Shrimp and White Beans (Café Reconcile)
In New Orleans, red beans typically hog all the legume-related attention, as they star in the creole classic, red beans and rice. Here, starchy white beans melt with shrimp in a lightly creamy sauce, all served over rice. And it’s a revelation.
Crawfish Boil (Rouse’s)
I cannot think of a more inconvenient festival food than a big Styrofoam plate of crawfish boil, which includes a sizeable hunk of Andouille, two boiled potatoes, half a cob of corn, and an overwhelming red mound of sea crustaceans, ready for the cracking. But the struggle is worth it; it’s a labor of love. The seasoning is perfect, and besides, I needed a break from fried food.
Fried Alligator Corn Dog (Café Reconcile)
The humble corn dog, a staple at any self-respecting festival, gets an upgrade with succulent alligator meat, which is deep fried in a sweet corn batter. Served with a spicy mayo sauce, of course. This alligator corn dog is about as dumb good as it gets.
Crawfish Sausage Po Boy (Vaucresson Sausage Co.)
For those of you who crave crawfish but don’t want antennae in your fingernails, this is the dish for you. The crisp pork sausage, filled with succulent crawfish meat, is served on fluffy French bread, with just a flurry of shredded lettuce (yay vegetablessss.)
BBQ Bourbon Shrimp Stuffed Po Boy (Dickie Brennan’s)
Here’s another noteworthy po boy. This one was so scrumptious I didn’t have the time or will to take a picture because I was so devoted to stuffing it in my face. BBQ in New Orleans is not the sweet and tangy reddish brown sauce you might imagine, but rather a zesty sauté with garlic, white wine, and lots of butter. These shrimp get a hit of bourbon and are crammed into hallowed-out French bread, then my mouth.
Rice Pudding (Rib House)
While the white chocolate banana bed pudding by House of Blues had me convulsing with pleasure, the Rib House’s understated bowl of ride pudding is everything it should be: creamy, dense, gently sweet, and topped with a dollop of strawberry jam.