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Restaurants: Where Locals Eat: 

Byblos Market, on Veterans Blvd. between Bonnabel and Causeway in Metairie, is the second of four iterations of the local Byblos franchise. The Market has been open continuously since 1999. The first is a white tablecloth version not far away on Metairie Road. The third, located on Magazine St in New Orleans, closed in 2012. The fourth, a more modern and trendier casual eatery opened on the periphery of Elmwood Shopping Center in 2020.

In addition to popular gyro and shawarma plates and wraps, more ambitious offerings at the Market include kafta and chicken kabob, beef (filet) kabob, and, when available, grilled shrimp or salmon cooked to order. The chicken kabob is a must-try (ask for some "toum" garlic sauce to go with).

All plates are served with hummus, pita, rice pilaf and salad. Wraps include hummus, pita and salad.

A variety of sides including mujadrah (lentil stew), mousaka (eggplant stew), baba ganouj, kibbeh, falafel, roasted cauliflower and brussells sprouts, spanikopita and many more are offered individually or as a choice-of-four plate.

A wide selection of bottled and canned soft drinks, as well as fresh brewed iced tea are available.

Of the three current Byblos outposts, the Market is the most casual, offering counter service and meals served on disposable dinnerware. The Market is a popular lunch spot. Take out and delivery (via Uber Eats) are available. Orders for gyro and shawarma plates are ready for pick up in fairly short order. The prepared-to-order dishes like salmon, shrimp and kabobs take a little bit longer.

The market portion fills roughly 40 percent of the space, and features imported Middle Eastern staple grocery items, seasonings, beverages and confections. Dairy and perishable items are available from the refrigerated section on the back wall. A selection of wines is also available, as are (oddly, or maybe not) hookah water pipes and smoking accessories.

All is overseen by long-time manager Mason (an Americanization of his actual first name) who has been keeping things running smoothly since the beginning.

Byblos Market: Middle Eastern, 2020 Veterans Blvd, Metairie (Metairie Below Causeway) map - 837-9777

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

Pancho's Mexican Buffet, with 21 restaurants already operating in the Southwest, opened a new outlet in late 1971 at 918 Gravier Street in the Central Business District. For those with a big appetite, a small budget, and a taste for Mexican food that wasn't just tacos and burritos, the words "all you can eat buffet" were magic.

918 Gravier had previously been home to a Morrison's Cafeteria. It took little to transform it into a two-story Mexican villa courtyard with a simulated starlit night sky ceiling. And by little, I mean next to nothing, really, since it looked that way when it was Morrison's.

The customer line formed behind the wraparound villa facade which served two purposes: when you entered, you wouldn't immediately see how long the line was, and seated diners could enjoy their meals without those waiting in line staring daggers at them to hurry up and vacate a table.

As you progressed along the buffet (a cafeteria line, really), you could either request items you knew the names of, or just point and grunt at what ever looked good. Flautas, chile rellenos, enchiladas, refried beans, rice, meaty red or green chile stews, and finally tacos, most likely an accommodation for younger diners. Hot line items were plated up on those rectangular sizzle servers with the pre-heated metal inserts.

Since getting back in line for refills was not logistically feasible, each table had a small metal stand with a Mexican flag. Ready for more of anything? Raise the flag and a server would come to assist you.

Once you were reasonably full, it was prudent to save room for sopapillas. Hopefully , there would be a fresh batch ready just about the time you were. Sopapillas are kind of like beignets but puffier, hollow in fact. The best way to eat them was to bite off a small corner, then drizzle honey from a small pitcher on each table into it. Make a little rolling motion with your hand to coat the inside, and enjoy!

In the Summer of 1974, another Pancho's opened in Metairie on Veterans Boulevard, in Rosedale Mall. Smaller than the downtown outlet, it thankfully offered a more convenient location as well as plenty of free parking.

This Pancho's, despite similar decor, lacked the ambiance and charm of the Downtown version. Those seated in booths along the left side might have indeed felt the stares of those waiting in line through the decorative plastic ivy. There were also what I could only characterize as medieval-looking chandeliers. Big, dark and cylindrical, I swear the dozens of amber glass "lenses" in them were those square ashtrays prevalent in restaurants back before smoking was banned.

A fixture for years at the Metairie Pancho's was a server name Rosa. Savvy diners would always try to get a table in her section, a nod to her seasoned and almost intuitive service when it came to refills of food and drink. And sopapillas.

