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You guys aren't going to like this...

I moved from Los Angeles to New Orleans a few years ago, and I have to say - I miss the food.

While there are some restaurants that serve very good regional cuisine, there's not much in the way of ethnic food available at all.

No good Chinese, no Persian, mediocre Indian (very limited selection), no great Mexican, no Russian that I know of, etc.... There are thousands of Middle Eastern places, and a helluva lot of sushi spots, but I want more choice. I know Los Angeles is a much larger city than NOLA, and I know its more of a melting pot, so I guess a wider variety of restaurants is expected.

Whenever I tell someone from LA I'm in New Orleans, they always respond with "you must LOVE the food", and I do - but I have to say, there's much more really good food in Los Angeles.

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  1. I think that New Orleans is attractive to visitors(added emphasis)because restaurants there have mastered Cajun, Creole and seafood preparation and presentation. People travel to NO to eat richly, not typically diversly. Much like gamblers of all type, flock to Las Vegas because there's no better place in North America to gamble. Odd comparison, I know. You being a transplant, FishFood, may be victimized by the economic realities of the NO food scene.

    28 Replies
    1. re: Griller

      I think the "richly not diversely" hit the nail on the head. I was spoiled by all the options in the bigger city, and have had a rough time adjusting my expectations.

      Anyway... it'll be tough, but I think I can make it through.

      1. re: FishFood

        Moved here from Houston and I couldn't agree with you more, Fish. I've been here two years and am thrilled when we travel --- We have gone to Houston, Scottsdale, LA, Orlando and NYC this year and they have helped me feel less deprived.

        1. re: txgirl

          houston & scottsdale food is more nourishing than new orleans food? wow. ok, if you feel deprived food-wise in nola (one of the top culinary capitals in the country...where else can you get high brow, low brow, veitnamese, boiled seafood, fresh seafood, creole, etc etc), then i humbly suggest you may be missing the boat (so to speak!) on whats good in these parts... ive been here fulltime for 5 years and i still have so many interesting places to hit on my list..not even closing to checking them all off.

          1. re: kibbles

            no one said the food wasn't nourishing, they said there was less variety than they liked

            1. re: thew

              ah..i just saw "deprived", "new orleans" and "cuisine" and perhaps leapt to conclusions -- i simply cannot imagine being deprived of good places to eat in new orleans.

              even on the question of variety. while i may not have, uh, authentic Israeli w/i walking distance of my flat, i find plenty of variety to keep me much more sated than anyplace else ive lived in the US (which does exclude major multi-million metropolis such as NYC or Chicago, this is true). fresh seafood, fried seafood, boiled seafood, creole italian, french, french creole, spanish, argentinean, cajun, southern, hill country, hoighty toighty, fusion, vietnamese, japanese, sushi, chinese, thai, middle eastern and even african. while my experience w/ mexican mostly isnt great there are even a couple spots to go that arent bad.

              sorry but i just cant imagine not being able to find more than enough good -- and diverse -- food in the new orleans area. if one isnt, i honestly suggest one isnt doing it right.

            2. re: kibbles

              I think they are harping on the lack of diversity, not quality. I go to Houston quite often and while I prefer the dining scene and food overall in NOLA, Houston does feature more diversity than we do.

              1. re: gastrotect

                Diversity is good, but when a city does some things better than almost any spot on Earth, I might be tempted to overlook the slightly limited palette. OTOH, I travel so much, that maybe I get my diversity fix elsewhere.


                1. re: gastrotect

                  Got to thinking about the diversity. I spend a good deal of time in London, a city not always known for the cuisine. However, I have Indian (at least four regions), classical French, country French, Isreali, Vietnamese, Chinese (several regions), Japanese, Lebonese, Afgahni, Pakistani, Italian (several regions), Iranian, Kenyan, Etheopian, Turkish, Iraqi, classical British, Spanish and Portugese, and these are all within a short walk of my flat in Mayfair, and many hold at least one Michelin star.

                  Yet, when we return to New Orleans, I am drawn to the cuisine there. Diversity is great, but then great cuisine should not be shrugged off.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    SO well put, Hunt! I definitely agree that there is more diversity in other places, but that the food that's available in New Orleans is still excellent in its own right, just in a different way.

                    1. re: Adrienne

                      Thank you, and so glad that the point resonated. Since it was a bit of an "after thought," I worried a bit.

                      Cannot recall if it was brought up in this thread, but in many others, the term "authentic" gets bantered about, and too much - too often IMHO.

                      At the end of the meal, it is all about my enjoyment of that meal. I do not track the origin that closely, and only care on the "wow," and "delicious" factors. My life is not an episode of ____ from the Food Channel, and is about my enjoyment.

                      If I want diversity, I walk about 5 blocks from my flat in Mayfair, and can cover much of the globe. If I want delicious cuisine, I head to New Orleans.


                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                      Agreed, Bill, my wife Lynn and I *love* the food in New Orleans and are drawn to it like moths to the proverbial flame . . . .

                      OTOH, there is more diverse cuisine available to us in the SF Bay Area.

                      To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling (and pray Lynn doesn't read this), a woman is only a woman, but a good dinner is a meal . . . . Great cuisine is one of the great joys in life -- and Lynn? You are, too!

                      1. re: zin1953

                        LOL! Lynn may not have read it, but I did, Jason!

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Well spoken Jason, well spoken.

                          While there is more diversity of cuisine, than might be readily apparent on the surface, behind cities like SF, NYC, Chicago, etc., NOLA does not offer as much

                          OTOH, those cities, mentioned above, while having great food, and some dishes and treatments that they can claim, do not have an "identity cuisine." It's the same in Phoenix - great food, but not THAT much, that can be really claimed. Is that a bad thing? I do not think so, but then I love to dine on those Kiplingesque "meals."

                          I have thought long, and hard, on why NOLA has developed an identity cuisine. Some must hinge on history, but it seems that diverse cuisines were more quickly assimilated into the cuisine of the city, than in many others.

                          It's possibly fodder for a separate thread, but I wonder what others would add, as to what makes NOLA's cuisine unique?

                          Thanks for your always respected and appreciated perspective.

                          We're through SF a half dozen times, before the end of 2010, but it'll be just for a night here, and a night there, plus several stints at the SFO RCC, waiting for our plane to be made ready. We have to meet up in SF and have one great meal together. I'll pick up the wines and we can split the food, or similar. You get to pick the venue. [Grin]


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            bill - really? speaking only for NYC i'd have to say it has a strong culinary identity and history.

                            1. re: thew

                              Of course it does, starting with Jewish appetizing and delicatessen.

                              I could go for a pastrami on rye, heavy on the mustard with a Dr Browns Cel-Ray to wash it all down!

                              1. re: NYNO


                                I do love the delis, but do not see them as the culinary identity of NYC. If so, how would you place restaurants like Per Se, Le Bernadin, etc.?

                                I've had great Jewish deli food in LA, Dallas, Miami and even Jackson, MS. I seldom have great NOLA cuisine, beyond New Orleans, though I've probably missed some excellent examples.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  The largest immigration of Eastern European Jews ended up in NYC, many in the Lower East Side. Most of the delis in the rest of the country were started by transplants from NYC. Katz's has been around since the late 1800's.

                                  The two four star restaurants you mention are both lavish and serve haute cuisine in high end atmospheres. They're each wonderful, but lets face it, they're in NYC in part for the same reason many fashion houses have flagship stores on 5th avenue. Eric Ripert doesnt have quite the same roots in that NYC concrete as does Yonah Schimmel's!

                                  On the one hand you can argue that NYC is a major epicenter of creative, high end cuisine in the US. But to me, NYC is defined by its neighborhoods and each neighborhood is further defined by its cultural composition. So while the LES isnt representative of every borough, the deli, much like the pizzeria, very much typifies NYC cuisine.

                                  Now if you want to argue that you cannot get great NOLA cuisine outside of NOLA but can get great NYC cuisine outside of NY, I would have to agree with you.

                                  I also have not had a good example of NOLA cuisine anywhere else outside of this region. And that, IMO, is one of the things that makes living here so special. However, the reason I posted in this thread is because I said that since moving here I felt deprived of the diverisity NYC cuisine offers. Those two things aren't mutually exclusive.

                                  1. re: NYNO

                                    Thank you for the input.

                                    Now, with that said, would you then say that Jewish food (delis, or otherwise) would typify NYC cuisine? [Note: NOLA was lacking really good, to great Jewish deli food, when we lived there.]

                                    Just curious, as unlike NOLA cuisine, I have had great Jewish cuisine outside of NYC, though probably not at the same level.

                                    Again, thank you for the input, as I value it.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      i take back what i said. i didn;t mean (and did NOT say) a cuisine as much as a style.I said culinary identity, not a defining cuisine. But it's kind of nebulous what i was thinking, and as i can't quite pin it down, so i back off

                                      1. re: thew

                                        Never back off. Your insights are always greatly appreciated. [That is one reason that I extended that invitation to please join in the NOLA Cuisine thread, that got moved to the nether regions of the forum. I want to hear your thoughts.]


