Velvet Cactus (Lakeview, New Orleans, LA)

When I think of New Orleans or even Louisiana food, Mexican is the last cuisine I’d think of. I spent a few years in Texas and have fallen in love with Mexican food. I was a bit sad that there is a lack of it here in NOLA, until I found Velvet Cactus. I was on my way home from the City Park and stumbled across this unique restaurant/art gallery…

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Decor. 

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Chips & Dip. 

 

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Smoked Pork Tamales. Seasoned corn mase. Smoked pork mixed with peppers. Steamed corn husk. Ranchero sauce.

 

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SlimRITA Frozen. 100 calorie frozen margarita.

 

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Shrimp and chicken enchiladas. Refried beans.

 

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Chipotle Cheese Grits and  1/2 Steak Enchilada. 

 

My favorites were the smoked pork tamales and the cheese grits. The tamales were stuffed with meat…hearty and delicious! The cheese grits were to die for! I’d eat it with the enchiladas, dip some nachos in it, pour it on top of my fajitas…haha just kidding, but I’d have some with every bite of my meal.

Cons: I had the SlimRita and it was too sweet. Next time, I’ll opt for the iced margarita.

Overall, the meal was good and the closest I’ve found to good Mexican food in the city. As far as authenticity goes, it’s more of a Tex-Mex, but I know I’ll come back when I’m craving Mexican! Tex-Mex is generally what you get throughout the U.S.. Now if you want true Mexican, you’ll have to go closer to the border of Mexico, but I prefer to drive to Lakeview for now!

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I’d rate Velvet Cactus 3/5 spoons!
The Velvet Cactus on Urbanspoon

Parkway Bakery and Tavern (Bayou St. John, New Orleans, LA)

Parkway Bakery and Tavern currently holds the title for “Best Poboys in NOLA”, among other titles such as “Top 100 popular restaurants in NewOrleans”…I’ve read a little bit of the history and reviews and wanted to see what all the hype was about. There are so many poboys in the city so it’s hard to pick and choose where the “BEST” poboy is…

 

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Home-Cooked Hot Roast Beef with Gravy Poor Boy. Sweet potato fries in the background.

 

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Fried Oyster Poor Boy. Only available Mondays and Wednesdays.

 

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Outside decor. 

 

My thoughts?

Mouth-watering.

Crunchy.

Scrumptious.

There’s a lot of hype on Travel Channel, Food Network, etc. and it is well-deserved! What I love is that it’s an establishment with a great history…many struggles and they still persevered and are so successful. It’s the classic story of many New Orleanians (http://www.parkwaypoorboys.com/history.html). Oh, and also the food! The poboy bread is lightly crispy on the outside and adds the perfect crunch when you bite into it. I loved both the roast beef and the oyster poboys. The sweet potato fries were cooked to perfection! Probably the best in the city.

There’s so many poboys to choose from around here, but I’d have to agree that Parkway has the best poboy when it comes to character and authenticity. With it’s growing popularity there’s plenty of seating outside and you definitely get that southern hospitality when it comes to service.

I can’t wait to devour my next poboy!
Parkway Bakery & Tavern on Urbanspoon

Toast (Uptown, New Orleans, LA)

With the weekend right around the corner, I thought it’d be perfect introduce Toast! Tartine’s very own chef Cara Benson has done it again and “made some Toast”. Was that a little cheesy? Regardless, I LOVE Tartine and if you aren’t familiar with this cute, quaint, and delicious restaurant, just click here for my review.  I had already considered Tartine to be an awesome brunch option…great little baguettes dressed with the best pates and toppings to create these tartines that make me feel like I’m in France! Now, I’ll have so much trouble deciding whether I want tartine…or toast!

 

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Gets my vote for the cutest restaurant logo and sign! 

 

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Toast with Proscuitto & Ricotta with Honey.

 

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Omelette with Bacon & Cheese and Cheesy Biscuit. 

I accidentally ate some of the cheese biscuit on the proscuitto plate and realized that the honey only added to this already delicious treat. I’m a carb girl…Biscuit and bread could be my dessert!

 

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Hangar Steak. Tarragon aioli. Eggs. Lyonnaise Potatoes.

 

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Jam Aebelskivers. 

What the heck is an “Aebelskiver” you ask?? It’s basically a Danish pancake ball…a very delicious one. It was so buttery and moist with the perfect amount of jam to compliment it. I’m 100% sure the other flavors (lemon curd, maple syrup, caramel, chocolate) are just as delicious!

 

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Chocolate and Creme anglaise Sweet Crepe. 

All around THE BEST BRUNCH I’ve had. It’s more delicate and light compared to your typical loaded and elaborate New Orleans brunch. I tend to over order or sometimes I just like a light mid-day snack and Toast offers a variety of items…a simple option is the toast dressed with a variety of things like prosciutto, egg, smoked fish, and more! Otherwise, everything else is great…just check out the pictures above. Here is a link to their menu: http://www.toastneworleans.com/menu.html

The only thing I’m sad about is the seating..it’s a tad bit small, but it adds so much character!

