Knowing I’d be leaving the US soon, I’ve been making a conscious effort to travel domestically the past year or so. In the past 14 months I managed to see Miami, LA, Vegas, and San Francisco, while still squeezing in a couple of my beloved international trips. But as a last hurrah before I move back to Hong Kong, we decided to have a short girls trip to a place I’ve been meaning to see for a while–New Orleans!
The food is pretty heavy there so it was definitely a case of eating dirty in a dirty city. By the last day I felt like a balloon. My stomach is so relieved to be back home–it’s been green smoothies and salads ever since! Some stuff I liked, others not so much, but it’s a city worth visiting and trying its local cuisine. Granted, we stayed in the French Quarter for the most part so I can’t judge the city as a whole. That would be like someone only visiting Times Square only and judging NYC’s entire food scene! Nonetheless, I thought I’d share some food we enjoyed over there.
Acme Oyster House
I don’t actually eat oysters. They’re great for you (get that zinc!) but after having a violent reaction the last two times I ate raw oysters, I’m fully traumatized and haven’t touched them since. The reason why I’m mentioning Acme Oyster House is because my travel companions ate there 3 out of the 4 days we were in New Orleans! They said the raw oysters were sweet and fresh, while the char-grilled oysters were cheesy and delicious–all for a really great price too. I have to say, I was pretty jealous. They were huge and looked amazing. It was the first time in a long time I really wanted to eat oysters! If you’re like me and don’t do oysters, the boiled crawfish is good. The rest of the menu is kinda meh.
Hand Grenades from Tropical Isle
This was a surprise to us. The Hand Grenade is one of those cheesy drinks you walk around with in a tall green plastic cup from Tropical Isle. We made a point to try the three famous New Orleans cocktails: the Sazerac, the Hurricane, and the Hand Grenade. The Sazerac was pretty nice, the Hurricane was just awful, but we surprisingly liked the Hand Grenade the most. Maybe at one time it was made from real ingredients, but now it just tastes like chemicals. Despite being super touristy and fake, it was tasty in a nasty way and was really strong without making you hurt the way Pat O’Brien’s Hurricanes do. It got the job done!
(This is my friend Lynda, by the way. Check out her food blog!)
While a lot of places seemed to do a half-ass job with the Cajun and Creole classics, everything was really solid at 801 Royal. I had the gumbo and it was slammin’. Also, I might have had the best Bloody Mary there ever. Topped with string beans instead of celery, it was practically a meal in itself! Warning: don’t do Bloody Mary + gumbo if you don’t tolerate heat well. They were both delicious but I was literally breaking out in sweat. The service was great too which was a plus.
Even if you don’t intend to buy anything, just walk into Southern Candymakers and enjoy the smell of the store. It smells so awesome that all I wanted to do was lick the air. They’ve got different flavors of pralines and are liberal with the samples. Don’t like nuts? There’s chocolate too.
I got nervous when I saw the four dollar signs rating on Yelp for Commander’s Palace. But when we got there I was relieved to see that this fancy restaurant has awesome lunch deals. The space is gorgeous–the restaurant is in a restored mansion of a former plantation. While fairly formal, it’s not stuffy at all and the service was great. Everything I had was wonderful here–the bread, Commander’s Turtle Soup, Cajun Cochon de Lait, and the Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé, which they gave us the recipe for! A very affordable luxury.
Last but not least, the original Muffuletta at Central Grocery was one of my favorite meals. I’m not a huge sandwich person and didn’t really care for the Po’ Boys, but I loved the Muffuleta! Central Grocery sells imported Italian products but doesn’t serve any other food aside from Muffuletta sandwiches and a few sides. The sandwich has all kinds of delicious things: different Italian cured meets, cheese, olives, and pickled vegetables. Bring a friend if you don’t have a huge appetite, ’cause that thing is huge!
Update: I almost forgot to share this with you! 30 seconds of awesomeness I filmed on the trip. Enjoy.