                              2. re: thew

                                He didn't say those cities didn't have history, just an "identity cuisine". For the most part I'd agree too. If I were to say New York food, how would that be understood? Pizza perhaps? Jewish deli food? Is there a cuisine that is identifiable as being "of New York" (as opposed to one kind of dish)? I've never lived there, but from my many visits, I'm not sure I can think of anything. Maybe you could say better?

                                I really think of NYC's culinary identity as diversity. That is of course not to say that New York has no culinary history though.

                                1. re: gastrotect

                                  Ah, I think that you have earned the secret "password." Please comment here:



                                2. re: thew

                                  Please enlighten me. What would you consider the "culinary identity" of NYC?

                                  I know that you know your NOLA culinary history, and will certainly assume the same for NYC (have to admit that I am somewhat limited there). I want to learn.

                                  I have just never found it, though I have enjoyed some great food. Rather the same for San Francisco. I have had few poor meals in that city, and have dined at hundreds of restaurants, and at many levels, but cannot put a finger (or fork) on any sort of "San Francisco cuisine."

                                  I would also greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on this thread:
                                  It was moved to a backwater, from the NOLA board, so will see little traffic, and you are one person, from whom I would love to hear. I also plead for any CH's, especially ones, who frequent the NOLA board, to comment. Though Hazelhurst thinks that I have some ulterior motive, or hidden agenda, it is an open question, and is offered up in total sincerity. I DO want to hear from CH's on that question.

                                  Thanks for the comments, and also for the response, that I hope will be forthcoming.


                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    I know I am late to the party, but Bill is absolutely right on this. There is no NYC cuisine. I LOVE NYC, I love Jewish delis, Italian pizzerias, I love the high and the low end of new york, but there is not a NYC cuisine. Nor is there a Boston, LA, or San Fran cuisine, all place that have fantastic food. There is a NOLA cuisine and it is generally not done well outside of New Orleans. Just like Tex-Mex is not generally done as well as in Texas.

                                    However, back on the original post, I lived in Boston for six years in the 90s and the ethinc food was FAR superior. Now back home, I miss it. Funny thing is, when I was in Boston I would have killed somebody for a roast beef po-boy.

                  2. re: Griller

                    I relate to some of your frustration -- the food here is really great, but some specific requests are just hard to come by....would I be hijacking your topic if I suggested that we try to compile some good ethnic options here?

                    I love the Thai food at Siamese -- 6601 Veterans Memorial Blvd (which I think I originally learned about form this board)

                    We also really enjoyed 9 Roses for Vietnamese - less hard to come by here, but we thought it was espeically good -- Hoa Hong 9 Roses. 1100 Stephens. 366-7665.

                    If anyone does know where to get really good Indian, Russian, Persian or Mexican I'd love to hear it...

                    1. re: Adrienne

                      I am not an expert on Indian food, but one good thing about my evacuation to Baton Rouge was the discovery of India's Restaurant, 5230 Essen Rd. Everything tasted extremely fresh, and it didn't seem like they took one sauce and made a chicken dish, a lamb dish, a pea dish, a cauliflower dish, etc.

                      I would almost make the drive just to go there. Almost.

                      1. re: JGrey

                        There is (or was?) a Russian/Ukrainian place out off Williams out in Kenner... Maximilian or Maxim. I don't know if it still exists; I only went once before It, and the food was okay but not remarkable.

                        Our Persian places did not return, for sure, but after Tehrangeles, they would have been a disappointment anyway. If you find yourself in Houston, Garson in the SW is pretty decent.

                        Indian is limited, too. I still have no word on India Palace, the only place in town that had any South Indian food. There are a couple of places in Baton Rouge that might be worth the drive, if you're not into cooking your own cravings away. Locally, Nirvana's best dishes are the few Goan selections. That tiny North Indian place on Metairie road used to be good, but my last meal there was so laughably awful that I haven't had the heart to go back. There’s a Pakistani place in the FQ across from Canal Place, with the unlikely name of Salt & Pepper. Zero atmosphere but pretty good Northern sub-continental fare.

                        Our Ethiopian place is gone, but I think Benechin (West African/Camaroon-ish) is still running in the FQ...I know they reopened, but I haven't been since the spring. The spinach dish with coconut rice is very good.

                        We remain in a culinary desert as far as (tex-) Mexican goes. There are several Central American (Honduran? Guatemalan?) places on the WB that are worth checking out.

                        Pete Vasquez, of the late, lamented Marisol, does a weekly informal dining al fresco deal Sunday evenings at Bacchanal over in the Bywater where he cooks an eclectic menu that varies weekly. I don't know what the onset of winter means for that undertaking, but in the past few months, he's done Persian, Cambodian, Russian, Ethiopian, etc. It's not the perfect solution, since he might not be cooking exactly what you want, when you want it, but the offerings are tasty. The menu gets emailed out on a weekly basis; I’ll post the subscription info once this week’s menu posts. Plates generally run about $8-10 each, and I invariably want 5 or 6; go with a group so you can share in the bounty.

                        Here’s last week’s menu as a sample:
                        Spicy Korean Pork Rib and Kimchee Soup
                        Pumpkin, Coconut and Spinach Soup
                        Longbeans in Sesame Sauce
                        Spinach with Pineapple and Tomatoes
                        Jamaican Meat Pies
                        Crab Okonomiyaki
                        Conch Fritters with Mango- Pepper Sauce
                        Avocado Stuffed with Esalata de Bacalao
                        Coconut Rice with Pigeon Peas
                        Curried Oxtails
                        Braised Lambshank in Black Bean Garlic Sauce
                        Jerked Pork Shoulder
                        Duck with Broccoli and Honeyed Walnuts
                        Pineapple Upside Down Cake
                        Son of Chocolate Homicide
                        Tahitian Vanilla Flan with Key Lime Curd

                    2. Hey, you're not saying anything that's not true. But let's be fair: NOLA, even pre-K, had a teeny tiny fraction of the population of LA. So it's sort of like comparing the pitcher of the Carrolton Playground's 12-and-under team with the Big Unit...sure, one pitches more strikes, but they're not in the same league.

                      Focusing on the positive, we do have extremely inexpensive & fresh & plentiful seafood, some very interesting local produce, and a real, living, breathing food culture that is intertwined with most people's identities. So the glass is half-full, no?

                      1. I completely understand what you're saying! I like in Los Angeles and the food is really diverse. BUT, we travel to New Orleans at least once a year, and I plan our trips around the food and restaurants.
                        I love the seafood, The rich creole and spicy cajun dishes, which I can't find in LA, for the most part. BUT, a few days before we come home, I really start craving Mexican food!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CEfromLA

                          I agree somewhat...I lived in DC for a year and really miss the great ethnic options, but we can focus on what we have...

                          Vietnamese- Nine Roses (above) is terrific, so is Pho Tau Bay on the waetbank...there is a larger asian grocery on the westbank too that is bigger and cleaner than in Chinatown in NYC.

                          African- Bennachin is great and cheap with BYO policy in the Quarter.

                          Chinese- Try the dim sum any time of day at Royal China at the eginning of Veterans in Metairie.

                          Cuban- Garces on Williams blvd in kenner (worth the drive).

                          Mexican- Casa Tequila on williams as well is a mexican restaurant filled with mexican (i thought it was good, but not as good as san antonio restaurants, etc.). Taquiera Corone on magazine is a good taco place.

                          Italian- Mosca's on the westbank, little far out, but worth the trip, and Sandro's on veterans in metairie kenner.

                          Thai- I agree with Siamese's on vets.

                          Tunisian: Jamelia's on maple in riverbend (on the right night you can get belly dancers for entertainment).

                          Indian- I admit we are low on good Indian... taj mahal on metairie rd. or nirvana on magazine st.

                          Argentine- La Boca steakhouse in the warehouse district.

                          I hope some of these help...I would say La Boca, Nine Roses, and Jameila's would be the must go-to places of all of those.

                        2. I don't have a problem with the premise. Celeste is spot on in terms of size contributing greatly to variety.

                          But I think there is more to this thread that needs explanation. Namely, what have you tried?

                          For example, most people could complain that NO is sorely lacking in south Asian fare, which is ubiquitous in, say, London. But those NO folks have likely not been to Salt & Pepper on Iberville. Its as good, if not better, than most of the curry joints I would frequent near Russell Sq.

                          Likewise, I have had some of the best Cuban food of my life at Cristy's po-boys on the westbank. Whenever I hear people complain of the lack of good Cuban food in the city, invariably they have not been there.

                          Ditto for Mexican food. Most have not been to the variety of places on the westbank. Sadly, Taq. La Mexicana is under new ownership, so the chilaquilles are no longer offered. But Jalisco is attracting a mob, there is a place on Airline that I hear is very good, Jazz tacos on Exchange Alley has excellent and interesting offerings, the Kenner grocery store on Williams packs central americans in on weekends (I haven't been lately though), and there are new places popping up every day (even excluding taco trucks).

                          Have you tried any of theses places? Admittedly, it takes a little leap of faith to seek these out and walk through the door. Most don't have menus in the windows and they don't look like much. But Mexican and other central american offerings in NO don't begin and end with Taq. Corona.

