I read an article recently about eateries in Mississippi with wonderful food and spectacular views. They may have nice views, but for the places I had been on the list, the food was nothing to write home about; the others I’ve never even heard of, so is the food honestly that great? Who knows.
I have eaten at a lot of local places and decided I’d share my views on food, because something that I adore is good food. It’s not just concentrated in Mississippi, though all of the places are the south, as that’s where I’ve found the best food to be. My sister reviewed my list and said it was nothing but dives. But, ya know, some of the best food can be found in strip malls and buildings with grungy looking facades.
I’ve decided to break it down by city, allotting each city its own post, as I think that would be easiest. We’ll start with New Orleans, shall we? Everyone loves it, or the idea of it, if they’ve never been.
You could spend so much time in this city and still find something new and wonderful to eat every day, from curb side markets and street vendors to a variety of restaurants from posh to local to chain varieties (but chains you don’t have in your town). However, I won’t be talking about any chain establishments if they have more than two localized locations.
Café du Monde
The only reason that this is first on the list, is because I’m starting with coffee and patisseries basically. Everyone wants to go to the original and historic Café du Monde in The Quarter for beignets (bin-yays) and café au laits. I completely understand. It’s très charmant! The river is right behind it, beautiful Jackson Square with St. Louis Cathedral in front. There’s the grand Cabildo and Presbytère buildings surrounding the square. There’s the general melee of tourists and locals, street performers and pigeons that set an entire scene. It’s a nice spot to simply sit and watch.
I, myself, have many fond memories here and encourage everyone to visit at least once. But, I also don’t really want to always be bombarded by all of those people when I merely want to have a coffee and some beignets. Fancy a tip? Don’t breathe while noshing on beignets, you’ll only get confectioners sugar all over yourself.
Café Beignet is still in The Quarter, it is just not immersed in all of the action. This section of Royal, near Canal is rather quiet. The streets are filled, not with throngs of people, but lined with parfumeries, governmental buildings, and shops of fine antiques and jewelry. It is a nice break from the tourist hubs. Café Beignet also does not hold the historic sway of Café du Monde, but it is still very full of charm.
Look at that interior! I adore the rounded roof giving this long room a tunnel effect. The exposed brick and the tropical leaves painted on the ceiling. Really, however, most of the charm is in the courtyard to the left. They have cats. I mean, New Orleans has cats, and several of them have decided that they own the courtyard of Café Beignet. I’ll take cats any day over noisy tourists and pigeons. Besides, their beignets and coffee are just as fabulous as they are at Café du Monde.
Le Croissant d’or Patisserie
It seems a shame to go to New Orleans and not visit un Patisserie. In another quiet section of The Quarter, this time closer to Esplanade, sits Le Croissant d’or. While I will admit this place was fantastic and the interior far superior to the patisserie in my home town, C’est La Vie out-ranks this one in taste, but only by a small margin.
The coffee was excellent and strong, the croissants that perfect consistency of slightly chewy, very flaky, and the ultimate of buttery goodness. These people know how to make thousands of folds in their dough correctly!
Nirvana Indian Cuisine
I absolutely crave excellent, non Americanized food and Indian is no exception. I have had this cuisine in four different cities, but Nirvana is by far my favourite, though they were all wonderful.
This one, by far, has the best atmosphere. Poshy, yet also somewhat casual. But, it’s not atmosphere that I really go somewhere for.
It is always for the food. Always. I would recommend, well, everything. My personal favourites, however, are the lamb korma, the raita, the naan, the samosas, and the saag paneer. Enjoy.
It’s nothing to look at, inside or out, but the service was really courteous and prompt. The portions ample and the prices low. It was some of the best damn chicken fried rice I’ve ever had in my life. Everything we ordered from there was perfect, actually.
I don’t remember if there was room to eat in, all I know is that this is primarily a take-away place. Which is exactly what we did, since our hotel was only a few blocks away. We ate our food in the August evening of New Orleans, sharing the courtyard with several roaches and I still couldn’t be pried away from my meal. Though one can’t be bothered with large tree roaches in the south, especially in New Orleans, or else you’d never get anything done. But I will admit, even being born and raised in the south, they can be quite off-putting when you’re trying to eat. What I’m trying to say here is that this food was delicious.
I’ll admit that I’ve never really tried German cuisine, unless you count the not so terrific fare served at the local Methodist Church for Oktoberfest, or the canned sauerkraut that my dad will heat up. But, I have studied German cuisine and have read descriptions of what it should be. I would say that considering the owners and chef are actually from Germany that it should be pretty perfect, but I’ll also add that it matched all the descriptions.
