Vegan no more
1000 Figs falafel and brussels sprouts
My daughter Cecilia has always been my most adventurous dining companion, and we’ve shared many memorable meals in her 20 years.
Then, three years ago, she went vegan, and when the thrill of vegan pho quickly wore off for me the adventure came to a halt. The segue to a vegetarian lifestyle 18 months ago brought back some of the fun, but I was thrilled when she recently resumed her former lifestyle with a health-driven approach to eating pretty much anything. Hooray! In celebration, we hit up a collection of places.
Seither’s Seafood is a small, popular seafood joint tucked into a commercial strip in Harahan. We started with a straightforward dozen Gulf oysters that will please fans of steak-sized raw oysters. From there, nothing else is straightforward at Seither’s. There is a kinda-sorta Asian but sometimes French Creole and sometimes Cajun bent playing out. The Shrimp OMG combines a pile of nicely fried shrimp with four sauces – some sweet, others savory – swirled together in a kaleidoscope. The Eggplant Harahan features fried discs arranged in a stack with layers of seafood dressing between them. Boiled shrimp and a lavish dose of cream sauce complete the rich concoction.
When we saw a lady lunching on a massive unidentifiable mound we had to inquire. It was the Tuna Volcano. The kitchen starts with a fried bowl of the sort that usually holds a taco salad. The bowl is turned upside down, a hole is punched into it and the mound is filled with “fried, shrimp, oysters or some other surprise from the kitchen,” our waitress said. The sides of the volcano are covered in slabs of seared tuna and slices of avocado. The volcano effect is provided by massive protrusion of creamy snow crab salad topped by the kind of crunchy bits you find in sushi rolls. It is a sight to behold.
Cecilia and I have spent many an afternoon cruising around the region munching out of gas stations, so Shawarma on the Go was on our list. The line within was impressive as people waited patiently for what turned out to be excellent carved-to-order gyro meat that was piled up on hefty sandwiches. The chicken shawarma plate was also fresh and plentiful, and the prices are thrifty. Two can dine lavishly for $20. We did wonder about the couple who seemed to be enjoying a romantic meal at an outdoor table adjacent to the pump where I filled my car with high octane, though.
We had an impromptu dinner party one night and fed everyone takeout (served on china, of course) from Ideal Market, where the produce is arranged in neat, towering, visually appealing vertical rows by color. Head to the back of the market to the steam table for unforgettable carne asada, yellow rice, roasted pork loin, crisp fried fish, grilled chicken and chicken mole. We made some sangria and our guests raved about the meal all night long.
We completed that week’s dining adventure at Taqueria Corona, a family favorite Cecilia has long missed. We ordered the same thing we always did before the whole vegan thing started: a Numero Tres with a shrimp flauta, a bean burrito and shrimp, fried fish and chorizo tacos. When she was a child the satisfying platter could be had for less than $10. Now, at $16.75, it’s still one of the area’s great bargains and it easily feeds two with plenty of leftovers.
With Lent approaching, those who will be abstaining from meat won’t feel the sacrifice at 1000 Figs, where the food is elegant, fresh and inventive. The star of the Falafel Platter is crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, and it comes with creamy hummus, slaw, greens, tahini, zhoug and toum. For $1 add Brussels sprouts to the $12 platter and it’s plenty enough for two to share.
653 Terry Parkway, Gretna
3141 Ponce de Leon St.
279 Hickory Ave., Harahan
Shawarma on the Go
3720 Magazine St.
5932 Magazine St.,