The blessings and the curses of life on a parade route.
Life changed for my family when the Uptown parade route was extended to the corner of Magazine Street and Jefferson Avenue, two blocks from where I live. Now various Pussy Footers, Bearded Clams, Rolling Elvi, 610 Stompers and the like line up 60 feet from my front door.
This means a lavish spread put out by the family members of the Ladies Godiva, who have long gathered to see our mutual loved ones take to horseback in flesh-colored scuba suits airbrushed to be anatomically correct, as they march with the Krewe of Muses through the streets. On Thoth Sunday, I put out an elaborate brunch that lasts all day. But being insatiably hospitable I feel it’s my civic duty to have at least something on hand to feed the many revelers who come calling for other parades as well as suggestions for those who ask, “What may I bring?”
Unless you’re firmly locked “in the box” of the route, escape from the western and northern edges makes it possible to gather provisions, even at the last moment (provided you have a driveway to escape back into). Consider placing an order to go from Dunbar’s Creole Cooking on Earhart Boulevard. Since their long-awaited reopening last year, the Dunbar family has continued to uphold matriarch Celestine “Tina” Dunbar’s lofty standards for excellent, greaseless fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and deep, rich gumbo teeming with meat and seafood. The prices are reasonable, the portions gigantic and parking a cinch thanks to a sprawling parking lot.
In the University area, Cafe Fresco is a reliable bet for inventive pizza, salads and sandwiches. The Grilled Chicken Portobello Roll is a favorite with mushrooms, tomato, mozzarella, spinach and feta in a creamy roasted red pepper sauce all wrapped up in lavash.
Escape to the lake side of St. Charles Avenue puts Martin Wine Cellar within easy reach. The parking lot is guarded, ensuring spaces for customers making a quick dash in for fortifications of all manner of libations as well as salads, sandwiches, hot plates and grab-and-go-favorites like Hot Spinach and Artichoke dip and Crabmeat and Brie Fondue. A full catering menu makes it possible to simply dial in a full party and have it delivered if time permits.
Conversely, if you’re locked within the box with escape on foot the only one available to you, Shawrama on the Go is the way to go. Everything is made to order at Mediterranean eatery in a gas station. The Philly Cheese Steak will satisfy northern guests seeking something familiar. For the rest of us, plates of chicken shawarma, freshly shaved gyro, Iraqi Lula Kabobs or Falafel flushed out with salad, hummus, rice and condiments are large enough to share.
If you’re out on the route and find yourself craving a seated meal and a bit of peace, try The Much Factory, which, having recently relocated from Gentilly to Sophie Wright Place, is just off the noisy beaten path. The chairs here are deep and clubby making it just the place for a bit of relaxation over shared orders of Buffalo Shrimp with a slightly fiery kick; fried Oysters Gentilly served atop creamed spinach and topped with caramelized onions in a Worcestershire reduction; or Tuna Tacos made with sushi grade raw tuna in a fried wonton “taco” shell, drizzled with Sriracha aioli and a scattering of fresh cilantro.
Dunbar’s Famous Creole Cuisine
7834 Earhart Blvd., 509-6287
Fresco Cafe & Pizzeria
7625 Maple St., 862-6363
Martin Wine Cellar
3827 Baronne St., 899-7411
The MuNch Factory
01 Sophie Wright Place, 324-5372
Salon by Sucré
622 Conti St. (above the Sucré boutique), 267-7098
Shawarma on the Go
3720 Magazine St., 269-6427
Through February 12, Salon by Sucré is offering a Carnival Tea Menu with fried chicken sandwiches, cinnamon cream cheese croissants, Mardi Gras macaroons and other delicacies to celebrate the season. The tea menu is offered Thursdays-Mondays 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and guests may choose from a variety of teas or a house-made Italian Soda for $45 per person, or a choice of tea with a tea-based cocktail or glass of sparkling Prosecco for $55 per person.