I keep getting asked the question, “what was your favorite meal in New Orleans?” and you’d think by my response that I was being asked for the meaning of life. It wouldn’t be such a hard question if not for the simple fact that every meal I had, I enjoyed. And for the most part, every meal I had, I loved. How do you compare a Muffaletta to Beignets, or Crawfish Étouffée to our meal at August? Each meal was a complex piece to the puzzle and I’d hate to pick favorites…
Our first and last meals of the trip were at Mother’s right outside the French Quarter. This cafeteria style institution attracts tourists and locals alike all looking for a delicious Po’ Boy sandwich or some of the many other New Orleans favorites that they serve daily. Many reviews will tell you this place is a tourist trap and that the lines are long and the service is unfriendly. And I wouldn’t even necessarily disagree. Sure the lines can be long and sure plenty of tourists flock to Mother’s but all because its worth it. The food is prepared fresh and everything I have tried is absolutely delicious. In our two visits we tried four different Po’ boys; Oyster, Baked Ham, Soft Shell Crab, and the Ferdi Special and a cup of their famous jambalaya. The Ferdi Special is assembled just like all the Po’ boys, with two types of mustard slathered on delicious Lousiana French Bread with cabbage and pickles (seafood options come with tartar sauce). Three layers of meat, baked ham, roast beef, and debris (bits of shredded meat soaked in the juices) are piled high on this delicious sandwich and trust me when I say the 2/3 size is plenty! The other favorite was the soft shell crab which was only available the first time we went but was definitely worth a return visit.
A quick note about the service: Maybe its because I’m from Philadelphia and like that I know the correct way to order a cheesesteak, but I can’t help to think, all those bloggers and reviewers criticizing Mother’s for their service just don’t get it. Sure they are a bit pushy and sure the ordering process isn’t so obvious the first time around, but the place has a personality. You may not like it but its the way it’s going to be, and quite frankly I’m glad it is. Considering the employees can not receive tips (store policy) and for the sake of efficiency to make sure that lunch line keeps moving, I’ll take my delicious food without pampering anyday, especially if its coming from Mothers.
Sticking with sandwiches, I had been excited for along time to get a Muffaletta in New Orleans. Last time we made it down, we missed out on the famous sandwich and I couldn’t wait to get in line at the Central Grocery (the home of the original) and give it a shot. Arguably my favorite sandwich ever is an Italian Hoagie (specifically from Dino’s in Margate) and the thought of adding olive salad on top of some of my favorite sliced meats and cheese sandwiched between a round sicilian loaf sounds perfect to me. The previous day, we were at the Bourbon House eating Oysters and drinking Abita when we made some friends. The couple next to us suggested a number of places to eat including passing on the Central Grocery and giving the Napoleon House a shot. Having not tried the Central Grocery original, I will make no comparisons but the suggestion was spot on.
The Napoleon House, named for the home of refuge of Napoleon in 1821, transports you back to another time while serving classic New Orleans fare. We shared a Muffaletta with some gumbo on the side and sipped our Pimm’s Cup (recipe below) while watching the busy streets on a beautiful day. Like most things during our trip the atmosphere made our food that much better although this sandwich didn’t need much help. The olive salad was unbelievably fresh. The meats were flavorful and plentiful and the provolone cheese, served melted, was sharp and delicious. This meal was not only a testament to the Napoleon House itself but to the people of New Orleans who feel its their need to ensure your eating well and loving life. We never exchanged names but thanks to our friends from Bourbon House!
Pimm’s Cup from Napoleon House:
Fill a 12 oz tall glass with ice. Pour 1 1/4 oz of Pimm’s #1 along with 3 oz of fresh lemonade. Add a round of cucumber and top off with some 7up.