Uncle Lionel graces the poster for Treme's bicentennial celebration.
10 days ago, New Orleans lost one of its best ambassadors: Uncle Lionel Batiste, longtime drummer of the Treme Brass Band and generally the sharpest-dressed gent in the city. It had been a while since we'd run into Uncle Lionel on Frenchmen Street or in the Quarter, but when we first moved here, Paul and I used to see him all the time. We'd be in the Spotted Cat and he'd saunter in, dancing breezily with his cane, or we'd find him nodding his head at the Apple Barrel. Once on Paul's birthday, Uncle Lionel and Jack Fine were our tablemates for the evening, and Uncle Lionel led a rousing "Happy Birthday" for Paul while Jack played along (sitting at the table, of course). Every time I got up from the table, Uncle Lionel watched my purse so I could dance unencumbered. Once we even ran into him at the Ritz, drinking a High Life at Jeremy Davenport's show. He could show up anywhere, and he leant a sense of playfulness anywhere he went. I think that's why he's so beloved by people here and such an appropriate figure for things like the Treme poster: Uncle Lionel always had a good time, and it was a classy good time.
Dooky Chase Restaurant, in the Treme
Yesterday, Paul and I found ourselves at Dooky Chase for lunch, after considering a few of our favorite lunch spots. Something about yesterday just felt like we needed to try something new. We've actually eaten some of Leah Chases's food before, her famous green gumbo and fried chicken on Holy Thursday, but we got takeout that day because there wasn't a seat to be had. Dining in at Dooky Chase is an experience not to be missed. The building itself is unassuming, but once inside you find yourself in a well appointed dining room, white tablecloths and all, with an amazing, colorful art collection (and several of Leah Chase's awards). The art will keep your eyes satiated and your conversation sparked throughout your meal.
I have two wonderful places to tell you about, that really couldn't be more different. Let's start with Dooky Chase Restaurant, located in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans and headed by chef Leah Chase (read an interview with her here). Dooky Chase specializes in Creole cooking and offers its own well-loved versions of city classics like gumbo, red beans and rice, and fried chicken. But one of its most special events is offering gumbo z'herb (pronounced "zairb") on Holy Thursday (known as Maundy Thursday to yankees). Gumbo z'herb is basically a stew of greens and every kind of meat imaginable. That's right--just because it's green don't mean it's vegetarian. It is, however, delicious and light, and so full of vitamin power that you just might find yourself invigorated enough to do some spring cleaning after a bowl of it. Holy Thursday at Dooky Chase is all about gumbo z'herb, fried chicken, and cornbread, and you must have a reservation if you'd like to eat it in their gorgeous dining room--some families arrive in packs of 12 or greater. The good news is that you can also call in a take-out order, which is what we did:
Tagged with: new orleans, fried chicken, Louisiana, Ham Sandwich, Johnny Carson, Alexandria, Treme, gumbo z'herb, dooky chase, holy thursday, leah chase, lea's pies, lea's lunchroom, lecompte, sue eakin
We're offering this list of eateries--plus a few bars, attractions, and oddities--for our guests and guests unknown to get ideas about where to spend their time and money. Only places we have visited and actually recommend are on the list. Of course, the list is ever-growing, as we continue to explore new spots every week.
If you'd like to suggest places that aren't here yet, feel free to leave a comment, and we'll add it to the list if we agree. Happy exploring...
Updated on January 24, 2013--Added to list: Domenica, Stanley, Willie Mae's Scotch House. Food Orleans' stories linked in brackets.
- Central Grocery (home of the muffaletta; mostly takeaway)
- Domenica (Rustic Italian cooking; beautifully sauced handmade pastas, pizzas, and the best octopus carpaccio in town; great cheese and salami boards)
- Coop's Place (best restaurant jambalaya, hands down)
- Stanley (right on Jackson Square; the best gumbo in the French Quarter; breakfast all day; interesting po-boys, especially the pizza/casesar salad combo) [my visit]
- Felix's (great oysters, turtle soup, sweet potato fries) [my visit]
- Antoine's (high-priced, long-established classic French; recommended if you can budget it)
- Port of Call (great big steak-like burgers, steaks, baked potatoes (no french fries here), big sweet drinks; there's usually a line out the door, but it's worth it; vegetarians beware)
- Galatoire's (legendary spot for Creole cuisine, festive dining rooms, excellent service, no reservations accepted. Take aunt Rudy's advice and get the green salad with garlic) [my visit]