Tally-Ho
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Tally-Ho

Tally-Ho French Quarter: 400 Chartres 1960s-1990s The Tally-Ho was one of the quirkiest restaurants in the French Quarter. Which is saying something. But that’s what people liked about The Tally-Ho and its owners, Bert and Tillie. Most of the Tally-Ho’s customers were local. All of them said the same thing about the place: that it served the best breakfast in town. That was not really true. But the Tally-Ho did indeed serve an excellent breakfast. And not a bad lunch, either. The place was was the most ordinary of diners….

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Riverbend
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Riverbend

Riverbend Riverbend: 734 S. Carrollton Ave.(at Maple) 1974-1987 The Riverbend appeared when the New Orleans restaurant scene was pregnant. The Baby Boom generation was in its young adulthood, and was ready to start restaurants with more going on than hamburgers. But it found most serious New Orleans restaurants were too serious. A few years later, the Uptown Creole bistro would be born, and that would change everything. But in the meantime, a few restaurants figured out that if a restaurant served good food and was fun–maybe even frivolous–it would attract…

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El Ranchito
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El Ranchito

El RanchitoDowntown: 1811 Elysian Fields Avenue1946-1981 In the months following Hurricane Katrina, a number of small Mexican cafes opened in (among other places) the vicinity of North Claiborne at Elysian Fields. Their main clientele was the large number of Mexican workers who came to town to help us clean up the mess. This caught the attention of those of us who are always on the lookout for close-to-the-source ethnic food. A number of these venturers had the same encomium when they called on the air to tell me what they…

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Chez Helene
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Chez Helene

Chez HeleneDowntown: 1540 N. Robertson St.1964-1995 In the early 1970s, when Richard Collin encouraged a lot of white people to go to black-owned restaurants for the first time in their lives, Chez Helene was one of the three great New Orleans soul food restaurants. (The other two were Buster Holmes and Dooky Chase.) Its chef Austin Leslie was an icon of Creole cooking until his life ended in September, 2005, in one of the worst Hurricane Katrina tragedies in the culinary world. Chez Helene’s roots go back to 1942. Austin’s…

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Delmonico
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Delmonico

Delmonico (Original)Lee Circle Area: 1300 St. Charles Avenue1895-1998 For the most part, the restaurants in this book don’t include the ones that have clear-cut old and new eras in their histories. All restaurants that have been around for many decades are quite different now from what they once were. Some came into their current selves though a long evolution. Galatoire’s, Pascal’s Manale, and even Commander’s Palace are examples of that. A few went through a revolution, such as the one at Arnaud’s when Archie Casbarian bought the place from Count…

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Genghis Khan
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Genghis Khan

Genghis KhanMid-City, 4053 Tulane Avenue1975-2004 Owners of restaurants come to the business from many kinds of past lives. I can think of only one whose immediately previous job was as first-chair violinist for a first-class symphony orchestra. That man is Henry Lee, and that career shift wasn’t the only unusual part of his story as a restaurateur. He opened the first Korean restaurant New Orleans ever had. It was also the only one here for decades. Recalling Genghis Khan creates a memory conflict between two equally distinctive and enjoyable aspects…

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Restaurant Mandich
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Restaurant Mandich

Restaurant MandichBywater: 3200 St. Claude Ave.1922-2005 Regular customers of Restaurant Mandich were always amused to hear newcomers call the place a “discovery.” That’s inevitably what most restaurant writers (including me, in my first review of the place in 1977) called the restaurant. And whenever someone called my radio show about Mandich, I knew he would call it a great restaurant nobody knows about. But how could a place that opened in 1922 and remained consistently popular until Katrina be considered anybody’s special secret? Here’s how: by the time us Baby…

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Corinne Dunbar’s
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Corinne Dunbar’s

Corinne Dunbar’sLee Circle Area: 1716 St. Charles Avenue (Later 1617).1935-1987 All memorable restaurants are unique in some way. Corinne Dunbar’s–about which I am still asked after more than two decades since it served its final meal–was unique in a way that itself was unique. Its story is one of the most interesting ever told by a New Orleans restaurant. Corinne Dunbar opened her restaurant in the grand parlor of her own home in the middle of the Great Depression. Her husband had died, and his food distribution business was failing….