I last encountered Rosa post-Katrina in 2005 waitressing at the Denny's on Clearview Parkway in Elmwood, thirty years after first being served by her at Pancho's. Imagine the shock to years later see a newspaper report mentioning her still working in 2021 at 2 Amigos in Kenner, an operation similar to Pancho's run by some former employees.

The Gravier Street location closed in 1981. By that time, a third had been opened at 6575 Westbank Expressway, but only lasted a few years.

A fourth would open in Chalmette in 1986, and lasted a little over a decade. The location would subsequently be home to a country and western bar, and later a funeral home.

In 2009, four years after the demise of the Veterans location, Pancho's Mexican "Super Buffet" opened on Labarre Road at Airline Highway, and legions of fans who missed it came in droves. But perhaps the nostalgia just wasn't enough to sustain it long-term, and it closed in 2012, following the shuttering of two other Louisiana locations.

Pancho's Mexican Buffet: Mexican, 918 Gravier, (CBD) - map

Pancho's Mexican Buffet: Mexican, 3780 Veterans Blvd, (Metairie Above Causeway) - map

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

Lobster Kadobster was a dish invented at T. Pittari's, a restaurant on South Claiborne Avenue famous for serving exotic game meats. Pittari's was one of the first, if not the first, restaurants in town to feature a live lobster tank from which diners could pick their own lobster. Lobster Kadobster took steamed lobster orders of magnitude further, with lobster, shrimp and crabmeat combined into a seasoned stuffing all served in the lobster shell.

But it's strange to think that at one time lobster was not considered anything special, and nowhere near the delicacy it is today.

Lobsters were once so abundant along the coastlines of North America that they were considered a lowly food source. Native American tribes, such as the Wabanaki, Passamaquoddy, and Mi'kmaq, consumed lobsters as a part of their diet long before the arrival of Europeans.

During the colonial period in America, lobsters were incredibly plentiful, easily harvested, and were thus commonly eaten by the poor, servants, and even prisoners. They were so abundant that they were often referred to as the "cockroach of the sea."

As transportation and preservation methods improved, lobster began to be shipped farther inland, making it available to a wider audience. However, its reputation as a food for the lower classes persisted well into the 19th century.

With the advent of the railroad in the 19th century, fresh lobster could be transported inland more efficiently. Entrepreneurs and chefs began marketing lobster as a luxury item, especially to urban populations. This marketing effort helped change the perception of lobster from a food of the poor to a gourmet delicacy.

In coastal regions such as New England, where lobsters were abundant, tourism became a significant industry. Lobster dinners became a popular attraction for tourists, further cementing the crustacean's status as a sought-after dish.

Lobster's rise in culinary prestige was also fueled by its versatility in haute cuisine. Chefs experimented with various recipes, incorporating lobster into dishes such as bisques, salads, and pastas, further enhancing its desirability among diners.

Lobster became not only a symbol of culinary indulgence but also a cultural icon associated with luxury and celebration. It became a staple item on menus of upscale restaurants and was often served at special occasions such as weddings and holidays.

Here's a recipe for Lobster Kadobster, as published in the local newspaper years ago, with the caveat that the seafood should not be cooked nor the lobster broiled as long as directed.

Maine Lobster à la Pittari

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely chopped green onions
½ cup finely chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup chopped cooked shrimp
½ cup fresh lump crabmeat (back fin)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 cups bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

2 2½-pound lobsters, split in half lengthwise


Melted butter

Pour olive oil into skillet and heat. Add green onions, celery and garlic. Marinate until soft, not brown. Add chopped shrimp, let simmer until cooked, stirring gently to keep from sticking. Add lump crabmeat and stir gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer about 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and bread crumbs.

Parboil lobsters 2 minutes to the pound. Clean cavity in the head, fill with dressing, and sprinkle lightly with paprika. Brush the entire lobster with melted butter. Place in broiler for about 20 minutes.

Makes 4 servings

T. Pittari's: Italian, 4200 S Claiborne Ave, New Orleans (Carrollton/Broadmoor) - 891-2801 (do not call) map

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

The Tiffin Inn was a quintessentially 1960s-style pancake house breakfast place in Metairie, except for the fact that it didn't open until 1977. Walking in from the day it opened until it was forced to close in 2015 was like a trip back in time. Dark paneling, vinyl-upholstered booths (some semi-circular!), banquette seating around the perimeter, water and juices served in glass tumblers, porcelain plates and coffee cups, syrup carafes in their metal caddies, and waitresses in uniforms long out of style. Tiffin was part of a small chain founded in Baton Rouge in the 1960s, and at the time of its closure was the last remaining outpost.

