Mighty Life List
Apr 29 2011

10 Things to Taste in New Orleans

This beard belongs to my friend Pableaux Johnson, a New Orleans native who literally wrote the book on eating in his home town. Whenever we got hungry, I called Pableaux, so he could tell us where to go, what to order, and how to make our meal a better experience. Much of the advice below is straight from Pableaux’s mouth, and I’ve never eaten better. (Thanks again, mister.)

1. Shrimp Po’ Boy at Parkway

Go hungry. If you can, go hungover. Walk past the line winding through the patio, and find the bar in back. If you can get a seat, the waitress will take your order right away. Order the Shrimp Po’ Boy, the sweet potato fries, and a side of the beef gravy for dipping. If it’s the season, you’ll want a Strawberry Abita too.

Stay as long as you want. Have another beer.

2. Beignets at Café Du Monde

Once you’ve tasted these beignets, the memory will bring you comfort. Warm, soft, sweet, and your soundtrack is a man singing gospel on the corner.

3. Hamburger at Slim Goodies

The quintessential burger, the first I’ve eaten in a restaurant that reminded me of the ones my mom fried up in a cast iron skillet at home. Thick, salty, fatty perfection.

4. Moscow Mule or House Sazerac at Bar Tonique

Come to Bar Tonique while the sun’s still out, and have a seat. Don’t make any special requests, don’t try to direct your bartender through the mix. Just sit down, and let them give you something better than what you know how to order.

If you’re a whiskey drinker, the House Sazerac will make you calmer, more acute. What you’re tasting there is a little fennel. If you’re thirsty and want something juicy, ask for the Moscow Mule. Knock it with your straw, and watch the flurries of fresh ginger dance around the ice.

5. Muffaletta at Cochon

Cochon has an in-house boucherie, so order something meaty like this Muffaletta. The cocktails are just as good as the food, and and the food is just fine, thank you very much.

6. Strawberry Abita on the porch

First off, I’m usually dubious about flavored beer. The Strawberry Abita, however, doesn’t try to pretend it’s a wine cooler. It tastes like cold beer with a little bit of extra summer on the backend. Like eating iced strawberries and popping open a beer chilled in the same bucket.

7. Turtle Soup at Commander’s Palace or Brennan’s

Unfortunately, turtle soup isn’t to my taste, but you’re a visitor so you’re honor-bound to try it. I tried a bowl at Commander’s Palace — where they take three days to make it — and a bowl at Brennan’s. They were remarkably similar to me, but I had a sentimental preference for the bowl at Brennan’s because the staff was singing happy anniversary to a gray-haired couple at the next table.

When they ask if you’d like some Sherry floated on top, you would.

8. Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House

It’s hot. You want a drink with a cucumber in it, and this is where you should get it. Wait to sit on the patio.

9. Eggs Benedict at Stanley

Pableaux said if he had three days to eat breakfast in the French Quarter, he’d eat at Stanley all three times. Fair enough.

10. Strawberry Shortcake at Commander’s Palace

Make your reservation, fasten your pearls, and set aside a few hours for lunch at Commander’s Palace. When they offer you a dark napkin because your dress is black, let your brain unclench. Order the two-course special, and ask for the House Martini, which is a quarter. You heard me. (If you don’t drink martinis, the House Cosmo is also 25 cents, as are a nebulous blue drink, and a florescent green drink, neither of which we can discuss here.)

Everyone will tell you to finish up with the bread pudding soufflé, but if the strawberry shortcake is in season, you know what to do. Bring a cigarillo in your clutch, because you should be pleasantly illuminated by the time you leave. There’s a lovely graveyard across the street where you can chat with your girlfriend, and pat your hair back into place while you smoke.

34 Responses to “10 Things to Taste in New Orleans”

  • FreeRange Pamela Says:

    Oh, Commander’s Palace, I long for you. Great round-up for my next time in the Big Easy. That is all.

  • Lisa Says:

    I read posts like this and think to myself “I need to travel more.” And then I think, “no, that’s not the problem, I need to travel more with people like Maggie.” I can almost taste that Pimm’s cup from the confines of my cubicle.

  • Megan G. Says:

    Why am I self concious at being the first person to comment? I also hate being the first person at a party.

    At any rate, my boyfriend noted how funny it is to see your bearded friend’s face just below “10 Things to Taste in New Orleans.”

  • Megan G. Says:

    Phew! Thanks, Lisa and Pamela!

  • Ris Says:

    I have made it my mission to find the best Eggs Benedict in the world. I think I will have to try this Stanley place to fulfill this mission.

  • Kate Says:

    This makes me want to book a flight immediately, if not sooner.

  • norm Says:

    Oh man. This is a to-do list. Don’t be alarmed by that thwacking sound, it’s my wife assaulting me with a magazine because I’ve never taken her to New Orleans.

  • Daffodil Campbell Says:

    Pricing round trip tickets from Hawaii while I type…..

  • Martha Says:

    That’s a great list! As a vegetarian though, I’d like to add Juan’s Flying Burrito on Magazine. They even have vegan options.

    I want a Pimm’s cup and a cigarette RIGHT NOW.

