High in taste; easy on the budget
Good food doesn’t need to come with a big price tag, and New Orleans has always been a proving ground for cheap eats. Forget soufflé potatoes and trout amandine; sometimes the best meals come in the back of a bar and are served with a view of the local wildlife. Be it a case of the Killer Poboys, an impulse-fueled sugar rush courtesy of The District’s kaleidoscopic donuts or laid-back neighborhood charm a la Horn’s, here’s a look at a few places to dine on a relative dime.
Operating as a quasi-popup in the back of the Erin Rose bar on Conti Street, Killer Poboys seizes the concept of the New Orleans poor boy and makes it its own. Owners Cam Boudreaux and April Bellow rethink what goes between their halves of French bread, sourcing quality ingredients and using an aggressive palate to create new twists on the iconic style of sandwich. The Dark n’ Stormy, inspired by the drink of the same name, is a case-in-point: locally sourced Beeler pork belly gets almost caramelized in a gingery rum and cane-sugar glaze, then is dressed up with a lime-spiked slaw that cuts through the fattiness, adding the necessary citrusy brightness. Garlic aioli rounds out the flavor profile, making this one a favorite. Their current menu can be found on their blog (KillerPoboys.blogspot.com), and as a plus they offer vegetarian poor boys, like a recent roasted eggplant version with a pomegranate sweet pepper sauce – not easy fare to find in the thick of the French Quarter, especially in the back of the quintessential dive bar.
By the time this issue hits the stands, District Donuts Sliders Brew will likely have opened their hand pie-focused spin-off, District Hand Pie & Coffee Bar on Magazine Street, as well as a food truck to help roll their creative fare to locations all over town. Pretty impressive for an outfit that first opened its doors just a little more than a year ago. Credit their success to the business experience that the managing partners Stephen Cali, Chris Audler and Aaron Vogel bring to the table. “Between us we have worked at Houston’s as well as the corporate side of New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. Lots of combined restaurant experience.” And while from an operational side they had a lot experience, there’s nothing corporate about the menu – in fact, it’s anti-corporate – which delights with its casually creative shoot-from-the-hip breeziness backed by quality sourcing.
The default sliders, mini burgers griddled on a flattop, are decidedly retro and feature Creekstone Black Angus beef and topped with Campari tomatoes. The idea may be old school, but the sourcing is progressive. Chicken is decidedly non-boring here as well, with a fried chicken slider assembled from organic thigh meat, candied jalapeños and crispy chicken skin for flavorfully textured crunch. There are also vegetarian offerings, like one made from lemongrass-chili tofu. All buns are made in-house. “Our pork belly slider has been a huge seller,” Vogel says. “And when softshells are in season we like to run a special slider with half a buster crab.” The latter comes garnished with avocado and goat cheese crema, Campari tomato slices and cucumber. A Bulgogi slider with kimchi slaw is another one that moves when featured.
Yet it’s the sweet side that usually sends Instagram users racing down Magazine Street. Perennial doughnut favorites include Vietnamese Iced Coffee as well as Cookie Dough, but a slew of other candidates rotate though, like Blackberry with Red Wine and Dark Chocolate, Pecan Pie and Horchata. For those unable to decide between savory or sweet, “croquenuts” like the croque monsieur, a griddled doughnut with Nuseke ham, béchamel and havarti, appease both sides of that particular equation.
Such an enthusiastic display of “doghnuttery” serves as the perfect springboard to their hand pies outpost on Magazine Street in the old Velvet Espresso shop opposite Whole Foods. “We’ll offer savory meat pies, fruit pies and cream pies,” Vogel says. “We’ll also have a ‘coffee cocktail’ bar – no alcohol but unique kinds of coffee drinks we make up that will complement what we serve.” Expect to taste iced coffee on draft, for example, as well as hand pies much like the donuts, including some inspired by our dearly departed Hubig’s.
Horn’s took over the spot formerly occupied by La Peniche and carries on its tradition of being a welcoming neighborhood eatery. That makes sense, as owner Kappa Horn, also the proprietor of Slim Goodies, knows a thing or two about casual feel-good fare. The tone is fairly rustic, with exposed bargeboard walls and a décor theme of retro photos and mounted antlers. By in large, the menu is pretty straightforward, but alongside the expected offerings like the usual pecan waffles and shrimp poor boys you can find more creative items like carrot waffles, which are shaped from shredded carrot with ginger, scallions and eggs with pickled slaw and a sweet soy sauce to finish. A Creole Cuban sandwich gets distinguished with homemade Creole mustard, and the Jewish Coonass – two potato latkes with a pair of eggs, spinach, crawfish etouffee and a biscuit – bring some sass to breakfast. A full bar is offered as well as desserts, such as spiked milkshakes. Daily plate specials are offered as well, including a Taco Tuesday
Surrey’s Juice Bar, at their Lower Garden District and Uptown locations, offer high-quality breakfast and lunch meals at excellent prices. You won’t be able to drink there, but you can get a healthy, rehydrating blast from their fresh juice menus. If you want creative fare on a relative budget to accompany your Caipirinhas, check out the Colombian outpost Mais Arepas in Central City.
811 Conti St.
Lunch and dinner Wednesdays-Mondays
District Donuts Sliders Brew
2209 Magazine St.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
1940 Dauphine St.
Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Thursdays-Mondays