reach the creamy cheesy inside.
One place came up repeatedly in my research, Willie Mae’s. Voted as the best fried chicken in the US by many, including Bon Appetit, this was the best meal of all. Located in the middle of a neighborhood somewhere in NOLA, we got dropped off by a cab and prayed one would come back and find us when we were done. There is often a line around the building to get a table. They are only open for lunch.
This is soul food at it’s finest. Crunchy, piping hot fried chicken with peas and macaroni and cheese. A perfect ending to our stay. I can’t imagine visiting again and not going to Willie Mae’s.
We were traveling with our kids so I predict an adult only trip would be a bit different. Live music is everywhere, but not for those under 21. We did manage to eat a reasonably good dinner at Mulate’s. Selected because they had dancing and live Cajun music. The food was pretty good, but the old lady dancing and playing the washboard stole the whole night. See if you can see her in front of the band. Very cute!
* Not the greatest pictures. I left my camera behind and opted to use my iPhone. Hopefully you can still appreciate the experience and will make a trip to NOLA to enjoy the food and fun. We will definitely be going back.