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Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Enlightened Traveler: Where The Locals Dine In New Orleans

Here’s a secret we’ve learned from our many visits to the Crescent City over the past 25 years: the shabbier the restaurant looks on the outside, the greater the likelihood that the food is fantastic – and cheap.

Thus, we were pleased to read that Indiana Colts star quarterback Peyton Manning recommended two of our favorite New Orleans eateries in the September issue of Esquire.

In New Orleans, the worse it looks, the better the food.
As for Domilise's shrimp po' boy, brace yourself!
They are in the Uptown neighborhood and mostly patronized by locals, the folks who rarely venture into the French Quarter.

Neither Domilise’s or Camellia Grill is what you’d call a restaurant. “Joint” is more like it, especially in the case of Domilise’s, which from the outside looks as if it might be closed. The interior isn’t going to win any design awards either. But, the service is friendly and the po’ boys are outstanding. The true taste of New Orleans in every bite.

Camellia Grill's burger: all "dressed up" plus bacon and cheese
Compared to Domilise’s, Camellia Grill is posh. Still, it’s just a counter, a few booths, and often long lines outside, unless you go late at night. (If you go after a Saints game, be prepared to wait!)

No po’ boys here, but they do offer great beans and rice for Sunday supper. Their hamburger is what most people want. Ask for it “dressed,” the New Orleans equivalent of lettuce, tomato, pickle and ketchup.

Another favorite of ours is the better known Mother’s in the Central Business District. We prefer their Jambalaya to the version at The Gumbo Shop (take out only at their Uptown kitchen; eat in at their French Quarter cafe).

Mother’s will “cold pack” a gallon of Jambalaya so you can take it back on the airplane as your carry-on. This won’t seem as crazy as it sounds once you’re home and tucking in to a brimming bowlful a few nights later. (Freeze the rest in serving portions and enjoy sparingly until you return to New Orleans.)

We especially like Mother’s debris sandwich. It’s a French Dip affair made with the small leftover end pieces of the roast beef, the debris, that have been sitting in the juice for a while. Do not leave Louisiana without having sampled one.

More on where to dine in New Orleans, Uptown and elsewhere, in future postings.

Domilise’s, 5240 Annunciation St., (504) 899-9126 (take a taxi)
Camellia Grill,
626 S. Carrollton Ave., (504) 861-9311 (on the streetcar line)
401 Poydras St., (443) 408-6004 (walking distance from the Quarter)

Photos: Domilise’s – Eating in Translation, shrimp po’ boy – hollyeats.com, Camellia Grill hamburger – David Adams, Camellia Grill – Nola-Shiva

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