Dinner at a Hidden Gem and Dessert at a New Orleans Classic
For dinner on our first night in New Orleans, Win was looking for a place that served delicious food, was casual, and was as non-touristy as is possible in the French Quarter. While I napped in the afternoon (let me say it again, ahhh...the decadence), Win read up on some potential dinner choices. He decided on a place called Rita's Olde French Quarter Restaurant and I'm glad he did.
Rita's is unpretentious, cozy, and it serves generous portions of delicious Cajun and Creole food. The dining room was quite busy the night we went, filled mostly with locals and the occassional table of tourists. To our surprise, one waiter was staffing the whole dining room. This man was beyond busy taking orders, delivering food, clearing tables, refilling water glasses, preparing desserts tableside, and so on. When we saw this, we thought we'd probably have either a long wait for our food or just potentially terrible service. We had just the opposite; this one-man-wonder somehow managed to serve the needs of the entire restaurant quickly, effectively and with a smile (albeit a quick one; he had to stay on the move!).
Rita's menu is full of delicious choices. Before going to New Orleans, I decided that I had to be sure to try some catfish when I was there. Rita's Stuffed Catfish leapt out at me as a great choice. It was catfish filled with a Cajun seasoned stuffing, topped with crawfish and covered with a spicy cream sauce. The night we were there they were out of crawfish (which is surprising given the abundance in the region), so mine was topped with shrimp instead. As our waiter promised, this dish was marvelous, shrimp and all.
Win, a major ribs fan, was compelled by their ribs offering. The meat was so tender, it literally fell off the bone as he ate them. He loved them.
As you can see from the photos above, Rita's isn't about fancy presentation or elaborate side dishes. We found it cute and funny that my vegetable side dish looked like frozen vegetable medley right out of the freezer. What Rita's is about though is excellent food, served in a traditional, home-cooked style, in a warm and inviting atmosphere. A photo of Rita herself smiles down from the wall, helping to create this comfortable feeling.
We loved our dinner and afterwards we were off for more walking around. After a bit of time had passed, we went to the world famous Cafe Du Monde in the French Market.
We of course had to try the beignets. Since I'd heard so much about their chicory coffee, I ordered a cafe au lait and Win had a hot chocolate.
Yum, yum, yum. The beignets were delicious and I loved seeing the trail of powered sugar left around everyone's table. It was so much fun to sit outside and enjoy these traditional New Orleans treats.
Rita's Olde French Quarter Restaurant
945 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70116-3208
Cafe Du Monde
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Next time: A Swamp Tour Adventure