I can’t tell you how many people have told me I’m crazy for deciding to drive out to San Francisco. Flying and shipping my personals there may have made more sense logistically, but I’ve never taken a road trip that went straight from sea to shining sea, so I’m taking this opportunity and doing it—through the Carolinas to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and now, Texas. We’re a little less than halfway there. Along the way we’ve stopped at some pretty swell places, are visiting with family we’ve missed, and are eating some awesome food. One city I knew I wanted to go to during the planning? New Orleans.
New Orleans is renowned for a few Creole food staples: beignets, jambalaya, gumbo, po-boys, pralines, gator sausage, red beans and rice, bananas foster, and more. We made it our business to try as much as possible during our couple days there!
I’ve had a love affair with beignets and everything French for a while. I ate crepes galore in Paris, and fancy French doughnuts in Florida, but I’ve never had the opportunity to eat the fluffy, sweet, doughy creation in the city of its birth. So, Café du Monde, famous for their simple (and cheap!) menu of chicory coffee and traditional beignets, was an obvious first stop. Beignets and café au lait for breakfast? Sugar me up and caffeinate me well.
While the fare at Café du Monde is simple, it is delightful. The beignets are denser than most I’ve had outside of Louisiana and the coffee was perfectly sweet. Speaking of sweet things—I’m not a huge fan of pralines, which are traditionally a mixture of sugar, creme, butter, and pecan, but, as I learned at Laura’s Candies, if you add in a little chocolate, they hit the spot perfectly.
Walking around the French Quarter works up an appetite, so stopping by Coop’s, a restaurant and bar prohibited to those under 21, for takeout is a must. The platter, containing jambalaya, shrimp creole, rice and beans, and cajun fried chicken is a local favorite. Go chow & sit in the shadow of the nearby basilica in Jackson Square, which also contains a cast of the first equestrian statue made in the United States. Originally installed in D.C., this statue of Andrew Jackson commemorates him and his horse, Duke, at the Battle of New Orleans in 1814.
A few blocks down from the square lies Johnny’s Po-Boys, another classic NOLA eatery. With dozens of po-boy combinations and muffulettas, Johnny’s is a great place for a quick and cheap bite to eat. Don’t be shocked if the line is out the door—people love this place. While shrimp or soft-shell crab is traditional, the roast beef po-boy is out-of-this-world with flavor and next-level messy.
Stepping out of the French Quarter and into the Waldorf, just next door is Domenica, an upscale look at Italian dishes. Wood-fire pizza ovens churn out perfect pies nightly, while pasta dishes, like the eggplant agnolotti and a classic lasagna, have made the best in NOLA list for years. My favorite dish that came out was the smoked beets with arugula and whipped ricotta. Something about the smokiness of the beets mixed with the creamy layers of cheese and peppery rocket salad really did it for me. While the food was incredible, service was a little on the slow side—taking over an hour for courses to come out—but they made up for it with powdered brownie bites and a moderate bill.
The sights in NOLA were incredible, put to shame only by the amazing food that was had. We loved every moment of it and can’t wait to go back.
A car accident waylaid our trip for a bit, but we’re back in business and in Arizona. Stay tuned for more stories, photos (Grand Canyon!!!) and much more. XoXo, Fernweh