Eight New Orleans Classics and Where to Find Them (as told by a local)

Everyone who comes to the Crescent City comes for the food. Yes, they are here on convention, or to visit a University or on business, a honeymoon or vacation, but its the food that they really want. The problem is that there are so many places that are so good. About 1100 of them in a four square mile area according to a local food writer.

Here are eight traditional menu items and the places considered doing the best at presenting them. Just keep in mind that for every restaurant that one can name as the “best”, there are 10 more that someone else can name…and they would be right on target too.

Shrimp Remoulade

  • Arnaud’s in the French Quarter
  • Upperline in Uptown

Both restaurants serve plump shrimp with a red-tinted remoulade; Arnauds is spiked with horseradish and Upperline tops Fried Green Tomatoes with the delicious sauce (their invention). 

 Brennan's Bananas Foster (couresty of: http://www.brennansneworleans.com/r_bananasfoster.html)Brennan’s Bananas Foster (couresty of: http://bit.ly/X0jmf)

 

Bananas Foster

  • Emeril’s Delmonico in the Lower Garden District
  • Brennan’s  in the French Quarter

The bananas sauteed in melted brown butter and booze dish was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé at Brennan’s Restaurant. It was named for Richard Foster, a friend of Owen Brennan, who was then the New Orleans Crime Commission chairman. Its still great at Brennan’s, but the theatrics table-side are wonderfully staged by the staff at Emeril’s.

 

Boiled Crawfish

  • The Galley  in the suburb of Old Metairie
  • Kjean Seafood in Mid-city
  • Kenner Seafood in the suburb of Kenner

The Galley and Kenner Seafood both serve ample portions of fresh boiled crawfish that will have you sucking the heads and pinching the tails till you can’t eat anymore. Kjean sells seafood for retail, and sells the little mud bugs by the pound, piping hot from the boiler.

Gumbo 

  • Dooky Chase  in the 7th ward
  • Liuzza’s by the Track in Gentilly by the racetrack

There’s so much in Leah Chase’s gumbo. The dark broth has shrimp, two kinds of sausage, ham, chicken and veal stew meat. It’s totally awesome. So is Liuzza’s Gumbo which relies on a melange of spices to bring forth the taste. The shrimp there are cooked as soon as you order, keeping them plump and firm within the stock.Central Grocery's claim to fame: the muffuletta. Courtesy of: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_AVCGf2CqyLM/SwllR3-WlEI/AAAAAAAACsI/gcKVV3I25Pc/s1600/central_01.JPG&imgrefurl=http://greenolivemedia.blogspot.com/2009/11/central-grocery-new-orleans-la.html&usg=__5zq93PspkSTAntXV1kZPJdZotgU=&h=888&w=632&sz=76&hl=en&start=11&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=EuVfvfx_InaSUM:&tbnh=146&tbnw=104&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcentral%2Bgrocery%2Bnew%2Borleans%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26tbs%3Disch:1)Central Grocery’s claim to fame: the muffuletta. Courtesy of: http://bit.ly/b8A5s0

 

Muffuletta

  • Central Grocery in the French Quarter
  • Cochon Butcher in the Warehouse District

The Muffuletta sandwich had its debut in 1906 at the now famous little Italian grocery in the French Quarter, operated by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant. It has been described as “one of the great sandwiches of the world.” It consists of one round muffuletta loaf, split horizontally. The loaf is then covered with a marinated olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler, and provolone cheese. Waiting in the long lines for the sandwich is well worth the effort as they still have the best one in town. Cochon Butcher, a relative new comer with an award winning owner/chef does a nice job with the sandwich using in-house salami.

 

Oysters Rockefeller

  • Bourbon House in the French Quarter
  • MiLa  in the Central Business District

At the Bourbon House, the animals arrive, still in their shells, lying atop a blanket of rock salt; butter, bread crumbs, cheese, blended greens, and a bit of anisette liquer topping them off (this is know as “the old fashioned way”).  MiLa, a cutting edge establishment, has modernized the recipe serving the poached oysters sans shell, with licorice root, cooked spinach, and a bit of bacon topping them off.

 

Roast Beef Po-Boy

  • R&O  in the suburb of Metairie
  • Merlin’s Place  in Gentilly

Both restaurants roast their own seasoned beef, apply the right amount of gravy and toast the bread. The beef is so tender it falls apart and does not need slicing. R&O opens the sandwiches up and runs them under the salamander (broiler) before serving, a technique which serves to caramelize some of the meat and bring out the flavor. Merlin’s is more of a joint than a restaurant serving interesting sides with their po-boys (can you say tamales?).

 

Trout Meuniere Amandine

  • Galatoire’s  in the French Quarter
  • Mandina’s  in Mid-city

This dish is a popular one at Galatoire’s.  Seasoned, floured and fried, the dish is then served with slivered almonds in a caramelized brown butter beurre blanc. Galatoire’s requires a jacket, so if you would rather dress-down, try Mandina’s which has almost the same touch on the delicacy except you’ll get the entree with fries on the side.

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Have you tried one of the classic menu items that have become synonymous with New Orleans cooking? Dined in one of the restaurants mentioned above? We would love to read your comments.

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