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Trip Report: Liuzza's By The Track, Domenica, The Joint, Drago's and more

I've been a lurker on this board for quite some time and all of your advice has been so helpful in planning our trips.

This was my 12th trip back to New Orleans and my husband's 6th and the goal was to try some new places. As soon as we checked in to our bed and breakfast we headed to Liuzza's By the Track. It was our first time at Liuzza's and I'm just sorry it took me so long to try it. We'll definitely be back! We shared the barbecue shrimp poboy, a bowl of gumbo, and sweet potato fries. It was a good thing we shared because the poboy was huge and more than enough for two people. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and the sauce was amazing! We loved the gumbo as well. The sweet potato fries were crispy and not overly greasy. The service was friendly and efficient. Loved that our waitress called us, "baby." :) Couldn't have asked for a better first meal in New Orleans. In fact the rest of the trip I kept telling my husband we should go back!

Later that night I ended up trying a frozen Irish coffee at both Molly's at the Market and Erin Rose. They were both delicious...I couldn't say one was better than the other. Ended up taking the one from Erin Rose with me to Cafe Du Monde and it went perfectly with an order of beignets.

The next morning we stopped at Cake Cafe and split a goat cheese and sundried tomato croissant and a chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing...it's never too early in the morning for a cupcake. The croissant was really good and flaky and the cupcake was moist and delicious. The icing wasn't too sweet and a had a great flavor. We walked around the French Market and shared a drink from the Organic Banana stand...it was called a Dirty Banana and was wonderful...it was made with banana, amaretto, coffee liqueur, vanilla bean ice cream, and chocolate syrup. So good!

After walking around a few hours we headed to The Joint. We shared the pulled pork platter, mac and cheese, potato salad, and coleslaw. We both loved the pulled pork, it had a great flavor and the choice of sauces on the table were all good too. I enjoyed the mac and cheese and coleslaw, but wasn't crazy about the potato salad. It had a flavor in it that I couldn't place and just didn't care for, but my husband loved it. We both agreed on the mac and cheese! We would definitely return.

I've been wanting to try the charbroiled oysters at Drago's for awhile now and after all the debate abut which location is better decided we had to go to the Metairie location.
After we finished lunch at The Joint we drove to Metairie and of course we were still full so we spent some time shoping first. At Drago's we sat at the bar and split an order of the oysters. We LOVED them! Now I want to try the Hilton location to see if I can tell the difference. But this dish is definitely going on the try again list!

That night we had a late dinner at Napoleon House which we've both been to before and enjoyed. I had half of a muffuletta and my husband had the red beans and rice and a side salad. I warned him that everything I've had there other than the muffuletta had been average, but he didn't care and guess what? The red beans and rice were average to below average. They were really watery and soupy...edible, but nothing to ever try again. And his side salad was made with iceberg lettuce so there you go. But my sandwich was great as always.

The next morning we just grabbed breakfast at our inn and then headed out for a bike tour with Confederacy of Cruisers. This was one of the most fun things I've ever done in New Orleans. The tour guide, Cassidy, was so informative and funny. He really took the time to answer everyone's questions and to recommend good restaurants and bars. The tour stopped at Marie's Bar for Bloody Mary's and it was very good.

After the tour we decided to go to Bennachin for lunch. I had read great reviews and we wanted to try something different. There was only one other table being served at the time we were there and service was as slow as if it had been a full house. Slow to get drinks, slow to get food, slow to get the check. The waitress was more on the curt side and didn't go out of her way to be friendly. We shared an order of plantains, and the African jambalaya which came with spinach. I was really looking forward to the plantains because most of the reviews rave about them. They were such a disappointment. So greasy that they were soggy and the only flavor you could taste on them was the grease. The jambalaya wasn't terrible, but the meat in it was. I'm not even sure what kind of meat it was. It was tough, chewy, and it tasted old. I took one bite of the meat and that was enough for me. I wouldn't have served that meat to my dog. The jambalaya was ok, but didn't taste any better than a box of Zatarain's. In fact, a box of Zatarain's may have been better. The sauteed spinach was very good. I would never try this place again. Ever. Even if it was just an off day for them...there is no excuse for that meat.

I was still hungry because I barely ate anything at Bennachin so we headed to Red Fish Grill for dessert. We've been there before for apps and dessert so I knew I definitely wanted the double chocolate bread pudding. We sat at the bar and shared dessert and it was just as decadent as I remembered.

Walked around and did more shopping/sightseeing and then at 4:00 headed to Domenica for happy hour. Even at four it was getting pretty busy. The hostess appeared to be very frazzled and came off as inexperienced. We waited about 10 minutes and then we were seated. We ordered the gorgonzola pizza and the root vegetable pizza. Our waiter didn't look a day over 18 and he too seemed quite frazzled as soon as he approached our table and also came off as inexperienced. I have nothing against young people in the service industry, but think they should be trained properly and have the maturity to not let every emotion they are having come across to the customer. I used to work in the service industry and this is a big pet peeve of mine. So I ordered a Bellini and it was delicious. My husband ordered a soda. A couple that were seated after us were paying their check before we even had our food and they had ordered pizza as well. At one point our waiter came out of the kitchen and looked over at our table and then made, an "uh oh" expression and ran, yes, RAN back to the kitchen. So, I'm assuming he forgot to put our order in. No apologies for the wait. So the pizzas finally came out and they were amazing. Great crust! Then we noticed something odd. The gorgonzola pizza was supposed to have apple, speck, and pecans on it. After a few bites I realized that the apple was missing...as in not even one trace of apple anywhere. The root vegetable pizza was supposed to have a sundried tomato topping and that was missing. So strange. But after how long it took to get the pizzas in the first place we just let it go, we also had plans that night and needed to get back to the hotel to get ready. The pizza was still delicious even with the missing toppings and I would return again even with the poor service. There were also complimentary chocolate cookies served at the end of the meal and they were very rich and delicious. Happy Hour is an amazing value for what you get and we had plenty of pizza left over for later that night. One thing to note is that they charge for refills of soda. That's another pet peeve of mine. I think that's only the third place I've ever been to that charges for refills.