Trust me…you’ll only thank me! Bon appetit!
Toast on Urbanspoon

Bradley’s Fine Diner (The Heights, Houston, TX)

I’d been seeing this restaurant being built every time I passed by and when “The Chef” came to visit me in Houston, I thought it would be a good idea for our last meal before he went back home to New Orleans…We were dressed really casual, but that was “fine”. It’s a diner! haha..”The Chef” wasn’t too happy when he found out that I let him dress so casual to a  restaurant owned by Bradley Ogden, a James Beard award winner. For those who aren’t familiar with the James Beard award, it’s quite an accomplishment in the chef world! Check out the website here (click). It was definitely gorgeous inside and I tend to be really skeptical of the trendy and hyped up establishments, but Bradley definitely deserves 5/5 spoons in my book! 

It’s like a gem hiding among some chain restaurants and establishments…

 

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My view.

 

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Smoked Salmon Sliders. 

 

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Crab Cake con Piri Piri. Garlic Pepper Aioli. Avocado Puree.

 

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Kobe Beef Burger with carmelized onions. 

 

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 Fish N Chips. Alaskan cod.

Our meal definitely lived up to the expectations…Best fish n chips I’ve ever had. Maybe it was the amount of delicate crispiness or maybe it was the perfectly cooked tenderness of the Cod OR it was just plain delicious!

Honestly, every dish was delicious…I wouldn’t mind going to THIS diner right about now…

 

Bradley's Fine Diner on Urbanspoon

Pizza Domenica (Uptown, New Orleans, LA)

Have you heard of Domenica? It’s a John Besh establishment and I have a lot of respect for this group of restaurants…Restaurant August, Luke Restaurant, among others. Well, now they’ve done it again! Pizza Domenica recently opened on Magazine St. I’ve been there twice in the past month and I have to be honest, Pizza Domenica has outdone Domenica…

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Chop Salad. Little gem lettuce. Prosciutto Cotto. Garbanza beans. Tomatoes. Anchovies. Spring Onion. Parmigiano.

 

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Shaved Brussel Sprouts. Golden raisins. Toasted almonds. Creole mustard.

 

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Whole cauliflower. Whipped goat feta.

 

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Wood Roasted Octopus. Potatoes, Jalapeno, Tomatoes.

 

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Wild Mushroom Pizza.

Other notable pizzas: Tutto Carne and Margherita

Pizza Domenica is mainly counter service, but I’ve noticed that they also do table service depending on how busy they are. It’s family friendly, but is great for meetings and get togethers. The pizzas are delicious..warm, flaky, and buttery. Almost like the consistency of a buttery croissant. I love it! The reason why I love Pizza Domenica over it’s mother restaurant is the chewy, yet crunchy  texture, and the main restaurant hasn’t been very consistent with the pizzas.

I also loved the Cauliflower and the whipped goat cheese…the complimented each other very well. Trust me…you’d be surprised how delicious this seemingly simple dish is!

So many pizza choices down Magazine St. and to be honest, they’re all unique to each restaurant and all very delicious!

Here are some other reviews on other Magazine St. pizza options:

Theo’s Pizza

Reginelli’s

 

Pizza Domenica on Urbanspoon

Reginelli’s (Magazine St., New Orleans, LA)

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I’ve been coming here for years! There’s something about their pizzas…I love the thick, crunchy crust that turns into a pillowy softness within…mMmm! It’s the perfect texture. My usual pizza? The Tony’s play minus the capers (I’m not a fan of these things on my pizza.) .

Other notable dishes: Crab & Corn Bisque, Caesar salad, Uptowner Sandwich

I’m pretty picky when it comes to pizza. I like both thick and thin crust pizzas and Reginelli’s is definitely my favorite thick crust! My favorite thin crust would be Theo’s pizza (click to check out post!). I alternate between those since I love both!
Reginelli's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

 

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Upcoming Post: Pizza Domenica

 

Tommy’s Cuisine (Warehouse District, NOLA)

Learning from our experience in a long distance relationship for 5 years now, “The Chef” and I have learned to make sure we make time for date nights and even romantic getaways even if it’s a “staycation”.  This was one of those weekends and of course, we love to eat…

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Amuse Bouche: Bruschetta. MmMm this was delish! VERY close to my favorite bruschetta ever…

 

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Sesame bread. Not my fav, but a good change up from what I’m used to.

 

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Oysters Tommy: Romano cheese. Pancetta. Roasted bell pepper.

Oysters Rockefeller: Spinach. Herbs. Herbsaint.

Oysters Bienville: Crawish. Shrimp. Herbs.

Of the three choices, my favorite had to be the Oysters Bienville. It was savory and melt-in-your-mouth!

 

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Crabmeat Maison. Iceberg lettuce. Jumbo lump crabmeat. Maison dressing.

 

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Sweetbreads. Pan sauteéd. Beurre blanc. Capers. Eggplant. 

