2 Fleur
Average check per person $5-$15
BreakfastBreakfast SundayBreakfast MondayBreakfast TuesdayBreakfast WednesdayBreakfast ThursdayBreakfast FridayBreakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Camellia Grill

Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 626 S Carrollton Ave. 504-309-2679 . Map.
Casual.
AE DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
It’s a long-running, beloved icon in the Riverbend section, cooking basic diner food with more verve and polish than this menu usually gets. A great place for breakfast, whether you get it in the morning or late at night. It’s better than it was before Katrina, but not as good as it was in its golden age (1950s-1970s).

WHAT’S GOOD
The Camellia Grill is the classiest restaurant of its kind in New Orleans, and with a history and internal culture to match. Hamburgers–but great ones. Omelettes–but in a unique style, and actually better than they were in the old days. Sandwiches piled high with meats and cheeses. The university crowd is always in here, but the fan base extends across all the generations of living New Orleanians. Its reopening after the hurricane–delayed by a search for a new owner–was so celebrated that it made all the national news media.

BACKSTORY
The Camellia Grill was opened in 1946 by the Shwartz family, which owned the Maison Blanche department store. From the outset the place had gentility and class. Its reputation became so great that after its golden age ended (in the 1990s), newcomers often wondered what the big deal was all about. When the place failed to reopen for many months after the hurricane, the place was covered with love notes begging it to reopen. Finally, restaurateur Hicham Khodr bought it from the third-generation owner, performed a deep renovation of the kitchen (but not the cherished dining room), and reopened the place in April 2007 to mobs of customers.

DINING ROOM
One brightly-lit room with a high ceiling and a crenellated, marble-topped counter. Almost all the cooking goes on right behind the counter. The waiters, inspired by the incomparable Harry, are famous for their patter and personalities. And the linen napkins have returned.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
»Hamburger.
Camellia Grill Special sandwich.
»Mardi Gras sandwich.
»Club sandwich.
»Hot sausage sandwich.
Omelettes, particularly the Manhattan (corned beef, cheese, and onions).
»Red beans and rice (Monday only).
»Waffles.
»Pecan pie.
»Cheesecake.

FOR BEST RESULTS
Avoid the four outside corners of the counter, which don’t give enough space for comfortable eating. The inside corners are the best seats.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
When they came back, they increased the size of the famous hamburger, which I’d say was a mistake. My hamburger editor (and seventeen-year-old daughter) disagrees.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency +1
  • Service+1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness +1
  • Local Color +3

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open most holidays
  • Open after midnight
  • Open all afternoon
  • Historic
  • Quick, good meal
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • No reservations

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
The story of the Camellia Grill wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the late Harry Tervalon, a fixture on the night shift for almost fifty years. The apotheosis of a Camellia Grill waiter, he set the style for the place, and will for many years to come. Any poll seeking the best New Orleans waiter of all time would elect Harry in a landslide.


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