In April of 2018 (around Easter) something glorious happened. We visited New Orleans and the weather was glorious! Unlike most who visit in the summer, we experienced the highs in the mid 70’s. It was less crowded than usual. Other than the filming (Tom Hardy was filming Capone movie around the corner and The Purge TV show was also filming at nearby Loyola University) there weren’t many crowds. So our conditions were perfect. Less also because Mardi Gras had ended and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was right around the corner. This gave us a great opportunity to talk to the locals who grew up in the area. We hope to get back as many of those businesses are hurting after losing the tourists during 2020.
We most likely ate at a place you love. Full disclosure, the list below were our favorite spots and none of them were expensive. They also were very casual and perfect for kids. So, there are fine dining places with awards all over their walls. This is not that article. We were staying in the Garden District off Magazine Street so we are also Garden District heavy.
The Camellia Grill
First off, leave the quarter. It’s a tourist trap. Get out into the Garden District and take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar Line. As the line turns right onto South Carrolton, that is where you need to hop off. There you will find The Camellia Grill. Uptown locals, Tulane & Loyola Students and tourists are sitting side by side on one of the 28 stools in the small, yet nicely decorated room. The Beef Bacon burger’s are better here than most places I’ve eaten around the United States. The chocolate freeze with ice cream is a wonderful drink that is better than any milkshake I’ve had and very filling. I loved this place and if you follow me, you know I don’t usually eat meat or dairy. The Pecan pie is a Chocolate Pecan Pie fried in butter. Need we say more. Just order it and split it if you are already full. OK, also the service is what you have come to expect from every place in New Orleans but somehow it’s even better.
See Menu by googling: “camellia grill new orleans menu” and Google has it for you. It’s the most accurate online we’ve found.
Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar
This was not first on THIS list but it is definitely first in our family’s heart. We cancelled three other restaurant visits so we could go back for shrimp po-boys. Domiliese’s has been around since the 1920s for a very good reason. They are the best at what they do and what they do is make great po-boy sandwiches. The recently passed Anthony Bourdain featured this restaurant in his Layover show and they even have a sandwich specifically to honor him. But it was on our list to visit since we were staying in the neighborhood. This place is very popular with locals. It was confirmed by a high-five from a tour guide because we suggested this place to Canadian tourists. For us, it was the shrimp po-boy and that baguette. The shrimp was huge, fried and properly dressed sandwich on a baguette that had that perfect crunch. This is also another great spot for Loyola and Tulane students. Our daughter is not a shrimp fan so she grabbed the meatball and said it was superb. Also, they have great onion rings. There is a bar inside this restaurant. We got Barq’s root beer because we were told it was the local way.
See Menu here: http://www.domilisespoboys.com/
Williams Plum Street Snoballs
A snoball place? I know, right. Not a place people usually put on a “Must Hit” list. Seriously though. We grabbed a variation of a banana flavor the two times we visited and the glorious chocolate with their housemade sweetened condensed milk was ordered both times as well. This place is great for the kiddos both big and small. Plus, I was not familiar with Snoballs being a popular and local treat in New Orleans. There are many snoball stands but the locals we talked to love this specific one. We had a wonderful conversation about how important this place was with people from the neighborhood and the wonderful owner Donna Black. Who, I have to say after meeting her during closing time, is maybe the most hospitable person in New Orleans in a city known for Hospitality. The joy and passion for Snoballs are real and it’s a locals kind of place.
Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery
Since the fall of Saigon the Vietnamese community has been a big part of New Orleans. Their work and contribution to New Orleans can not be understated. They went to work in the fishing, oyster and shrimping industry when they arrived in the gulf coast. Many of their children and grandchildren have taken jobs in other industries but their footprint and mark on New Orleans is still seen in the culinary landscape today. Some of those first arrivals opened up po-boy stands because let’s be honest, it was a bánh mì to them. There is just such a perfect similarity between these two delicious sandwiches. Also, Vietnam and the Gulf Coast are very similar in many ways and it takes form on each plate in both the traditional and Vietnamese restaurants. In the Early 1980s Huong Tran opened her storefront bakery next to her mother in-laws restaurant. We had come because of the King Cake which is always in high demand during the Mardi Gras season. Unfortunately we were there during Easter and there isn’t a need to make King Cake out of season. So, we settled on a bag of vietnamese candies, cookies and cakes, a great baguette and of course the Grilled Pork bánh mì. Mixed reviews on the treats as some were new flavors to our daughter and that’s to be expected. There was no doubt though the love of the bánh mì. The pork was more like a deli slice but tasty. The vegetables were wonderful and I dare say I will return and get a vegetarian version of the bánh mì. Plus, that baguette was perfect. It had the perfect crunch on the outside with a soft pillow on the inside. The bakery is filled with cases of cakes, candies and cookies as are the shelves. It is worth the drive if you are fortunate to have a car to get there yourself. Not sure what an Uber would cost to get there but it’s a bit outside of the city center.
Turkey and the Wolf
We’re a bit late to the game when it comes to Turkey and Wolf. This is not the secret it was when we were told to visit. Bon appétit beat us there with a great overview video:
That said, this is the greatest hangover cure in New Orleans. This menu, which is a compliment, is some of the most alcohol absorbing food imaginable. We started with the deviled eggs with fried chicken skins with their own house made hot sauce. These are fantastic and are definitely an over the top version of deviled eggs. These may in fact be the Devil’s recipe. We had the Italian American sandwich (as of writing this it has been replaced on the menu). Not our favorite but that’s why the menu rotates. The star of the show in our eyes was the fried bologna sandwich with leighann’s bologna, hot english mustard, potato chips, shrettuce, mayo, american cheese on white. We had very basic soda but they have a full bar and the drinks have clever names. As the video shows these guys are doing something they love and it shows on the plate. They also work their tails off. As laid back as they seem in that video we ran into the owner huddled in the corner near the restroom working on his computer. When we came out he was making his rounds helping clear tables and make sure patrons were taken care of during the lunch hour. There is a reason this place is getting popular.
Cafe Du Monde
Sorry, but we have to be cliche. This is our one tourist trap must do. Cafe Du Monde is legendary and everyone suggests it. So the lines are long. Wait in the line. Sit down and be amazed how many of these little pillows of heaven are served in just the time you are sitting there. Get Beignets at the place that seems to do it best in our humble opinion. The Cafe au lait is wonderful hot while sitting and eating the beignets. Pro Tip: the frozen version is a perfect walking around drink on a warm day. While walking around and being a tourist sip on that cold coffee that is perfectly sweet. If you are in a hurry or driving out of town, grab a bag of beignets. The bag eating of beignets skills is one that all Southern Living citizens should perfect. This is the first tourist trap I visited that I loved being “stuck in.”
New Orleans has so much going on with the food scene. So many great chefs and so many nice dining options. Yet, we gave you these low cost options for a reason. These gems are the local, working man picks. That’s exactly what they are, local favorites. Yes, Commander’s Palace and Antoine’s do a great job. That said, I will take three visits to Domilise’s and a snoball over one visit to those places. Enjoy a nice dinner but don’t overlook the New Orleans way the locals do it. If you have a better place for Po-boys, beignets or snoballs leave them in the comments.