                          We are also blessed with excellent Vietnamese and Thai. I like Ding How for Chinese. Benachin is great for West African, which I prefer to any Ethiopian place in D.C. (I know the food is very different).

                          In the end, as I sampled plenty of ethnic places on Ninth Avenue in New York recently, I was commenting how lucky we are in terms of ethnic food diversity given, both pre and post K, the relatively small size of New Orleans.

                          1. New Orleans barely had one million residents before Katrina, and this was taking into account all of its metropolitan areas. The comparison that there aren't enough options is unfair, because clearly there will be tons more of every kind of restaurant in a city that's 10 times the size.

                            However, as previous posters have said, there are options for non-Western cuisines here in New Orleans. Have you tried the Vietnamese?

                            Most people who visit this city are so delighted by our unique cuisine that they don't miss what they can get in any big city in America, and that, I think, is our strength. L.A. has every kind of restaurant, but how good are the poboys and the oysters and the etouffee out there? I live in New York City, where--if you'll excuse me--the food is even better than in L.A., and I pine for New Orleans cuisine because you can only get it in New Orleans. Can't even get it up here.

                            However, people in New Orleans who wander into Bennachin, Pho Tau Bay, Royal China, or Taj Mahal have little reason to be dissappointed either--these are all great restaurants.

                            A tip: much of our best "ethnic" fare is in Kenner, Metairie, the West Bank, and (what's left of) New Orleans East. You have to go slightly farther afield to find it, but it's there.

                            1. For South American/Carribean/Mexican, there WAS a little place on Magazine (above Napolean, River side?) called Chapenlandia [SP?]. It was a small, family run store-front with about 6 4up tables. If it is still in operation (been many years now), they specialized in the cuisine from the entire Carribean Region. One could get 10 different tacos, Cuban, Mexican, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, El Salvadoran... each totally different.

                              Also, going back in time, Castillios, Uptown from Jackson SQ, about the center of the SQ, was funky, but had good Tex-Mex. It was better, when Carlos Castillio had his Mayan cook, but he left sometime back. If you can get past the time-warp atmosphere, the food WAS pretty good.

                              Long gone, but the best Tex-Mex in the City was actaully a small chain out of TX. I am blanking the name, but there were two, one on Vets. Hwy, Lake-side, not too far into Metairie from Orleans Parish, and the other in Gretna. It seems as though the Gretna establishment was still open, but this was some years before Katrina.

                              As far as the mix of ethnic food available, an area only has the food of the homeland of the people, who settle, or move to it. With the influx of Vietnamese over the past few decades, this segment has probably flourished. As for Eastern Europeans, unless immigration patterns have changed, one is not likely to see too many of their restaurants. Same for Indian, Ethiopian, Iranian, etc. Unless the folk move to an area, no one is likely to just decide to start up a specific ethnic restaurant, just because there are 500 successful ones in NYC. One, however, can do worse than some of the Creole/Soul/Carribean food found in a dozen different neighborhood store-fronts (pre-Katrina).

                              I guess that a snide comment would be something like, "with all the great Creole/Cajun/New Orleans restaurants, the City don't need no Ethiopian joints... " But I will refrain from making it.

                              It will be interesting to see how the ethnic dining scene changes in the City, with the new faces moving in. Trust me, when a large enough segment of one ethnic group populates the City, their restaurants WILL open. But first, the great restaurants of New Orleans need to re-open with full hours.


                              1. This has been a really helpful discussion! I've only tried about half of the restaurants suggested... Sounds like I've got a lot of eating to do.

                                As a transplant, there's no way of knowing about a lot of the off the beaten track restaurants suggested - I really appreciate all the suggestions, and am happy to know that I didn't know everything!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: FishFood

                                  For Central Am. food, add Pupuseria La Macarena to your list (recently moved from Williams to a new location on West Esplanade, I believe), as well as Pupuseria del Dovino Corazon (westbank, Belle Chasse Highway).

                                  Taquerias are springing up all over town...I saw a new one on the non-elevated part of the W'Bank Expwy last weekend in Harvey (almost Westwego)...Durango? Will have to reconnoiter soon...
                                  And you should drive out to Dong Phuong Bakery, Chef Hwy a few miles east of I-510, across from the Folger's coffee plant. Check out the whole viet community in that area....

                                2. Being from California myself, I can sympathize with your plight. Personally, I have learned to lower the standard a bit... but for the most part, there have been several places that pleasantly surprised me.

                                  Being Chinese, I can at least recommend one restaurant: Imperial Garden on Williams Blvd (in Kenner). The roast duck there is delicious, some of the best outside of Hong Kong. They do prepare traditional Cantonese dishes (instead of the usual Americanized fare offer here in Louisiana). I usually order off the Chinese menu, but I am pretty sure there is an English menu available.

                                  Horinoya on Poydras offers pretty authentic Japanese food (most of the Japanese expatriates eat there). Korean House is not as bad as most people say, but again, I am just a big bibimbap fan! New Orleans East may be kind of far, but there are tons of great Vietnamese restaurants that are still running, despite the devastation. Also, I completely concur with the rest of the posters regarding Nine Roses. Oh, and for “Mexican” (it’s technically El Salvadorian), there’s a great little place called Taqueria Corona on Magazine.

                                  Hope that helps and happy eating!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: angel816

                                    Thanks for the Imperial Garden rec...I'm always on the lookout for better chinese options. Can you rec anything besides the roast duck?

                                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                      Their shrimp and walnut dish - where they deep-fried the shrimp and serve it with warm walnuts - is heavenly. Although not done in a very typically Cantonese manner, still a very enjoyable dish nevertheless. Also, any seasonal vegetable - last time, I had the pea sprouts, plainly fried with garlic - is top notch too.

                                      The waitress also said that the deep-fried intestine dish is quite popular too. It's a typical Cantonese dish, and if you are adventurous, you should definitely give that a go. I have yet to try it there (seeing that most of my friends here would not eat it even if it was free), but you might want to give that a shot.

                                      The prices aren't cheap by my standards (the shrimp put me back 16 dollars and the vegetables was 12 bucks), the serving size was definitely reasonable. I must forewarn you, there WILL be leftovers.

                                      Hope that helps.

                                  2. As a native New Orleanian who lives in Los Angeles, I understand your lament however, I think it is unfair to compare a city the size of New Orleans to the L.A. megalopolis. You aren't gonna get San Gabriel quality Chinese, NoHo quality Thai, Fairfax Ethiopian nor will you get the quantity and quality of sushi found in California - period.

                                    L.A. is an economic hub that draws immigrants from practically every nation on earth - New Orleans is a city struggling to attract residents, even its own!

                                    I travel extensively for work and have a credo that works well, at least for me: concentrate on what is good about where you are and you won't be disappointed. So, instead of lamenting the lack of injera or chasu bao, celebrate the po-boys and bahn mi!

                                    1. Yes, well as a fellow transplantee from Los Angeles, I miss the diversity as well. Good Chinese, Thai and Mexican in particular. But even in L.A. with it's countless restaurants it wasn't that easy to find great restaurants of any variety. It took time to ferret out the gems there, just like it will take you time here. People on the boards here are always helpful when it comes to finding great places.

                                      I might get slammed, but I happen to think the Mexican food at Superior Grill is delicious. We go for happy hour (3:30 - 6:30??), 2 for 1 margaritas, get an order of guac, split a giant plate of rib eye fajitas and leave extremely happy and stuffed, and not just because of the drinks! The guac is fresh, the chips are most often warm and thin, they make fresh tortillas in-house, they cook the rib eye perfectly medium rare, they have premium tequilas (Herradura Silver @ $7.50 for a double margarita during happy hour). Honestly I can't fault them on any front except for when they are crowded and the noise level is painful and the music is a bit loud. They opened their patio area outside, it is more comfortable there. Their seafood enchiladas, skirt steak fajitas, carnitas quesadillas are all delicious as well. I haven't tried any of their burritos.

                                      But I still miss things in L.A. (as opposed to LA): Big bowl of fresh chicken vegetable soup with tortillas at my neighborhood mexican place, Red Chili and Machaca Burritos at Burrito King, seafood salad and duck tamales at Sonora Cafe on La Brea, giant bowls of Chow Ma Mein on 8th street in Korea Town, the cheese selection at the La Brea Bakery store plus the fresh baked bread, fancy dinners at Campanile (oooh, the pumpkin raviolis with sage, bacon and browned butter), Argentine food at LaLa's on Melrose ..... Basically my eating list for visits back to California. I enjoy them when I get back, and then run home to New Orleans where my heart and my stomach are always the happiest.

                                      We tried La Boca for Argentine and it was excellent. My only complaints would be that the Entree's come without any sides. I am not fond of a plate served with just one thing on it. However, I ordered the grilled asparagas to go with my Milenesa Napolitano and it was fantastic, the best asparagas I have ever eaten. Perfectly cooked, simple and tasty. The Milenesa was perfect, just what I expected. Everyone else had the coconut cake and pronounced it delicious (I detest coconut). We brought a bottle of champagne to celebrate hubby's birthday, they actually ran around the corner to Rio Mar to get champagne glasses since they don't have champagne on the wine menu, hence no glasses. Now if they had just brought back some of the Flan from Rio Mar for my dessert I would have been thrilled. Next time we will just walk over there to eat dessert instead unless they put it on the menu.

