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‘The Man Who Ate New Orleans’ shares his favorite cafés, taverns and dives

Ray Cannata's guide to the best po boys, gumbo, steaks and more 'real 'nawlins food'

By Kerry M. King ('85) Wake Forest Magazine
cannata

After eating in every single bistro, café, deli, grill, tavern and dive in New Orleans, Ray Cannata (’90) knows a thing or two about food — and about the people, culture and music of the Crescent City. The upcoming movie, “The Man Who Ate New Orleans,” tells the story of the most unlikely Presbyterian minister you’ll ever meet and his unusual journey to discover his new home and help it rebuild following Hurricane Katrina. Read more about Ray’s incredible journey in the fall issue of Wake Forest Magazine.

“To understand New Orleans, you have to understand the food,” he says. “When I moved here, I almost immediately fell in love with the city. To understand the culture and the subcultures, I needed to start at the table. You hit every table in New Orleans, and you’ll hit every story in New Orleans.”

Cannata shares a few (okay, actually more than a few, and be warned, the list is always changing) of his favorite joints for po boys, muffuletta, gumbo, turtle soup and the “cheapest good eats” in New Orleans. Cannata’s quest ends on Oct. 21 with “The Last Supper” at the New Orleans Hilton, hosted by chef John Besh.

Ray Cannata and his wife Kathy ('89), pictured at their home in 2008, moved to New Orleans in 2006.

FINE DINING
Brigtsen’s, Carrollton, Contemporary Creole fine dining
Bayona, French Quarter, Susan Spicer’s Eclectic fine dining
Cochon, Warehouse District, Cajun, Southern
Clancy’s, Uptown, Classic Creole fine dining
Louisiana Bistro, French Quarter, contemporary Creole
Stella!, French Quarter, eclectic
Meauxbar, French Quarter, eclectic high-end
Commander’s Palace, Garden District, contemporary Creole
M Bistro, CBD

PO BOYS
Domilese’s. Uptown, oyster po boy
Guy’s Po Boys. Uptown, pork chop po boy
Mahonney’s, Uptown, pork chop po bly
Ignatius Eatery. Uptown, roast beef po boy
Traceys, Graden District/Irish Channel
Bode’s Catfish, Mid-City, catfish po boy
Zimmers, Gentilly, shrimp po boy
Liuzza’s By The Track, Bayou St. John, BBQ shrimp po boy
Domilese’s, Uptown, meatball po boy

MISCELANEOUS PO BOYS
Peacemaker @ Mahonny’s, Uptown, bacon, oysters, cheddar
Cochon du Lait @ Mahonny’s, Uptown
El Dorado @ Parkway Bakery, Bayou St. John
Surf & Turf @ Parkway Bakery, Bayou St. John

PO BOYS, Overall
Parkway Bakery, Bayou St. John
Mahonny’s, Uptown

NEW YORK DELI
Welty’s, CBD

GOURMET SANDWICHES (not po boys)
Tartine, Uptown
St. James Cheese Company, Uptown, casual gourmet sandwiches, cheese
Il Posto, Uptown, casual but fine Italian sandwiches, salads
Satsuma, Marigny/Bywater
Milk Bar, Uptown, sandwiches, shakes joint
J’anita’s @ the Rendon Inn, Broadmoor, get St. Chuck’s Duck

STEAK SANDWICH
Tartine, Uptown
Jimani, French Quarter

MUFFALETTA
Central Grocery, French Quarter, Italian deli that invented Muffaletta
Johnny’s Po Boy, French Quarter

BURGERS
Company Burger, Uptown
Cowbell, Carrollton
BeachCorner, Mid-City

CUBAN SANDWICH
Tout de Suite, Algiers
Liborios, CBD
Green Goddess, French Quarter, eclectic

BOCADILLO (Spanish sandwich)
Cafe Granada, Carrollton, ribeye

MEXICAN (creative)
Juan’s Flying Burrito, Lower Garden District

MEXICAN (traditional authentic)
Latino’s Restaurant, New Orleans East

MEXICAN (family restaurant)
Velvet Cactus, Lakeview

HONDURAN
Canal Latino, Mid-City

JAMAICAN
Boswell’s, Mid-City
Coco Hut, Gentilly / 7th Ward

CARIBBEAN
Carmo, Warehouse

TAPAS
Mimi’s in the Marigny, Marigny, Best Tapas bar
Rio Mar, Warehouse District, Spanish seafood and tapas
Baru, Uptown

