Restaurants outside of New Orleans
I'll be visiting NOLA with a group of guys in our 20s for a week in July, and we're going deep sea fishing in Grand Isle mid-week. What are some good restaurants on the way down there or in Grand Isle? Any good cajun grocers on the way, especially some that sell hog's head cheese? We're starting off in NOLA on Monday and Tuesday, will be in Grand Isle on Weds and Thurs, and back in NOLA for the weekend. Some of the places we plan on going in NOLA are Commander's for lunch (can't beat 25 cent martinis), Napoleon House, Mandina's, ACME (unfortunately Casamentos will be closed), and Deanie's. We always go to Galatoire's mainly for the atmosphere (the only place where I've picked up women between courses, at least successfully). If anyone knows another upscale place that has awesome food and would be good for a group of young guys (in other words, has more of a party rather than romantic atmosphere), we'd be willing to try it. We're staying at the Windsor Court, but anywhere in the FQ, downtown, or uptown should be fine. Thanks in advance.
I imagine most people would tell you to fit in dinner at Mosca's on your way to or from Grand Isle. Italian family dining roadhouse in the swamps. Cash only, but great for a group of guys. Classic old New Orleans standard.
For a good fried catfish lunch, work Spahr's into your travel plans...located on the way to Grand Isle on US 90 in Des Allemands (just a little to the west of DA, actually). Fresh, local, wild freshwater catfish, good bloody marys, and enough other variety on the menu to make non-catfish-eaters happy. I prefer the catfish "chips", made from the small belly flaps; the chips are smaller, crispier, and tastier, I think. Spahr's used to be a dump, a converted gas station with zero atmosphere. After it burned to the ground, the owners rebuilt, so it is clean and neat, but still not fancy. If you see small pies for sale at the cash register, buy a few--the pies are homemade & tasty, esp the sweet potato, coconut, and pecan ones (three diff pies).
In geographical order, heading south:
Larose--Ginny's Balcony on LA 1: old-school full-service restaurant, the kind of place with regulars who come on certain nights of the week. Luncheon specials, a lunch buffet, but the full menu is available all the time. Good hamburger steak, crab au gratin, shrimp salad, fried catfish, seafood stuffed flounder, etc.
Port Fourchon--Toupsie's: on the edge of an upscale (for the area) boat/camp development. Hit or miss, can be good when it's on. Also has a sandwich shop-y joint next door.
Next is Leeville, home of the Leeville Restaurant. Good quality fresh seafood, no frills atmosphere. Worth a visit. Not hard to find, as there isn't much left of Leeville anymore. As you drive thru Leeville, remember that cotton and citrus grew in its fields at the turn of the century...all open water now.
Grand Isle doesn't really have any dining "destinations" anymore, unfortunately. (My old favorite on Cheniere Caminada, just before Grand Isle, was Cigar's. It was sold a few years ago, then it blew away in Katrina, but the old owner opened a new Cigar's in Breaux Bridge.) Stick to the local seafood--it's peak time for shrimp--boiled or fried and you won't go wrong. If you have access to a kitchen, you might consider buying some under-16 shrimp and a few dozen crabs and doing it yourself. But if you HAVE to eat out, try Gulfstream (used to be kinda bad, but the owner's wife died & he got a new cook, so it has improved recently) or for plate lunches during the week, Sara's.
Enjoy your trip to my little corner of the world. Thanks for spending your tax dollars with us--we all appreciate it.
Sadly, I can report firsthand that you can find lots of terrible food south of New Orleans, not just in chain restaurants! The myth of "everything's good in Acadiana" is just that--a myth.
And I just thought of another one: Harry's Poboys, open only for lunch & into mid-afternoon on weekdays. LA 308, at the north (up the bayou) end of the Intracoastal Canal bridge. Kick ass roast beef, good crab patties, decent fried seafood. Cheap as dirt, big enough to feed a family. Takeout only, unless you like sitting at the little picnic tables in the sun and breathing road fumes.