7 Eats you must not miss in New Orleans

1. Café du Monde

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Café du Monde is a coffee shop on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is best known for its café au lait and its French-style beignets. In the New Orleans style, the coffee is blended with chicory. The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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THIS is the place for people watching!

So what the hell is a beignet? Beignets are square French -style doughnuts, without a hole, lavishly covered with powdered sugar. For my Malaysian readers, they look and taste like a sweet version of the  ‘Ham Chiem Peng’ (Chinese doughnut).

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The word beignet (pronounced bey-YAY) comes from the early Celtic word bigne meaning “to raise.” It is also French for “fritter.” Beignets, a New Orleans specialty, are fried, raised pieces of yeast dough, usually about 2 inches in diameter or 2 inches square. After being fried, they are sprinkled with sugar or coated with various icings. Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians.

If you haven’t Beignet-ed.. you haven’t lived;)

Price range : $
Add: Cafe du Monde, 813 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA. Tel (504) 581-2914

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2. Mandina

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In a city renowned for its small, funky neighborhood joints, Mandina is the ultimate for great Nawlins food. Tommy Mandina’s family has owned and operated this restaurant and bar since the late 1800’s, and the menu hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years or so. This is a good thing!

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You need to come here for the best Homemade Gumbo and Turtle Soup au Sherry ($4.50 for a cup; $7.00 for a bowl) and Po Boy in town. If not for Keith’s lovely friend Pauline, I would not have managed to get out here, to this small unassuming restaurant away from downtown New Orleans. The gumbo was thick and starchy – not my favourite thing but Pauline tells me I am actually normal because all her Malaysian friends didn’t take to Gumbo either.. so sue me, ’tis and acquired taste!

Gumbo is an acquired taste!

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The turtle soup, before everyone goes up in arms, was in fact, mock turtle soup — no “shelled creatures” involved, don’t worry. Ciki detected small chunks of ground beef and veal, tomatoes, chopped boiled egg, and seasonings in beef broth. Ciki was over-eating by the hour !

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Mandina’s Fish is awesome fresh as well. Just a squeeze of lime and you are all set. Enjoy.

Price Range: $
Add: Mandina, 3800 Canal St New Orleans, LA 70119. Tel (504) 482-9179

3. Camellia Grill

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High-5!  The waiters here were name -tags like “sleepy”. They ‘high-5′ you as you sit at the counter waiting for your breakfast to be cooked. Feared to be another Katrina casualty, the Camellia was bought by some local restauranteurs and had its grand reopening in April of 2007. Located on South Carrollton Avenue near St. Charles Avenue, at the River Bend, it has become unbelievably popular with the locals, with an almost cult like following. Again, a big thank you to Pauline, because I would never have found this place on my own.

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Dude, what’s cooking..? (This is mah man, Sleepy!)

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Twenty-two stools around the counter, white-jacketed waiters who dote on you, the best omelets on the planet, great burgers and sandwiches and blue plate specials, and pecan pie to die for. Oh, and grits (the white stuff)! I was introduced to grits and all I can say is .. Yucks:P

Watch the cook ladle out the grits on to the plate!

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Have you ever seen an omelet so fat and puffed up? Fluffy!

While there is no one signature dish, the Chef Special omelets is a real house specialty- bacon, ham, onion, Swiss and American cheeses and French fries all held together with lighter than air eggs whipped in a blender! Now there’s a trick to learn – no wonder the omelets turned out so fluffy and nice.

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Blend it baby..!

Price Range: $
Add: Camellia Grill, 626 South Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118-1008. Tel (504) 309-2679

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4. Crawfish at Dennis’s seafood in Metairie

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Forget about having your crawfish at a regular sit down restaurant. How about getting it weighed straight at the wholesalers, having them cook it fresh, then taking it away and eating it out of the back of your SUV?

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The people here can be really crabby, forgive the pun, but if you are with a regular (such as Pauline) they are really rather obliging and even agree to pose with a bucket of crawfish for me:P

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Show me the Crawfish!

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Crabby waitress with the Crawfish. A riot.

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This place has the best boiled crabs, crawfish and shrimp in town and is situated on Lorino street , Metairie. It is family owned and has been in operation for over 30 years. A great seafood market where the locals go. It’s pretty hard to spot tourists here unless you are taken to Dennis’s by a discerning NOLA friend!

