Gator, Gumbo, Crawfish, and Beignets…Eating Good in New Orleans
Ah, New Orleans. I still remember the excitement with which I visited and New Orleans didn’t disappoint. In fact, it exceeded expectations. One of the things we enjoyed the most was the food. Oh the glorious food.
I had a list of things to taste and hit the ground running once we got out of the car.
Our first stop:Oceana Seafood in the French Quarter. The mission: Eat gator. Yup. Alligator meat, a common dish in the area, nothing I had ever had in my life.
I didn’t know how to feel about it really. But I went for it. I ordered their Original Alligator Sausages. The sausages were topped with a craw fish (another dish I never had before) and mushroom cream sauce. In addition, I ordered the Louisiana crab cakes and a Hurricane to wash it all down. Luckily, I had my husband to share it with, as it is no surprise that none of those dishes are not particularly healthy.
I took a deep breath and ate a piece of sausage. It was both greasy and gamey. Can’t really say it was my favorite meat, however the seasoning was awesome which made me go back for a few bites before I moved on. The cream sauce was delicious as well, and I really liked the crawfish. The crab cakes were also very good. They had a little kick to them and were full of flavor. I topped it all off with a salad. It really was too much in one sitting to try, but I was happy I did. Check this place out for their great seafood selection, from breakfast to dinner.
My next dish to try: Gumbo. I actually had a few servings of gumbo at different places, but there is only one place where I was really impressed. Deanie’s Seafood in the French Quarter served us a delicious seafood and okra gumbo. Now, I am not at all a fan of okra, and wondered about this particular dish. But, I tell you, no other gumbo anywhere else I tried surpassed Deanie’s. Even if you have something else off the menu, make sure to start with a generous cup of their gumbo. You won’t be disappointed.
We had another very memorable eating experience, also not something we expected, at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, a short walk away from our hotel, Le Richelieu. We wanted pizza and this was close. That was really the extent of our thinking when we choose it. But man, were we in for a treat.
I ordered their gumbo as well. A chicken and andouille sausage version that wasn’t bad, but did not really compete in terms of the amount of flavors from my previous gumbo experience (though it was pretty good after adding a few drops of the hot sauce on the table). In my opinion, and again no surprise here, Louisiana Pizza Kitchen’s strength is in their pizza. I ordered a crawfish étouffée pizza which till this day makes my mouth water. I am guessing that their jambalaya pizza would be amazing too. The place is small and comfortable, not at all over-crowded or pretentious. The brick oven really added to the flavor of the pizza and I wish I had discovered this place sooner than I did as I would have come back a few more times to try their other pizza specialties. We loved sitting outside, watching the sunset over the French Quarter as we drank some local beer and enjoyed our little night out.
Last, but certainly not least: the beignets. I mean, really. How could one say they experienced New Orleans and not have eaten a beignet or two (or three, or four)? Deep fried, powdered-sugar covered, little bits of doughy heaven is what they are. And the place we kept going to have them: Cafe Du Monde, which by the way, is where EVERY tourist goes to have their beignet experience. Personally, I hate eating where all the tourists eat when I am touristing around myself, but there really wasn’t enough time to discover where else to grab these awesome treats early in the morning. The lattes are also highly recommended, and just know that five orders of beignets are like 10 or more, add coffee and it comes to about $27. We quickly learned that maybe that was too much…though I refused to order less than four.
The place is crowded, with very, very small round tables covered in an invisible layer of hardened and sticky sugar. The servers aren’t the friendliest people you will meet. I surmise that in the end they knew the truth. They knew they had beignets and thus you were their hostage and really even if they didn’t smile, or greet us with a cheerful “Good Morning!” we went back. Again and again. Because we didn’t care. We wanted our fix and only really needed to interact with them long enough to order a large dose goodness to let them know we were not fooling around nor counting calories. My only advice is don’t wear black. It will not be pretty.
Ah, yes. Eating good in New Orleans. Of course, we could’ve done a lot more damage to our waistlines had we been there longer, but our short visit was enough to give us a few wonderful culinary experiences. Ones we hope you will revisit should you make your way to the wonderful city of NOLA.