Sunday morning patrons usually found it necessary to put their name on the list and wait to be seated. Those who couldn't fit in the small area just inside the entrance would have to wait outside. It would take several years for a narrow enclosed lobby with benches to finally be added across the front to shield those waiting from the weather. While longer some days than others, the wait never seemed untenable enough as to make one give up and go elsewhere.

Regulars would plant themselves in the banquettes under the windows along the south wall. This put the morning sun at their backs, perfect reading light for the Sunday newspaper. Before smoking was banned in restaurants, the sun streaming through the slits in the venetian blinds then through puffs of smoke made for a mesmerizing display.

I don't think the menu ever changed. A number of predetermined pancake selections on the inner left side of the plastic laminated menu probably accounted for 90 percent of all the orders. Omelets likely accounted for the majority of the rest.

During busy times, the wait to place an order, let alone receive your order, could be long. A full house could overwhelm what usually seemed like a half dozen waitresses total for the entire place. But there was a kind of glue that would hold things together, and its name was Danny.

Danny was what you could call busboy extraordinaire. He had a knack for noticing if you were waiting too long for something, anything, and would take up the slack. Water, silverware, coffee refill, condiments, a missing part of your order; if you couldn't get your waitress' attention, he was on it. So good at it, in fact, was he that you could regularly observe departing diners slipping him a few bucks directly on their way out. When not traversing the floor with his bus cart, he could be seen catching a breather (and a quick couple of drags on a cigarette) at his station in the southwest corner of the restaurant.

Tiffin Inn closed when the landlord declined to renew the lease, wanting instead to give the space for an expansion of the national chain store tenant next door. Rumors of a relocation swirled for a time, but nothing ever seemed to materialize. The iconic black and orange sign was last seen languishing in a grassy, fenced-in lot in Bucktown.

Tiffin Inn: American, 6601 Veterans Blvd, Metairie (Metairie Above Causeway) - 888-6602 (do not call) map

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

In the spring of 1973, Houlihan's Old Place, more commonly known as just "Houlihan's", opened at 315 Bourbon Street in the old Oriental Laundry building. It was one of the "new" places, a part of a renaissance in the French Quarter at a time the "old" places were losing-- or had already lost-- their charm. And up-and-coming Fat City in suburban Metairie was starting to give tired old Bourbon a run for its money in nightclub entertainment.

Chain restaurateurs Gilbert-Robinson chose the name when they opened the original location in Kansas City in a spot once occupied by a Houlihan's Haberdashery. Since the architect hadn't yet been given a name, he simply entered "Tom Houlihan's old place" in the space on the blueprint. The story goes that, in exchange for using his name, a table in the middle of the restaurant was kept empty, reserved for him and bearing a plaque with his name. He never sat at it, nor did he ever even visit the restaurant.

After the laundry proprietor abandoned the Bourbon Street building in the 1960s, it had been occupied for a time by a restaurant on its left side and a nightclub on the right. Houlihan's mostly preserved this division by making its right half a bar and lounge with an oyster bar.

Houlihan's was part of the influx of restaurants vying to fill a niche between fast food and fine dining, and whose decor was largely made up of a curated collection of antiquities and unusual artifacts. The idea, it seemed, was to give patrons something quirky and interesting to look at while at the same time losing track of how long it had been since they'd placed an order.

The menu featured a broad selection of trendy offerings: Appetizers, sandwiches, salads, burgers, steak, seafood, crepes, omelets. Rounding things out were espresso, desserts and soda fountain beverages. A wine list contained a few dozen domestic selections and including, cheekily, "our only imports" Mateus Rose, Blue Nun and Riunite Lambrusco.

Houlihan's became a popular destination for casual dining that felt a little more upscale than it actually was. Prices were reasonable enough that the prom crowd could afford to go there, while at the same time a guy could take a first date there and not be perceived as a cheapskate. It was equally popular for lunch and dinner.

In the latter half of the 1970s, you could always count on trendy casual dining places including a few must-haves. Two that immediately spring to mind are frozen strawberry daiquiris, and a fresh spinach salad with mushrooms tossed in a warm bacon dressing, often prepared tableside.