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Complimentary Bib. Pauline models.

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Take away your freshly cooked crawfish and eat it out of a bag, in the back of your SUV.

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All that hard work shelling the thing, for this tiny morsel, but man, is it yummy!

Price Range: $$
Add: Dennis’s Seafood , 4428 Lorino Street,  Metairie, LA 70006-2322, (504) 885-2209

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5. Drago’s for Chargrilled Oysters

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Drago’s .. another one of the fantastic must eats that Pauline dragged me to!  This place is touted to be where the legendary charbroiled oysters were first created and also where you’ll find the best lobsters with the best prices outside of Maine. Oyster farming in Louisiana was started by Croatian immigrants many generations ago and normally runs in the family.

That’s Darling Pauline, on tape.. cute voice huh?

At Drago’s, the people are super friendly. It’s the goal that Mr. Drago and Klara Cvitanovich had when they opened the restaurant in 1969. They set out to offer delicious seafood and a good time to guests for a reasonable price. This is a family business and the atmosphere is well, family!

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Klara is still at the front to greet her guests. Tommy Cvitanovich, Drago and Klara’s son, is there to see that things run smoothly. And now Tommy’s daughter helps her grandmother at the front as well! Throw an oyster shell and you will hit a.. drago;) At 85, Drago himself does not pick up the oysters anymore, but you can still see him at the restaurant most nights except when he has to play Grandpa to his grand kiddos.

At 85, Drago himself does not pick up the oysters anymore, for obvious reasons.

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I’m not sure I can articulate my awe for Drago’s charbroiled oysters without crossing slightly into the realm of expletive (positive) words for emphasis.  I don’t know what I love most. Watching the cooks hammer the oysters and prepare the goodies, or talking to the charming waiter who seems to know Pauline by name (maybe because she dines here twice a week with visitors:P) or slurping up the exquisite buttery, cheesy, creamy, oysteriness of these shelled creatures.  I mean… I’ve been eating raw oysters for a while now, but these NOLA ones, man they really take the cake!  Fantastic. Do yourself a favour. Come here and gorge yourself silly.

Price Range: $$
Add: Drago’s, 2 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130-1656. Tel (504) 584-3911

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6. Emeril’s Delmonico

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Where can you go for truly high-class Creole cuisine? Winner of many prestigious culinary and restaurant awards, Emeril’s Delmonico is a mainstay in New Orleans dining with a great wine-list to boot!  Located on St. Charles Avenue this historic restaurant offers classic Creole Cuisine with the contemporary dedication to food in the 21st century. The major specialty is steak and that is what I had – Creole-seasoned USDA Prime fillet mignon, rib-eye steak and New York strip, all dry-aged on the premises.

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Getting down and dirty with the Pork Cheeks and dirty rice.

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I gave Gumbo a second chance and loved it this time!

But while the good old fashion red meat is great, there are also a lot of other wonderful dishes on the menu. The crispy pork cheek is a real standout! Kudos to Lagasse and chef de cuisine Spencer Minch for inventing such a fine dish. Served over rich, semi-spicy Creole dirty rice, it’s tender and succulent and probably the most delicious pork dish we had this on trip. Actually, I would go so far as to say that the pork cheeks with dirty rice, the gumbo  & the gnocchi dishes, were all outstanding. I liked the gumbo here as it was not as starchy and gooey as in some other places. Fantastic food!

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Price Range: $$$
Add: Emeril’s Delmonico, 1300 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130. Tel (504) 525-4937
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7. Stella!

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Based on a recommendation article from Boo of Masak-masak, we found Stella! This charming French Quarter restaurant, was warm and appealing if not a little pricey. The clever, arty food here is heavy on design and construction – however, be prepared to wait up to 30 minutes to eat, even if you have a dinner reservation. We had a reservation for 9.30pm, so do the math, we were only seated at 10pm.

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Our meal started with a cute little amuse bouche of  Louisiana shrimp infused with kimchi, nestled in a mango purée, crowned with crispy taro strips. The sweet aromatic mango complimented the tangy crustacean, while the kimchi flavors added zing and spice to the ensemble. Tres tres magnifique.

