I was 27 when I bought my home near Magazine and Jefferson in the West Riverside neighborhood – bounded roughly by Valmont, Camp, and Tchoupitoulas streets, and Audubon Park. 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 is no way I could ever buy back into my neighborhood. Anyway, it does not matter if my house is worth a dollar or a million bucks. I am not going anywhere, anyway.
In addition to being highly walk-able and largely unscathed by the Era of the AirBnB my neighborhood is loaded with restaurants, cafes, and bars of every sort and every weekend is increasingly lively as things come back to life.
My daughter 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 $19.95 but it is 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 my daughter 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 a 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 The Kid when Juan’s opened a location on Magazine and Joseph a few years back.
Though most items on the menu ring in under $10, Tuesdays bring the ultimate Bargain Betty with $2 street style tacos all day long. Choose from ground beef, adobo chicken, shredded pork, jerk chicken, or adobo roasted tofu. Each is served on a white corn tortilla with cilantro, diced white onions, and Cotija cheese. Happy Hour is daily from 2-5 p.m. when the street tacos are going for $2, double house-rocks Margaritas are available for the price of a single, and both PBR and Tecate beers are $1.50.
As though life in my happy little ‘hood was not blissful enough, a couple of years ago Taceaux Loceaux, my favorite food truck, 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) I am hopelessly addicted to are one 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 now have additional vegan and vegetarian-friendly options, tot nachos, salads, a full bar, and air conditioning.
This Saturday at 2-5 p.m. the neighborhood group Laurel Street Music will host a free concert by Papa Gros in Gilmore Park at the corner of Laurel and Webster Streets. Bring your kids, your dogs, your chair, and some money to tip the band. You can also make donations and sign up for information about future concerts to Laurel Street Music.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Happy Mothers’ Day to all the moms out there.