While we didn’t make it down to New Orleans’ Jazz Fest this year, we certainly ate like we did this weekend right here in
New York. NoHo (short for New Orleans) grub has suddenly come into fashion this spring, and it’s about time crawfish, gumbo and Po’ Boys get their due. The Redhead, located in the East Village, and its flawless fried chicken first caught the attention of foodies last spring. Since then, we’ve eaten oyster po boys at Choptank, Cajun fried shrimp at Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and muffalatas at Mara’s Homemade. More importantly, we’ve noticed a lot more Southern cooking on the dining scene as newcomers and neighborhood standbys alike have been making some creative Cajun and Creole dishes around town.
Address: 349 East 13th Street
Phone: (212) 533-6212
The buttermilk fried chicken may be get all the attention at this East Village eatery, but there’s equally as delicious dishes on the menu. In fact, the gumbo generously piled with stewed duck happens to be my favorite. That, or the Creole lunch special of red beans & rice with pickled pork. Meg Grace, the chef & co-owner, got her feet wet at the acclaimed Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. These days, it’s her refined tweaks on home-style cooking at The Redhead that people are talking about.
Address: 35 Orchard Street
Phone: No Phone
New York has bragging rights to a lot of good sandwiches, but Po’ boys are still a pretty rare sighting around these parts. Din Yates is hoping to change that with his one-of-a-kind eatery on the Lower East Side. It’s called Cheeky’s Sandwiches and it’s the first of its kind to specialize in po’ boys and muffalatas. Talk about authentic: The bread is baked in New Orleans, then sent straight to Cheeky’s to be filled with your choice of cornmeal-battered fried shrimp and fried oysters, which are both terrific. These tasty southern sandwiches come dressed in mayo, tart Louisiana-style hot sauce, pickles,
lettuce and tomatoes. Even their vegetarian muffalata’s good and it’s a great, and light alternative to the po’ boy. Okay, so it’s missing the requisite, Italian meats, but you hardly notice with all the seasonal pickled veggies and plush olive bread. The real clencher are the beignets (New Orleans’ answer to zeppoles,) which are fried too order and dangerous.
342 E. 6th St.
Mara Levi brings a taste of the Gulf and
the Bayou to the East Village with her eponymously named eatery. How
often do you get to attend a crawfish boil in Manhattan? This woman’s
got southern hospitality down to a science and she’s pretty creative
cook too. Among other dishes, she’s come up with crawfish cheesecake
— a savory
quiche-like dish with Andouille sausage — as well as Creole-spiced
shrimp linguine. Be prepared to eat yourself silly because there’s
nothing light about this menu. There is beautifully fried catfish and
crawfish pot pie. For dessert, you must try the beignets and bananas
Cooking with Jazz
Address: 17922 Union Turnpike (Jamaica Estates)
Phone: (718) 380-0896
After a five year hiatus, this Cajun restaurant in Queens has finally reopened and its devoted followers couldn’t be more relieved. Chef-owner Steve Van Gelder used to cook in Louisiana, before he moved north to serve what he calls, “Big Easy Fare,” like chicken jambalaya and meat or seafood gumbo. There’s also a jambalaya platter (enough to feed two) with lots of spicy Andouille sausage and bacon. Look for specials, like alligator sausage (yes really,) seasoned with plenty of Cajun seasonings.
It happens to be surprisingly lean and tasty. There’s live jazz musicians who used to
play on Bourbon Street.
Address: 259 Front Street
You’ve got to love the kitsch factor at this nautically-themed restaurant near the Brooklyn Bridge. The walls are lined with stuffed sport fish, mounted seahorse statues, and boat
motors and the menu follows nautical suit. All the fried seafood po’ boys are generously overstuffed and very tasty. There’s fragrant bowls of gumbo filled with chicken, shrimp and
sausages and a Creole-seasoned crab cake sandwich with a considerable kick.
Address: 54 Great Jones St.
This NoHo spot is better known for its brunch than anything else, but the kitchen manages some fantastic Cajun and Creole classics. And they’re thankfully not tempering the spices for northern palettes. The menu changes often, but right now they’ve got boiled crawfish, fried oysters, and gumbo.
Cowgirl Hall of Fame
Address: 519 Hudson
If you’re not in the mood to trek down to the South Street Seaport, you can visit the original Cowgirl Sea Horse in Greenwich Village. Yes, there are two Manhattan outposts. It opened almost thirty years ago and still serves a strong repertoire of Gulf
coast-inspired favorites, like Cajun
fried shrimp, fried catfish and Cajun fried chicken.