                                      Thanks for the thread, I will try some of the suggestions for Thai and Chinese.

                                      1. Yes, and this posits an interesting issue concerning cities and the cuisines offered one tha was discussed by my namesake, the famous Underground Gourmet, about 35+ years ago: namely, if you have an indigenous cuisine, it tends to keep the foreignors out. Let's face it, despite articles about "LA cuisines", therre is no LA cuisine to speak of, because there was no culinary tradition there...unlike here. And we didn't just import ours, either--we developedd it from the rich mix of ethnic groups--french, spanish, african, afro-carribean, italian, and by no means least, american indian...this has tended to keep out most "forreign restaurants", but let's face it, about 20 years ago or so, most of the examples of those cuisines in LA weren't that good, either.

                                        What we speak of when we speak of the cuisine down here is a restaurant that I just sampled for the first time a few days ago and am still high about--Pat's in Henderson, La. It's off the beaten track and down a little two lane road, but it's absolutely wonderful--mainly because the sort of people that eat in Henderson--edge of the cajun country--simply expect high quality. Let's not forget there are a lot of absolutely terrible restaurants in LA as well---I've eaten at some of them. (I'll review it separately another time, along with some good food in Dry Prong, La.)

                                        On the other hand: I love Indian cuisine, and certainly wish that we had more Indian restaurants--two of my favorites have not re-opened after Katrina and it looks like that's it for them.

                                        1. New Orleans food is its own ethnic food. This is what we eat daily. This and Cajun food. Imagine going to Hunan Province China and complaining that there is no good Ethiopian food there. I don't think the Chinese there go searching for foreign dishes. Once at the New Orleans Grapevine I heard someone from California say that she would not eat anywhere without great wine. You can get great wine in Des Moines but only unique New Orleans food in New Orleans. When I read of the great food in Italy, they don't tout Persian dishes. Would you fo to Rome to eat great Mexican cuisine?

                                          1. I am from the N.O. area but have lived in L.A. for 24 years. Twice a year, I and half a dozen L.A. friends come to N.O. to eat. L.A. is like a candy store of ethnic choices but that's about where it ends. Compared to N.O., it's not about the food here; eating is more of a social event. When I say we come there to eat, I mean to say we come for the inimitable experience of participating in an exciting indigenous food scene that everybody's charged up about. It's about the heart and the soul, something almost impossible to find driving around the freeways of L.A.

                                            1. jnc,
                                              You seem to understand what and how you eat in New Orleans and what New Orleans food is. If you like to live in a city and eat foreign food, fine, but where do you get truly great Los Angeles food in Los Angeles. Maybe you can find a real good Detroit restaurant there, or even better, some authentic Canadian food. jnc, let me know when you will be in and we can get a group to go to Mosca's (I guess that is being mean--make your mouth water?).

                                              1. We had the exact same experience. Moved there from Los Angeles in 1998 and left in 2004. I think if you moved to Louisiana from many parts of the country you would be excited about the local food, but the problem is you get spoiled in Los Angeles because you can get practically anything and the variety is endless. When we first moved to New Orleans we gorged on the usual suspects like po-boys and richly sauced seafood for the first couple of weeks, then we said, "where's the real food?" and discovered how difficult it was to find a non-iceberg lettuce salad, or non-fried food, or simply something different. Fresh produce was a huge problem. When we first got there I was shocked to find the sad, wilted produce carried by most supermarkets. I asked coworkers, “where are the gourmet markets,” and people told me to go to Langenstein’s, the uptown location. I couldn’t believe it – the place was tiny and their produce was no better. I also visited the Metairie Langenstein’s and wasn’t all that much more impressed, even though it is larger. Later I learned that Langenstein’s can be a good source of good meats and certain Louisiana specialties, but it wasn’t what I had in mind when I went looking for a good market. The Saturday farmer’s market was disappointing produce-wise, except for a brief period from mid-June to mid-July. We especially missed Chinese food (I don’t care what they tell you, the stuff they serve in so-called Chinese restaurants in that town is not Chinese) and Mexican food (same story). As for Italian, I was on a perpetual frustrated search for pasta that was not covered in heavy red sauce or heavy Alfredo sauce.

                                                The most disappointing discovery was that so many restaurants served mediocre or bad Louisiana food – jambalaya tasting of the bouillion powder in the mix; tasteless gumbo; gummy sauced seafood; crawfish etouffe with hardly any crawfish; long-frozen seafood from some foreign land. And often very underspiced! So many times people told us “I don’t eat in the French Quarter because the food there is too spicy” and we would say “where? Tell us where and we’ll eat there?” We love spicy food but we came to believe that many of the tourist-focused restaurants seasoned food for Midwestern visitors who think salt and pepper are too spicy (and in fact we often found restaurant food to be over salted). When locals told us they loved the city because of all the wonderful restaurants we asked “where do you go?” and many times instead of recommending a restaurant they just started talking about their mama’s cooking. That didn’t solve our problem.

                                                During the time we lived there, the restaurant scene changed quite a bit, and more upscale modern American-type restaurants opened. This may be a good thing or not so good, depending on your viewpoint. I appreciate the value of preserving the local cuisine, but some of the best new places started to use traditional Louisiana ingredients in new ways, getting away from the heavy sauces and using fresher ingredients. More international restaurants started opening, and the variety increased. Because we left before Katrina I don’t know how much of this new wave has survived, although from what I’ve read you can probably find some good Mexican food by now.

                                                In the end, our favorite restaurants were those that served non-traditional food, including Lola's (decent paella, really good garlic shrimp appetizer, garlicky aioli spread for the bread); Mona's for Middle Eastern, and Christy's Po-Boys on Stumpf in Gretna just north of the expressway, which is actually a little Cuban cafe that makes divine oxtail stew on the weekends. When Whole Foods opened their first larger location on Magazine Street (this one has not reopened, I believe?) I finally had a source of good produce, although it was expensive. There are really good Vietnamese restaurants in the area, because of the sizeable Vietnamese population. Our favorite was Tan Dinh on the West Bank. The fish market in Westwego was a wonderful source of fresh shrimp and other local seafood. Nor-Joe market in Metairie was a great source of Italian cheeses, pastas, etc. (and also made a great muffaletta). Then we discovered that Houston has outstanding Mexican food and Chinese food (we were in dum sum heaven on that first trip to Houston), as well as good Indian and other ethnic restaurants, so we made periodic treks to Houston to satisfy our cravings. And Houston has the fabulous Central Markets, where we would stop at the end of each trip and fill up our car with wonderful produce, cheeses, and all manner of fabulous things.

                                                And here’s a hint that might help you find the best food in the area: Pay attention to the recommendations and information posted on this board by Hungry Celeste. She is very knowledgeable about Louisiana food and history, as well as other types of cuisines. Whether local or ethnic, she will not steer you to inferior restaurants.

                                                Now that we live in Phoenix we have our fill of Mexican food and decent Chinese (not Los Angeles quality, but good enough to satisfy most of the cravings), but we miss the good Louisiana seafood. I can make good gumbo, red beans and rice and jambalaya, but sometimes we have to import ingredients like andouille and tasso. I wouldn’t mind having a good shrimp po-boy once in awhile, but I can’t say I really miss them. I do miss the crawfish boils, which are wonderful social events and a source of truly spicy Louisiana food. I am glad that we spent those years in NOLA, because we got to know the city as it was at the end of an era. However, I think that transplanting an adventurous food-loving Californian to New Orleans may be an impossible fit.

                                                Sarah C

                                                1. Kittyfood,
                                                  You obviouly hung with the wrong people. Ever try Galatoire's, Antoine's, Broussard's, Mandina's, either Liuzza's, Domelese's, Cafe du Monde, Drago's, Central Grocery, Tujague's, Andrea's, Bozo's, Sid-Mar's, Mosca's, Bon Ton, Bourbon House, Brunnings', LaProvence, Tony Angelo's, Jacques-Imo's, Ralph's, Manale's, Irene's, Morton's, Commander's, Mr. B's, Quarter Scene, Uglesich, etc. etc. etc. As I said earlier, I couldn't believe I couldn't find a great Ethiopean restaurant in Florence, Italy. I mean, like all they had was Italian food. I would rather have been in Los Angeles.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Panama Hat

                                                    Yes, we tried almost all of those places -- Jacques-Imo's and Uglesich would be the ones that we liked best.

                                                    Sarah C

                                                  2. chef4hire,
                                                    You are right. Always notice that he best pizza you ever had was at least 1000 miles away.
                                                    But also in answer to kittyfood concerning markets and produce--ever go get a quart of unwashed oysters from P&J's and eat 6 before you get them home, ever drive to LaPlace and stack up on andouille, hogs head cheese,and smoked sausage, ever go to Dorignac's during the summer to get real Crole tomatoes from the lower parishes and watermelon from Washington Parish, ever go to any roadside truck and get 5 pounds of fresh shrimp, ever go to Bucktown and get fresh speckled trout, jumbo lump crabmeat, and pompano, ever have friends who bring you so much homegrown okra that you have to freeze most of it, etc. etc. ect. Here in South Louisiana we eat our local produce in season and don't rely on Mexico or California. From you reply you obviouly had noone to show you the real New Orleans or Cajun food. Too bad you missed such a unique experience.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Panama Hat

                                                      As I said before, I do miss the local seafood and I now resort to ordering the andouille from Jacob's. There are definitely things that Louisiana does best, and Louisiana food does not translate well to other areas. That was not my point.

