Visual Guide to Native New Orleans Plants

Featured

 

 

By: Anna Timmerman
is a gardener and painter from Michigan living in New Orleans, LA. She cares for a variety of historic and culinary-themed gardens throughout the city, as well as a large urban farm owned by Xavier University. Her paintings reflect her interest in botanical forms and draw from a bright, colorful pallette. For more information visit www.AnnaTimmerman.com

If you like this article, please share it!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Big Easy Eating on a Budget: So many Figs, So Little Time

Free Walking Tours

I used to deeply resent most fancy restaurants. I think delicious gourmet food is really important, but if it isn’t accessible to poor people then expensive food is just an annoying tease for most of us. I still feel this way, but there’s one thing expensive restaurants can do to make me like them – have one affordable and yummy dish that people can get. You’ll probably still make money selling it, because people order it but also a cocktail or add fries or whatever, but if I’m poor and I want a touch of fancy cuisine I can afford it.

1000 Figs does this pretty well. My friend brought me there and I was at first deeply skeptical. It just seemed too rich for my blood! We got two falafel sandwiches, an order of fries, and a side order of brussel sprouts.

Free Walking Tours

Falafel Sammy $6
Fries with sauce $4

All together it came to $22, which is more than I like to spend on a meal for two people. The fries were $4, which I just can’t abide. Sure, they came with really good skordalia (Greek potato-garlic sauce) which was unexpected and wildly tasty, but I’m still on the fence on whether it was worth it. The brussel sprouts were $6, were cooked to perfection, and came with a salad that was great. Still, I don’t know if it fits the parameters of our blog exactly – sure, it was really good and not super expensive, but my vague idea for this thing I’m writing is to spotlight places where you can get a good meal you can really fill up on for 7 or 8 dollars. But also we don’t have a lot of vegetarian options and our whole meal was vegetarian at this spot, so I think it’s inclusion is worthwhile.

The weather was perfect so, we ate them in the park.

The weather was perfect so, we ate them in the park.

If you’re feeling a little flush with cash, by all means splurge on the sides. They’re good. But if you’re a working stiff who’s living paycheck to paycheck, skip all the sides and go straight for the deal – that $6 falafel sandwich. Sure, its not giant, but it’s not small at all. America is full of mediocre falafel but this is multiple steps above the crap most of us are used to. They’re not over-fried, they’re spiced well, and they feel like you’re eating more than just beans. The point of falafel, I think, is for you to fill up on garbanzo beans but feel like you’re eating something much more. Like so much good food, it’s a way of taking cheap ingredients and transforming them into something that feels almost extravagant. 1000 Figs does this. They put a bunch of really good vegetables on top, its almost a ‘slaw and almost a salad. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – vegetables are often hard to come by here, so I really value a good serving of them when I’m eating out. Mostly I want my readers to patronize locally owned businesses that are affordable and delicious. 1000 Figs isn’t affordable overall, but has affordable options. If you are trying to mix it up (or you’re vegetarian) and you want a cheap good meal, their falafel sandwich is the way to go. Got any tips for other spots to review? Write us a comment and we’ll check them out!

If you like this article, please share it!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Big Easy Eating on a Budget: Moonwok(ing) for Mardi Gras

I work in the French Quarter. Though a lot of French Quarter service industry workers also party there, for me getting out of work means hightailing it out of tourist-hell. But what about when my friends are visiting from out of town and want the Full New Orleans Experience(TM)? Or when its Carnival and you find yourself in the Quarter a few days into your bender and you realize food is important? I’ve already written about Smallmart as a good food option for the Quarter, but the other affordable spot is Moon Wok.