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Lakeview Seafood
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Lakeview Seafood

Lakeview SeafoodNew Orleans East: 7400 Hayne Blvd.Late 1950s-Mid 1980s. Long before tract development began in New Orleans East, residences and businesses lined one side of Hayne Boulevard. On the other side was Lake Pontchartrain. Over those waters fishing camps on stilts lined the shore from the airport all the way to the little old community of Little Woods. If you didn’t own a camp you could rent one, and my family did for a week or two every summer in the 1950s and 1960s. Some nights, we walked across the…

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Café Atchafalaya, Dante By The River
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Café Atchafalaya, Dante By The River

Iler Pope’s Cafe Atchafalaya*Uptown: 901 Louisiana Avenue1991-2004 Dante By The River/Tea ‘n’ TiquesUptown: 723 Dante Street1977-1986 These three rather different restaurants belong together in this recollection because of the unique woman who connects them. Iler Pope moved to New Orleans from the Mississippi Delta country in the late 1970s, bringing with her a classic Mississippi speech rhythm (the word “wine” came out of her mouth in three syllables) and a love of Southern cooking. New Orleans might seem to be the perfect place for a restaurant serving Southern cooking. But…

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Maylie’s
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Maylie’s

Maylie’sCBD: 1009 Poydras1876-1983 Maylie’s was a relict restaurant for decades before it closed. One of many restaurants adjacent to public markets around town, for the first half of its history its main customers were people who worked in the market. Tujague’s was the most famous of these, and the only survivor in the species.) The market merchants began their days well before dawn, and knocked off around one in the afternoon. They had their big meal of the day then, and went home. Maylie’s was immediately adjacent to the Poydras…

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LeRuth’s
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LeRuth’s

LeRuth’s Gretna: 636 Franklin Street 1966-1991 So many superlatives apply to Chef Warren Leruth and his namesake restaurant that it’s hard to know where to start. But this should work: LeRuth’s was the most delicious New Orleans restaurant of all time. Leruth (he capitalized the “R” in the restaurant’s name, but not his own) began cooking in the military, as a baker. He kept his baker’s habits all his life. LeRuth’s always baked its own French bread, at a time when nobody else did that. His baker’s sensibilities carried over…

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Galatoire’s Sold, The Oil Spill, A Good Summer: 2010
The Years In Dining

Galatoire’s Sold, The Oil Spill, A Good Summer: 2010

A restaurant owner looking for an excuse for a bad 2010 can find it easily enough. The BP oil spill made everyone suspicious about the quality of the seafood in New Orleans restaurants. Meanwhile, instead of going out to eat, a lot of us wasted many leisure hours staring at the video from the Gulf floor of the oil plume. Or the distressed restaurateur could fall back on the recession and its reputed destruction of all profits. Or Katrina, although that dodge is wearing thin. However, he probably has only…

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Little Pete’s
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Little Pete’s

Little Pete’s4121 St. Claude Avenue1950s-1980 It is accepted dogma that the people and institutions found east of Elysian Fields Avenue are different from those in any other part of New Orleans. In the great years–that would be before about 1965–the Eighth and Ninth Wards were loaded with restaurants and bars of such distinction that the very few that remain are considered holy places. By “distinction” I don’t mean “high-toned.” Even the fanciest restaurant in Eight and Nine (that would be Restaurant Mandich, about which more elsewhere) were easy-going places with…

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Buck Forty-Nine Pancake and Steak House
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Buck Forty-Nine Pancake and Steak House

Buck Forty-Nine Pancake and Steak HouseFour locations:212 Bourbon Street, across from Galatoire’sAirline Highway in front of Crescent Airline Shopping CenterSouth Carrollton Avenue at MapleWest Bank Expressway at Stumpf Blvd.1950s-1990s. “Never name a restaurant after a price!” said Joe Riccobono, a man I never met. His son Vincent quoted the line. Vincent owns the Peppermill, the Metairie restaurant opened by his mother in 1975. Josie Riccobono wanted to have a restaurant that was more feminine and stylish than her husband’s Buck Forty-Nines. It was the sixth restaurant in a local chain…

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The Wistful Palate Effect
Matters Of Taste

The Wistful Palate Effect

“Crawfish” writes: You ever go to a restaurant with a particular desire for a dish that was served at a now closed establishment? You order it, and it just does not compare. Example: Hunan beef. I have ordered this numerous times at respectable restaurants, but none can compare to the Hunan beef at the now gone Jade East in New Orleans East. Another: Veal Parmesan at “Lil Italian” which used to be on Vets near Clearview. And another, although I cannot recall the name. In the heart of the French…

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Bart’s Lighthouse Inn
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Bart’s Lighthouse Inn

Bart’s Lighthouse InnLakefront: 8000 Lakeshore Dr.1950s-1994 As casual seafood restaurants go, Bart’s was literally set apart. By the New Basin Canal, to be exact, which separated Bart’s from the concentration of seafood restaurants in West End Park. But in every other way dining there was the same experience as in West End. It had a view not only of the lake, but of the century-old lighthouse that stood next door until Katrina knocked it over. The original Bart’s was a big, rambling frame building with beacon-like neon signs on its…

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Tchoupitoulas Plantation
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Tchoupitoulas Plantation

