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Everyone around the world thinks of New Orleans as having great food. I'm from Houma (a real cajun community) and I respectfully disagree with that opinion of New Orleans food (ours is way better).
This brings me to the obligatory historical anecdote… cajuns (Frenchmen tossed out of Canada by the British) were imported to south Louisiana to work on small farms in order to feed New Orleans. Resourceful cajuns invented (or adapted from the Indians) some of the [best food on earth http://joeykelly.net/scratchpad/index.cgi?CajunRecipes] down along the bayous, and the best of these dishes were brought into the Big City by chefs needing local color. Creole cooking, as it is called, is basically cajun food adapted to restaurant methods of preparation, with sauces and other finery complimenting (ruining?) common-folk cajun cuisine.
Having said that, there are a few restaurants I frequent:
- Muffaletta's — incredible hot tamales, and an interesting past ;-) Woof.
- Silver Moon Cafe — turn onto Brightside from Nicholson, cross the tracks, turn right immediately, and you'll find an old shack at the end of a dirt road. These guys cook using techniques long-forgotten. Well worth it. — CLOSED
- Shogun — Japanese food. I eat here probably twice a week.
- Corky's BBQ — Memphis-style. Good eats.
- Dot's Diner — excellent food, not-so-excellent atmosphere, though some locations are cleaner than others. NOLUG meets here occasionally.
- Texas BBQ – a 2-star restaurant (no kidding). — NEW MANAGEMENT, NOT AS GOOD AS BEFORE
- Tortoricci's — wonderful Italian food (and I don't like Italian food all that much). Pricey.
- Napoleon House — Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in this building for a while. Pretty good food.
- A & P Food Store — excellent fried chicken in the deli.
- Country Flame — decent Cuban food, lousy service. The best ropa vieja in town.
- Mena's Palace — maybe 3 blocks down Iberville from Country Flame. If you want an oyster poboy, get it here.
- KanPai — sushi buffet, plus oriental buffet. Plan to drop $15 here. — CLOSED AFTER KATRINA
- Frostop — the location off Claiborne near Tulane University has excellent plate lunches.
- [Liborio http://www.realpages.com/sites/liboriocuban/] — forget Country Flame, if you want cuban food this is the place to get it. Marvelous.
- Jambalaya Shop — ground floor of One Shell Square. Good and cheap. — LONG GONE
- New Orleans Food and Spirits — several locations all over the city. Excellent shrimp poboys (huge), rabbit and white beans on (I think) Thursdays if you get there early enough.
Diane's (Shell station on the corner of (gaa I can't remember the name of the road) and Million Dollar Road) — if you like country cooking, this is the place for it. I haven't eaten anything there that I didn't like. — CLOSED AFTER KATRINA
- El Mariachi Loco — simply the best Mexican food I've ever had, bar none. I've eaten at the one in Waveland, but they have locations all over Miss'ippi.
- Benigno's Restaurant — right across the street from the train depot in Bay St. Louis. It's a dive, but the boiled crabs are excellent.
I can't remember the name of the place, but on the square there's a restaurant that makes unbelievable
country cooking. Run by black folks, which probably explains why the food tastes so good :-)
I was a real big fan of Po Folks and Sonny's BBQ when I lived there in the early 90s, though these are chains and are available in other cities. There were local eats I frequented as well, but my memory's getting foggy. If I ever make it back for a visit, I'll list the surviving restaurants here.
- [Raja Indian Restaurant http://dinesite.com/info/rstrnt-371230/??&t=0] — the lamb curry there is incredible. — CLOSED IN 1997