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For appetizers, I highly recommend the Hudson Valley Foie Gras BLT with Foie Gras Confit, Truffle Mayonnaise, Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips and Sweet Persian Cucumber Pickles, a decadently stacked pile of exquisite liver, oozing fats and creaminess, that will impart a fuzzy glow over the dinner table for the rest of the evening.

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a decadently stacked pile of exquisite liver, oozing fats and creaminess, that will impart a fuzzy glow over the dinner table for the rest of the evening.

For the mains I recommend the Lobster, Egg and Caviar- Farm Egg, Canadian Lobster and American Paddlefish Caviar which was super fresh and not forgetting the Butter Poached  Lobster with Crisp Claws, New Potato Salad, Heirloom Vegetables and Dill Sauternes Butter. Both are superb entrees not to be missed!

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After dinner we had a chat with the waiter. Apparently the menu changes daily and it is always interesting to see what Chef might be experimenting with and there is always a really cool pastry chef at work – the restaurant always has excellent homemade ice-cream treats, a big plus in my books.

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Complimentary Desserts at Stella! What stellar service!

Stella! is clearly a labor of love and the food is marvelous. Highly recommended.

Price Range : $$$
Add: Stella! 1032 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116-3202. Tel (504) 587-0091

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Price Range:

$ cheap

$$ moderately affordable

$$$ expensive


The New Orleans Saga (5 part Series)

1. You Ain’t Lived if you Ain’t Eaten New Orlean’s Beignet

2. 15 Free things to do in New Orleans

3. 7 Great Eats you must not miss in New Orleans

4. 5 great Ways to see New Orleans

5. 10 Top Tipples in New Orleans



Comments

  1. Wow. What a smörgåsbord of gastronomic delights! Me, I’d definitely start with the New Orleans version of Ham Chiem Peng and work my way down your list from there… ;)

  2. wah looks like when we asked for some food action, we got it big time! yum!!

    • Damn hard work writing this post OK! glad u like it .. of course I enjoyed writing it immensely.. but the amount of organizing;)

  3. What a delicious holiday! :) :)
    (Inspiring! Definitely moving New Orleans up on my list of Places To Visit Before I Die…)

  4. everything looks excellent! if i ever make it to new orleans, i won’t have to research anywhere else about where to eat … now if only u could have smuggled some of that crawfish in your luggage back to malaysia! :D

  5. Brother B says:

    The following is the first verse of a very popular song. Guess what song it is?

    Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
    Sold in a market down in NEW ORLEANS
    Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright
    Hear him with the women just around midnight

    Answer: Brown Sugar by Rolling Stones

  6. Hehe, yeah the gumbo thingy looked a bit errr… not-so-tasty! Crayfish & lobsters it is for me! The ham-chim-paeng looks good too, but minus the sugar please!

  7. i just finish cleaning my screen by licking it! tar pau some ham chim peang for me pls

  8. What a wonderful Post Ciki! You make me my heart flutter! wow :)
    Looks like you had a blast in New Orleans!!!

    Now… I’m hungry. :( Everytime!!

  9. Whoa! What a journey of food! Amazing work, Ciki!

  10. Pure poetry!! Love everything here – even the grits look inoffensive! I think I’ll head off for an early night’s rest after this. All the pics here should lull me to a delicious slumber!

  11. OMG! The memories…. I miss Gumbo and those crawfish too! Pauline took me to a place at the edge of the lake (that massive one, Porchatrain or something) and we had buckets full of those amazing crawfish for a pittance!
    Pauline’s looking GREAT! So cool that you two could meet up.

    • yea, thx so much for introducing us. if not for her, I would only have half the stuff to blog! she is one cool chick:)

  12. YUM!!! Great work. Awesome pictures, too. NOLA is one of my favorite cities in the world, and the food there is one of the main reasons for my love of it. Great food, great people, great fun, just a great place. Thanks for taking me back since it’s been a few years since I’ve been there.

    • Adam thank you for your kind comment and thanks for stopping by our blog:) I am really glad I got to experience it once. I would not mind going back to Nawlins twice, three times.. etc etc ;)

  13. I’ve had Gumbo, and you’re right. It depends on who makes it, like with so many things. I like the caption about the “Crabby” person :)

  14. This is crazy! So much good food and all I could do was ogle. Ciki, you so cruel! why?!!! I’m on diet.

  15. All good stuff but I would have to add a muffaleta from Central Grocery. It is the sandwich to end all sandwiches.
    -David