Moon wok

Moon Wok is famous in my friend group for having the best cheap banh mi and good cheap pho. The fried tofu banh mi is delicious and only $3 + tax. Let’s face it, most people don’t know how to make tofu not suck. Moon Wok does more than make it not suck – its totally scrumptious. Because we always get the tofu, we tried out the pork banh mi this time. It’s only a little more expensive and it’s so good! Its got more mayonnaise than I’m used to on a banh mi, but it worked surprisingly well. The jalapenos weren’t overwhelmingly spicy, the vegetables were fresh, and the meat was a small step above than

Ban Mi Moon wok French Quarter

$3.50…not bad for when you gotta eat in the Quarter

Lots of people get pho at Moon Wok. I think the pho is decent and affordable at Moon Wok, but now that Pho Tau Bay moved from the West Bank to the Central Business District, its not really worth getting pho anywhere else. The atmosphere in Moon Wok is really cute and I like to dine in there.

Moon Wok French Quarter

Cozy for dining in.

But it was such a beautiful day that we wanted to eat two blocks away in Armstrong Park. Getting pho to go always seems not worth it, so we went for a grilled pork over vermicelli noodles.

Bun a Moon Wok French Quarter

Grilled Pork Bun $6.99

It ruled. I think the orange-sauce it came with could’ve used more fish sauce mixed into it, but apart from that I had no complaints. The pork was perfect, and it had enough bean sprouts and vegetables to allow us to fool ourselves into believing we were being healthy and good to ourselves as we sipped beers and feasted in the sun of a warm New Orleans winter day. The world is crumbling around us, New Orleans is being commodified and gentrified and Disneyfied a little more every day, but for an hour or so, in the park bullshitting with my friend, everything felt sweet and good. We need moments like that, if we’re going to survive the next four years of authoritarian insanity. Good luck out there.

If you like this article, please share it!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Big Easy Eating on a Budget: Creole Lunchbox, I know where you got your sandwich at

Where would New Orleans be without hustling tourists? It’s been an integral part of the local economy for a very long time. I’m OK with most of the hustles: shitty shoeshines, “I know where you got your shoes at”, the strange idea that getting wasted in the French Quarter will be the most fun you’ve ever had, “alligator sausage” that is 4% gator and 96% pork. Those are all fine by me. What I don’t like is when enough people accept the hustles that they start to creep outside the designated tourist zones.

Creole Lunch Box is in the back of M+M food store on Miro and Music street

Creole Lunch Box is in the back of M+M food store on Miro and Music street


The expansion of hustling actual residents comes from two places that I can tell – through AirBnb, we have tourists crawling all over our neighborhoods, instead of the usual places we expect them. Almost anyone you pass on the street could secretly be a tourist that bought their way into your neighborhood! With the significant post-Katrina transplant population expanding every year, the city also is full of people who don’t know how much crawfish should actually cost, for example, and are willing to pay more than someone who’s lived here their whole life. We have a ton of residents that function in many ways like tourists, especially in their susceptibility to being hustled. Just look at how much rent some of those folks pay to live in the average sinking black-mold infested New Orleans shotgun! There’s a sucker born every minute, and a lot of them seem to be moving here.
You need a knife and a fork for this kind of po-boy

You need a knife and a fork for this kind of po-boy


This brings me to poboys. A lot of the poboys in this town are a ripoff. They’re “large” but actually less than 12”, they’re poorly executed, and they’re $14! That works for a tourist but c’mon, I’m not paying that! Today we paid $10 for a poboy but it was a foot of insanely delicious, gravy drenched, almost gotta eat it with a fork-and-knife type of tastebud heaven. We went to the Creole Lunchbox, just two blocks from my friends house in the Eighth Ward. Run by a sweet dude named Chef Lonnie, this place is a stripped down gem. Inside the cinderblock walls of the Creole Lunchbox, some magic is being made. My friend got the surf and turf poboy and even though my food was delicious, I was super jealous. Grilled shrimp and thinly sliced roast beef with gravy on a loaf of french bread. Definitely worth getting.