VEGETARIAN DISHES
Green Goddess, French Quarter, eclectic
Nirvana, Uptown, Best Northern Indian, casual

AFRICAN
Cafe Abyssina, Uptown

CHINESE
Five Happiness, Mid-City
Jung’s Golden Dragon, Garden District

THAI
Sukho Thai, Marigny
Basil Leaf, Carrollton

SUSHI
Kyoto, Uptown, Best sushi in NOLA
Sushi Brothers, Lower Garden District/Central City
Horinoya, CBD

KOREAN SHORT RIBS
Bouligny Tavern, Uptown

VIETNAMESE
Pho Bang, New Orleans East
Café Minh, Mid-City

INDIAN
Schiro, Marigny
Nirvana, Uptown, Best Northern Indian, casual
Sara’s, Carrollton, more fusion than Indian

SOUTHERN ITALIAN
Cafe Nino, Carrollton, casual
Adolphos, Marigny, semi-casual, sit down

NORTHERN AND NEW WORLD ITALIAN
Cafe Giovanni, French Quarter, New World Italian fine dining

PROVINCIAL ITALIAN
Italian Barrel, French Quarter
A Mano, Warehouse District

CREOLE ITALIAN
Tommy’s, Warehouse District, Fine dining Creole Italian
Tony Angellos, Lakeview

PIZZA, New York-style
Pizza Delicious, Marigny & Bywater, commando pizza joint
Pizzicare, Mid-City
Desperados, Marigny
Nino Cafe, Carrollton
Slice, Uptown

PIZZA, Naples-style
Ancora, Uptown (Freret)
Domenico, CBD

PIZZA, deep dish
Midway, Uptown (Freret)

BUFFET
Court of Two Sisters, French Quarter, classic Creole
Mat & Naddies, Carrollton, contemporary Creole, eclectic, healthy
Le Pavillion, CBD

GERMAN
Jagerhaus, French Quarter

POTATOES AU GRATIN
Charlies, Uptown

MIDDLE EASTERN
Lebanon’s Cafe, Carrollton
Babylon Cafe, Carrollton

SALAD — SALMON
Salads Galore & More, NOLA East

SALADS — GENERAL
Meauxbar, French Quarter, eclectic high-end
Cafe Rani, Garden District
Green Goddess, French Quarter, eclectic

CHEAPEST GOOD EATS
L’il Dizzie’s, CBD, $10 huge lunch
Johnny’s Po Boys, French Quarter, $8 giant muffaletta feeds three
St. Charles Tavern, Lower Garden District, $8 lunch buffet
McHardy’s Chicken, Gentilly, $7 for three-piece chicken, fries, potato salad, drink
McKenzie’s Chicken in a Box, Gentilly, $5 for five-pieces, best chicken in city
Zimmers, Gentilly, $4 for half of a great shrimp po boy, $2 huge hot fries

CHEAPEST GOURMET EATS
Boucherie, Carrollton, fantastic high-end food for half the price

BARGAIN FINE DINING WEEKDAY LUNCH
Dickie Brennans, French Quarter, $20 lunch
Bayona, French Quarter, $20 lunch
August, Warehouse, $20 three-course lunch

FRIES
Delachaise, Uptown, pomme frites
Bull Dog, Garden District, waffle

FRIES, Yucca
Rita’s Tequila House, French Quarter

SPORTS BARS
Finn McCool’s, Mid-City
Cooter Browns, Carrollton

SPANISH
Lola’s, Bayou St John / Esplanade Ridge

BAGELS
Surreys, Uptown
Cake Cafe, Marigny
Tartine, Uptown
Laurel St. Bakery, Uptown
Artz Bagels, Garden District

GROCERY
Verti Marte, French Quarter

GOURMET EGG BREAKFAST
7 on Fulton, Warehouse District
Begue, French Quarter
Patois, Uptown, French bistro
Tartine, Uptown

BRUNCH
Cafe Amelia, French Quarter, Creole. great courtyard

BREAKFAST (CASUAL)
Tartine, Uptown
Slim Goodies, Garden District, casual neighborhood breakfast diner
Surreys, Lower Garden District
Cake Cafe, Marigny
Oak St. Cafe, Carrollton

CROISSANTS
Merchant, CBD
O Delice, Uptown

OMLETS
Slim Goodies, Garden District
Care Nero, Marigny

PAIN PERDU (French toast)
Surreys, Uptown

SUNDAYS AFTER CHURCH
Dante’s Kitchen, Carrollton, Contemporary Creole
Cafe Atchafalaya, Garden District / Irish Channel, neighborhood cafe
Patois, Uptown, French bistro

