Perhaps it’s City Park in the wintertime, Jazz Fest in the spring, the spirit of Edgar Degas, all those canoes on the bayou and that trip out to the lakefront that makes dining in the Mid-City and Lakeview neighborhoods such a desirable place to spend some quality time with friends and family. Whatever it is, Mid-City is the fastest growing part of New Orleans and is home to a slew of restaurants as eclectic and colorful as the neighborhood itself … here’s to a full day of dining.
Breakfast at the down-home, comfortable Huevos on Banks Street is imperative to your health and happiness. Huevos Rancheros were cooked up long ago on farms across Mexico. Thankfully the secret got out, so today, you can find a delicious version of this classic egg, bean and tortilla breakfast dish in Mid-City. Located next to the Crescent Pie and Sausage Company (and run by the same Chef Bart Bell), Huevos offers a slew of Mexi-based breakfast dishes featuring local produce, housemade sausages and friendly service. While the Huevos Con Tamal – pork tamales smothered in poached eggs and salsa verde – is a crowd pleaser, the small restaurant is also home to a veggie and goat cheese omelet with fresh produce from Hollygrove Market and Farm (where you can purchase your own weekly produce box at www.hollygrovemarket.com) a seasonal reminder of the great local produce available in our city. The Blue Jay Special – a “huevorito,” or breakfast burrito rather – comes with a coffee and travels well. Plus, it’s only $5. Huevos also offers tasty specials to accompany its small menu. On a Sunday morning, I was pleased to sit down to a sweet potato and chorizo fry-up with cinnamon and green peppers, topped with poached eggs and a cheese quesadilla. Bring an appetite and go early, or be prepared for the good things that come to those who wait.
Sunday brunch at the artsy and chic Café Degas on Esplanade Avenue will make you a hipper person. In the heart of Mid-City this beloved restaurant overlooks Alcee Fortier Park, where chess players and dog walkers laze away their weekends. Brunch at Degas is a must for both families and romantics. People-watching and good conversation are as essential here as mimosas and poached eggs. I recently had the pleasure of indulging in a crab and mirliton bisque, creamy with tender bits of mirliton and several blue crab claws tucked into the bowl. I saved the best for last, devouring the crab claws after the bisque was long gone. Another special treat: foie gras on caraway toast with orange jelly. The flavors utilized are unique and fresh, creating a delicate guise for even the fattiest brunch fare.
Many places seem to disregard the lunch aspect of brunch, but Degas doesn’t, offering steak and pomme frites, French onion soup and myriad salads, not too mention a large cheese plate with artisanal French selections. The desserts are equally decadent. The housemade cinnamon and goat cheese ice cream I recently engulfed had me yearning for Thanksgiving dinner once again. Supposedly cinnamon is a natural appetite suppressant, but here I found no proof of such absurdities.
Lunch or dinner at Mondo on Harrison Avenue in Lakeview is a must. Susan Spicer’s casual eatery in Lakeview is home to a mega-menu of worldly cuisine, featuring everything from chicken and biscuits to carnitas gorditas.
Starters abound, offering a range of flavors – from tart, refreshing ceviche to soba noodles in peanut sauce and the more indulgent creamy crab toast. Need a way to please every palate in the family? Mondo is the place. The fig and prosciutto, arugula and goat cheese pizza is a crispy and heart-warming treat from the wood-fired oven and is perfect for sharing. The burger with griddled onions and Comte cheese is a sure bet for a game day. The thought of having a home-cooked meal away from home is what makes Susan Spicer’s Mondo so great. Wallow in nostalgia with an Abita root beer float in hand or a mini meatloaf with mashed potatoes. A full bar offers reasonably priced wine and beer, drink specials and quality craft cocktails.
Try this: Lump crab cake at Landry’s Seafood House on the lake. Watching a regatta from Landry’s deck on a sunny day with a bite of this decadent crab cake is the best cure for SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Café Degas: 3127 Esplanade Ave., 945-5635, www.cafedegas.com
Huevos: 4408 Banks St., 482-6264
Landry’s Seafood House: multiple locations, www.landrysseafoodhouse.com
Mondo: 900 Harrison Ave., 224-2633, www.mondoneworleans.com