A Culinary Tour through Victorian Mansions
The Garden District within New Orleans was initially built as the hub for the city’s wealthy. This is reflected in the houses that can be found throughout this area of the city. A large portion of these homes are classified as historic homes with many of them housing the individuals who greatly influenced this city’s rise over the years. One of the most popular tours within New Orleans is the guided walking tour through this portion of the city. Victorian houses are seen side by side with the city’s signatured shotgun architecture houses. There have even many several portions of this area that have found there way onto the movies and television such as the St. Elizabeth’s and the Lafayette Cemetery that was featured on shows such as Vampire Diaries and the Originals.
In addition to the architectural, cultural, and historic landmarks of the Garden District, there is also an abundance of incredible restaurants here. Today, I would like to share my thoughts on several of these culinary treasures.
Shaya’s has become a staple of New Orleans dining over the last decade and has been featured frequently on travel shows. This restaurant is a middle eastern restaurant with a heavy emphasis on Israeli cuisine. Although they do offer full platters, among my favorite things to do when visiting this restaurant with friends is to order a series of their appetizers and small plate dishes to share. They have several types of hummuses such as lamb ragu and fried chicken that pairs incredibly well with their pita bread which is frequently delivered from the oven right to your table. Their pita oven is in the dining room, and they churn out this fresh pita all day long for the many customers who visit. Shaya is frequently full during lunch and dinner hours, so a reservation is recommended ahead of time if you want to enjoy a meal there during peak hours. In addition to the hummus, several more of their dishes pair great with this pita such as their baba ganoush (creamy eggplan dip with green onions and olive oil) or their smoked labneh (lima beans with vinaigrette).
Among their other platters, a personal favorite small plate option of mine is their lamb kofte or their crispy haloumi that is served with figs and apricot. Their large plate also come with several incredible options such as their falafel or their lamb burger. I have yet to find an item on their menu that I didn’t enjoy. The prices for this restaurant are also very reasonable. On average, 20-25 dollars per person for food is what should be expected when dining at Shaya.
Ruby Slipper Café
While Shaya is a great location in the Garden District to enjoy lunch or dinner, Ruby Slipper Café is an amazing option for breakfast. This diner has a mix or traditional breakfast items as well as local staples. Whether you want a taste of home with a pancake or French toast platter or want to try a little taste of New Orleans for Breakfast with Shrimp and Grits; the Ruby Slipper is sure to fill your breakfast or brunch needs. One of their most popular items on the menu are their various varieties of eggs benedict. Traditionally this consists of poached eggs with a cream sauce served over an English muffin, Ruby Slipper has created several delectable varieties of this classic dish. Whether its their Chicken St. Charles that adds fried chicken to the mix or their eggs cochon which serves apple-braised pork over top of their egg’s benedict; it would be difficult to leave this restaurant unsatisfied.
St. James Cheese Company
St. James is a unique restaurant in that they are centered around cheese and cured meat charcuterie boards. Although this may seem like very limited options; the incredible and diverse selection of cheese that this restaurant has is incredible. I have personally had lunch at this restaurant well over 20 times and I always make it a point to try out new cheeses each time. Despite this, I am not even close to sampling everything they have to offer. Their cheeses are important from around the world so whether you want a creamy brie from Italy, a strong blue from France, a refreshing Manchego from Spain, or a sharp cheddar from Wisconsin; St. James has you covered. Whether its cow, milk, sheep, or goat milk; this restaurant is not afraid to push the envelope by bringing in a rotating stock of culinary adventures. Each of their charcuterie boards is served with a selection of both dried and fresh fruits as well as a fruit preserve to compliment the cheeses served. Even their fruit preserves boast incredible variety whether its apricot, fig, or plum; the staff at St. James always seems to know what would pair perfectly with the cheeses they present you with.
Although you can hand select what cheeses and cured meats are brought to you on your own personal charcuterie board, I often allow the staff to pick for me. St. James employs several cheese mongers on staff that specialize in the art of cheese selection and charcuterie board presentation. If you are honest with them regarding what you want, then they are happy to oblige. Feeling adventurous? Tell them so and they will whip up something to send you on a unique culinary adventure.
The Rum House
As the name implies, this restaurant is an excellent option for where to get rum (or quiet a few other drink options). This is a combination bar and taqueria that serves incredible pina coladas and margaritas. The restaurant creates a tropical ambiance meant to transport you to a tropical beach in central America. The Rum House is among my top choices within the city for lunch, especially on taco Tuesday. Although they have a varied menu, their tacos are the primary attraction as they boast an incredible variety of taco options that are all mouthwatering. Whether its their Duck Duck Goose taco (twice cooked duck with tamarin sauce), the Jerk Chicken, or the Carolina BBQ taco (pulled pork); the Rum House has a taco for everyone’s taste buds. With over 20 different tacos on the menu, you will be hard pressed to try each of them in a single sitting, but you could very well be tempted too. If you find yourself strolling through the boutique shops of Magazine Street during the afternoon, the Rum House is the place I would suggest stopping by to take a break from your shopping for an hour or two.