A Day in the Life of the New Orleans Food culture: A taste of artistic deliciousness for the perfect
If you have ever been to New Orleans, you probably faced the dilemma of where to go eat. In a city known for celebrity chefs & artistic creations in kitchens around every corner, your options are boundless. Whether you are looking for a great breakfast, or a quick and delicious lunch, New Orleans is a foodie's dream. New Orleans is a destination where people go to eat, listen to live music, and party until the wee hours of the night. Living in Houston, New Orleans is the perfect weekend road trip to experience a wonderful and unique culture that centers around the exact thing HungryOutlaw.com is about, great food & live music.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I have two spots that leave you craving for more anytime you come back to the city.
The Ruby Slipper
- Finding a Ruby Slipper is pretty easy, with four central locations (Mid City/Canal St/Magazine St/Frenchman St). After my first visit to the Ruby Slipper, I need to go back every time I visit. My go to breakfast is the cochon & eggs. It is essentially a heaping pile of roasted shredded pork debris over handmade biscuits and topped with a rich and creamy hollandaise with 2 poached eggs. This is a pork lovers fantasy, as this is without a doubt in my top 5 all time favorite breakfasts entrees. If you are not a pork lover like myself, Ruby Slipper has several other fantastic options, from their bananas foster french toast, to their Louisiana staple shrimp & grits. Their daily specials are always changing, and always a great option. My last visit they featured pancakes with chocolate ganache, Reeses peanut butter cups, and toasted crumbled candied pecans, topped with a housemade whipped cream. On any given weekend, the line gets big pretty quick at any of the four locations, so get there early. You will be happy you waited for a breakfast this delicious.
Biscuits & Buns on Banks, Banks Street
- I often like to avoid the hustle & bustle of the city, and enjoy finding the cool eclectic neighborhood joints. My old artist buddy Skip Nola turned me onto a cozy breakfast & lunch joint in the Mid City area where he has painted Nola themed murals throughout the restaurant. Its a funky little coffee shop in the front, and a sit down cafe in the back. And as advertised by the name, the biscuits are killer (and free with your meal). They serve them with homeade jams that by itself can make a complete breakfast. However, you do not want to come here for just the biscuits, because the housemade specialties are to die for. My favorite is the fried andouille sausage hash cakes, house potatoes with two eggs & creole cheese sauce. Its every bit as awesome as it sounds. If hash cakes are not your thing, you cannot go wrong with a house favorite, grilled brie on waffles with housemade blueberry compote topped with powdered sugar. This takes blueberry waffles to an entirely new place that will surely blow your mind.
Depending on how big of a breakfast you feast on, you may or may not have lunch. But if you do, and are looking for a great place that the locals go outside of the French Quarter, you can make your way to the Garden District and enjoy a delicous New Orleans lunch.
High Hat Cafe, Freret Street
- Just about every visit to this beautiful city, I crave lunch at this cozy hidden treasure (and never turn down thier desserts, so save room). With plates ranging from their spicy seared gulf fish w/ shrimp hash & new potatoes, to their famous High Hat burger with pimento cheese. I always add the pimento mac & cheese as a side because it is absolutely ridiculous & mind blowing. When its time for dessert, they will always have a seasonal pie special, from a strawberry rhubard pie, to chocolate chess pie, or a buttermilk pie topped with mayhaw jam and housemade creole cream cheese ice cream. Yes, I said cream cheese ice cream, and its as great as it sounds. If pie doesn't do it, you can always leave happy after having a griddled glazed donut with the cream cheese ice cream, if you are not in the mood for the pies. Either way, you will leave full, happy, and likely ready for an afternoon nap.
After relaxing for a few hours, and walking around the city discovering the crescent city culture, you will have worked up your appetite, and need to grab dinner. Again, with so many options, I find myself gravitating to one main spot every time I am in town.
Cochon on Tchoupitoulas Street
- This incredible establishment is owned by one of the cities more beloved James Beard Award winning chefs, Chef Donald Link. Donald Link brings a unique twist on Cajun Southern cooking. Cochon is a bit on the pricey side, but worth every penny. Cochon also cures their own meats, and even has an incredible sandwich spot around the corner called Cochon Butcher that features their highly recognized and award winning specialties. I always order from the boucherie menu, and get the smoked pork ribs with pickled watermelon as an appetizer. As a BBQ guy from the north, I thought "I can make some mean ribs". However, I have nothing on Chef Link. These ribs have a taste like no other ribs you will ever try, and they melt in your mouth immediately as your taste buds salivate for more. When its time to order your entree, you have a vast selection of unique dishes. Everything from rabbit & dumplings, to Catfish Courtbouillon, and even a simple oyster & bacon sandwich. You may even bypass the entrees, and load up on a variety of killer sides. My favorites are the mac & cheese casserole or the shrimp & eggplant dressing. No matter what you get, you can always top your choices with their housemade Louisiana hot sauce. All I know is that when I start making my New Orleans trip plans, Cochon is always a top priority.
After your incredible dinner at Cochon, you set out to listen to some live music. If you are lucky, you can catch a Kermit Ruffins show, or one of the many awesome brass bands that party in the streets. At some point, you will start thinking about dessert, and again, the options are endless. Most people seek either beignets, bananas foster, or bread puddings. I have found another masterpiece in the form of bread pudding that is a must have (when in Rome kinda thing).
Luke on St Charles Ave
- For many years now, I have seen Chef John Besh on several Food Network shows, and always thought that the foods he prepares on television look incredible. I learned about Luke in 2014 when I was on a mission to try a John Besh restaurant. As I was walking through the city, I was craving bread pudding when I stumbled into Luke. Chef Besh has made a masterpiece with his bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and hot buttered pecan sauce. I have had my share of bread pudding in my day, and never had I tasted something so amazing. It is incredibly rich, creamy, & perfectly decadent with just the right touch of sweet & savory that will have you begging for more. John Besh takes a simple bread pudding concept, and elevates it to heights never seen by any other chef. I completely understand the Food Networks love for this man after just trying his bread pudding alone. Hats off Chef!!!
The great thing about this city, is that anyone can go and create your own unique food experience that will leave you telling every one you know that you know about some amazing joints that you discovered throughout your New Orleans journey. No visit to Nola is complete without having a beignet at Cafe Du'Mond, or enjoying a Poboy from a neighborhood dive like Genos or the Parkway Bakery & Tavern. My best advise is to keep your smartphones handy and do a simple search on Yelp to help you guide your next foodie adventure in the crescent city. Pack some comfortable walking shoes, and set out on the cities trolley cars to make your way to some of the greatest places you will ever discover.