    I live an hour away and have never eaten at any of these places because I’m 1. cheap and 2. vegetarian. Also, you tend to not appreciate what’s right under your nose. I’m going to New Orleans next Friday though, and will need a place to dine, so maybe I should cross one of these off the list!

    Glad you enjoyed your culinary adventures.

  • Anne Marie Says:

    I want to go to there! :)
    Glad you had a good time.

  • Jessi Bishop-Royse Says:

    Very nice… Pimms Cup and a Beignet? Can you go wrong with a combination like that? Although, i do think you’re remiss in not mentioning oysters from Acme Oyster House or ANYTHING from the Court of Two Sisters. Maybe next trip?

  • Sosha Says:

    The Strawberry Shortcake looks beyond awesome, man! I’m putting that on my bucket list, as I’m from India actually. If I’m ever in New Orleans, I know where to go!

  • Lena Says:

    everything looks fantastic, makes me want to take a plane to New Orleans! At least I tried one of the ten things when I was there (Beignets at Café Du Monde) :)

  • Lindsay Says:

    Commander’s has a lovely “secret garden” out back, beyond the patio. Follow the garden path and you’ll find tables tucked away amid manicured foliage, completely hidden from plain view. It’s wonderful place to go for drinks after dinner. :)

  • misstraceynolan Says:

    The Eggs Benny Po Boy at Stanley is DIVINE. A don’t miss for sure! I would only add that next time there needs to be some Fried Chicken and Red Beans and Rice on your menu : ) mmmmmm….

  • Chelee74 Says:

    Hi! Thanks for the list! I went to Stanley this morning and I ordered the eggs benedict. Wow, was it wonderful! Just and FYI – the pic above is the Breaux Bridge Benedict which my friend ordered. Oh, my goodness… It was delicious!

    The beignets at Cafe du Monde are also a good suggestion but if you’d like a fluffier version will slightly less of a crowd, hit Cafe Beignet in. legends Park on Bourbon St. They’re superior, not that you asked…. :)

    I’m still working my way through the list!
    Thanks again!

  • 101 Things Before You Die Says:

    I’ve had the Beignets and the Po Boy at their respective locations. I’ve enjoyed Strawberry Abita on my own front porch and Moscow Mule is my signature drink. But mostly this post was successful in just making me hungry!

  • Jill Says:

    Pulled pork from Mother’s!

  • Cindy Says:

    On one of our trips to New Orleans, we took a day trip out to the Abita Brewery. It was one of my favorite things. You can’t tour, but they have a nice quiet bar where you can sit and taste beers. The day was drizzly and everything looked like a watercolor. At least that’s the impresion I still have in my head.

  • Megan Says:

    That was lovely. :-)

  • Evan Says:

    Our daughter had the good sense to go to Tulane and we are always on the lookout for the next great meal for our visits. We’ve done about half your ten including Parkway – our favorite, especially after the President visited (“Barack, pick up, Barack.”)

  • Elizabeth Says:

    The chunky red necklace hovering in the background above the chunky red strawberry shortcake? Beautiful.

  • sarah Says:

    Oh, a culinary tour guide! That is the way to eat a City!

  • Justice Fergie Says:

    holy moly, you ate like a Queen in NOLA! that eggs benedict looks insane.

  • heather Says:

    Oh sweet baby jesus, do I feel nostalgic. I’ve not been to New Orleans in almost four years, and you’ve just convinced that it’s time for a return trip. <3

  • Emily @ NewlyWife Says:

    Those eggs benedict look amazing. I’ve only recently tried them and now I want nothing else for breakfast. So good!

    Also, I’m wondering if you have tried the Bay Area flavored beer, Orange Cream Ale by Buffalo Bills. It’s a micro brewery — the first ever, I’ve heard — in Hayward. Love it, especially with the apple and sausage pizza.

  • Meg Says:

    I want both you and Pableaux to narrate my life, please.

    Reading this was so, so lovely. Like sitting outside with my eyes closed while the sun runs out.

  • Alex Says:

    After we got married last fall we honeymooned in the south (Savannah). 90% of our pictures are of food. New Orleans is next on the list!

  • Rachelle Says:

    As a fellow list lover, foodie, and New Orleans dreamer, I think this compilation is top drawer. As soon as it gets nicer here in Calgary, I’m going to have to attempt to colonize a patio, recreate some of those drinks – and maybe that shortcake – to try and tide me over until I can jet off to the Big Easy…

  • Melissa Says:

    I miss your updates, Maggie! What’s been going on in Mighty World? Why so little from Maggie these days?

  • Monica Says:

    I do not believe that you have a friend named Pableaux from New Orleans. You made him up didn’t you. (No, actually if anybody was going to have a friend in NOLA named Pableaux who is also an expert on the local food it would be you.) :)

    I must try that Moscow Mule, stat.

  • Allison Says:

    Amen to the extra sherry on top of turtle soup. Especially if it blows your skirt the right way.

  • Lindsay Says:

    Oh, Pableaux! Your friends at The Courier-Journal miss you.

  • jared Says:

    Was just there, and ate a couple of these places. Was OK, but the best food I had was my last day there at Angeli’s on Decarture. Incredible sandwiches, put on fresh baked buns! I recommend the avacodo, tomato, and bacon sandwich (cannot remember the menu name). I would have traded all of my meals at the fancier restaurants for another sandwich.