Less than three miles from our New Orleans bed and breakfast is the Camellia Grill: a diner staple in New Orleans, and a favorite of locals, students, and visitors alike, offering American food at great prices. While the Visitor’s Bureau does not include this on the list of must-do NOLA activities, we certainly recommend it!
When we say ” diner staple,” we mean it. First opened in 1946, the eatery has been in business almost constantly since. A short closure after Hurricane Katrina in 2007 found hundreds of notes pinned to the door from regulars and visitors, expressing their sadness at the closing and hopes for reopening. The diner’s very first waiter expressed his love for Camellia Grill, keeping his job for 50 years! Even after he retired, Harry Tervalon, Sr. kept ties with the restaurant, and was the one to cut the ribbon for the reopening after Katrina. Mr. Tervalon is not the only long-time employee, and we’re sure he won’t be the last.
People don’t just go to the Camellia Grill for the food – they come for the experience. Some call the it “old-school.” Others call it “classic.” No matter the term, one visit will take you back in time to when life was simpler. The U-shaped counters are dotted with those traditional, round diner stools, served by the friendliest waiters around. While there will probably be a wait for a seat and coffee refills are not free, the clientele is eclectic and varied, the atmosphere is true friendliness, and the delicious food is timeless American fare.
What to order? The burgers are a favorite: prepared with butter and onions with buns grilling right beside them. Other tasty choices are the roast beef with mushroom sandwich, Ruben, muffaletta, and chili cheese fries. Instead of a run-of-the-mill milkshake, definitely try the chocolate cherry freeze. For an off-time breakfast experience, definitely try the giant omelets, especially the Manhattan Omelet with an egg mixture that is whipped at high speed in a bar blender to make the omelet light and fluffy – combined with meat and vegetables. And save room for dessert! Customers rave about the Pecan Pie, and we fully agree. Chocolate lovers can ask for the Chocolate Pecan Pie – true decadence!
After a filling breakfast here at the Inn, we recommend visiting the Camellia in the mid-afternoon to avoid the largest crowds. Or go for a late-evening dinner! The Camellia Grill is an easy stroll up St. Charles Avenue from our New Orleans Inn – why not stop at Audubon Park on your way? Or, catch a streetcar just outside of the Inn for the short ride to classic American cuisine.