New Orleans, or N'awlins as the locals say, is one of my favorite destinations. I have been three times and I miss it everyday that I am away.
Any one who has ever been knows that one of the greatest aspects of this truly unique city is the food. In fact, you can build an entire trip around the food and I usually do.
The first place you absolutely have to visit is the legendary Cafe Du Monde (https://bit.ly/2Rs31JX). Their coffee and beignets are the so incredible I still ship the coffee to my house. While I am sure you have had a fried doughnut someplace, it will never taste as good as it does here.
Aside from this MUSt have experience, there are two, ok three other dishes I feel truly complete a trip to this town.
The first is red beans and rice. I prefer to get it will some grilled chicken. It is a meal that I had the first time I visited and have gone back for every time since. I will repost the link to my full New Orleans travel itinerary below so you can properly plan your visits accordingly.
Second, is the muffaletta sandwich. This is sandwich combined of classic Italian cold cuts such as salami, cappicola, mortadella, fresh mozzarella cheese, as well as provolone cheese. But the pièce de ré·sis·tance is the Creole olive salad that seals the whole thing together. In fact, I too have carried jars of this stuff home in my suitcase. They are finally available online and I will be purchasing several jars once I am done writing this post. Trust me the olives, oil, and special blend of spices is the stuff of dreams.
Thirdly, we couldn’t talk about New Orleans cuisine without mentioning the po’ boy. This too is a sandwich but unlike the muffuletta it is more like a traditional hero but on heavenly baked French bread. Just about anything can go inside from turkey to alligator. But my favorite version of this sandwich has to be the fried shrimp.
This is by no means an inclusive list of the delicious foods you can eat walking through the French Quarter but as a Brooklynite I would be happy to get my hands on any of these.
Thankfully, Louisiana native and chef, John Verlander has made my wish come true. He opened “Lowerline” in February 2018 and it promptly garnered a spot on my annual to do list (https://bit.ly/2WatoF2).
The thought of being able to have a taste of New Orleans in my own background seemed too good to be true. So I went to check it out for myself.
Located in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, Lowerline is a tiny restaurant with only a handful of seats with tables and with another handful at the bar. Behind the bar you will likely see John, as I did, working and greeting customers.
This charming spot gave me the feeling of being out of town (my favorite feeling FYI) just by sitting in the space, and smelling the food being created nearby. Though the menu is limited (because of space) it remains authentically New Orleans.
I knew my order before I ever stepped inside: the fried shrimp po’ boy. My mother AKA eating partner in crime, got the same except with a twist. She took the bold move of asking for the muffalata olive salad to be put on her sandwich in lieu of mayo.
From the moment my food was presented to me it was love at first sight. I could just tell that this was going to be a meal that would excite all of my senses. I was right!!
From the incredibly fresh French bread, to the fried shrimp, to the Creole hot sauce I added on (that was on every table), each and every bite brought me right back to the city I love so much. I couldn’t believe how f-cking good this was.
The batter and way the shrimp is fried is almost as important distinction as the fresh French bread. It is not simply slathered in breadcrumbs the way I would do it at home. It is prepared in a way I have only ever had in Louisiana. But now it was here!
A po’ boy is big, and at Lowerline you can order just half (preferably with a side of gumbo), but I wanted the whole thing. I planned on eating the rest for dinner but that sandwich never made it out of the restaurant. I devoured the whole damn thing!! It was so light and fresh, I just couldn’t help myself. I haven’t stopped thinking about it or craving it since.
Our meal was made complete with a complimentary coffee panna cotta made with what else: Cafe Du Monde coffee!! Talk about authentic. This mousse like dessert was served in a shot glass and I am not ashamed to say I licked both of them clean. I could have eaten twenty shot glasses worth of these desserts. Thank God my mother doesn’t care for coffee. It was the perfect amount of sweet and creamy.
Bottom line: if you can’t get to New Orleans then get your ass to Brooklyn.
For More Information:
For Beignets, Bourbon Street, and the Bayou