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True NOLA Southern cuisine: Recommendations

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Lilfry2096 Mar 15, 2011 11:11 PM

I'll be traveling to NOLA in a week for the first time for a 3-4 day trip and I'm very excited. I've been doing my research on restaurants to visit there both causal and formal....but I wanted to know where in NOLA I should go to get some great, authentic NOLA Southern food? It could be or hole in the wall or fine dinning...but what are some recommendations you could provide?

Thanks

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    CharlieH RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 06:46 AM

    Southern? We don't really do southern, at least not well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CharlieH
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      hazelhurst RE: CharlieH Mar 16, 2011 06:52 AM

      That's true, I think. I can remember when we'd drive into the city when I was a boy and thinking how the world just magically changed. It seemed like an island of exotica. It was a long time before I could appreciate the outlying countryside..I was a city rat from the beginning. We'd get teh southern food the OP is talking about visitng family in Mississippi or driving to New York.

    2. hambone RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 06:54 AM

      I can't really speak to authenticity -- I'm not from NOLA -- but the one dish I had there that I really can't get out of my mind was the Chicken Tchapatoulis form K-Paul. Had it for lunch and if I could have, I would have gone back for dinner that night.

      Had a lot of other great food down there but that dish had a feel of old time/authentic NOLA -- years later and I still think about it.

      (Well I think of that and a chicken fried steak po' boy from Johnny's on St. Louis. But that doesn't feel so much like NOLA as just good sloppy Southern food.)

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        JazzyB RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 06:56 AM

        Try Dooky Chase's lunch buffet: gumbo, fried chicken, fried catfish, white beans, greens, peach cobbler etc. Selection may vary but the staples are constant. Also in the same area, Willie Maes's has terrific fried chicken with a shattering wet batter crust, red/white beans and rice.

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        Dooky Chase Restaurant
        2301 Orleans Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119

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          Littleman RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 06:58 AM

          You can get some fine southern food at Cafe Reconcile.

          http://reconcileneworleans.org/

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          Cafe Reconcile
          1712 Oretha C Haley Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70113

          1. uptownlibrarian RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 07:02 AM

            Two Sisters Kitchen, 223 N. Derbigny. Turkey necks, fried chicken, baked macaroni, potato salad, red beans, catfish, collard greens & ham hocks, white rice, smothered chicken, stewed rabbit, cornbread, stewed cabbage, etc. etc. Inexpensive, huge portions.

            1 Reply
            1. re: uptownlibrarian
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              hazelhurst RE: uptownlibrarian Mar 16, 2011 07:18 AM

              That's a great suggestion...places like that sort of lump together in my mind..most places like that are "some-number-of-sisters" and I get them mixed up from town-to-town.

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              CharlieH RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 07:35 AM

              I think of Dooky's/Reconcile/and Two Sisters as waiving the soul food flag. I think you need to see Paula Deen for some real southern food, and for that you need to go to Savannah, where they talk like ..... well you know what I mean. Maybe I am quibbling.

              6 Replies
              1. re: CharlieH
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                collardman RE: CharlieH Mar 16, 2011 11:52 AM

                I don't know that it's quibbling or more that there is a thin line there. The three places mentioned are closer to southern cooking than the general New Orleans fine dining/Creole/Cajun/seafood places. The difference between "soul food" and southern cooking maybe the grade and variety of the ingredients used in "the big house" and what was available to the help. There is a greater use of "fillers" now, like grits/polenta, different rice varieties, and a comeback of field greens in fine dining.
                But that question of southern cooking causes me to derail this thread a little. Is that boarding house type restaurant still around in Mississippi? Hattiesburg I think, or maybe McComb. Dinner Bell?

                1. re: collardman
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                  hazelhurst RE: collardman Mar 16, 2011 11:57 AM

                  It's in McComb..used to be open only from Spring to fall but I think new owners have it. Haven;'t been in ten years, though, but a friend who is from there would have told me if it had closed. (I think)

                  1. re: hazelhurst
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                    Littleman RE: hazelhurst Mar 16, 2011 02:40 PM

                    The Dinner Bell is outstanding and open all year round.

                    The Dinner Bell @ 229 5th Ave., McComb, MS. 601 - 684 - 4883.
                    http://www.thedinnerbell.net/index.html

                  2. re: collardman
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                    CharlieH RE: collardman Mar 16, 2011 12:02 PM

                    Perhaps the presence of white gravy is the defining line.

                    1. re: collardman
                      Bill Hunt RE: collardman Mar 16, 2011 06:27 PM

                      There was one in Hattiesburg (Revolving Table?), one in McComb and it seems that one in Greenville. All similar, and all great 'comfort food," served on a revolving "lazy Susan style table" and casual fun. No haute cuisine at any, but just good, simple, tasty and enjoyable food.

                      Not sure which, if any, are still available.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
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                        expatorleanian RE: Bill Hunt Mar 25, 2011 06:11 AM

                        Vicksburg. Walnut hills. Round table or private tables.

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                    shallots RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 12:18 PM

                    Go to Rocky and Carlos' down the river in Chalmette. It's a long established really big restaurant with good to great food. There have never been tablecloths on their tables, but the before-Katrina tables had the formica patterns worn off.

                    It's home style poboys, salads, some entrees, all of which taste really good.

                    Help Chalmette come back and on your way back upriver to Orleans Parish, visit the Chalmette Battlefield (it's also real important.)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: shallots
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                      kibbles RE: shallots Mar 17, 2011 08:19 AM

                      after hearing much about it we did R&C's, got a bunch of stuff. have to say it was kinda underwhelming... sure it would be more important to me if i lived near it, but for us it doesnt work as a destination, even for the mac & cheese.