The next morning we had breakfast at the inn and then headed to Finn McCool's to watch the Saints game. This is my all time favorite bar to watch a Saints game at! I tried an iced Irish coffee and it was delicious, I preferred it iced over the frozen Irish coffee at the previous bars. Service was great and the bartenders and owner were very friendly. They offer free food during half time and that was delicious as well...I can't even remember everything we had because there was such a big selection, but it was all good and tasted like a homemade meal that your mom might make. We will definitely return there again and again! And the Saints won so that was a bonus! :)

That night we had a late dinner at Camellia Grill in the Quarter. We had been to the Uptown location before, but it was our first time at the new location. I had a hamburger, fries, and slice of chocolate pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. My husband had an omlet with chili on top and hash browns. We've had the same meal before and it was just as good as always. The pecan pie is amazing! There was less interaction with the waiters than at the Uptown location, but that could have been due to the late hour. It was about an hour before closing time when we were there.

The next morning before we had to say goodbye to New Orleans, we stopped at Cake Cafe again and got two goat cheese croissants and a chocolate cupcake for the road. The next time we come back, I'd like to try their full breakfast. It looked amazing. It was a great trip and I'm glad we got to try some new places as well as return to old favorites. Our definite favorite of this trip was Liuzza's By The Track...I've been dreaming about that poboy! We'll be back in May!

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  1. Thanks for a great TR. I like Liuzza's and Drago's too. I really like the Drago's in Metairie best but it sure is hard to find a parking place there. Come back to visit again soon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Littleman

      Thank you! We can't wait to come back. I'm already making a list! :)

    2. I talked to 2 people in the past week who confirm your Domenica service problem. It's a constant refrain. I just wonder why they won't address this issue. Their servers are just too inexperienced and inattentive. I always go anyway because I love the food, but...

      8 Replies
      1. re: sanglier

        Interesting. I've been to Domenica at least a dozen times and have never encountered poor service.
        Perhaps it's a happy hour issue.

        1. re: FoodChic

          Oddly enough, I've had better luck during happy hour! Again, I just make sure to go with someone who won't mind slow/inattentive service if it ends up happening. As long as I have wine, I'm OK to wait for pizza and pasta, both of which I very much love.

          1. re: sanglier

            In our last experience, they basically kept the restaurant open, for our party. We called about every 15 mins. to update them, and could not have asked for better service - just over and above.

            Still, things can change.

            Hunt

          2. re: sanglier

            They have a strange policy at Domenica. You have to start as a busser or host to become a server. Most professional service industry folks wouldn’t agree to that so what they end up with is inexperienced servers. I can’t figure out why they do this, but it’s their place, their rules and it doesn’t seem to affect business too much.

            1. re: shanefink

              That is a strange policy, but I guess that explains the service.

            2. re: sanglier

              That is a bad change, for our last visit, and it saddens me greatly.

              Still, things DO change, and even with the Besh establishment, that is not to be expected, or anticipated.

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Even with the glitches in service, we would definitely return. Bennachin on the other hand...never again.

            3. Great report!

              "I 've been wanting to try the charbroiled oysters at Drago's for awhile now"

              I see Casamento's is now serving these (thurs/fri/sat dinner only). Is there reason to think Drago's is better?

              Also, I wonder how often Finn McCool's does those parties. Their regular pub menu looks kinda boring.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jim Leff

                I haven't tried Casamento's yet, but I'm sure a local can weigh in on the comparisons. As far as I know, Finn's does the free food for every Saints game and customers can bring in food too which people vote on for best dish and the winner gets some free drinks. We couldn't have had more fun there! Great atmosphere! I want to go to one of their drunken spelling bees the next time I'm in town.

              2. Thanks for a great review. A few notes: if you go back to The Joint, try their salad. They have a smoked tomato dressing that may be the best item on the menu. Also, please do not promote Cake Cafe too much or it will cease to be a wonderful secret. Last, we also went to Bennachin recently for the first time and our experience with the service was similar but not with the food. I encourage you to give them a second chance, everything we had was great, which included the Jama Jama, Domoda, Shipa Shipa, and Cope Ni Cone. Thanks!

                1 Reply
                1. re: sirvelvet

                  I would want to keep Cake Cafe a secret too if I was lucky enough to be a local! Can't wait to try a full meal there. Thank you for the tip on the salad dressing, sounds good! I don't know if I can forgive Bennachin yet...too many other places to try. Even with 12 trips to your city, it seems there's always something we don't get to. But it sure is fun trying! :)