BBQ
The Joint, Marigny
Fat Hen, Uptown
Ugly Dog Saloon, CBD

BLT
M Bistro, CBD

COUNTRY FRIED STEAK
La Peniche, Marigny, diner
Joey K’s, Garden District

DIVE SOULFOOD
L’il Dizzies, Gentilly
Soul Purpose, Gentilly, takeout

BLACK EYED PEAS
Country Club, Marigny/Bywater

COLLARD GREENS
Fat Hen, Uptown

MAC AND CHEESE
Cowbell, Carrollton
Crescent Pie &amp Sausage Co., Midcity
St. James Cheese, Uptown

GREEN BEANS W/ BACON
Joey K’s, Garden District

FRIED CHICKEN
McKenzie’s Chicken-in-a-Box, Gentilly, best chicken dive
Willie Mae’s Scotch House, Midcity

BUFFALO WINGS
Wing Snack, Mid-City, calls them “hot wings”
Praline Connection, Marigny

GUMBO
Mr. B’s, French Quarter
Dooky Chase, Treme
Gumbo Shop, French Quarter
Praline Connection, Marigny, seafood
La Cote Braisserie, Warehouse, duck and andouille
Casamentos, Uptown, casual seafood

TURTLE SOUP
Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, French Quarter

NOLA LOCAL DISHES, Casual
Ignatius, Uptown, casual neighborhood cafe
Praline Connection, Marigny

RED BEANS & RICE
Praline Connection, Marigny
Canal Latino, Mid-City

SEAFOOD
Bourbon House, French Quarter, oysters
Casamento, Uptown, oysters
RioMar, Warehouse, Spanish seafood and tapas
Alpine, French Quarter, crab cakes
Deanie’s Seafood, French Quarter, stuffed crab and boiled crawfish
Praline Connection, Marigny, stuffed crab
Dick & Jenny’s, Uptown, soft-shell crabs
Clancy’s, Uptown, classic Creole fine dining, soft-shell crabs
Commander’s Palace, Garden District, soft-shell crabs
Franky & Johnny’s, Uptown, boiled crawfish
Casamento, Uptown, fried shrimp

STEAKS
La Boca, Warehouse District
Dickie Brennan’s, French Quarter
Rib Room, French Quarter
Mr. John’s, Lower Garden/Central City

DONUTS
Blue Dot Donuts, Mid-City
Buttermilk Drop Bakery and Cafe, Gentilly/7th Ward
Huevos, Mid-City

KING CAKES
Marguerites at PJs, Uptown
Croissant d’Or, French Quarter, French king cakes, totally different
Cake Cafe, Marigny / Bywater, goat cheese and strawberry

BREAD PUDDING
House of Blues, French Quarter
Commander’s Palace, Garden District, contemporary Creole

BAKED GOODS
Croissant d’Or, French Quarter
Cake Cafe, Marigny/Bywater, cupcakes

BISCUITS
Oak St. Cafe, Carrollton

DESSERTS
Sucre, Garden District
Angelo Brocatos, Mid-City
A Mano, Warehouse
Commander’s Palace, Garden District

GELATO
La Divina Gelateria, Garden District / Irish Channel
Sucre, Garden District

BAR WITH GREAT FOOD
Cure, Uptown, best hip bar food
Bouligny Tavern, Uptown, wine bar
Oak, Carrollton

WINE LIST
Commander’s Palace, Garden District, contemporary Creole
Brigtsen’s, Carrollton, contemporary Creole fine dining
Clancy, Uptown, classic Creole fine dining

WINE PAIRING MENU
Le Meritage, French Quarter

BEER, Restaurants; not counting bars
Cooter Browns, Carrollton
Bulldog, Garden District
Delachaise, Uptown
Jaggerhaus, French Quarter
Steins, Lower Garden District

CAFÉ BRULOT
Arnaud’s, French Quarter, Old School Creole elegance

FUNKIEST NOLA DECOR
Feelings, Marigny/Bywater, classic creole
Satsuma, Marigny/Bywater, café
Cowbell, Carrollton

COURTYARD
Martinique, Uptown
Cafe Amelie, French Quarter, Creole. great courtyard
Le Meritage, French Quarter, French, wine pairing menu

SERVICE
Commander’s Palace, Garden District, contemporary Creole
Stella!, French Quarter, eclectic
Arnaud’s, French Quarter, Old School Creole elegance