Dozen Best Garlic Restaurants. : . . Garlic is good. It’s exciting. It’s earthy, ethnic, aromatic, sharp. It’s good for you. A case could be made that there is no such thing as too much garlic. Here are my favorite dishes that have garlic right up front in their flavor profiles. We have enough restaurants with a passion for garlic around New Orleans that I extended the list from our usual dozen to a dozen and a half.
1. Vincent’s. Riverbend: 7839 St Charles Ave. 504-866-9313. Soft shell crabs with tomato and garlic sauce is the dish that convinced Vincent Catalanotto that he could cook with the best of them. But he has plenty more garlic-centered dishes. The best of these is called the Rose of Sicily, a brilliant study in artichokes and garlic.
1. Vincent’s. Metairie: 4411 Chastant St. 504-885-2984.
2. Vega Tapas Cafe. Old Metairie: 2051 Metairie Rd. 504-836-2007. Unlike most restaurants that advertise themselves as Mediterranean, Vega really does cover all the cuisines found along the rim of Europe and Africa, as well as the Middle East. All those cuisines employ lots of garlic in lots of ways, and here they are.
3. Mr. B’s Bistro. French Quarter: 201 Royal. 504-523-2078. Chicken with sweet garlic glaze is insanely delicious, but how could it not be? The chicken is browned in olive oil, then spread with a thick coating of pureed, roasted-two-sweetness garlic. Finished in the oven.
4. Upperline. Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 1413 Upperline. 504-891-9822. Every summer for the past twenty-something years, JoAnn Clevenger and her chefs have mounted a fabulous all-garlic dinner menu. The two best dishes are the cold avocado gazpacho with toasted garlic chips, and the duck with sweet port and garlic sauce. But the rest of the menu is great, too.
5. Ristorante Filippo. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 1917 Ridgelake. 504-835-4008. Two dishes here share more or less the same stuffing. Oysters areganata have become the signature dish, and smell wonderful as they’re carried through the dining room, bubbling under a blanket of bread crumbs, olive oil and garlic.
6. Kim Son. Gretna: 349 Whitney Ave. 504-366-2489. Kim son was the first New Orleans restaurant to serve salt-baked crabsIt’s not really baked, and the most distinctive flavor after those of crabmeat and pepper is garlic–whose aromas dominate the dish. It’s served in the shell, and as much a mess as eating boiled crabs. Kim Son also does this with scallops, calamari, and (with advance notice) lobster.
7. Drago’s. CBD: 2 Poydras. 504-584-3911. The most phenomenal dish in the past two decades is Drago’s original char-broiled oysters. Butter, garlic, parmesan cheese, grilled over an oyster. Everybody copies it. The dish from which these oysters were copied is also good here–
7. Drago’s. Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3232 N Arnoult Rd. 504-888-9254.
8. Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses). Gretna: 1100 Stephens. 504-366-7665. The biggest menu offered by any New Orleans Vietnamese restaurant features a number of shellfish dishes that go by the genus “salt-baked.” This is a misnomer. The crabs, shrimp, scallops and lobster do go into the oven with salt and pepper, but also with no small amount of garlic. Really exciting food, this is the dish that made me a convert to Vietnamese cookery.
9. Steak Knife. Lakeview: 888 Harrison Ave. 504-488-8981. The escargots at the Steak Knife has long been the best version around of the classic garlic-and-herb-butter version of that dish. It comes out sizzling. That wouldn’t be enough to make this list, but they will allow you to get a steak or a pork chop with that same garlic butter. And is that something.
10. Impastato’s. Metairie: 3400 16th St. 504-455-1545. The great garlic dish here is pork spiedini, made by stuffing slices of pork loin with a concoction of bread crumbs, prosciutto, herbs, and much garlic. A similar sauce covers the baked Italian oysters. And there is always a good pasta bordelaise, too.
10.1. Impastato Cellars. Madisonville: 240 Highway 22 E. 985-845-4445.
11. Tujague’s. French Quarter: 823 Decatur. 504-525-8676. Chicken bonne femme is a half chicken fried without a batter, and covered with a short ton of garlic, parsley, and fried potato disks. Order it when you make the reservation to make sure you get it. If you miss it, the filet mignon with garlic butter is a fine consolation.
12. Mosca’s. Westwego: 4137 US 90. 504-436-9942. Garlic is the main theme at Mosca’s, and became famous for that when most other restaurants were afraid to serve us garlic in lusty amounts. Among the many main dishes in which garlic steps boldly forward are shrimp Italian style, the very different oysters Italian style, chicken a la grandee, and the essential spaghetti bordelaise.