                      1. re: kibbles
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                        hazelhurst RE: kibbles Mar 17, 2011 08:32 AM

                        R&C has never been "underwhelming" for me but I never placed high expectations on it. the basic, hearty stuff has always been a nice break for me and if I am in the area for any reason I always stop for lunch there if I am not otherwise engaged back in teh City. (But I admit that I would sometimes pass them up in favor of continuing back to town to go to Hurstel's on St Claude for the stuffed artichoke but that is long, long gone. I'm not sure teh building is even still there.) The other diversion in that area is jack Dempsey's

                        1. re: kibbles
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                          CharlieH RE: kibbles Mar 17, 2011 08:39 AM

                          Kinda have to agree, its more of quantity over quality kinda place. Its a fun though, so I do like going.

                      2. Bill Hunt RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 16, 2011 06:23 PM

                        As others have alluded, there is the cuisine of the Deep South (and that is very, very "open-ended"), and then there is NOLA Cuisine. There are some common influences, but probably more differences.

                        in New Orleans proper, I would recommend MiLa (basically Mississippi-Louisiana) from a chef-couple, who grew up with the respectively different foods.

                        Another restaurant, and probably more geared towards the "Deep South," would be Stella!. Many pan it, as NOT authentic NOLA Cuisine. Great food, with both a Deep South and a NOLA influence, in a lovely setting.

                        Now, being a "son of the Old South," I have had the pleasure of dining around much (most?) of it, plus having lived in NOLA. I know one, from the other, and appreciate them both. It's similar to NOLA vs Cajun (and often Creole). They are different, but extract elements from each other.

                        Personally, as I am not doing a PhD thesis on regional cuisine and its derivations, I am more interested in having great meals, rather than eating something that is 100% historically, geographically and anthropologically accurate. It's all about great food.

                        Enjoy, and do not get too hung up on the exact derivation of the menus - just sit back, and well, enjoy!

                        Hunt

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                          sanchoponza RE: Lilfry2096 Mar 22, 2011 02:45 PM

                          Southern food means different things to different folks. The coastal areas-New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston-have a rice culture, with an abundance of sea food available.
                          Most of the south lived on a cuisine of beans and cornbread, biscuits and country ham, fried chicken and potatoes, green beans seasoned with salt pork and corn, corn, corn....
                          Even the "soul food" restaurants in NOLA are based on the first culture-rice and seafood.
                          To find a restaurant representing the second culture, corn, you might have to look outside the city...

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: sanchoponza
                            Bill Hunt RE: sanchoponza Mar 22, 2011 07:04 PM

                            Yes, saying "Southern Cuisine" is almost as broad as saying "Mexican Cuisine." Mexico is a very large and diverse country, while the "South" is almost as diverse.

                            What's Southern Cuisine to me, being from coastal MS, is very different than what that implies to one from Athens, GA, or Buford, NC. Heck, I was a young adult, before I first experienced "Low-Country" cooking, which is VERY Southern, but just not what I grew up with.

                            Enjoy,

                            Hunt

                            1. re: Bill Hunt
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                              sanchoponza RE: Bill Hunt Mar 23, 2011 10:49 AM

                              Bill,

                              My wife and I spent New Year's Eve in Charleston last year and got to sample "low country" cooking first hand. It was her first experience with that cuisine and she absolutely loved the food there.

                            2. re: sanchoponza
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                              hazelhurst RE: sanchoponza Mar 23, 2011 11:05 AM

                              You make me think of something that I've been trying to figure out for awhile and that is: when did the grits get into grits and grillades? Late 19th century recipes show grillades, which range from simpy grilled meat toa marinated stewed meat. But sometime in the 20th century (as far as I can figure), the marriage with grits occured..in New Orleans. As a boy I had low country cooking en route through on trips and I never saw grits and grillades around there then but I did see more grits than I saw in New Orleans. Maybe I am wrong but I'd have thought something like this would be more likely to originate in South Carolina.

                              On the other side of this grits issue is the fact that I cannot get good red eye gravy in Louisiana unless I have a ham shipped to me and make it myself. The stuff I used to get in the mountains of North Carolina was simply wonderful and a recent trip through there did not yield good results, unfortunately.

                              1. re: hazelhurst
                                Bill Hunt RE: hazelhurst Mar 23, 2011 06:40 PM

                                Hazelhurst,

                                In my quest for good country ham, other than buying it over the counter in the place of origin, I discovered Benton Smoked Meats: http://bentonscountryhams2.com/

                                We have ordered from them quite often. Love their applewood smoked bacon too.

                                Hunt

                                1. re: Bill Hunt
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                                  sanchoponza RE: Bill Hunt Mar 25, 2011 09:34 AM

                                  Another good country ham provider is Broadbent's.
                                  http://www.broadbenthams.com/Aboutus.asp

                                2. re: hazelhurst
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                                  collardman RE: hazelhurst Mar 24, 2011 02:06 PM

                                  I wonder if the grits got there during WWII both as a stretcher and from the influence of Southern recruits who came to New Orleans. I don't have any old N.O. cookbooks.

                                  Such things as The River Road and Cotton Country cookbooks from the 70's-80's prove the variations in Southern cooking. Leon Soniat in La Bouche Creole talks of his parents preparing grillades and grits in his 1983 book so it might predate WWII.
                                  My oldest souther cookbook is Cross Creek Cookery by Marjorie Kimman Rawlings with a few pages on grits and some how-to on Blackbird pie and Gopher Stew.

                                  I had an urge for red-eye gravy in early December and had a futile local search for country ham.

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