My Happy ’Hood
The land of tacos and margaritas
I was 27 when I bought my home near Magazine Street and Jefferson Avenue. That was 1996, and I still love it here. I never get bored. I have seen things change and, due to an astronomic property value uptick here on the “Sliver by the River,” there’s no way I could ever buy back into my neighborhood. Regardless, it doesn’t matter if my house is worth $1 or a $1 million; I’m not going anywhere, anyway.
In addition to being highly walk-able and largely unscathed by the Era of the Air B & B my neighborhood is loaded with restaurants, cafes, and bars of every sort.
My daughter, Cecilia, now 22, literally cut her teeth on the menu at Taqueria Corona. Sure, the price of a Numero Tres, which was $6 or so back in the day, has gone up to $16.75, but it’s still a bargain that can easily feed two. Selections allow for customizing the platter – which comes with rice, beans and a grilled chicken salad – but the combination of a shrimp flauta, bean burrito and shrimp, fried fish and chorizo tacos delivers the best of the best. Today I must sometimes absorb the cost of a small pitcher of margaritas that I share with my daughter, but the richness of the memories we share, and continue to build, make it every dime I spend at Taqueria worth it.
I was there with Cecilia, then less than one month old and in a baby carrier, when Juan’s Flying Burrito opened in the Lower Garden District in 1997. Loosely based on the San Francisco Mission-style burrito joints that were hot back then, Juan’s differentiated itself with Creole-laced, kinda-sorta Tex-Mex-ish food to order and finished à la minute on the grill. Devoted to local food culture and value pricing, Juan’s has expanded over the years to offer its Hecho en NOLA sensibilities from four locations around town. I have remained a devoted patron and it became easier than ever for me to grab the tab for an excellent margarita or two with Cecilia when Juan’s opened a location on Magazine and Joseph streets a couple of years ago.
Though most items on the menu ring in under $10, Tuesdays bring the ultimate Bargain Betty with $2 street-style tacos. Choose from Machaca beef debris, adobo chicken or tofu. Each is served on a white corn tortilla with cilantro, diced white onions and Cotija cheese.
As though life in my happy little ’hood wasn’t blissful enough, Taceaux Loceaux, my favorite food truck, has opened its long-anticipated brick and mortar location – not in the LGD on Celeste Street where Alex and Maribeth del Castillio originally intended, but better – four short blocks from my house.
The avocado fries and the Seoul Man tacos (Bulgogi chicken, shredded cabbage, cilantro, pickled red onions and Sriracha aioli on flour tortillas), to which I’m hopelessly addicted, are on the new menu as are all of the other cleverly named favorites including Carnital Knowledge (slow cooked pork, shredded cabbage, radish, cilantro and chipotle aioli on corn tortillas), Messin’ with Texas (seasoned slow roasted brisket, shredded cabbage, radish, cilantro, crema and salsa picante on flour tortillas), Southern Decadence (twice fried chicken skins, chow chow and Jezebel sauce on flour tortillas) and All Hat, No Cattle (seasoned beans and rice, shredded cabbage, radish, cilantro, crema and salsa picante on flour tortillas). The only difference now is they have additional vegan and vegetarian-friendly options, tot nachos, salads, a full bar and air conditioning.
Juan’s Flying Burrito
5538 Magazine St., 897-4800, JuansFlyingBurrito.com
317 Baronne St., (844) 439-1563, NOPSIHhotel.com
737 Octavia St., 307-4747
5932 Magazine St., 897-3974, TacqueriaCorona.com
Every Sunday this summer, NOPSI Hotel’s Above the Grid rooftop pool and bar will be hosting a free, fun-filled day for locals to enjoy while soaking in the sun and enjoying healthy fare and Leinenkugel drink specials. With a lively DJ and water games, this should be a popular way to beat the heat this summer.