Street food might not be a concept that you think about in New Orleans, but it’s actually a growing trend in our dining landscape, spanning way beyond Lucky Dog. With street food restaurants opening and more forthcoming, plus the possibility that City Hall will expand the cap and other out-of-date regulations on local trucks – allowing for more competition – it’s possible that 2013 just may be the year of street food. Here is where you can start getting your fill, whether you want to dine-in or eat on the street.
Booty’s Street Food is a brand new addition to the Bywater food scene and is already attracting attention for chef Greg Fonseca’s globally inspired approach to small plates. Here, Fonseca offers dishes the diner eats mostly with their hands, or maybe with a skewer. Papadums, Indian lentil crisps that sort of look like huge Tostito Scoops bend ever so graciously into taco form, engulfing the steaming coconut curried mirliton inside them. It is truly a decadent and exotic hands-on dish you won’t find anywhere else in town. Doughnuts, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, literally melt in your mouth. There are dishes that call for a fork, such as the shrimp ceviche, oddly topped with salty popcorn that lends whimsy to the dish, and the Yuca Mofongo, a fritter stuffed with pork that’s executed surprisingly well, (sometimes yuca has a cumbersome texture, but here it remains crispy). The Banh Mi is another unexpected delight, with housemade pork belly, meatballs and pâté. The bar is home to amazing cocktails, concocted by tincture wizard Jeremy JF Thompson (formerly of Maurepas Foods) who creates housemade syrups and invests in interesting ingredients that read like a Hong Kong Supermarket grocery list. He also serves up a daily “Amuse Booze” such as his “Cube-O-Libre,” basically fancy little Jello-like shots, which, along with the skeleton unicorn on the wall, really capture a fun dining experience that manages to leave the circus outside.
When Anthony Bourdain shot his new show “The Layover” in New Orleans over the summer, he tweeted about this “excellent taco truck.” Meet Taceaux Loceaux, which will likely be featured on the show with Bourdain stuffing his face in front of the Kingpin. You may recognize the Taceaux Laceaux truck as soon as it rolls up, whether for the chalk renderings of Day of the Dead masks and a new mural of a skeletal (yes, skeletal) Last Supper, or the hoards of taco fans that flood the truck on weekend nights for their fill of Messin With Texas Brisket and Carnital Knowledge pork tacos. The popular truck, which is run by Alex and Mari Beth del Castillo, also offers gourmet Tex-Mex specials like Maker’s mark glazed pork belly tacos served with apple jalapeño chow chow, Maker’s aioli and chopped fire roasted jalapeños on warm corn tortillas. You can find this food truck almost every night of the week, usually outside of Uptown hangouts Dos Jefes, 45 Tchoup and the Kingpin. If you want to know where they’re parked, it’s imperative to follow them on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates.
La Cocinita, aka “The Little Kitchen,” is just that, a little kitchen located inside a bright red truck, devoted to bringing fresh and authentic Mexican and South American street food to the people of New Orleans. Co-owners Rachel Billow and Venezuelan chef Benoit Angulo offer a build-your-own menu, allowing diners to choose between tacos, arepas (stuffed cornmeal patties), patacones (stuffed plantain sandwiches) or a bowl. Diners choose a protein, including more adventurous options like roasted beets, and their own sauces and extras. Fried plantains, anyone? La Cocinita also turns out delicious specials such as chicken quesadillas, Cuban poor boys and sliders and papusas. Their thorough website shows the truck’s weekly schedule.
At hidden gem Sara’s in the Riverbend, a street food-inspired gulf shrimp satay is an ample appetizer with large shrimp covered in peanut sauce. A messier dish for those who get easily embarrassed (not your first date food), but so worth the work with creamy sauce accenting the perfectly cooked and utterly enormous crustaceans.
Booty’s Street Food | 800 Louisa St. | 266-2887 | BootysNola.com
La Cocinita | 309-5344 | LaCocinitaFoodTruck.com
Sara’s | 724 Dublin St. | 861-0565 | SarasBistro.com
Taceaux Loceaux | 307-4747 | twitter.com/TLNola