Shrimp and Okra

Shrimp and Okra

I got the smothered okra with shrimp and sausage. It came with a decent roll and really great potato salad. I never liked potato salad before I started this blog but I think I’m really getting converted. I scarfed the potato salad down before anything else. The okra was served over rice that tasted much better than what they serve in most corner store soul food places. I think a lot of spots use the quick-boil white rice, which ends up tasting a little soapy to me sometimes. This rice, however, tasted almost like brown rice, but not in the gross dirt way that always happens when hippies cook brown rice. It was subtle and a tiny bit earthy. The smothered okra ruled. Delicious shrimp, lots of good chunks of smoked sausage, and the okra wasn’t slimy at all. The portions are great too – I’m going to be eating it the rest of the day. Chef Lonnie is a real sweetheart too. He has different specials every day, so it’s worth coming back on different days and seeing what he’s offering.

The Real Deal

The Real Deal

If you’re in the eighth ward, and are willing to shell out $10 for a real worthwhile poboy instead of a scam, then Creole Lunchbox is the spot for you.

If you like this article, please share it!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Big Easy Eating on a Budget: Winning the Brown Derby

Brown Derby Soul Food

I’m almost never on Tulane Avenue. I live downtown and work in the quarter, so I only really am there if I’m going to jail, court, or the hospital. Luckily I went to Crescent Care to apply for Medicaid and stopped into Brown Derby #3 for a quick beer first. When I went inside I noticed a long line of people with hot plates and made a mental note to check it out later. I’m really glad I did. Like so many other corner stores in New Orleans, Brown Derby #3 claims to have the best soul food in town. I don’t know if its the best but it definitely is incredible.
They tore up a lot of stuff to build those huge monstrous hospital complexes on Tulane. I don’t know a ton about it but I imagine it’s one of the forces driving up housing costs in the surrounding areas – I’m interested in learning more about the history of that neighborhood, if anyone wants to send me some information. I try to identify places that are changing rapidly and support the spots that are staying true to the old neighborhood, and I think Brown Derby 3# is doing a good job of that. It seems like an extremely popular lunch spot for people living and working in the area.

Brown Derby hot plates

Just some of the Options

They have a ton of options here, and even though I went with two other people, we didn’t get to try them all. I wanna go back to try the turkey necks, mac and cheese, and white beans. I got pork necks, mustard greens, and shrimp with okra. I go to the blue store on Broad and St Bernard and get their shrimp with okra a lot, but this was some next level shit. It had crabs in it, and the crabs actually had meat in them – unlike most of the crabs you get in gumbo at corner stores, where the meat has just melted away as it cooked. The shrimp were nice and firm, none of that weird “frozen too long” texture they sometimes get. The mustard greens were perfect, with thick tender pieces of pork. The pork necks were almost in some kind of gravy. I cook neckbones pretty often and thought I did a pretty good job but these blew mine out of the water. My friends used a lot of napkins eating this meal but I just licked my fingers every few minutes. Everything had some kind of delicious sauce or gravy on it – don’t wear clothes you cant get dirty!

Brown Derby

Shrimp and Okra with crab legs

One of my friends got the ribs with mashed potatoes and green beans. The mashed potatoes are out of a box, but not in a disappointing way, and they’ll put gravy on it that they spoon from a tray of salisbury steaks. The sauce on the ribs wasn’t too sweet, which is a complaint I have at some places. The green beans had the same hunks of pork as the mustard greens, and I’d go for the mustard greens over them, though they were still good. My other friend got mustard greens too, but got the stewed chicken with it.

Brown Derby

Smothered Chicken

I feel like stewed chicken is often your safest bet at soul food places like this – sometimes it’s a little dry but it almost always tastes good. Brown Derby #3 knocked it out of the park with theirs though. Moist, flavorful, falls apart under your fork.

brown Derby Ribs

Ribs with Mashed potatoes and gravy

I’ll admit that all of us were really hungry when we went there, so that may have influenced our extreme enthusiasm for this meal, but that doesn’t change the fact that Brown Derby #3 rules. We couldn’t wait to get home and ended up tailgating it in the parking lot. As we feasted we kept saying things along the lines of “oh my God this is so good” out loud. The prices aren’t posted anywhere, but I think most three item plates are $5.99 plus tax. Mine was $8.99, maybe cause of the shrimp with okra? That’s a little on the high-end for this blog, but it was a mountain of food and came with a soda or bottle of water so I think it was still a deal. If you’re going to jail, court, the hospital, or you’re on Tulane Ave for some other reason, check out Brown Derby #3!

