King Cake, Pralines and the last of Louisiana

It all started here

New Orleans, LA

With its inexplicable rules

New Orleans, LA

and improvised confessionals

New Orleans, LA

A shout out to the bar we visited several times during Mardi Gras because they have a “taco truck” serving late night food in the back

New Orleans, LA

It’s a uniquely NOLA experience to wade through the massive dancing throng in a reggae bar and order yourself a quesadilla and a beer to go.

Another uniquely NOLA experience? Pralines

New Orleans, LA

Don’t get them packaged in plastic. Order them sweet, crunchy, warm and fresh from a counter. So delicious it makes your teeth hurt!

I chased down this King Cake, because Mardi Gras requires King Cake

New Orleans, LA

Even though this one had no baby. Gypped!

A salute to road beer silos

New Orleans, LA

And the boys who joined me


New Orleans, LA


New Orleans, LA


New Orleans, LA

And to an amazing trip.

Au revoir, N’awlins! We’ll be back, don’t you worry. And until then

New Orleans, LA

Peace out.

New Orleans, LA

Sazerac Bar

Before I took this trip, my sister asked me if New Orleans had a signature drink and I told her it was the Hurricane. This might have been true several years ago but Hurricanes seem to have fallen out of favor since Katrina, for obvious reasons.

I didn’t know anything about the Sazerac.

The Sazerac is one of the oldest known American cocktails and it’s basically a whiskey cocktail (originally made with Sazerac brand whiskey) with a secret ingredient. Absinthe.

Absinthe has a magical haze around it, what with references like this one from Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Plus the reports of it driving people mad and the almost world-wide ban on account of it being potentially poisonous, a ban that stood for almost 100 years before it was again made legal in the US a couple of years ago.

That’s a lot of drama over a liquor. Or rather, a spirit. Anything with that kind of history is going to acquire mythical status whether or not it rightly deserves it.

The Sazerac has absinthe in it, along with whiskey and bitters, and since it’s the official drink of New Orleans, I had to try it. I wanted to drink the best one in town and where better place than the Sazerac bar in the Roosevelt Hotel?

Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans

The Sazerac bar is a gorgeous old-school gentlemen’s club type of place with lots of leather and wood, deep armchairs and a feeling of entitlement. Not cheap and not my normal thing but sort of delicious.

However, compared to the surroundings, I found the Sazerac underwhelming

Sazerac Bar

And I like whiskey.

I might have liked the Sazerac better on the rocks, or colder, or perhaps with a touch more absinthe. It tasted mostly like whiskey, which meant I could have just ordered whiskey and gotten something I liked better. Or perhaps a different whiskey cocktail like this Old Fashioned that Ryan ordered…

Sazerac Bar

But that said, I would go back and do it all over again because I love the story-telling symmetry of finishing my trip to New Orleans by drinking the official city cocktail in a beautiful old namesake bar.

Even if you don’t like whiskey (or alcohol), make a stop at the Sazerac bar. Rest your feet, order something cold and revel in the dim cool quiet of all that New Orleans history. It’s a great place to while away the hot afternoon and by the time you leave, you’ll be ready for dinner.

Tomorrow, a few last bits and pieces of my far-too-short trip to NOLA.

Adolfo’s in the Marigny

This place was my idea and we nearly didn’t eat here because the wait was a supposed hour and forty five minutes long.

An hour and 45 minutes to eat a place where the doorway looks like this

New Orleans, LA

Now I know that sketchy doorways like this hide amazing restaurants all over the world and the overwhelmingly delicious smell of garlic and tomatoes made me pretty sure even the table cloth would be worth eating, but the real reasons we waited were two fold:

1. We couldn’t find another restaurant on Frenchmen’s Street that caught our fancy

2. Adolfo’s is built over a blues bar called the Apple Barrel and nothing mitigates a long wait for a table like cold beer and live music.

New Orleans, LA

So, we put our names on the list, ordered a round of beers and hung out listening to a great blues guitarist. Just as I was about to order a second round, a guy with a clipboard came down the crowded staircase, he hollered a list of names and no one answered but us so we got the table. The whole process took about 30 minutes.

Many of the reviews online gripe about this long waiting list and the rather lackadaisical manner in which the tables are filled so I’ll only offer these pieces of advice: stand near the staircase so you can hear your name, keep checking back with the host/servers to make sure they haven’t crossed you off the list accidentally and keep an eye on the time. After a certain point their kitchen will close and they won’t seat you even if you are on the list.

The food was definitely worth the 30 minute wait. We ordered a variety of things including the oysters pernod

New Orleans, LA

Spinach and oysters in a pernod cream with crusty bread? Sublime. I could have just had this for dinner.