 

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Duck Tchoupitoulas. Roasted crispy & deglazed duck. Raspberry reduction. Wild rice. Fresh spinach. Toasted pecans. Bacon.

The meals were a great blend of mostly Italian influence with a pinch of New Orleans and French. There was a hominess to the dishes with a touch of sophistication. Nothing too frou-frou. Loved it!

Afterwards, we stayed at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Good view, great food at Tommy’s right around the corner, and excellent company!

 

Tommy's Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Chef, the movie

 

I was so excited to watch this movie! For those who have never been in the service industry, you really don’t realize the time, skill, and commitment that chefs make to their food. I learned this when I first started dating “The Chef”. Working late hours. Holidays=work days. It’s like a whole new world! I even learned some chef talk! I learned so much about food, the restaurant industry, and mainly, I developed a passion for food…

So when I heard about Chef, I couldn’t wait. Chef, the movie, was true to everything from chef talk, the skills, and even portrayed the stresses of maintaining relationships associated with the lifestyle! I love how the movie showed such a strong reverence for what New Orleans brings to the culinary world…a city that’s predicated on food, fun, and life. It represented the city well, directly from a New Orleanians point of view…walking down Frenchmen, soaking in the uniqueness of the city…

Chef is about a chef who realizes his true passion and starts his own food truck…The movie tackled different relationship dynamics…a love story, a father-son relationship, kitchen camaraderie, and mainly a chef’s love for his food. Aside from all that, let’s not forget to mention the food porn…Check out the trailer above!

 

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 NEW ORLEANS LOCALS

Now, if you’re looking for a dinner & a movie kind of place, check out The Theatres at Canal Place: click here for website. The theatre was revamped and there’s now seat side service. The restaurant, Gusto at Canal Place, is owned by partnership by Chef Adolfo Garcia. He is chef and restauranteur with relationships in RioMar and La Boca. Now, I haven’t tried the food at Canal Place yet, but I definitely plan to so look forward to that post! What I do know is that I love La Boca…my favorite “steak” restaurant in the city!

St. James Cheese Company (Uptown, New Orleans, Louisiana)

My friend and I had been waiting for the right moment to get together for a “foodventure” and what better moment than to celebrate our graduation from professional school. 8-9 long years of delving into stacks and stacks of notes and textbooks. It’s graduation time and whether you’re graduating middle school, high school, college, or any graduate/professional programs…Congratulations to everyone in the Class of 2014!!

After every graduation there’s the lingering question of “What next?”.

If you ask me, it’d be food!

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Menu. 

 

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5 Selection ( 3 meat/2 cheese) Plate. There’s a wide variety of different meats and cheeses so we decided to let them surprise us!

 

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Bread.  Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Perfect choice for the meat and cheese plate.

 

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Tangiers Torta. Two Run Farms Lamb. Feta. Pickeled Fennel. Harissa & Cilantro. Ciabatta.

This was on the special’s menu. It looks deceivingly heavy, but the ciabatta as well as the protein portion was light and satisfying.

 

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Hooks Cheddar. House smoked turkey. Avocado. Basil. Tomato. Mayo. Ciabatta.

Setup almost like a california turkey club, but the touch of basil made it even more refreshing. Loved it!

 

I can’t lie…these are actually photos from two visits to St. James Cheese Company. Two visits…within one week’s time. I enjoyed my first meal so much that I had to return and that’s when I tried the Hooks Cheddar!

Great deli meats and a wide variety of mouth-watering cheese choices! The only downside would be the limited space, although there are quite a few tables. Due to it’s growing popularity, I’d expect a wait for a table, especially on weekends.

If you like mouth-watering, melty goodness in your tummy, I’d suggest you try St. James Cheese Company!

 

St James Cheese Company on Urbanspoon

Fulton Alley (Warehouse District, NOLA)

In “Bar Hopping Down Fulton St.” (Click here for blog post.) I mentioned Fulton Alley and I usually do my blog reviews on restaurants and bars, but guess what? Not only is Fulton Alley a modernized bowling alley, but they have great bar bites!

The feel is much like a bar and I’m sure it’s much more crowded on the weekends, but “the Chef” and I chose a slow hour of the day for comfortable bowling…especially since my bowling arm is a little rusty!

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Pictured food: 

Cured Meat Board. Salme Toscano. Bresaola. Prosciutto Di Parma. House Pickles & Accompaniments.

Smoked & Fried Chicken Wings. Crystal-Blue Cheese & Ranch.

Fulton Alley is among the other Fulton St. gems and is very close to Harrah’s. Maybe you’ve spent too much time in Harrah’s or you’re just looking for something new to do, Fulton Alley is fun, hip and there’s food! As you can tell, the food was impressive especially in comparison to your usual bowling alley! From a foodie perspective, I really enjoyed it. The cured meat and pickles were delicious and the wings were perfectly cooked and juicy. I have no complaints on the food, BUT as far as bowling, the rates are little more pricey so going with a larger group would be more cost effective. You’ll get more bang for your buck and it’s more fun! Happy bowling!

 

Fulton Alley on Urbanspoon