Just named to The Guardian’s Top 10 Budget Restaurants in New Orleans. I love their version of the shrimp poor boy:
Sara Roahen is maybe my favorite current New Orleans writer (although Katy Reckdahl, CW Cannon and Bill Lavender are always vying for the top spot, not that any of them care) and here she has written a fantastic history of Old Sober (aka ya-ka-mein), a street food beloved in Creole homes, along second lines and at JazzFest…
Ya-Ka-Mein in New Orleans | Southern Foodways Alliance.
Listen, I like poor boys and muffalettas. You’ll find me in line at Johnny’s and at Central Grocery often, patiently waiting behind visitors who are nervously practicing saying muffaletta or ordering it dressed without feeling foolish.
But every once in a while, you just want a quick American treat done in a New Orleans way. That’s when I head to North Rampart to get a hot dog at the place next door to Mary’s Hardware’s new location between Orleans and Saint Ann. The owners of Dreamie Weenies are cool guys who take the dog and its surrounding environment seriously. I almost always get a Genchili dog (which I think should be called a GentillyChili) with polish sausage and then only add mustard and ketchup (you get your choice of type of dog and added condiments) as needed. The Genchili comes with their own “creole mix” and homemade chili which add just enough spice and residual flavor to make you want to slow down after each bite to savor.
What works against these guys is that people think of the hot dog as the crappy thing you see in the roller at the gas station or the burnt thing to the side of the grill at your neighborhood bbq, but these are made as meals and should be treated that way. I ain’t no slip of a girl that gets filled up from a latte; I eat food like my Polish and Greek and Cajun peops did before me and even I cannot always finish my Genchili in one setting. So the 8 bucks spent there feeds tummies well, the lovely inside feeds the eye and ears (music is local and lively) and the caring and onsite owners with their homemade ingredients feed the New Orleans soul.
So don’t be a snob- go get a dog done right.
In restaurant form that is.
A classic New Orleans story with food as the central character. Scott Boswell, a young chef who is serious about his ongoing training, owns these restaurants with his wife Tanya. Scott is found at Stella’s working the kitchen (when he’s not traveling to restaurants to offer himself as a free apprentice) and Tanya can be seen daily at Stanley’s working the door and watching the entire place.
Both restaurants serve excellent food. Stella’s is award-winning and pretty expensive, but even with the deep pocket needed to go there,I can’t count how many times I have heard that this was the favorite meal of visitors and some locals who hit all of the top ones. Many times.
I know the chef and his wife from their stalwart support of the Crescent City Farmers Market, where I work. We opened a 4th location a few years before Katrina and they did anything they could do to support it. We’ll never forget it.
I like these folks because they are Quarter residents and real workers and committed to a scale of production, service and ambience that has made the city what it is.
(Now I have a friend who is not very happy with them and feels slighted in every way; she’s a savvy local who has loads of patience for quirks but got bad service and a worse response after, so I sorrowfully acknowledge that too. It’s the only version I have heard of that story, but she is pretty sore with them now.)
My experience has been great and now they have added a Stanley’s service bar right next door on the Square and so a tip of my cap again is in order. Espresso, pastries, ice cream and sandwiches in a beautifully designed storefront. Some work remains to do to get it all done but if you’re out at 8 am til evening in the area, go try the coffee or ice cream and then go have a eggs hollandaise poboy next door.
And revel in the culture renewing itself in the oldest part of the city, thanks to entrepreneurs like Scott and Tanya..
The newest addition to the Pontalba family. Espresso, pastries and ice cream from 8-7ish daily.