Sooo, one of the great things to do in New Orleans in the winter is to hunt for burgers. One of the best kept secrets in New Orleans is that we have great burgers. Why that is, I really don’t know. Maybe because we know how to season food. Or because we don’t eat them all of the time, so we make it a treat when we do.
My particular favorite is Port of Call on Esplanade, but I have no intention of waiting for a table, so I go there when the lines are gone. But that freshly ground burger with a baked potato on the side and a good beer at the bar is absolutely heaven on an early cold evening or a Monday lunch. The staff is seriously good at what they do without a lot of cheer but who cares. The decor is “seafarin” in a 70s way.
After that, I like the burger at the Nelly Deli (officially known as the Quartermaster) on Bourbon and Ursuline. It’s huge and incredible tasty. This is takeout only, so order and buy a drink while you’re waiting to pick up.
The peanut butter and bacon burger at Yo Mama’s is good, very good, but I think missing something. Maybe its just the name of the place that makes me less enthusiastic. Anyway, I just had a bite of someone else’s and I would get it if I had a burger hankerin and Po’C had lines and if I didn’t want to sit outside.
But now, we have another good choice: There is a new downtown location for an old Uptown favorite, Camellia Grill. Another place that people stand in line to eat when there are over 2000 restaurants in this city. With around 10-15 of them within walking distance of that Camellia Grill. Odd people.
Anyway, the corner of Toulouse and Chartres is now the new Camellia Grill. The deal with Camellia Grill is it is this cool hamburger joint kind of place with white-jacketed waiters working the continuous counter. I know this about burgers but go back for an omelet too. And get a freeze- my favorite is the mocha freeze. Has the best waiters. Funny and on top of it. Lovely place too. But I went there when the original owner had it and I never felt it was the same after that (why? just because people in New Orleans like to talk about the old days that they barely remember).
But people love it so much that when they did not reopen after the Federal flood, they left post it notes all over the front door until it was literally covered anywhere a human could reach. As expected, some enterprising guy who owns loads of other restaurants took his banker there, showed them the stickies and got the money to buy it and reopen it.
So now they have two, why just three years after reopening the first. Sigh. Is it possible it’s good? why yes, very possible. So possible that I will go there myself and see. Just for you. But I will say that the location that they chose was excellent in my mind. Everybody walks down Chartres from all directions from Canal because it is the entrance street from the big hotels- from the Rampart side because you can see Jax Brewery down the street so you start walking to it- from the Jax Brewery side because once you get there, you realize there is little reason to stay in it- from the cathedral/Square side because you are in a daze from all of the street life and you just start walking. And with the worst seafood fried place right there on Toulouse-Ralph and Kacoo’s (why has it remained, why why why?) maybe they will smell the grease from seafood hell and turn around for a nice burger. And they did a nice job with the renovation.
In any case, do me a favor and look at any menu with 2 questions: Do they use the word Cajun to describe everything? When you walked in did anyone call you baby? if the answers are no/yes in that order, then sit down, order it “dressed” and enjoy.
And I hope you can hear the echoes of CG legendary waiter Harry’s call in the new place:
“It’s chilly in Gentilly, rainin’ hard in St. Bernard, raisin’ hell in Slidell, two below in Tupelo, little slippy in Mississippi, and all wet in Chalmette.”