                                                      Sarah C.

                                                    2. I have to take exception with the "I think that transplanting a Californian to New Orleans may be an impossible fit." Difficult, not impossible since I was a life-long Southern California girl who's heart always belonged here in New Orleans. The only problem was that I didn't come here until I was 48 years old! But it only took a couple of steps on the ground that first day, an unbelievable oyster po-boy and walking on the street drinking a delicious bloody mary to make me realize I had somehow found my real home, my complete heart. The food played a part, but you can't separate the food from the culture or the culture from the food - a uniqueness you can't get anywhere else. I will trade a little wilted lettuce for a box of gold any day.

                                                      New Orleans is a place you either love or hate, you can either live here (and I mean REALLY live!) with all the problems (pre and post K), or not. Yes, I mosey back to California once or twice a year, eat myself into a stupor with those unique and particular tastes I love that I can't get here "exactly" the way they are in L.A. They have a bowl of mussels in New York that are to die for, I have never found those in either L.A. or New Orleans. But, I LIVE here because it is the only place I can identify body and soul as my home. Nothing else matters. People who can't take it move to Phoenix or Houston, places that would surely kill me even if they had food better than here, which I know is impossible.

                                                      But, hey guys, take a breath! Starting to deteriorate from what was a helpful thread. I do miss some ethnic foods, your suggestions for the out of the way places we have trouble finding is just great. Take pity on us poor transplants, we missed so much by not growing up here and having this wonderful culture all our lives. For those of us who make the leap you can believe we only do it because we love it as much as you do. At least we have that going for us!

                                                      And one of my favorite things? New Orleans is the only place I have ever been where people sit around talking about the last, next, best meal they have, will or remember eating WHILE they are eating a meal. Gotta love that.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: nosurndr

                                                        New Orleans is a true "melting pot," and embraces many cuisines. Most often, there are NOLA influences, that end up "intruding," but that is not really a bad thing. Considering the various influences, that make up NOLA-cuisine, it's really a "world food," to start.

                                                        Now, one might not find what they had come to expect, if they had dined in Damascus, or another city, but the history of the food might have had roots there, at some point.

                                                        NOLA cuisine is an blend of many ethnic cuisines, and most have had time to melt into a wonderful mix. Is it exactly what one might have in the marketplace in Damascus? I doubt it, but that does not detract from the worth of the food being served.


                                                      2. Why is there a very popular cafe in the L.A. Farmers' Market called The Gumbo Pot that has lines waiting to indulge in wonderful Louisiana cuisine? Because our cuisine is very unique and loved by many people. As a native of South Louisiana who now lives in Washington, DC, I have a very similar problem as you. Good ethnic food exists here; however, it is impossible to find authentic Louisiana dishes. So I have to cook them myself. My friends love them and always say that it reminds them of their trips to Louisiana. The problem is, it is very difficult to find the ingredients. I have to order tasso, andouille, etc, through webites. Oh well, whatever it takes to get the real thing! So, bottom line is local, fresh ingredients cooked in dishes inspired by the people in the area always seem to be the best. Laissez les bons temps rouler, cher!

                                                        1. Interesting... sorry if it's off the finding ethnic resto's point... because I never thought about New Orleans that way, since I go to chow down on the Creole food and the crawdads...

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                            That's our point. New Orleans food is our ethnic food. You don't go to Italy to find Chinese food. And as the Italians and Chinese do, we eat our ethnic food daily.

                                                            1. re: Panama Hat

                                                              But if you were to move to Italy, don't you think you would miss New Orleans style food?

                                                              I think that some of these comments have sortof devolved into personal attacks or whining about the food here... I think it's always legitimate to miss food you enjoyed, even while acknowledging that there are plenty of (obvious) reasons that certain things are not available here, and that the regional cuisine is excellent. Maybe I am just projecting but I assumed that the original poster was hoping that other transplants who had felt the same way might help direct him or her to ethnic restaurants that are more comparable to those in L.A.

                                                              I have to disagree with the person who said that there is good Chinese and Indian here, though, in terms of what you said about how the people working at these restaurants would be offended if you questioned their authenticity -- I think if you asked them whether they eat the same food they serve, most of them would tell you no. This is equally true in the Northeast -- they are making what they think we want to buy, which by definition varies by region of our country. However, at some places if you ask really nicely they will serve you what they make for themselves, i.e., off-menu. For anyone seeking really authentic food, I would give that a try (maybe by calling ahead and speaking to a manager).

                                                              1. re: Adrienne

                                                                Ah, "authentic." That can be a problem. Is a good Mexican restaurant less "authentic," because the chef is from Monterey, rather than Veracruz? China is a very, very large country, with many different cuisines. Same for India. Lot of totally different flavors, preps and even cuisines. Which area do you want?

                                                                Going back, there was a great "Chinese" restaurant in the Clearview Area of Metairie. Their menu was extensive. The family was 1st and 2nd generation Chinese, and they menu reflected some traditional dishes from their homeland. We attended several wedding dinners, served by the family, and those were very traditional. Most of those dishes in a 13-course meal, were somewhere on the menu, but were not the most popular with the "Western" patrons. Authentic? Absolutely. Were there some popular dishes? More than the fully traditional, but that is not the issue. They offered everything.

                                                                Now, if one has just moved to the US, and has brought their native cuisine with them, then one might be able to get those dishes - for a period of time, until the masses dictate that things be morphed a bit, to what the majority of the patrons want. At least in NOLA, the end result should still be great, even if some of the influences are not something that the immigrants' families would fully recognize, back home.

                                                                In the tiny area of Mayfair, I have dined at more than a dozen "Indian" restaurants, and each reflects a different region of India. There is less assimilation there, as there are many more potential patrons from each region. Is each "authentic?" I would assume that each was, but I am not a culinary historian, so cannot be sure. They are certainly different. In each case, there are enough patrons to support those differences, but then there are 13M residents in London proper, so there are greater possibilities. In NOLA, there are many fewer, so compromises must be made to stay in business.

                                                                Post-K, there was a major influx of Mexican immigrants. How will a restaurant that specializes in the food of Jalisco fare? If there are enough folk from Jalisco, then possibly well. If not, then changes will need to be made.

                                                                Heck, even Italian fare has been assimilated into NOLA-Italian. Not that this is a bad thing.

                                                                Just observing,


                                                          2. Just to bring the thread back to the original posted theme... how about natives/transplants/tourists/etc... list their favorite spots for any particular "ethnic" cuisine or maybe just plain old reliable favorites? I'm sure post-K, there must have been beaucoup changes in New Orleans and the eatery scene so suggestions and reccommendations would be sooo nice. =)

                                                            Also, I must admit to my own selfish motives. I'm a native that was transplanted to the Bay Area/San Francisco for a while now (7years) and would like to be updated on where the great eateries are!!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: SumoSizeMe

                                                              We can barely agree on what is a good local restaurant or po-boy and we have to agree on the best Mexican place (smile)

                                                              This spring when I was in SF for a week I asked the local CH for recs on food that I couldn't get in New Orleans, and some of that was ethnic. When you want something really special or differnet you need to go to where it is a specialty, although, as has been mentioned. there are outposts of good ethnic in N.O.. One point that hasn't been mentioned is that you can get
                                                              anything you want in L.A. but you may have to drive an hour and a half, one way, to get it.

                                                              New Orleans is fairly unique in that a local or tourist can get a wide range of very good food within walking distance of their FQ or CBD/Warehouse district hotel, or by a cheap streetcar ride or $5-10 cab ride. So local "ethnic" food reigns.

                                                              Other than a few places in the FQ that have been mentioned, and Mid City, you do have to do some traveling to get someting other than local. One reason why some of the ethnic places are not well known is that if you find one you may also find that the menu is in Spanish (or Vietnamese) and there may be little or no English spoken by the staff. There is little word of mouth if many diners are intimidated by such situation.

                                                            2. The one thing that has not changed and has been a sustaining force in the city's recovery are the restaurants. Granted they all had their problems opening, but almost every restaurant that was here before the storm is back and we have several new ones.Go to www.nomenu.com and you will find a list of all the restaurants open. Many of our chefs did heroic things in the aftermath to help those who were trying to help us. They were our first responders.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. You might try the West Bank for Vietnamese food, especially 9 Roses and Kim Son. I also found good tamales and a Salvadoran pupuseria over there. I lived in N.O. pre-Katrina for about ten years, and have been living in Southern CA about half as long. There's a lot about both places that the other just can't substitute for. If you spend weekend time driving around exploring new neighborhoods and restaurants, I think you'll find some new irreplaceable favorites. With the influx of re-construction workers, I bet there are now good places for more authentic Mexican food.