But of course I didn’t.

Adolfo’s ocean sauce gets a lot of love online so I ordered it over the freshest fish they had available, which happened to be amberjack. The sauce is half crab and half shrimp and crawfish.


It was incredible but it bore a striking resemblance to the oysters in ingredients and consistency. For reasons of variety, I probably would have preferred Matt’s smoked pork chop instead.

New Orleans, LA

I wish I’d thought to put a dollar bill or a Volkswagon or something next to that pork chop to give you an idea of the scale. That was one gigantic hunk of meat. Richly flavored and delicious.

Vegetarian options were slim so Ryan had pasta and said it was good but I think that you shouldn’t order pasta if you go to Adolfo’s. You can get good pasta a lot of places and you won’t wait 2 hours to get it.

Adolfo’s is fun. We happily waited for 30 minutes and thought it was worth it. I loved the Apple Barrel and the music and I think every tiny 10 table restaurant should be built over a blues bar to give the waiting patrons an amusing way to pass the time. Would I have been as happy had I actually waited an hour and 45 minutes? Hard to say.

As with most of my NOLA restaurant recommendations, you’ll have a great eating experience if you aren’t in a hurry and you settle in. As another reviewer put it “This isn’t America, it’s New Orleans.” The normal rules don’t apply here.

Slim Goodies Diner for Breakfast

New Orleans, LA

Who is Slim Goodie? Why does that egg have wings? Would we have loved this breakfast half as much if we hadn’t been starving AND traveled over an hour and a half from one end of New Orleans to the other AND utilized both the bus and the streetcar to get here?

So many questions.

I do know this, I’ve taken a lot of breakfast pictures that make me happy but this one’s my new favorite.

New Orleans, LA

A table crossword puzzle done in ink and showing many differences of opinion, one single pancake to share as a breakfast appetizer, my coffee cup on its 5th fill, a g i a n t plate of delicious food and (unseen) a locked front door because we were the last customers served that day.

That’s shrimp etouffee on top of eggs on top of spinach on top of potato pancakes with the ohsoclever name “Jewish Coonass.” Yep. Howzabout it?

And this pancake?

New Orleans, LA

Sweet potato. And just about the best pancake I’ve ever put in my mouth. Most of the Slim Goodie reviews online mention this pancake, so here’s another one:  It’s light, fluffy and just sweet and nutty enough.  It’s bonkers delicious. Order it.

I don’t know why the Slim Goodie egg has wings but I recommend you follow it. And then eat it.

New Orleans, LA

PS: There were men in lucha libre masks staring down at me from the bathroom wall. I found that… curious.

Bennachin for Vegetarians

New Orleans, LA

It should be pretty clear by this point that New Orleans isn’t a vegetarian friendly city. Creole/Cajun food in general isn’t vegetarian. Pescatarian… yes, but not vegetarian. I would recommend Bennachin primarily to those vegetarians who want to eat something besides salad and another version of mac-n-cheese when they visit NOLA.

Creole food has a lot of African influences so Bennachin fits into the New Orleans food scene quite nicely with a lot of shared ingredients like beans, rice, coconut and sweet potatoes. It’s a busy place, which led to the purchase ‘”walking around beers” while we waited for a table.

New Orleans, LA

And a beverage buffet complete with BYOB wine in styrofoam cups at dinner, cuz we just classy like that.


These plantains reminded me of South American cooking, which makes (some) locational sense given that this is West African cuisine.


I didn’t love my lamb dish because the meat was SO tough

New Orleans, LA

But Corey’s beef was excellent.

New Orleans, LA

And for some reason I didn’t get pictures of whatever Ryan ordered but he loved it (whatever it was) and I do know that it was the first place in a week where he could fold the menu and say “I’m a vegetarian. Just have the chef make me something.” It was worth the whole dinner just for that.

Bennachin food is good and cheap and there’s lots of it. It’s a tiny place and busy; so, like every restaurant in New Orleans, it’s better not to be in a hurry. Bring a bottle of wine and settle in. There are a lot of yummy sounding entrees on the menu.

And just for fun, here’s a picture of the Louis Armstrong arch.

New Orleans, LA

Pretty, right? It’s walking distance from the restaurant so go visit after you eat.

I’ll have a few more NOLA food picks for you next week. Have a good weekend!

Antoine’s in the French Quarter

Café Du Monde is a classic because they make good food. Antoine’s is a classic because of longevity.

Antoine’s first opened in 1840 and they’re America’s oldest family run restaurant. They have a bunch of dining rooms (we ate at their Hermes bar) tons of Mardi Gras memorabilia and bragging rights to a long list of celebrity clientele.

However, a restaurant is only as good as its food and I thought the food was ok but it didn’t bowl me over. They say they invented Oysters Rockefeller so we ordered them.

New Orleans, LA

Nice old school picture, don’t you think?

I’ve had Oysters Rockefeller before and liked them better elsewhere. This thick bready topping overwhelmed the oysters. It didn’t have much flavor and I don’t love the piping because it reminds me of a twice-baked potato in the grocery store frozen food section.

I also got the Oyster po boy, which was also ok but under seasoned with an unbalanced ratio of bread to oysters to sauce. Too much bread, not enough sauce.

New Orleans, LA

The boys got sandwiches that were ok but nothing to write about.

Overall, I shrug and say “Meh. It’s ok.”

I know that we were at their bar instead of the white tablecloth shi-shi restaurant next door, but the food quality shouldn’t suffer because we’re drinking from beer bottles.

Antoine’s might be a long-standing restaurant with a glorious history but there’s much better food in the French Quarter.

Go elsewhere.

EAT New Orleans for Breakfast

Let’s say you’re in New Orleans, you want a giant breakfast in a charming French Quarter setting and a chance of getting something healthy. Might I suggest EAT?

New Orleans, LA

Ryan and I came here on a Saturday morning for “breakfast” around noon-ish (don’t judge…) and stayed long enough to watch them close their doors at 2. The waitstaff was relaxed, the food spectacular; we got a table by the window; really, it was perfect.

It’s also that ever popular localorganicfarmtotable but I’ll let you go to the website to look for chicken headshots. I’m here for the food.

EAT New Orleans

Fried green tomatoes with grits and bacon. Spicy remoulade, perfect grits, delectable everywhere.

New Orleans, LA

Cornmeal pancakes with pecan maple butter and blackstrap molasses, eggs and  fruit. C’mon, it’s Ryan. He has to.

Go to EAT for a great breakfast. Besides being finger lickin’ good, it’s a command in CAPITAL LETTERS.


So you should.

Cafe Du Monde for Beignets

Let’s talk about beignets and Café Du Monde.

New Orleans, LA

Now, I’ve heard tell of another café in New Orleans that sells beignets. I planned to visit (purely for research) and compare beignets from the two places (solely so I could write about it here) but the boys wearied of my food death march through New Orleans and Café Beignet landed on the chopping block. So, given that I have nothing to compare it to, let me tell you why you should go to Café du Monde instead of Café Beignet.


Ok. Here it is: Café Beignet has a full food menu and also sells beignets. Café Du Monde sells beignets and coffee. That’s it.

To put it another way, if Café Du Monde sells bad beignets, they’re out of business. If Café Beignet sells bad beignets, they just sell more sandwiches. And you know what? Café Du Monde has absolutely nothing going for it except for beignets so they have to be good.

Here’s the Café Du Monde experience. You arrive and get in line. The cafe is vast and open air and full of people.

You wait.

You inch forward in the line and scan the place for an empty table. You wait longer.

You see tourists hauling themselves up, brushing off errant sprinkles of powder, grabbing their dozen shopping bags and searching for an exit. You pounce! You sit down at their small sticky table piled with wads of used napkins, styrofoam cups and plates heaped with abandoned drifts of powdered sugar.

And you wait. You’d like to get agitated and look around for a waiter but I recommend settling in. Remember that you’re on vacation and you don’t have anywhere to be and if this takes forever, it matters not. Bring reading material.

Probably at some point a waiter will wander by, clean off your table and ask you how many coffees and how many beignets. Most (all?) coffee in New Orleans has chicory in it. It’s bitter and dark and better drunk with milk. Café du Monde serves a really good café au lait but don’t bother to buy their signature ground coffee to take home. It’s terrible.

Order a maximum of 2 beignets per person and even if you usually drink your coffee black, order it with milk. Your food will arrive quickly.

New Orleans, LA

After that, it’s all over except the eating.

Pick up a beignet; knock off a pound of powdered sugar and bite. Brush away the sugar that falls on you and swig your café au lait. Repeat. Relax. You’re on vacation.

New Orleans, LA

The beignets are good. The coffee is good. Life is good.

Breakfast at Brennan’s

I know it’s hard to believe that we would wake up from a 5 (7?) course progressive dinner and be hungry for breakfast but it happened. And Brennan’s gets a lot of press for their breakfasts so we thought, why not? Why not follow a 5/7 course meal with a 3 course breakfast less than 12 hours later? We’re on vacation in New Orleans! Do it up!

Well, it turns out that we did it so that you don’t have to, because while we handled everything the Quarter and the Marigny threw at us the previous night, breakfast really put us over the edge.

Let’s start with the starter, shall we?

New Orleans, LA

That’s a baked apple in double cream. I’m not even sure if there’s a technical distinction between heavy cream and double cream but I will give it extra points (double even!) for thick creaminess. A whole apple in a cup of cream. That’s the starter.

Breakfast? Glad you asked. I got the Eggs Shannon

New Orleans, LA

Fried trout and poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce over creamed spinach. Catching a theme here?

And then there’s breakfast dessert, because who doesn’t need something sweet to chase down the remnants of the baked apple coated in double cream on top of creamed spinach?

How about bananas, butter and brown sugar?

New Orleans, LA


New Orleans, LA

This cute little guy was the definite highlight of the whole meal. He Loved his job.

New Orleans, LA

Seriously. Have you ever seen anyone look so pleased? I hope they coat their paintings in fire retardant, but other than that: Awesome.

Since it’s bananas foster, there’s one missing ingredient and that would be…

New Orleans, LA

Yep. Ice Cream.

Is this the part where I mention that I also got a breakfast cocktail? Rum Punch, which they say has milk….

New Orleans, LA

But I’m pretty sure it was cream. It was delicious too. Had an egg-nog kinda thing going on.

So here’s the bottom line on Brennan’s: It’s a lot. Of everything. We got the three course meal but even the one course meal is a lot. It’s also expensive and decadent, the service is great and the food is ok. They do have a lovely porch but they don’t have the best breakfast in the Quarter by a long shot. I’ve got a much better candidate for that award later in the week.

However, if you have a cream deficit, go to Brennan’s.

Brennan’s: we have more cream.


Green Goddess for a Bacon Sundae

Corey sent me a link about this bacon sundae when we first planned our New Orleans trip, so there was no question that Green Goddess would be our dessert destination. I mean, come on! Look at this deliciousness!

The Green Goddess

Don’t you want to catch that drip of caramel and lick it off your finger?

My only criticism is that it needed more bacon. Admittedly, that’s my one criticism of life (needs more bacon!); but in this case, the savory sweet balance leaned heavily on sweet and I wanted a tich more of the smoky crunchiness. I loved the praline ice cream and caramel though.

For variety, and Ryan McAlpine, we also got the Sultan’s Nest, which featured absinthe ice cream and some crunchy stuff.

The Green Goddess

I wasn’t in love with the dish but the texture mix was fantastic. Little creamy, spiky, fluffy bites of goodness.

New Orleans, LA

I have to give the Green Goddess staff high marks for attentiveness, in a very New Orleans kinda way.

When we arrived, the hostess sat us and after we’d been there a minute or two, a guy sitting at the table next to us came over and started chatting us up about our Mardi Gras experience (spectacular, thanks) and then asked if he could take our order. Turns out he’s the chef who was having a little sit down with some customers.

We had questions about the drink menu so the chef said he’d send the bartender out to talk to us. When the bartender arrived, he answered questions, promised a specialty custom drink for Matt, took our drink order and vanished.

One of the servers brought out our food and drinks, the bartender came back by to ask if we were happy with our drinks and then 20 minutes later, a different waitress delivered the bill and announced that they were closing but we could stay as long as we wanted. She just needed to make sure we didn’t need anything because “we’re all getting our shift drink and we have a tendency to forget about our tables.”

After a bit, Matt went in to use the bathroom and when he didn’t come back out, I peeked in the restaurant and saw him sitting at the bar with the servers. He was eating boudin with them and telling them all about our progressive dinner. I went in to retrieve him, tried the boudin (better than Gumbo Shop) and joined in the discussion, wherein they gave us directions to a local bar for a nightcap.

Super casual, friendly and laid back. Very Louisiana.

We took them up on the nightcap (because why let the night end when it’s going so well?) and went to the Chart Room, officially the darkest bar I’ve ever stepped into.

New Orleans, LA

So dark I couldn’t see the bottles behind the bar. Or the bartender. Or my money.

We had one drink there and then hit Bourbon Street for our final course of the night.

New Orleans, LA

New Orleans, LA

I had a “hurricane flavored” daiquiri so I fulfilled my mandatory hurricane quota in NOLA.

And after 7 restaurants, 7 courses (? does each nightcap count as a course?) and 6 hours we wandered through the French Quarter and caught a cab home.

New Orleans, LA

Thanks New Orleans for an epic evening! At some point we’ll be back for progressive dinner #2!

Don’t worry, that was just one night. I’ve got a lot more food coming at ya next week.

Have a good weekend. See you then.