Big Easy Eating Budget
New Orleans is a great city for people that love to eat. You can’t shake your ass without it bumping into a place serving delicious food. If you are rich in New Orleans, there are tons of great places where you can spend 30 dollars a plate, and it’ll probably taste like its worth it.
For those of us who are on a tighter budget though, there are still plenty of affordable gems that will make your taste buds want to get a fleur de lis tattoo. This blog will be about eating out on a budget in New Orleans and surrounding areas. Once a week I’ll post about a different spot that is worth eating at and will still leave you with plenty of money to get Bourbon faced on shit street.
I thought I’d start this blog off with a little fusion cuisine. No, it’s not ceviche topped pirogies in a zesty sriracha aioli, or whatever it is they eat in Brooklyn these days. The best fusion cuisine isn’t created by imaginative hipsters. Instead, its created by the actual interaction of different cultures. New Orleans has a long history of this, which lets everyone writing about the city to liken it to a gumbo with many ingredients. At this point that is just an annoying thing to read (no matter how apt it may be).
Anyway, right now my favorite fusion cuisine comes from LB Saints, a poorly lit little convenience store and Chinese food take-away place on Franklin Avenue. One day when my elderly neighbor Ms. Doris and I were walking past it, she said “that food is so good, I’d eat my own ass if they cooked it for me.” With that kind of endorsement, I had to try it.
LB Saints is a Vietnamese owned restaurant serving American Chinese food in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in the Deep South. All of these elements combine perfectly into what they serve as Mandarin Chicken. Their Mandarin Chicken starts with a bed of garlicky shrimp fried rice, topped with boneless fried chicken, and smothered in hot brown gravy. Add a sprinkle of green onion and it’s done. It’s simple, filling, and perfect. You have the option of getting red sweet and sour sauce on it too, but I don’t think that’s the way to go. A small plate of Mandarin Chicken is 2.75 plus tax, and the larger size is 4.59. It would be a bargain at twice the price!
The vast majority of LB Saints business is selling plates of Mandarin Chicken. It’s what they do best, so it seems like most people dont bother with the rest of their menu. Definitely don’t get their lo mein, which is made with ramen noodles. Their moo goo gai pan is pretty good but not anything to write a blog post about. The only thing other than their Mandarin Chicken that I would recommend getting is the vegetable fried rice.
It’s hard to eat enough vegetables in New Orleans. Most good food here is like Mandarin Chicken – fried, fattening, starchy, delicious, and only containing a small and sad amount of vegetables. Luckily, the vegetable fried rice at LB Saints totally rules. It comes with a fried egg on top of rice that has broccoli, carrots, peas, onion, garlic, pineapple bits, and green onion. My friend and I got one vegetable fried rice and one mandarin chicken and each ate half, which I think is a great idea if you’re going there with a friend.
If you go to LB Saints, walk all the way to the back to get to the kitchen. Say hi to the older woman working there, who everyone calls Mama. The younger woman working there is her daughter, and the dude working the register behind bullet proof glass is her husband. Be sure to tip them. They always seem almost surprised and embarrassed when I tip, and the cute reaction and delicious cheap food are totally worth it.