Good Eatin’ in Carrollton

Food, Nightlife — By Zain Iqbal on April 12, 2010 at 10:48 am

It’s about as far away as you can get from the dining institutions of the French Quarter. However, it’s worth it to explore the Carrollton District; an uptown New Orleans neighborhood with several unique restaurants and cafes that will satisfy any cravings you may have for quintessential Louisiana cuisine. Check out this delicious hit list for 24 hours of lunch, dinner, drinks, followed by a breakfast that will cure any hangover from the night before.

Start off your day with lunch at Squeal Bar-B-Q, a relatively new restaurant on Oak Street, operated by three New Orleans brothers with years of cooking experience. Their meats are all smoked in-house and prepare fresh batches of their special “Squeal Sauce” every day. Start off with the crab and andouille stuffed fried mushrooms or their homemade onion rings while you wait on either their rack of St. Louis ribs or hickory smoked pulled pork or brisket.

Head back to Oak Street in the evening for a religious experience in Cajun/Creole fusion dining at Jacques-Imo’s. This restaurant has become popular with locals and visitors alike over the past few years, with the owner and head chef Jacques “Jack” Leonardi holding court in the kitchen, on the sidewalk, and across the street his art studio, usually dressed in a chef’s jacket, shorts, and Birkenstocks. The fried oysters and blackened redfish are must-try items, but don’t shy away from some of Jack’s unique creations which may not be on your typical Cajun or Creole menu. Jacques-Imo’s is very popular, so put your name on the list and then head over to the Maple Leaf Bar (see below) for drinks while you wait. Don’t worry, it’s worth it (especially if you can grab seating in the back of the Jacques-Imo pick-up truck parked outside the restaurant.)

Two doors down from Jacques-Imo’s is Maple Leaf Bar, a lively music venue and bar featuring live acts every night, as well as occasional fashion shows and a Sunday poetry reading. The Maple Leaf has been around since 1974 and has often been written about by local authors who look to capture the flavor of New Orleans.  A local Mardi Gras krewe, the Krewe of OAK, starts and ends its parade at the doors of the Maple Leaf, after which it holds the famous Krewe Ball. Whether you’re sipping on an Abita Strawberry Harvest lager before dinner, or dancing the night away to the famous local band Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, The Maple Leaf is the place to start and end the night in Carrollton.

Serving up Southern comfort at the Camellia Grill

What’s one cure for a night of drinking and revelry in New Orleans? Comfort food, plain and simple. The Camellia Grill is a New Orleans institution and has been serving up some of the best breakfast and lunch in the city since 1946. The charming and super-efficient staff engage their customers with a friendly attitude that represents the best of hospitality in the city, and will occasionally perform a staff sing-a-long. If you’re wondering why the eggs in your Chef Special omelet seem to float on air, it’s because the cooks use a blender to whip them up. Camellia’s is popular with locals and visitors alike and is often a dining choice for a few New Orleans celebrities, such as the political pundit James Carville.

[photos courtesy of a natural sound and the Camellia Grill]

Tags: Camellia Grill, Carrollton, Jacques-Imo's, Maple Leaf Bar, Squeal BBQ, Uptown New Orleans