Soul Food SIgn

If you like this article, please share it!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Big Easy Eating on a budget: Kayla’s on St. Claude.

Ok, so Rays On The Ave is my favorite spot to eat out right now, for the reasons I outlined in the last blog entry – it’s delicious, good portions, affordable, and black-owned in an area that is being quickly gentrified. If these are my criteria for the perfect place to eat in New Orleans, then I’ve found another slice of perfection. Today some friends and I went to Kayla’s, on St Claude, and had our minds blown!

St. Claude is the corridor of gentrification in the ninth ward. These days, a new business opening up on St Claude is almost definitely a shrine to yuppie garbage. The Grey Store is a block away from Kayla’s and just closed down. It used to be a great spot to get a cheap “spaghetti square” but is being remodeled and will probably be something terrible. Even closer to Kayla’s is one of the dumbest places on St Claude – Red’s Chinese! Nothing like a pretentious and expensive “fusion” Chinese food restaurant owned by a guy who has been really creepy to some of his female employees. Would you like a side order of guilt with your $16 General Tsos Chicken? I recommend going to Red’s Chinese website and looking at how gross and racist it is, if you want to feel even worse about local bourgeois restaurants.

When I saw Kayla’s opened I wrongly assumed it was going to be following that trend. But my friend gave me a tip that it was worth checking out, and I am so glad they did. It’s super cute inside: they had local politics on the TV, were playing some nice old school RnB, and margaritas/martinis were only $3! Trump became the president the night before, so we all really needed a few strong drinks and a good meal to get us through this surreal nightmare. The owners were there cooking and serving the food and seemed like real sweet people. We got the blackened catfish, a fried shrimp poboy, and a porkchop, all with some great sides.

Blacked Catfish at Kayla's

Blacked Catfish and 2 sides is $7.00 before 2pm

The porkchop was breaded and panfried. It was so tender that at first I was afraid it was undercooked, but actually it was the best porkchop I’ve had in years and was cooked to perfection. I got jambalaya and collared greens and they were both heavenly.

Pan Fried Pork Chop

Pan Fried Pork Chop with 2 sides

The jambalaya was as good as my family makes it, and the collards weren’t too soggy or greasy like a lot of places collared greens. The po-boy was 6 inches so it wasn’t huge but what it didn’t have in size it made up for in flavor. The fried shrimp po-boy was really good, comparable to the Orange Store (which is the gold standard of shrimp po-boys in my opinion) but in a really different way. It had a really thin fried coating instead of the thick breadcrumb style of the Orange Store, but I still think its one of the best shrimp poboys in town.

Shrimp Po-boy Kayla's

Shrimp Po-Boy, Kayla’s $5.99 before 2pm

The blackened catfish rocked me. It was so flakey! It was just one fillet but came with two sides and a piece of bread so it was a good amount of food. I only got a few bites because my friend ordered it, but I need to go back soon and eat it again. My friends got it with a side of creole potatoes that they said was good, but I didn’t try it because I was too obsessed with my pork chop and jambalaya.

I’m probably going to go to Rays more than Kayla’s, but only because its much closer to where I live. If I lived in the 9th ward you could find me at Kayla’s all the dang time! We only paid $7 for each entree and $5.99 for the po-boy, but I think it gets more expensive after 2pm. I’m still going to hustle my bustle up to Kayla’s on a semi-regular basis, to support an ethical Saint Claude business and get good food for cheap. I’ll see you there!

If you like this article, please share it!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail