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Oct 21, 2013 12:56 PM

Off-the-radar southern or soul or creole restaurant suggestions

Our second visit to NO is coming up in early December and I have a coupla questions.

I remember seeing the story of the fall and rise of Willie Mae's Scotch House. I assume that millions of others saw it as well and make a point of eating there. Has this changed the character of the place?
Or perhaps this had no effect and the food is top notch? Or is it mostly hype?

Are there other places which could compare which are somewhat off-the-radar? JazzyB suggested Dooky Chase, are there others? Not necessarily the same food-style, but neighborhood joints putting out honest fare.

Places that I'm just throwing out there and don't have much of a clue:
Capt Sals Seafood & Chicken
The Joint
Marigny Brasserie

BTW, we're spending 4 days in NO before heading to Lafayette and doing day trips from there. Perhaps I shouldn't worry so much about off-the-radar joints in New Orleans and get my fill in Cajun country?

Thanks for your thoughts.

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    1. re: TaTee

      Well, I grew up in Vermilion parish and we did not eat game in our gumbo too much, unless it was duck. We often had seafood gumbo, and okra and shrimp gumbo. We used fresh sausage, not smoked the way they do further north.
      Marcelle Bienvenu has a great book about the regional differences among different parishes of Cajun cooking, much less its differences with Creole cooking: Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine. She distinguishes between the corn line and the wheat/white bread line, the coastal and inland parishes, etc.

    2. I'd avoid the Marigny Brasserie -- it's a terrible restaurant in a great location. One can only hope it eventually changes hands again.

      Captain Sal's (I assume you mean on St. Claude) isn't terrible but I'd never send a visitor there. I'd describe it as a place to get an okay poboy or couple lbs of crawfish to eat at your desk at lunchtime -- not a destination.

      Elizabeth's is solid but not awe inspiring. Usually -- especially if they're busy -- the fried chicken is good, as are their veggie sides. I remain sad that they took out their pool table, it was my favorite in the neighborhood. (I hear they've got a 60s Lambretta they're going to hang from the ceiling upstairs though; it won't make up for the loss of the pool table but I am scooter trash and it's hard not to love vintage Italian decor.) I think Elizabeth's brunch is overrated (but still not bad).

      The Joint's great. The city's best BBQ, cold cheap beer, and inedible mac & cheese (seriously ... it's just awful). If they have the pastrami sandwich on special get one, even if it's in addition to other food. Closed Sundays.

      If you're after soul food, keep an eye on the We've Got Soul popup. They've been showing up at Kajun's every month or so lately. Keep in mind that while they advertise late hours they almost always sell out. The food's great.

      I've never heard a thing about Neyow's but am hoping someone else weighs in.

      If you're looking to get out into midcity a little you can do worse than the section of Banks St. that includes Crescent Pie & Sausage, Finn McCool's, and Twleve Mile Limit. It's not high style or anything but all three are solid for what they are -- neighborhood joints putting out honest fare.

      1 Reply
      1. re: montuori

        Looks like We've Got Soul is doing Thursdays at Kajun's for the near future at least.

      2. Thanks for your suggestions and tips, folks.

        "...I'd never send a visitor there..."
        I'm OK with this if its on account of the food. I also understand how many visitors can be, ahhh, high maintenance, expecting flash and glitz wherever they go, making recommendations somewhat tricky.

        High-end restaurants and dives and everything between have their places. However, I can appreciate a good dive more so than a high-end place; you have certain expectations at a high-end and many times they fall short. Expectations are usually lower with a dive (or "neighbourhood restaurant"), but every once in a while, they'll hit it out of the park.

        1. Anthony Bourdain went to Glenda's Creole Kitchen in Breaux Bridge, but I have tried it and I believe you would do better at Soop's in Maurice. Daily plate lunch specials like shrimp and egg stew, fried chicken and rice dressing, stuffed pork chops and sausage with rice and gravy, meatball stew. Catfish courtbouillon.

          Maurice also has one of the best poboys I've had, at Villager's Cafe. Roast pork with gravy. I'd try anything there.

          1. We will be in NO for our annual trip in December as well. We always make Willie Mae's a stop. Hard to top a place that is this iconic and beloved (by not only locals, tourists and big-time-fancy-chefs) as this place.

            Depending on what part of the country you are from...this place is iconic.

            2 Replies
            1. re: foodiechick

              I don't get the love for Willie Maes, I've tried it on 4 different occasions and not once was I blown away by the chicken and everyone I was with each time felt the same way

              1. re: foodiechick

                Willie Mae's chicken has a very crispy skin, which seems to me to be its main claim to fame. Other than that I didn't find it remarkable -- it's one of those back-story places, i.e. the hype quotient is high. The chicken is certainly good but not life-changing.