I just got back from New Orleans, where I was for New Years and the Sugar Bowl. And let me tell you, it was crazy! Totally lit. And basically monsooning the whole time, so I consistently looked like a drunken drowned cat. No wonder I’m single.
It was an amazing experience, though, and I hope it leads to a whole new year of travel. I love being a free range human. Actually, I love routine, but I appreciate the benefits of getting out of my routine and comfort zone.
Anyways…. back to New Orleans, and most importantly here, eating in New Orleans. And back to the best meal I had while I was there this trip. I’m lucky to have stumbled upon this gem of a restaurant when we were looking for pre-Sugar Bowl dinner near the stadium. Johnny Sanchez was the perfect location, close enough to walk there afterward but far enough that we could get in and out of it with ease.
We called ahead and made a reservation, which I recommend doing, since it’s so easy to do, and saves the day if it happens to be completely packed. Like on the day of the Sugar Bowl. The restaurant is co-owned by Aaron Sanchez, who is a judge on Chopped, so I would say it’s a hotspot for the foodie and gastrotourist.
The food is comfort Mexican, with local southern flare hidden throughout the menu. The hardest part was narrowing down what to order. And we still ordered a shitton of food.
We started off with margaritas, which were good but nothing to write home about. I don’t think I would order one next time, since the food is all so amazing and I would rather eat more.
Each table is given a complimentary bowl of house-made salsa that is so amazing its probably laced with crack, I wanted to just eat it with a spoon. They also brought out a basket of tortilla chips and plantain strips mixed for dipping, which I thought was a creative touch. I didn’t eat the tortilla chips, but the plantain chips were on point.
Next, we ordered a few “hot dishes” as appetizers. I got the crispy Brussel sprouts with cojita and butternut squash, and my friend got the quesadilla. The quesadilla looked burned on the outside, but my friend said it tasted good and like a normal quesadilla. Oh my lord, though, those Brussel sprouts… I still have dreams about them. They were the crispiest and most amazing thing in the entire world. I wanted 3 more orders. I highly recommend them.
For the main course, we ordered the crispy pig ear, wood grilled shrimp and Mexican street corn. The crispy pig ear was just like small pieces of bacon, and was served with a fried egg on top that you cracked so the yolk would spill on everything. It was out of this world amazing.
My friend was absolutely obsessed with the Mexican street corn. She just about made herself sick eating so much of it, because it tasted so good. I didn’t eat an since I don’t digest corn very well, but if you do then check out the Mexican street corn.
We also split the grilled shrimp, which was a disappointment. It ended up being a big bowl of lettuce with a few shrimp around the border, which is not what we expected. It tasted good, and in the end got more veggies in my stomach because I dumped the pig ear on top of the lettuce and ate it like that. But for how much it cost, it was a letdown.
One of the best parts of the experience was that Aaron Sanchez himself came out an talked to everyone the whole time we ate. It wasn’t a five minute appearance. He went table to table an made sure everyone was having a great experience. I got to meet Aaron Sanchez and he touched my arm and told me I was the bait to lure people into his restaurant. I died.
It’s not traditional Cajun food, and doesn’t serve the local staples that grace every corner of New Orleans. But New Orleans is all about the sensory experience and over-the-top fun, and this restaurant definitely delivers both.