                                                                1. Right, Musso and Franks - Liver and onions. Ridiculously expensive for liver, worth every penny. Forgot about that on my recent visit. Will have to put it on my eating list for next CA trip.

                                                                  1. i'd much rather have the new orleans restaurants here. give me a galatoire's, kpaul's, willie mae's, cafe du monde, commander's palace, and brigtsen's here in LA along with dick and jenny's and emeril's and cochoh, here in LA and Illl be happy as clam, oh, and crabby jack's too!!!

                                                                    1. Depends on what you want. Our ethnic cuisine is lacking - but our OWN cuisine is strong. I hear you. Hard to find some stuff here. I suggest you explore what IS great and not focus on what isn't...this is a great food city. :)

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: anneson

                                                                        again - your own cuisine IS ethnic.

                                                                        1. re: thew


                                                                          You are correct in that statement. Unfortunately, too many do not recognize that fact, and will define "ethnic" as something, with which they are more familiar, say Ugandan.

                                                                          Great comment, and one too often lost on too many.


                                                                      2. a nice overview on the local restaurant scene over the past 30 years, with particular attention paid to the topic of this thread, from fitzmorris, writing for citybusiness:


                                                                        1. Here's the deal: you miss the diversity. I spend a good part of the year in Washington, DC. It has better sushi than New Orleans, and the sushi in DC is pretty bad. It also has better Indian, though aside from Rasika it's not too interesting in DC on that front either. Better Salvadorian, whatever that means. None of these are better than the local cuisine of New Orleans in New Orleans. DC has a decent New Orleans restaurant. It's called Acadiana and the guy who owns it was at Commanders once upon a time. It's not as good as New Orleans, but it's good enough on some days.

                                                                          That's what you get in LA and every other major city in the world. Good enough. You have good to great representations of a wide range of cuisines, reflective of the diverse populations attracted to the city. Those populations cluster and order up ingredients from their homeland. The bigger the cluster, the better and fresher the ingredients. Economies of scale also drive down prices and enable restaurants at all price points. A poboy at Acadiana is $15, I think, and it's not considered to be an expensive restaurants. It's because Jeff Tunks flies in Leidenheimer bread daily, among other things.

                                                                          New Orleans is not a big city. It's got a substantial Vietnamese community and as such you have excellent Vietnamese cuisine available. It's got everything else, with varying degrees of success and interest, because there's a market for diversity, though it's a small one.

                                                                          What it has, however, that neither LA or DC have, is authentic local cuisine, entrenched in the fabric of the city, evolved over generations. As a result of this authentic local cuisine, there is less of a market for diversity. Tourists come to New Orleans for New Orleans food, not for Indian food. That demand shifts capital to New Orleans food. So it's even less likely that you would find excellent representations of global cuisine -- it's not where the market is. Rather, it would more likely be the result of individual initiative, such as the Chinese family restaurant mentioned by Bill Hunt.

                                                                          The Indian food in Tuscany is pretty bad too.

                                                                          FishFood's point is valid. LA has better food across most cuisines than New Orleans. But this is all a facsimile of something else, somewhere else. And this facsimile is similar in DC and other large metropolitan markets. It's a better facsimile than can be produced in a smaller market, in part because the market is smaller but more importantly because New Orleans offers up something original.

                                                                          And that's something LA will likely never have.

                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                          1. re: johnstubbs

                                                                            Well said. Also, I am consistently amazed at the level to which Washingtonians will continue support very middle of the road neighborhood eateries. By comparison, some of the best food this town has to offer comes right of small neighborhood restaurants, Patois, Coquette, Boucherie, etc. etc. Nothing like them in the District. Just try to get something outstanding in Palisades, or Cleveland Park.

                                                                            8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans, LA 70118

                                                                            1. re: CharlieH

                                                                              I have a foot (well, actually a residence and an office) in both New Orleans and DC, and the New Orleans foot is generally the happier of the two, but I have to stick up for an outstanding pizzeria in Cleveland Park: 2 Amy's. I have not found any place in NO that rivals its thin-crust Neapolitan pies. As for the general thrust of the thread: of course NO does not have the restaurant variety of megalopoli like NY or LA. What we do have is wonderful original homegrown culture, including food. New Orleans boasts some of the most fabulous restaurants in the world, from holes in the wall to historic grandes dames. And they are uniquely ours.

                                                                              1. re: erikschwarz

                                                                                You are right, 2Amy's rocks, and that is one area where New Orleans does suffer, the artisanal pizza. Unfortunately a few local chains, serving decent to not so great pies, dominates our pizza culture, shame too. Although we do have Domenica, and a few others, nothing quite as good as 2 Amy's, but----- Amy's is extremely popular and can be a difficult experience. And it doesn't have a half off pizza happy hour, so I will take Domenica.

                                                                                123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

                                                                            2. re: johnstubbs

                                                                              nonsense. there is a very distinct california cuisine as well as a large multi-generational mexican population there.

                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                @thew - but mexican isnt unique to L.A. nor is CA cuisine. what stubbs is saying is that new orleans has its own original cuisine, unlike L.A. that isnt nonsense, thats a fact.

                                                                                1. re: kibbles

                                                                                  think of your argument about CA cuisine and LA using New Orleans and Louisiana as replacements.... still seems nonsense to me.

                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                    no because heres the rub -- rural LA cuisine is different than New Orleans cuisine.

                                                                                    sure the city has some state cuisine as well (but not as common as visitors believe; new orleans is not a "cajun" town), but it also has its own indigent cuisine. L.A. has CA cooking (or "good mexican" or "good chinese", etc), but not its own indigent cuisine. thus, not the same.

                                                                                    1. re: kibbles

                                                                                      i would argue that the "mexican" population in LA is indigenous, and predates the "american" population there.

                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        but mexican food is not unique to L.A. i lived in San Diego for a few years and they would say the same there. remember, we're talking unique city-cuisine, not state.

                                                                                        1. re: kibbles

                                                                                          it isn't the state - it's the region. SD and LA are what 100 miles apart? that's practically the same place as far as cultural identity goes.

                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                            no, it *is* the city that johnstubbs was talking about -- go reread his post. it closes with:

                                                                                            "LA has better food across most cuisines than New Orleans. But this is all a facsimile of something else, somewhere else. And this facsimile is similar in DC and other large metropolitan markets. It's a better facsimile than can be produced in a smaller market, in part because the market is smaller but more importantly because New Orleans offers up something original.

                                                                                            And that's something LA will likely never have."

                                                                                            ...he's referring to the city of L.A., not the state and not the region. thats the topic. you said that was nonsense, but i disgree -- the city of New Orleans has an excellent, unique cuisine. the city of L.A. may have excellent diversity but it does not have anything unique to it. you suggested mexican but as pointed out thats not unique to the city. you suggested CA cooking but that too is not unique to the city of L.A.

                                                                                            1. re: kibbles

                                                                                              Because of some of the tangents in this thread, I just started a new one, regarding the cuisine that is now unique to NOLA: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7445...
                                                                                              I'd love to hear the thoughts of others.


                                                                                        2. re: thew

                                                                                          I will certainly buy Iberian Spanish, but am not so sure about the Mexican population being THAT pervasive. Yes, there were some Mexican ex-pats, but not THAT many. Maybe I am just forgetting too much of my NOLA history - been some decades now, and maybe that part of the population was overlooked?


                                                                              2. You can get good "Indian" food in New Orleans, but you have to go not to a restaurant but to Radha Radhakantha, the Bengali Hindu temple on Esplanade near the fairgrounds. They offer free vegetarian meals to all comers on Sunday evenings. Btw, "Indian" food is like "European" food: not usefully descriptive. Though both India and Europe now have a unifying governmental structure, historically they were comprised of many kingdoms, peoples, languages and cultures - each with its own cuisine. At Radha Radhakantha, you will get Bengali food -- don't expect dosas!

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: erikschwarz

                                                                                  The Hare Krishna place on Esplanade?

                                                                                  How do these four year old topics get brought back up?

                                                                                  And for the poster who prefers the food in Houston to that of NOLA, Well, that speaks volumes...

                                                                                  1. re: Suzy Wong

                                                                                    Yes, they are Hare Krsnas, though that phrase is associated with a 1960's-vintage missionary movement of their home denomination, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. The temple community are Bengali immigrants, not converts. Their families have been Vaisnavas for countless generations. I was not aware that Radha Radhakantha had been a Chowhound topics four years ago. Interesting digression from food to theology, two subjects that are much closer than many think.

                                                                                    1. re: erikschwarz

                                                                                      Water into wine, I agree on the connection...... Maybe it's just in N.O.? But it has always been referred to as the Hare Krishna place/temple in print, online, etc even on the Hare Krishna web site. I remember when it first opened. I have heard the food is good but I've never been yet....

                                                                                      1. re: Suzy Wong

                                                                                        Not to mention "the Gospel Bird," aka fried chicken. I think the food/theology connection is universal, though it may be particularly salient in New Orleans. Where else outside of Italy are St. Joseph altars and their cornucopia of foodstuffs such rockstars that they get major media coverage?! To cite just one among many examples.