Tchoupitoulas Plantation6535 River Road, Waggaman.1963-1987 The word “plantation” conjures up a rich image in this part of the world. While many restaurants have used the word in their names, only two real plantation homes became major restaurants: Elmwood (see page 00) and Tchoupitoulas. They seemed to have a lot in common. Both boasted buildings dating back to the late 1700s. Both were on the river–almost across the river from one another, in fact. Their heydays as restaurants were in the 1960s and 1970s. Each had a style all its own,…

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Beaujolais Nouveau 2010
Matters Of Taste

Beaujolais Nouveau 2010

A Great Beginner Wine, And Nice On ThanksgivingThe Annual Beaujolais A wine that is a nice match for most of what’s on the Thanksgiving table makes its showy premiere today. All over the world, celebrations of Beaujolais Nouveau grab an enormous amount of attention for what is, really, a minor player in the world of wine. But why not? The story about how restaurants in France race with one another to be the first to serve the new vintage of Beaujolais are true and exciting. The French government’s rule that…

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Bull’s Corner
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Bull’s Corner

The Bull’s CornerBroadmoor: 4440 Magnolia StreetLaplace: 1036 W. Airline Hwy.1966-2009 Restaurants in the immediate vicinity of a hospital can count on a steady clientele of hospital staff. Restaurants serving hamburgers and beer in the near environs of a large college can also expect to see a consistent flow. The Bull’s Corner enjoyed both of these advantages. Not only did it give owner Doug Depp a successful restaurant, but it created a scene engaging the memory of it glows. The original Bull’s Corner was across the street from the former Baptist…

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Matters Of Taste: The Future Of New Orleans French Bread
Matters Of Taste

Matters Of Taste: The Future Of New Orleans French Bread

Where Have The Great Bakers Gone?The Future Of New Orleans French Bread This weekend, the third running of the Po-Boy Festival will cram Oak Street with people all weekend long. It, and the organization the produces it, set out a few years ago with amission: the save the poor boy sandwich. They thought it may have been on the way out. The numbers in Menu’s restaurant index clearly show that we have more poor boy shops around town than we ever did. And the popularity of the Po-Boy Festival–heavily attended…

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Cafe Pontchartrain, The Silver Whistle
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Cafe Pontchartrain, The Silver Whistle

Cafe PontchartrainThe Silver WhistleThe Pontchartrain Hotel, 2031 St. Charles Avenue1927-2005 From the smallest hamlet to the biggest city, there’s always one restaurant where the big names in the community go to have breakfast with others of their kind. For many decades in New Orleans, that place was the coffee shop of the Pontchartrain Hotel. Every morning at seven, a changing cast of highly-recognizable men (they were all men, at least on all the occasions when I saw them there) sat down with chicory coffee, the hotel’s famous (but overrated) blueberry…

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Moran’s Riverside, Bella Luna
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Moran’s Riverside, Bella Luna

Moran’s Riverside1975-1991Bella Luna1991-2005914 N. Peters (in the French Market, Dutch Alley at Dumaine) The restaurant that Jimmy Moran built in the French Market may be the most visually striking ever to open in New Orleans. On the second floor of one of the new buildings added to the Market in the 1970s, the restaurant sported a magnificent view of the Mississippi River. The windows were big and numerous enough that the panorama extended from the bridge all the way to the sharp turn just downstream from the French Quarter. As…

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Beef Baron
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Beef Baron

The Beef BaronMid-City: 2501 Canal Street1965-1992 Only the most focused diners with the best memories can recall much about the food at the Beef Baron. I had to dig up my old reviews to recall any menu details beyond the obvious one that the place was a steakhouse. What caused this culinary amnesia was an atmospheric element that dominates all recollections of the Beef Baron. Along two walls, the dining room had enclosed, curtained booths, each with a table for two. Four people could have used them if they were…

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Food Reality Shows-Threat Or Menace
Matters Of Taste

Food Reality Shows-Threat Or Menace

April 1, 2011.Food Reality Shows: Threat Or Menace? The burgeoning growth of new food television shows in the past decade was a good thing, I thought. And then it started to change. Away went the real chefs, replaced by new hosts who were either a) stunningly beautiful, 2) hokey to the point of comedy, iii) ringleaders of contests whose guidelines and results led to nothing useful in improving one’s cooking or eating. I had been holding back (barely) my disdain for the Iron Chef challenges and everything that came afterwards….

