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Apr 26, 2009 06:46 AM

La Boca

I am considering going to La Boca on an upcoming trip to New Orleans. I saw a special on TV about it and it looked fabulous, but have not heard heard about it on Chowhound. Please tell me your thoughts, so far ever suggestion from ya'll has been right on.

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  1. In my opinion the best restaurant to open in New Orleans post-Katrina, I've been 6 or 7 times in the last two years. The steaks are out-of-this-world fabulous and the grilled sweetbreads are not only the best sweetbreads I've ever had, but one of my favorite dishes all time.

    It is pretty bare bones: steaks, a few sides (including incredible garlic fries) and a modest price list of mostly S.American Malbecs, but the steaks are not what you'd usually see on American Steak Menus - Skirt (w/ and w/o silverskin - delicious both ways), hangar, flank, grilled sweetbreads, etc.

    If it's not a steak you're accustomed to ordering, ask how the chef would recommend it cooked. For example, the skin-on skirt steak is recommended medium to medium-well - while I would never order a normal (i.e. ribeye, filet, strip steak) anything beyond medium-rare, a medium-well skirt with skin is juicy and delicious).

    Run, don't walk, to La Boca. Now I want to go back.

    1. It's excellent. FYI, it's been recommended 7 times this month alone, so it gets referred to a lot. Search this board for "La Boca." Desserts are awesome, too. Try the crepes with caramelized condensed milk.

      1. La Boca is da bomb. I can't recommend it enough.
        I'm dreaming about my next visit!
        JAG, if you're reading this, I'm ready to go when you are!

        1. Everything said is dead on. I will add though that the Provoleta is perhaps one of the most addictive things on earth so be careful. Melted cheese topped with olive oil and fresh herbs. You scoop it onto a piece of bread as you wait for your sweetbreads to arrive. It is just delicious.

          If you have a big group, its even better. Their group menu is the best deal in the city. The amount of food is staggering and the price is $50 a person.

          1. No question La Boca is consistently excellent. However, it's an Argentinian steak house. A nice change for locals but my suggestion for visitors is to enjoy what you can't get anywhere else... our local cuisine.

            6 Replies
            1. re: JazzyB

              Take no offense to this but our local cuisine is more likely a myth than a fact. There are so many different food cultures and cuisines which have melded here, I think it is incumbent on visitors (and locals) to eat more than just "creole" food. For instance I would recommend someone go to La Boca over Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse which bills itself as a Steakhouse with New Orleans Accents. This is because the food and service will be infinitely better at the former. And at the end of the day, a diner wants to have a good meal, who cares whether or not it can be replicated elsewhere. Because the simple fact is, it rarely is.

              1. re: Lyonola

                I think our food is distinctive and poorly replicated elsewhere. Personally, I want to "eat it where it lives" and have a meal that I can't get from "anywhere USA". When I visit relatives in the metro NY area, I want pizza, pastrami, belly lox, dim sum, a steak from a top notch steakhouse, USDA dry aged prime seared to perfection. Things I can't get here.. We have incomparable fresh seafood which should be experienced. While La Boca is a a gem in NOLA ,I doubt it would stand up elsewhere. Having said that, I always enjoy my meals there. It's just not where I'd send a visitor.

                1. re: JazzyB

                  I absolutely agree. When you live here, it's nice to be able to mix it up a little bit, but I would never recommend a visitor eat at a place that can be replicated anywhere else. We have a cuisine here that, from experience, is very poorly replicated elsewhere. Why not stick with that? If you've been here a few times and want to branch out, go for it.

                2. re: Lyonola

                  If you think our local cuisine is more myth than fact, you've been eating in the wrong restaurants and home kitchens.

                  That said, I certainly don't think that visitors should feel obligated to eat creole food when they're visiting NOLA. Eat what you like--try different things--seek out deliciousness in all its forms. Don't feel obligated to stick with the cliches.

                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    Which is precisely my point. I am not going to tell someone they can't go to La Boca because they have to get a better take on New Orleans food and go to Arnauds. Because the meal will not be as good at Arnaud's as it would be at La Boca. Now the more I ruminate on the concept of New Orleans cuisine as embracing on common theme the more I come to the conclusion it is a myth.

                    For instance do you include Italian food? If so, is it the red sauce heaven of a joint like Mandina's? The Northern Italian at a place like Del Posto? Or the Italian influenced angles at a place like Herbsaint?

                    Or take the French angle. Cafe Degas? Galatoires? Martinique? Dominique? Luke? And on and on. This does not even begin to address the wealth of emerging cultures like the Vietnamese and Latin American populations. A place like Stella! while remarkable could not be classified as a "New Orleans" restaurant but steering a willing out of town diner away from there would be criminal.

                    At the end of the day New Orleans has a wealth of great restaurants which can not be pigeonholed into a characterization of New Orleans cuisine, and guess what that is ok!

                    1. re: Lyonola

                      I do consider Italian as part of the mainstream of Creole food in NOLA: Creole Italian is a distinct thread of the local food tapestry, and restaurants like Mosca's and Mandina's provide fine examples of the genre. I don't place Del Posto (a non-creolized italian place) as "local" food, though it's a good to great restaurant. Herbsaint isn't particularly Italian: I'd consider it modern, chef-driven food that's also not particularly local (though not as self-consciously international as Stella).

                      The French examples you list aren't creolized at all, nor do they brand themselves as local versions of French food. On the other hand, the old war-horses of Arnaud's, Antoine's, and Galatoire's are rooted in classical french culinary practice, yet the food has evolved to be quite distinct from the canonical origins. I'm thinking of our distinctive remoulade sauces (both the red & white versions), which bear little resemblance to the traditional french version; ditto for the local version of trout meuniere.

                      On a side note, Vietnamese isn't exactly an "emerging" culture in greater NOLA. Nearly 20,000 residents of Vietnamese descent live in NO East alone; many have been here for almost 35 years, and we're well into the third generation born on US soil (and don't forget that elected member of Congress!)