                                                                                        The Gaudiya Vaisnavas, or Hare Krsnas if you prefer, have an elaborate theology around food and sometimes jokingly refer to themselves as a "kitchen religion." As for the temple here, its website now refers to it as ISKCON New Orleans. ISKCON is the acronym for the denominational body, just as ECUSA stands for Episcopal Church USA. http://www.iskcon-nola.org/

                                                                                        If you have any stories about the temple opening, I would love to hear them. That must date back to the 70's. I would imagine that the initial community were converts. One of them, Yogi, a wonderful guy who intones Sanskrit in a thick Yat accent, runs their farm community in Carriere MS. Most of the congregants and almost all of the hierarchy are now Bengali. ISKCON temples are shifting from missionizing Westerners to serving the burgeoning Hindu immigrant population.

                                                                                2. I don't think you deserved hounding for being a little homesick for L.A. and expressing something most people aren't used to hearing. I am an Angeleno that has been to NOLA 3 times and I LOVE LOVE LOVE food there. I also have considered living there and am an ethnic food junkie. So I wondering if I would feel the same. Reading your original post, I probably would miss certain things alot. I don't get why people see the need to be overly defensive and start attacking L.A. all the time. You weren't out of line to express your homesickness. I mean have Californian friends that moved to else where and claim to have moved back for In N Out and Super Mex.

                                                                                  I think it's unfair everyone jumped all over you, scolding you for not appreciating NOLA's cuisines and for "comparing" NOLA to LA. You have a right to be homesick. I probably would be every now and then. True foodies get their cravings. These other posters screaming "how dare you complain" are not very understanding. I mean, there is alot to be said for diversity and there's nothing wrong with an Angeleno wishing the diversity they grew up with was it a bit more prevalent in places like the South.

                                                                                  Don't let them chide you for feeling how you feel or felt at the time you posted it. It's obvious you are good-natured enough, and appreciative of your new home in NOLA that you were willing to keep exploring to make the town your own.

                                                                                  And it doesnt change the fact we all love the cookin' Nawlins <3

                                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: ofijr

                                                                                    ofijr--You are replying to the OP's post from 4 years ago; do you know if they even still live in NOLA. Maybe they moved back to LA.

                                                                                    1. re: Philly

                                                                                      Hi Philly--if you reread my post It is all written in past tense. It doesn't matter if she/he lives in NOLA or not now. I was merely pointing out to anyone that reads this thread that they had the right to be homesick and they had the right to express it. Food is comfort for many and true chow lovers are going to have their moments of longing for the food they grew up with.

                                                                                      Empathy is empathy whether it's being empathetic to a situation in the past or the present. I merely feel ANYONE that has their moments of homesickness for anywhere should be able to express them without being scoffed, judged and chided.

                                                                                      What does moving back to L.A. have to do with anything. The original poster stated they enjoyed New Orleans. Are you suggesting they needed to leave to seek the diversity? Like "if you don't love NOLA's food just the way it is then keep your mouth shut and just go away?" How about pontificating if maybe since the original post NOLA does have more to offer in diverse ethnic dining than it did at the time of the post.


                                                                                      I was having mercy on a homesick transplant, regardless of the age of the original post because what I observed is an overall observation....

                                                                                      1. re: ofijr

                                                                                        I'm more interested in discussing the merits of specific restaurants and the cuisine being served than addressing opinions on "homesickness" and "empathy".

                                                                                        1. re: erikschwarz

                                                                                          no, I'm a resident of southern ca. I go to Phila twice a year. Great area for sandwiches.

                                                                                          1. re: Philly

                                                                                            And pretzels. But the town is still on Santa's naughty, not nice list.

                                                                                        2. re: ofijr

                                                                                          And, it still seems to be a fairly active thread, provoking many recent comments, regardless of when the initial post was done.

                                                                                          Unlike many "zombie posts," where one is asking for recs. for some occasion, back in 2002, and a poster responds with suggestions for restaurants that did not exist at that time, this is an evergreen topic, at least in my book.


                                                                                        3. re: Philly

                                                                                          besides, nobody's "screaming". this is a conversation. thats what we do here -- converse. its fun to debate the merits of subjective tastes. if it wasnt we wouldnt participate, no?

                                                                                        4. re: ofijr

                                                                                          I definitely oppose hounding - unless it is chowhounding - and think everyone is entitled to miss their hometown. As for diversity not being prevalent in the South, however, that is just outdated. New Orleans is a very diverse town -- and always has been -- but so are many other Southern places. I just visited a Nashville high school in which 44 languages are spoken. This is anything but a magnet school in a posh neighborhood. Everywhere you turn in the South there are diverse languages, ethnicities and religious traditions. As one of my favorite New Orleans t-shirts reads, "Shalom Y'all."

                                                                                          1. re: erikschwarz

                                                                                            I moved down here from NYC (born and raised 30+ yrs) about 16 months ago. I love the food down here and am very thankful to live somewhere with a unique food culture so steeped in tradition. However, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I didnt miss what NY has to offer.

                                                                                            NO is diverse, but you cant compare the sheer diversity of food which can be had in a large city like NY. Its simply a numbers game. The Vietnamese pop. here is larger than that in NY, therefore, the food is better in this region. Similarly, there are more Chinese in NY and Sichuan , Shandong , Jiangsu, and Guangdon can be found. Not just generic "Chinese."

                                                                                            Since you need the indigenous population to support a food culture, you're always going to have more varied cuisines in larger cities. This isnt a knock on smaller cities, but rather just an observation based in fact.

                                                                                            1. re: NYNO

                                                                                              certainly major metros are *more* diverse. but do you think NO's level of diversity leaves one feeling "deprived", as the phrase was used above?

                                                                                              thats what i find fascinating and worthy of debate.

                                                                                              1. re: kibbles

                                                                                                I certainly do not feel deprived in New Orleans. When I visit other cities, I enjoy the cuisines I find there, whether Ethiopian in DC, Malaysian in NY or vegetarian in SF etc., but none of them have anything like the great Creole food of NO - only more or less pale imitations.

                                                                                                1. re: kibbles

                                                                                                  Absolutely, yes, I feel deprived of the foods I used to eat on daily basis back in NYC.

                                                                                                  What NO does, it does wonderfully well. When things are good here, both food and otherwise, they are great, often magical. However, you simply cannot expose yourself to even small fraction of what is offered in large cities.

                                                                                                  Creole in NYC sucks, but that's not what we're discussing here and I think some people (I am not referring to you) are conflating getting good food from this region elsewhere, and getting a wide variety of foods here.

                                                                                                  1. re: NYNO

                                                                                                    but there *is* a wide variety of food here... thats what im also arguing. fresh seafood, fried seafood, boiled seafood, creole italian, french, french creole, spanish, argentinean, cajun, southern, hill country, hoighty toighty, fusion, vietnamese, japanese, sushi, chinese, thai, middle eastern and even african.

                                                                                                    how is that not wide variety? certainly there are not as many restaurants of each category, but there are definitely good restaurants in each.


                                                                                                    1. re: kibbles

                                                                                                      Fair enough, but much of it isnt very good which is where we'll have to agree to disagree. The Chinese, Sushi (except for Horinoya), Thai, Spanish, Indian, and Middle Eastern have all left me underwhelmed. Granted, I havent tried every single rest. in those categories, but perhaps you can steer me toward some that provide authentic interpretations of their respective cuisines. I definitely welcome any suggestions!

                                                                                                      I should have been a bit clearer in my post above.

                                                                                                      Moreover, some of what you mention above, namely the seafood categories, are not cuisines, but rather preparations.

                                                                                                      I'm rushing out the door for Chinese here about as fast as i'm rushing out for Creole in NYC.

                                                                                                      1. re: NYNO

                                                                                                        there is good food in all of those categories; recs for them is beyond this thread but if you search the board youll find them.

                                                                                                        the only thing ill comment on is the seafood -- what is "cuisine" if not a combination of components and preparation? thai & chinese are different beasts despite nooldes & veggies. boiled seafood (shrimp, crab, corn, etc) is very different than a fried seafood platter in bucktown, which is entirely different than fresh seafood at GW Fins. different cuisines, all involving seafood components. different histories too.

                                                                                                        1. re: kibbles

                                                                                                          I've searched the board for what are considered exemplary restaurants in each category:

                                                                                                          Spanish: Rambla, Rio Mar, and that tapas place in the Riverbend (cant remember the name)
                                                                                                          Indian: Nirvana
                                                                                                          Chinese: Jung's Golden Dragon
                                                                                                          Thai: Banana Blossom
                                                                                                          Middle Eastern: lebanon's and Mona's

                                                                                                          Have I had some good meals at some of those places? Sure, but I cant say I've had a great dish at any of these that really typifies its cuisine and isnt toned down to cater to an American palate.

                                                                                                          Maybe I'm eating at the wrong places.

                                                                                                          Like I've maintained since my first post in this thread, if you dont have an active community supporting its own cuisine you're going to get a diluted version catering to whatever population is present.

