The article originally appeared in the July/August issue of ESSENCE
With a restaurant scene that rivals the world’s best, the Big Easy makes finding a great place to eat and drink during Essence Fest, well, easy. It’s the choosing that may be hard, so we’ve narrowed down the options for you. Below check out the establishments from enterprising chefs Tanya Dubuclet and Lenora Chong—they’re serving up some of the finest food in the city.
NEYOW’S CREOLE CAFÉ – 3332 Bienville Street
You know you’re in for a treat when chef and owner Tanya Dubuclet says her menu is filled with “whatever my grandmother cooked.” This is homey creole fare served in an inviting atmosphere where customers chow down like they would with family. Who eats here? “People looking for authentic New Orleans food,” says Dubuclet. What do they get? “Consistency. We do things the same way all the time!”
And the secret to their popular, ultra crispy fried chicken? According to the family recipe, put raw chicken—seasoned with salt and pepper only—in a wash of egg whites, cold water, and ice cubes. Don’t use milk. Dust with flour, then fry in oil. Keep it simple. Festivalgoers can stop by Dubuclet’s popular spot in the Mid-City district, where she says folks particularly “love the grilled oysters [below], gumbo, seafood platter, and bread pudding.”
Start with Filé Gumbo or the Jazzy Wings, then try the flaky, crunchy fried Filet of Catfish with a side of Carrot Soufflé and Corn-bread Dressing. For dessert, double down with the Beignet Sticks and Pecan Cobbler.
MORROW’S – 2438 St. Claude Ave.
Executive chef and owner Lenora Chong, who is of African-American and Korean descent, and her son, Larry Morrow, have put together a menu with an innovative blend of two worlds. “We offer soul cooking like my paternal grandmother used to cook and Seoul cooking like my maternal grandmother used to make back in Korea,” says Chong.
Located in the venerable Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, Morrow’s provides tasty offerings to a hip crowd. “Being partners with my son allows for a beautiful combination of talents,” says Chong. “He knows how to create a vibe and drive a lot of traffic in to enjoy his mom’s cooking. Millennials gravitate to us, and my ‘old school’ customer base keeps coming back, too.” When folks pull up a chair, they can be assured they’re getting top quality. “We use local ingredients to prepare authentic New Orleans dishes,” Chong says. “We hand-cut our steaks and labor over decades-old recipes to perfect every dish.”
Start with the Oysters Morrow, then try the Cajun Crawfish Pasta (above) or the Korean BBQ (Korean sweet marinated short ribs). For dessert, indulge in Lenora’s Hawaiian Bread Pudding.
THE COOL KIDS’ GUIDE TO…
THE BEST BOOZE
The bar Victory is famous for craft cocktails and gives customers a free drink-of-the-day sample. Try the Little Boy Blue.
Got the munchies in the middle of the night? The cure is the scrumptious Shrimp Po-Boy with a Booty. Call Daiquiri at Gene’s Po-Boy (504-943-3861).
Shows start as late as 1 a.m. at the Blue Nile, a rollicking Frenchman Street bar and live music club. Get your groove on with soul, blues and brass music.
ROMANCE @ DINNER
SoBou in the French Quarter features dim lights and soft music. Sip on a Taylor Bird Sazerac cocktail or snack on Wild Shrimp & Crawfish Boil Beignets.