Houlihan's other calling card, not usually seen at this level of dining, was its French onion soup. It was served in a bowl too hot to touch with the traditional thick canopy of cheese melted over it. Paired with a sandwich and a drink, you could get out of there for under ten dollars, tax and tip included.

What Houlihan's patrons remember as its real ace-in-the-hole was the oyster bar. During certain hours, raw oysters could be had-- only while standing at the oyster bar-- for ten cents each. That and a draft beer in a tall glass, paradise.

The chain continues to operate across the country today, but has dropped the "Old Place". The Bourbon Street location, however, shut down rather abruptly in Spring 1996, the space subsequently occupied by a "gentlemen's club".

Houlihan's Old Place: American, 315 Bourbon St, New Orleans (French Quarter) - 523-7412 (do not call) map

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

Although not technically in the "gone" category just yet, it seems the locally-renowned Bud's Broiler chain of burger restaurants grows smaller with each passing year. Most people aren't even old enough to remember Bud's #1, opened by Austin, TX transplant Alfred "Bud" Saunders in 1952 on Airline Highway near Cleary Ave. It was next to a barroom he thought would be a good driver of business.

Most of the earliest Bud's are no more. #2 on City Park Ave in the architecturally-quirky building, gone (1956-2018, although relocated nearby). Bud's #3 on Banks in the shadow of Dixie Brewery, the old Bud's #4 building on Pelopidas St. and its successor up on Elysian Fields in Gentilly, all Katrina victims.

And among later suburban iterations, Jefferson Highway at Orchard Rd, gone. Clearview Pkwy in Metairie, gone (replaced by clone Ben's Burgers). And, most recently, the iconic A-frame on Vets in Kenner, gone, down to the dirt.

Other casualties include Calhoun St. (1978-2017), Gretna on the Westbank (1985?- ), #9 on Jefferson Hwy at Sauve Rd. (2017-2022), Elysian Fields near UNO (succeeding the venerable Luigi's, 1986-2005).

There are a lot of choices in the burger business these days, with somebody new opening up seems like every other week. Five Guys, Shake Shack, Atomic, Moo-yah, Smashburger, all have entered the local market in recent years; not to mention longtime players New Orleans Hamburger, Lee's and Rally's. Heck, our old NFL quarterback-turned-fast food entrepreneur just opened a sliders drive-thru place in front of Clearview Mall. Tons of competition out there for the burger dollar, for those craving something other than MickeyD's or Wendy's.

Bud's was always distinctive because its burgers were cooked over a real charcoal fire. Unlike a flattop griddle, a gas-fired grill or a chain broiler, the charcoal gave the burgers that backyard barbecue grill flavor not otherwise achievable. And it was that flavor that helped customers overlook the fact that the patties weren't the 1/2, 1/3 nor even the 1/4 pound the others hawk.

For many years, Bud's hours of operation took a curious mid-day two-hour break. Was it because things were slow between lunch and dinner? Was it an employee break period? Nope, it was time needed to clear out the dying coals and rebuild the charcoal bed.

Bud's burgers were prepared with various combinations of these things: cheese, onions, mayo, mustard, chili and a house-made hickory sauce. What, no ketchup?

Ketchup was only offered at a station in the dining room, and you pumped it into those little pleated paper cups yourself.

The cheese was grated cheddar, and was applied as a topping rather than being melted over the burger patty.

Onions were raw and coarsely diced, rather than sliced. Onions were a yes/no option on every burger, the order taker checking a box on the pre-printed order pads to signify the customer's preference.

Chili was primarily for the hotdogs, but could optionally be had on a burger.

Mayo and mustard, according to the menu, seemed oddly to be an either/or thing.

The hickory smoked sauce was more like a thick, sweet, smoky ketchup kept hot and applied liberally to the selections which called for it.

Ordering was by number. The most popular combinations of toppings were codified into numbers 1 through 6, with some additions seen in later years, some perhaps varying by location. But these are the OG burgers, and again, with or without onions:

  1. Mayonnaise relish sauce
  2. Hickory smoked sauce
  3. Grated cheddar cheese; mustard or mayo
  4. Grated cheddar cheese; chili or hickory smoked sauce
  5. Lettuce, tomato, pickles; mustard or mayo
  6. #5 plus grated cheddar cheese

A mystery long confounding Bud's fans was the inconsistency in what adding cheese to a burger cost. A #4 was basically a #2 with added cheese. Similarly, a # 6 was merely a #5 with added cheese. Yet, a #4 cost $1.25 more than a #2, while a #6 cost only a quarter more than a #5.