                                                                                                          Now as far what you said about the seafood, I acquiesce based on a definition of "cuisine" :)

                                                                                                          A traditional cuisine is a coherent tradition of food preparation that rises from the daily lives and kitchens of a people over an extended period of time in a specific region of a country, or a specific country, and which, when localized, has notable distinctions from the cuisine of the country as a whole.

                                                                                                          1. re: NYNO

                                                                                                            Although I agree that you won't find the sheer number of ethnic cuisines in NOLA relative to much larger metro-areas, there are still a fair amount of cuisines represented (especially given NOLA's population). Unfortunately, many of these places are in the suburbs. As you have only been here for 16 months, I think you still need some time to explore before passing judgement. Here are a few ideas for you on the cuisines you highlighted in your post:

                                                                                                            Indian: Singh Indian Cuisine on Cleary in Metairie; Taj Mahal in Old Metairie (owned by the same people who own Nirvana, but we find the food to be consistently better), recently added a menu page of South Indian options

                                                                                                            Chinese: 9 Roses in Gretna (Well known for Vietnamese, including some of the best bun in town, but their LARGE menu also includes "authentic" Chinese items that my Cantonese girlfriend appreciates. This includes Duck congee porridge and water spinach/hollow hearts in fermented bean curd, among others.);
                                                                                                            China Rose in Metairie (ask for the Chinese Menu); Push cart dim sum at Panda King in Gretna ("fine dining" entrance on the right), next to Hong Kong Market

                                                                                                            Thai: New Orleans is sadly lacking in quality Thai Food. Banana Blossom is the one exception - try the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles and the homemade Malaysian Roti Bread the next time you visit.

                                                                                                            Japanese: Kanno (Fat City in Metairie), Little Tokyo-Canal St. on Thursday Night for Omakase (they overnight Fish from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo each week); Horinoya

                                                                                                            Middle Eastern: NOLA actually happens to have a LOT of Middle Eastern style food relative to other ethnic food eateries in town, and it really depends on where the owners/chefs are from as to how the food is prepared. You only mentioned the 2 most well known. Here are some others;
                                                                                                            Pyramid Cafe (Palestinian) ; Babylon Cafe (Iraqi), try a sandwich on their homemade bread; Nur's Kitchen Cafe Restaurant (Turkish) in Covington, also cold side dishes at Tues Uptown Square Farmer's Market; Little Morocco (Moroccan);
                                                                                                            Although Mona's can be good, they are a large franchise at this point, and the food is often inconsistent across different locations. I would suggest trying their location on Bank St., which also has an adjacent Middle Eastern Grocery Store.

                                                                                                            Spanish: The place on the riverbend is called Barcelona. It is run by Laurentino, the former owner of Laurentino's in Kenner. He is from Spain, and we find his tapas to be some of the most "authentic" in town. Try the Tortilla Espanola. I've also heard Madrid in Lakeside is "authenic", but we have yet to go. Many people also like Lola's (we like their Aioli and Calderata-if not overcooked) in Mid-City. Although we like Rambla and Rio Mar for certain things, they are more in the vein of modern tapas/small plates.

                                                                                                            As many have pointed out, New Orleans most well-represented ethnic cuisine is Vietnamese (largely due to the population here), and there are a LOT of restaurants on the West Bank and NOLA East worth trying. There are even different styles of Vietnamese relative to that country's regional cuisines represented in some NOLA restaurants. We also have one of the largest Honduran expat communities in the country, and there are a lot of "authentic" Central American restaurants in Kenner and the West Bank that go unnoticed.

                                                                                                            I find that most of the people that I hear complaining about our lack of ethnic food are largely unaware of the existing options.

                                                                                                            Rio Mar Restaurant
                                                                                                            800 South Peters, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                                                                                            217 Camp Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

                                                                                                            3205 Edenborn Ave, Metairie, LA 70002

                                                                                                            China Rose
                                                                                                            3501 N Arnoult Rd, Metairie, LA 70002

                                                                                                            Horinoya Restaurant
                                                                                                            920 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70112

                                                                                                            1. re: UptownNOLA

                                                                                                              I would love for someone to elaboarte on the different styles of Vietnamese you mentioned. Maybe in a different thread...or not. I'd really like to see it.

                                                                                                              1. re: UptownNOLA


                                                                                                                This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!
                                                                                                                PS: I have eaten at 9 Roses. My wife had salt crusted scallops which tasted as if they had been frozen. I had a goat stew special, redolent of curry which was quite good. We'll be back.

                                                                                              2. Fer sure. The Mexican food is awful out there, unless you know where to go. My son live in Glendora and he showed us. The small places are the best.

                                                                                                1. I'm not surprised, Los Angeles has outstanding food.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: observor

                                                                                                    But that was not the crux of the argument as New Orleans too has outstanding food. The issue was about sheer diversity of cuisines (and having very quality examples of all those diverse cuisines). Something New Orleans cannot compete with when compared to the larger cities. That both cities have outstanding food was never up for debate.

                                                                                                    1. re: gastrotect

                                                                                                      I do agree. Much of the "diversity" has been embraced and incorporated into the cuisine of NOLA, where it has stayed separate (though good) in many other cities. Please see my post above, as I personally welcome your comments.


                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                        Very interesting observation. New Orleans is a "creolizing" place par excellence. Foodways, like other bits and pieces of various cultures, are quickly absorbed into "New Orleans" cuisine. This has long been true of Italian and German foodways, and more recently of Croatian, Vietnamese and others.

                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                      OK, I have to chime in on this one. I used to be vegetarian, and for a few years vegan, in Atlanta and I lived mostly on ethnic food. We are definitely lacking in many ethnic cuisines- Ethiopian, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Russian- and others we do below average- Chinese, Thai, Indian, Cuban. NYNO is right that it is mainly do to a lack of natives of these countries that would rally around these types of cuisines. Had the guy that used to own the Ethiopian place on Earhart had an Ethiopian community to support him, he would probably still be open. I miss that place. The biggest problem with not having these options locally is that when I go to DC, LA or San Fran, I am usually too busy filling up on fine dining that I forget about the Cafe Ethiopia type place in the Mission. I think most of us would love to have a few more inexpensive options (which include many of the "ethnic" restaurants) in the area. I can only eat Mona's and Lebanon's so often.

                                                                                                      1. re: shanefink

                                                                                                        i have been in new orleans ten years. i am from chicago. the one big thing i miss are bohemian places! breaded pork tenderloin, goulash soup, dumplings, and fries cauliflower.

                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                          Sorry about that, Bill. This one should work:


                                                                                                          1. re: Shiloh

                                                                                                            Great, and thank you for the link. Interesting piece.



                                                                                                      1. I travel from Houston to NO once or twice a year to get my fix of really good food. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of good food in Houston, just not good cajun/creole food. Well, outside of my own ktichen anyway. I would never go to NO to eat Chinese, or middle eastern food, that is just plain silly. Give me Mr. B's bbq shrimp every day for the rest of my life and I'd be happy as a clam.

                                                                                                        1. Wow - I just logged into my Chowhound account for the first time in a few years and saw what a discussion this post sparked.

                                                                                                          I was in NOLA for school when I made the post. I regret not taking more advantage of the culinary scene out there when I was younger.

                                                                                                          Without a variety of dense, ethnically distinct communities, it's no surprise that there aren't a variety of top-level, ethnic restaurants.

                                                                                                          New Orleans is like one big, dense, ethnic community. It puts out unique cuisine that is unmatched in its field.

                                                                                                          I'm looking forward to heading out there in September or October. I miss the food.

                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: FishFood

                                                                                                            you just went there for school ? tulane ?

                                                                                                              1. re: FishFood

                                                                                                                so what did you eat while you were there, did you venture at all off campus in the pursuit of good eats ?

                                                                                                                back in LA now ?

                                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                  When I was at Tulane I practically had to pull a gun on some out-of-towners and force them to Rocky & Carlo's or Maylie's or Eddie's. Lots of kids just did not "get it." I am pleased to say, though, that I have several devoted converts to my credit.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                                    rocky and carlo's is the place with the veal dishes and stuffed eggplant ????

                                                                                                                    1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                                      I've actually never been to Maylie's before.

                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                        Maylie's has been closed for 25 years. It was on Poydras and became part of Smith & Wollensky (now Walk Ons).
                                                                                                                        Rocky's is in Da PArish, just up from da San B' nawd cotehouse

                                                                                                                      2. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                                        my favorite in the general area is probably still Brigtsen's for that roast duck.

                                                                                                                      3. re: kevin

                                                                                                                        I was definitely venturing off-campus for eats... but probably not as religiously as I should have been.

                                                                                                                        The major regret is living in a city with one of the most unique food cultures in the world without wholly embracing it. New Orleans is a very different city and needs to be appreciated as one.

                                                                                                                        Yup. Back in LA. I haven't done it since I've been back, but given that it's monday, I think I'll head to The Gumbo Pot for some red beans and rice for lunch.

                                                                                                                        1. re: FishFood

                                                                                                                          Gumbo Pot is definitely not the best idea.

                                                                                                                          Sadly, there's not even decent NOLA food in LA.

                                                                                                                          Though I did have a pretty good oyster po boy at Harold and Belle's recently.