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Extinct Pizza Places
Extinct Restaurants

Extinct Pizza Places

Domino’s PizzaCBD: 701 St. Charles AvenueLate 1940s-late 1970s Artista PizzaGentilly: 2941 Franklin Avenue1960s-Late 1970s Sandy’s Pizza PlaceChalmette: 2023 Paris RoadLate 1960s-mid-1970s Tower Of PizzaNew Orleans East: 4428 Downman Road1960s-1980s (Metarie location still open) Mr. PizzaMany locations around town1965-1980s With a large population of immigrants from Southern Italy since the late 1800s, somewhere in town pizza must have been baked and served before World War II. But it wasn’t until the late 1940s, when the pizza trend swept across America, that New Orleans had anything like a pizza parlor. The first…

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Glimmers Of Old Greatness: 2009
The Years In Dining

Glimmers Of Old Greatness: 2009

For diners and restaurateurs, 2009 was less than the gleeful, sybaritic banquet of better years. The focus remains more on the past and the future than the present. Nevertheless, all but the usual complainers are upbeat. The essential tide of travelers will continue to pay for more major restaurants than in any other American city our size. Chefs have enough confidence in our local ingredients and (to a lesser degree) our local flavors, and have backed away from aping Gourmet Magazine. Good thing. Gourmet published its final issue in November….

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It Wasn’t A Very Good Year, But. . . 2008
The Years In Dining

It Wasn’t A Very Good Year, But. . . 2008

I hated writing this column. It’s about the most boring year for New Orleans diners that I remember. This has been a year of few major openings (but no major closings) and few major improvements. The restaurant business has had to struggle so hard to revive itself that it’s not surprising that it spent most of the year marking time and catching its breath. That thought didn’t well up until I began to look for a restaurant to call the best new restaurant of the year. Nothing jumped out of…

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2007: Post-K Surpasses Pre-K, At Last
The Years In Dining

2007: Post-K Surpasses Pre-K, At Last

The pivotal moment of 2007 for New Orleans restaurant fans was April 16. That was the day Mr. B’s Bistro reopened for the first time since the hurricane. B’s was the last major restaurant return we were sure was coming. And, by a happy coincidence, it brought the total number of restaurants open in the New Orleans area to 809–the same number of real eateries we had the day before Katrina hit. What happened to Mr. B’s after that recapitulates the story of the local restaurant business as a whole…

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2006 In Dining: The Recovery
The Years In Dining

2006 In Dining: The Recovery

On the first day of 2006, Galatoire’s reopened. It was the 418th restaurant to do so since the hurricane, and the perfect first restaurant opening of the new year. It was fervently welcomed. The absence of that iconic Creole restaurant hurt in a cold way, especially during the Christmas holidays. We were bereft of most of the other eternal restaurants, too. Antoine’s, Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace and Broussard’s also missed Christmas. Along with about half of the 809 real restaurants that operated in the New Orleans area before the storm. As…

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The Year Of Four Months: 2005 In Dining
The Years In Dining

The Year Of Four Months: 2005 In Dining

As is true of everything else in New Orleans, thinking about the world of dining in the past year quickly turns to just the last four months. And the first two of those seem blurry. The story of one restaurant gives a good picture of how things have progressed. On October 4, Cuvee opened for the first time since the hurricane. It was one of the first gourmet restaurants to come back. I managed to get manager Chris Ycaza on the phone a day before it did (remember how hard…

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Looking For Interest In 2004 Dining
The Years In Dining

Looking For Interest In 2004 Dining

By the standards of recent past years, 2004 was boring for avid local restaurant patrons. Most of the few new restaurant openings were less impressive than advertised. This despite the fact that near-record amounts of money were spent in creating or renovating the biggest deals. A number of promising new restaurants from a year or two ago closed up shop. Meanwhile, most established restaurants did little more than mark time. Which resulted in a slow drift in the direction of ordinariness. But we did have high points. Just not enough…

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2003, The Year Of Dining Straight Ahead
The Years In Dining

2003, The Year Of Dining Straight Ahead

At the beginning of the year, the biggest restaurant news was that Ralph Brennan and Chef Gerard Maras would be opening a new restaurant in the beautiful premises across from City Park where the Tavern on the Park used to be. Delayed by a host of unexpected construction problems, Ralph’s on the Park (which will not be winning the New Restaurant Name of the Year prize) barely got the doors opened for private parties a couple of weeks ago, and for a soft opening of the main dining room. Its…

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Restaurateurs Reluctant In 2002
The Years In Dining

Restaurateurs Reluctant In 2002

Nobody expected 2002 to be a year of expansion for the New Orleans restaurant business, and it wasn’t. On the other hand, the only way you could call the year a disaster would be to compare it with the few previous years, when new restaurants were opening at the rate of about one every week or two, people were spending much more than ever, and chefs were effortlessly becoming celebrities. Business is definitely off in most New Orleans restaurants. But not as much as it is in other serious food…

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Strong Moves In 2001, Until That Happened
The Years In Dining

Strong Moves In 2001, Until That Happened

We all need something to remember this past year for besides you-know-what. So here’s something cheerful: no other year in the history of this great eating city has hosted so many major new restaurant openings. Even if you limit the list to places with serious culinary ambitions, it runs to over twenty new names. And all of them are at least pretty good, and all of them are doing pretty well. Let’s just give as much of the list as we have room for. I’ve ranked the restaurants here in…

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