You’ve just set up your blanket (chairs if you haven’t heeded our previous warnings), the drink is in hand and your sights are set on one thing: food. The only problem is how to choose from the plethora of culinary deliciousness that meanders around you. Look no further as we have this gig down to a science. The amount of food collectively consumed last year by He Said and I is astonishing or shameful, depending on how you look at it.
Here is your first tip: stay out of the restaurants. That is unless you are planning a group late-night dinner post festival. I wouldn’t even suggest breakfast- just get out there for 11am and nosh-on.
Tip number 2: bring a print out of the food list with you. If you haven’t planned ahead, bring our list and the big list. You’ll regret it if you later realize that Love at First Bite is ¾ of a mile from your current lounge over at the Mint and you’ve got your heart set on the Cochon de lait po-boy.
As was the case last year, I’ll follow our patented, world-changing Mardi Gras Indian rating scale to clue you in on the best of the best among the Fest food choices. Here’s how it works:
Big Chief: The can’t miss, kick-ass, hate yourself tomorrow if you didn’t eat it featured item.
Flag Boy: Close to the Big Chief. Our pick for second best in the area.
Spy Boy: Light on its feet. Refreshing and reviving choices.
Medicine Man: Good for what could ail you. Festival comfort food hearty enough to absorb some alcohol.
Wild Man: Step out of your comfort zone and try something unusual.
We’ll start with Woldenberg Riverfront Stage-
NOTE to FQF- next year, break this down into the two areas because it can be confusing to festival-goers and it can mean a significant difference in walking/crowds when searching for your favorite dish.
Perusing the menu, I found a few newcomers worth mentioning. I promise we will seek these out and let you know in a wrap-up (better yet, via live tweet) what we think. A warm festival welcome to Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant. We’ll see you soon! Additionally, joining the riverfront is Grand Isle who will be slinging Shrimp and Grits and a Shrimp Caminada Po-Boy. My personal favorite addition though is the WWOZ Mango Freeze of Jazzfest fame- somebody throw some vodka in that bad boy!
Big Chief: Bocherie 12 Hour Roast Beef Po’Boy with Pickled Red Onions and Horseradish Crème. There is a reason this dish reigns supreme for a second year- it is just that good!
Flag Boy: Love at First Bite Cochon de lait po boy. Walker’s restaurant in New Orleans East has been showcasing this giant since 2009 under it’s catering arm Love at First Bite. I would say this is a can’t miss.
Spy Boy: I gotta go with the freeze. If this past weekend was any indication, you’ll be hot and looking for something to keep cool. Mango Freeze will do the trick.
Medicine Man: Run on over to Crescent Pie and Sausage for some alcohol absorbing Bad Bart’s Black Jambalaya and a sausage link. That should do the trick.
Wild Man: Grilled chicken livers with crowder peas and okra from Praline Connection. Get in touch with your inner soul food lover.
There’s much new blood at this locale and that’s a good thing. New this year are: Blue Dot Donuts- Nope, not donuts but rather a Thai pulled pork “dough boy” with asian slaw; Galatoires Fried Shrimp “BLT” po-boy or their famous shrimp remoulade; K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen dishing out either K-Paul’s famous butterbeans and rice with trinity, chicken, pork, andouille, tasso and duck or New Orleans chicken grillades with cheddar cheese grits; and Maximo’s Italian Grill’s Crawfish Diavolo.
Big Chief: Ahh Muriel’s, how I dream of your Crawfish and Goat Cheese Crepe 11 months per year. But yes, it’s time again to feast on one or three of these delicious treats. As always, get there early and head straight for Muriel’s booth which is facing the clock just to the right. It makes a great ‘breakfast’ option around 11 am.
Flag Boy: Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse Prime Beef debris poboy gets my vote for second place at Jackson Square. This is always a solid option. You’ll find them at the Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House booth.
Spy Boy: Wash some crepes and a prime beef debris poboy down with a little Creole Crème Cheese ice cream with Louisiana strawberries a la Quinton’s Ice Cream.
Medicine Man: Maple Glazed Bacon Long John- need I say more? You’ve got bacon and donuts to cure the hangover pain all in one dish at Blue Dot Donuts. And if bacon and donuts all rolled into one isn’t your thing (shame on you), skip the food in favor of a Bloody Mary served by Pat O’Brien’s.
Wild Man: I’m going with Blue Dot’s Thai pulled pork “dough boy” with asian slaw. Yes, it is a gamble since it is a first-time fest showcase, but it just sounds so damn good.
Old U.S. Mint-
Hooray for a few newbies! This has been by far the weakest food area of the fest, but two new additions should offer some improvement: Deanie’s Seafood will be serving crawfish etouffee and fried crab balls. Additionally, and even more exciting is the addition of Three Muses’ Lamb sliders and feta fries. Both of these are terrific dishes at the restaurant.
Big Chief: With it’s second appearance as our Big Chief, The Joint’s pulled pork poboy with coleslaw is sure to delight.
Flag Boy: Give me the Lamb Sliders. The food options at the Mint are limited in number but you won’t likely be disappointed with these.
Spy Boy: Cool off with a Plum Street snoball while you enjoy the shade on the backside or the Zydeco in the sun.
Medicine Man: Dunbar’s catfish and potato salad is sure to soak up some of yesterday’s toxins and get you ready for hair of the dog.
Wild Man: Amy’s pork and shrimp spring roll is a lighter option than most available at the Mint.
And those are our picks. For the second year in a row, our guide for the discriminating Fest gourmand. Be sure to come hungry, do as much food ‘research’ as you can, and maybe we’ll see you there!