I have many New York restaurants to catch up on here, but considering the overwhelming food experiences I had this weekend in New Orleans, I can’t help but update non-chronologically. This time, I was in this food-lovers city for my sister’s bachelorette party, and while most of the festivities revolved around embracing her last days as a “free woman,” we devoted a good portion of the weekend to visiting some of its best food stops (as should only be expected).
As luck would have it, I launched into the weekend with a horrible bout of what I thought to be food poisoning at the time, but am now diagnosing as a stomach virus. Whatever it was, it caused me to have an unthinkable urge to eat exclusively bread. But after the first major episode of violent illness, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and ate every meal like a champ (though every time I thought I was in the clear I proved myself wrong – still, it was worth it).
Our weekend debuted with Jacques-imos, a common NOLA favorite, more-so for its upbeat, eclectic setting than the quality of its food. Its menu is filled with a huge variety of specialty items that come with salad and two choices of sides – I chose mashed potatoes and red beans and rice to go with our waiter’s recommendation of blackened red fish and shared Jessie’s fried chicken. But after eating starters of fried cheese grits, alligator cheesecake, jambalaya, and fried green tomatoes, I hardly had room for the main. Still, the fried chicken was as tender and flavorful as it comes, producing only smiles at all ends of the table.
Our waiter was gracious enough to round out all of the food with free shots to honor the bachelorette, but the best part about the experience was the communal atmosphere. With its ridiculously strong and inexpensive drinks, it’s difficult to find a sober person in the house, and large groups tend to intermingle – so get ready for some random experiences if you plan to visit.
Our next major food excursion took place during brunch at Brennan’s in the French Quarter, the supposed founder of bananas foster. Though we waited over 40 minutes for our 12pm reservation, once we were seated we had a flawless experience thanks to our friendly waiter Troy. Surprisingly, the best deal on the menu is to order a three course prix fixe, which at $36, comes with a first course, a main, and dessert. Of course, a variety of the options tack on a few extra dollars here and there, but I ordered “simply” and stuck to the originals. For my starter, I went for the strawberries and cream, the eggs benedict for my main, and the chocolate pecan pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. This was all after sharing a deliciously sweet Milk Punch - a concoction of brandy, half and half, vanilla, sugar, and nutmeg; what the bartender depicted as “Christmas morning in your mouth.”
While the appetizer and dessert were definitely not necessary, they fit perfectly into the inescapable scene of gluttony in New Orleans. Strawberries and cream reminded me of my mother’s quick-fix dessert concoction growing up, and the pecan pie, with a drip-less vanilla ice cream, was one of the best I’ve ever had. Plus, the pure excitement of watching Troy flambe bananas in a pan table-side was definitely worth the order. Thankfully, he made enough for us all to taste, and honestly, it was indescribably good. Just imagine warm, brown-sugary, buttery bananas layered over ice cold vanilla ice cream. How on earth can that be bad?
After more snacking, ordering delivery for dinner that night, and getting Cafe Du Monde beignets and iced coffee to go this morning, we headed straight for Felix’s, a favorite of Justyn’s oyster-obsessed friend Mather. We waited in a short line and were seated at one of the many cafeteria style tables facing the oyster bar in the back. Don’t let the casual set-up and rushed service fool you – this place does not joke around about quality food. We sucked down 1.5 dozen oysters, fresh and charbroiled (so buttery and flavorful), as well as a crawfish po-boy, gumbo, and jambalaya. For $20 a piece, it was a steal, and just enough to satisfy my cajun-creole food needs for a good few months.
After being to New Orleans many times, I’ve nailed down the trend of my visits. Each time, I end up consuming something (whether it be food or drink) pretty much every hour of the day, and when I return, I feel like hell – no lie. Regardless, I never fail to take the feeling in stride and embrace the fact that the city is my backdrop for ultimate gluttony, and the painful bloat after consistent intake of fried, heavy food is completely worth the pure joy I get out of having these experiences. ‘Til the next time…