Next Stop New Orleans

Ok, back to the roadtrip. When I left off, I was saying I stayed in San Antonio a day longer than expected. It was nice to hang out with my sis, and one of the greatest things about this trip is that whatever exists of an agenda is very flexible.

best tacos

Before I left San Antonio, I had a breakfast/brunch at taco taco cafe which houses the above boastful banner. The tacos there are indeed very very good (but I forgot to get photo documentation of said tacos for the blog… I guess I was hungry). It was a good last note to leave San Antonio on, only to be followed by…

The Crappiest drive of my trip

From San Antonio to New Orleans. The picture explains most of it…

crap drive

it was also 2-lane highway most of the way, and every time one 18-wheeler decided to pass another one, the whole procedure seemed to take 10 minutes slowing down everyone behind them. ugh. But at least I had…

Local expertise and hospitality in New Orleans. My friend John is a good guy to know. His network proved invaluable during my stay in New Orleans. First he put me in touch with his friend JR in NY who grew up in New Orleans who gave me an excellent insider’s list of bands, bars, and restaurants to check out. Then John got in touch with his wife’s cousin Annie who currently lives in New Orleans. Annie and her friend Liz showed me some tremendous New Orleans hospitality by meeting me out after my craptastic drive for dinner and drinks. And on short notice nonetheless – so cool.

Dinner at Cochon

Simply put, I never would have found this place if it weren’t for my insiders’ help. Cochon is apparently a relatively new restaurant, and it was delicious New Orleans fare. For an appetizer we had fried alligator:

fried gator

I admit I was a little scared of this menu choice, but one look at it allayed all fears. And like my friend Rob likes to challenge “name two fried foods you don’t like.” It was surprisingly tender, and whatever sauce was on it made it delicious!

I had the namesake dish of the restaurant (the cochon) for my entree:


it was wonderful. I forget what desert we split, but we followed that up by sharing some moonshine! It was surprisingly flavorful. Awesome experience overall. We followed that up by heading to Lafitte’s Blacksmith shop:


Rumored to be the oldest building standing in New Orleans, this bar is lit only by candlelight (ok, and one TV above the bar). It gives it a really unique vibe – the daylight picture above doesn’t do it justice.

The bartender at that bar had a very curious accent that sounded to me like a bizarre twist on a Boston accent. I asked my hostesses where they thought he was from and they said confidently that he had a New Orleans accent. I was dumbfounded. I had traveled to New Orleans for a few months for work in 2000, and I had never picked up on that accent during any of those trips to this town (but I was also spending most of my time working and was miserable at work at the time, so maybe I just wasn’t paying attention). If you’re in New Orleans, listen out for it – it will surprise you. I hear two other people with the same accent before I left town. It’s almost beyond description.

Cafe du Monde

The next morning I hit this New Orleans institution. Beignets and cafe au lait – $4. Were they delicious? yes. Was there an obscene amount of powdered sugar involved? yes. Did I manage to cover myself in the aforementioned powder? indeed. but it was worth it.


After breakfast I wandered around the city, along the moonwalk, down Bourbon street. I took some pictures, but nothing that noteworthy. Maybe I’ll upload all of my road trip pictures and put a link up here if you really want the unfiltered view. Late in the afternoon I decided to eat more food and try to check another recommendation off my list, so I went here:

mother’s and ate this:

ferdi and gumbo

the Ferdi special and a cup of gumbo. If you’re like me, you probably think you’ve had a Po Boy sandwich before. I found I was wrong. I had only had weak imitation Po Boy’s before this gem of a sandwich. It was messy – it had gravy on it as well as “debris.” I’m still not even sure what that involves, but it’s excellent. The gumbo was very good as well, but the sandwich was the main attraction. Oh, one more thing you might need to know about Mother’s:

ham parts just FYI.

My Swingers moment
After Mother’s, I got a little curious to stick my head into the Harrah’s casino to see how it compared to Las Vegas. I took a quick lap around the floor and figured it couldn’t hurt to sidle up to the 3 card poker table for just a few minutes. I play the minimum bet and the dealer gives me my three cards. Once everyone has their cards I pick mine up, and slowly spread them out to have a look. Then this happens:

Dealer (speaking to me): “One hand”

Me: blank stare, mouth ajar.

Dealer (more firmly): “One hand, sir”

Me: still silent, but thinking “I’m only playing one hand, I only have one bet on the table. Surely I don’t have to play more than one hand at once I…”

Players on either side of me, louder and firmly: One Hand!!

Just when I’m about to start thinking I’m in the twilight zone, they clarify that at this particular casino I am only allowed to touch my cards with one hand, not both. Oooooh. Um, ok. Later I emerged from my shame to humbly ask why things were different than in Vegas. I was informed that they just were. That helped encourage me to not stay in the casino too much longer.

That evening, another great dinner at at a restaurant called Luke (that I think has an umlaut over the “u,” but I don’t know how to make that happen). Again I forgot to photo the food (I had shrimp and grits – mmmmm), but here’s the view in the back of the restaurant where you can peer into the kitchen.


Afterwards, I was convinced that despite having a great bill that evening, the House of Blues was to be avoided at all costs. Instead, I was told that the authentic New Orleans experience could be had on Frenchman street. First stop was here:

apple barrel

to see a guy called Washboard Chaz. I think there were a total of about 12 people in the bar (which seemed like a little under half of the venue’s full capacity). It’s Chaz on vocals and washboard, a guitarist and a harmonica player. Their sound of blues was so fantastically authentic and unique (to me), it immediately put a huge grin on my face. I had to buy a CD. Unfortunately I was too concerned about using a flash in that very dark & small venue, so none of my pics there turned out.

Then it was on to DBA to see Walter Wolfman Washington. Awesome venue, great band. That ear-to-ear grin hadn’t had long to leave my face, but it returned again as soon as I entered this venue. Here’s the best of the crappy pictures:

WW Washington at dba

so fun!

Overall I had a much much better time in New Orleans than I anticipated. This experience successfully erased the negative impression I had associated with the city from that crappy work project back in 2000. Again many thanks to John, JR, Annie, Liz, John (a different one), and Holly for all their help and advice.

The next morning on my way out of town I had my last N.O. meal at The Camellia Grill. I had the chef’s special omelette:


the restaurant had a cool vibe. I sat at the counter and chatted up my neighbor who happened to be from Memphis (my next stop). He also gave me some good suggestions before I hit the road. It was a great note to leave town on, even if that omelette + coffee was an unwise meal to eat right before spending hours in the car.

Next Stop: Memphis – hope you like ribs…

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