The atmosphere is too adorable. As soon as I walked in front of the window it was almost like I wasn’t in the states anymore and inside felt like I was somewhere deep in Germany. Kudos for the atmosphere there.
This… is not what I had. I had the Wienerschnitzel, sauerkraut, spätzle and some beer. I don’t drink beer. Ever. It was absolutely lovely. Something brewed only in Germany and shipped to this restaurant. I, of course, detest all sauerkraut that I have eaten… until this. Of course everything else was wonderful. I can’t even remember what my sister had, but it was fantastic too! I sometimes dream about this place, I’m not ashamed to admit. Next time we go back to the city, we are eating here. And I might just try whatever all that is pictured in the photo.
While my sister and I do eat a lot of Americanized Mexican food, as there are agazillion of them in our town, we don’t generally prefer them. This one, however, is quite delicious. It’s not Tex-Mex, nor is it by any means authentic, but it’s pretty close as far as just fantastic taste. Basically, it far surpasses your everyday run of the mill blanded down for Americans, “Mexican” food.
I highly recommend the black bean soup and anything in flour, fried in butter. But, I’m thinking there’s not much that would be bad here.
When I read they had an African restaurant I promptly said to my sister, “WE ARE GOING!” African cuisine is so far removed from my everyday world that it is something I absolutely had to have. It is authentic cuisine from the countries of Gambia and Camaroon in West Africa.
I honestly can’t remember what we ate as it was a few years ago that we were there. Everything was a party in our mouths though. I do remember the fried plantains and they are also something that I dream about. Oh, fried plantains, how I love thee!
The historic Clover Grill has been flipping burgers since 1939. It’s a quaint, very 50’s pink all night diner. The burgers are cooked on the grill and covered with old hub caps. That might turn people off, but I can dig it.
Don’t expect charm and niceties. It’s a 24 hour diner… right off the rowdy, touristy section of Bourbon. The staff can be snarky, but so can a lot of people in New Orleans. If you’re tender hearted or can’t take a jibe, perhaps this is not the place for you. But it was a damn good burger.
The Gumbo Shop
I admit that I have not eaten a lot of gumbo in New Orleans proper. It does not, however, mean that I do not know what gumbo is, or what it should taste like. It’s just we either have gumbo with locals at their homes or we whip it up ourselves from our cookbook from the 1930’s put out by a local auxiliary club. But, this is the gumbo that I have tasted in a New Orleans restaurant and it is perfection. The colour and texture of the roux, the crab claws, the taste, the smell. I doubt you’d find any yankee-fied chef boyardee tomato heavy, okra/filé (fee-lay) absent “gumbo” in New Orleans, but this is definitely not that… and well… it’s about as authentic of gumbo as you can get, I’d say.
Please, when you go, just get THE gumbo, as in the seafood gumbo. It bothers me to no end when someone ends up a restaurant that is famous for something, and yet orders something else and says it wasn’t good. Well, of course it wasn’t. They’re not known for that thing, they’re known for/and put ALL of their effort into the thing that you didn’t order, but should have. Don’t look at the menu, just order the gumbo.
And here, my friends, is an entry that is definitely not a dive. This is very fine, very high class dining. High French-Creole cuisine since 1840. This is a place I couldn’t even hope to dine at, but I have. Once. My wealthy aunt who traveled the world and sold only the best Persian carpets to the wealthy of Montreal because she was a world renowned expert, insisted I eat there. She felt it was imperative that she treat me to something high class and something French related since I was in my first or second year in the language.
I was not going to turn that down. I have no idea what we ate since this was about twenty years ago, but I do remember the opulence, the dishes, the fact that she had to approve my attire before we even left for the city, and that she did all of the ordering… en Français. Which I know is not a prerequisite for dining there, but she does love to show off.
Well, I also remember that the food was divine and that she was pleased that I was graced with manners far above my allotted station of non-wealthy country mouse. Anyways, I think it’s worth a visit, though I read that they’ve relaxed on their traditional standards. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. You go and let me know, yeah?
Do you have an favourite eateries in New Orleans? Let me know as I’m always looking for great new places!
My next entry we’ll hit the far northern states of Maryland and North Carolina. It’s not much I enjoyed from there, but the food I did have was fabulous, so I’ll mention them.