I was usually a #6 man, but sometimes only a #4 would do (maybe two), with the hickory smoked sauce, please. And yes, with onions.

Bud's was also a good choice for hotdog fans. For each sandwich, dogs were butterflied lengthwise, grilled just like the burgers and served on a hamburger bun.

  1. Grated cheddar cheese, chili
  2. Chili
  3. Hickory smoked sauce

Burgers and hotdogs were served in square, waxed paper envelopes which could be folded back to help manage the messier combinations more tidily.

As time went on, locations added items to diversify the menu: wings, nuggets, fried seafood, grilled chicken breast, crab cakes. The menu numbers and the classic combinations sometimes fell by the wayside. For the Bud's purist, annoying.

  1. Boneless Chicken Breast lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, hickory smoked sauce
  2. Smoked Sausage lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, hickory smoked sauce
  3. Fish Filet lettuce, special sauce

The french fries were unique to Bud's. Not only were they thin-cut, they were short as well, and were also originally served packed into one of the paper envelopes. Thankfully, they never seemed to come out less than piping hot, because they tended to get cold quickly.

Although each Bud's was architecturally unique, the menu and, interestingly, the decor were fairly uniform. Rather than commercial-style round or square tables and chairs, seating consisted of oblong picnic-style tables built of solid 2-inch thick pine stock with matching benches, all finished with a clear coat of shellac.

Over the years, patrons engaged in the habit of carving names or initials into the wooden table tops. Management didn't seem to care, and it always gave the restaurants an additional bit of nostalgic charm.

Bud's #4 on Pelopidas in Gentilly was the go-to location for UNO students and certainly the nearby Brother Martin high school for decades. Shoe-horned into a residential neighborhood on a corner lot, it shared the intersection with two cemeteries and a NOPSI sub-station. But no one was there for the view. #4 relocated to Elysian Fields near UNO in the mid-1980s, and the abandoned, Katrina-swamped building on Pelopidas was finally demolished in the late 2000s.

As noted earlier, Bud's Broiler isn't gone yet, but it is fighting a war of attrition that, hopefully, it can find a way to survive. The New Orleans burger scene just wouldn't be the same without it.

Bud's Broiler #1: Burgers, 3826 Airline Dr, Metairie (Metairie Above Causeway) - map
Bud's Broiler #2: Burgers, 500 City Park Ave, New Orleans (Mid-City) - map
Bud's Broiler #3: Burgers, 2338 Banks, New Orleans (Mid-City) - map
Bud's Broiler #4: Burgers, 2073 Pelopidas, New Orleans (Gentilly) - map

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

Behind the strangely-out-of-place-courthouse-that-turned-into-the-Wildlife & Fisheries headquarters (and back again), sat the The Tally-Ho Restaurant, at 400 Chartres, corner Conti. The restaurant, cafe, coffee shop-- whatever you wanted to call it-- was originally run by Bertrand "Bert" Levy and his wife, Tillie. The place was famous for three things: the cheese omelettes, Bert and Tillie's bickering, and the inconsistent hours of operation.

Outside, over the corner entrance, hung one of those old, two-sided, red and white Coca-Cola signs, the kind the distributor probably gave away in exchange for selling Coke products, and which had the name of the establishment added to the blank white bottom half. The Tally-Ho's sign appears to have been there since the building housed the Continental Restaurant back in the 1950s, just with the name repainted.

Primarily a breakfast and lunch operation, the Tally-Ho was for some time also a late night breakfast place. It is as this I remember it, and doubt I ever saw the inside of it during the light of day. For this reason I may have missed having an omelette made by Bert himself, and I certainly don't recall witnessing any of the notorious bickering.

Back in the 1970s, one could park across the tracks from Decatur Street and the French Quarter, in the shell lot by the river, with relatively little fear of late night criminal activity. For those unfamiliar, small bi-valve shells dredged from Lake Pontchartrain are commonly used here in lieu of gravel.

Parking in the shell lot was free, and it only meant hoofing a couple of extra blocks into the Quarter to patronize iconic Pat O'Brien's on a weekend night, or Melius Bar on Conti, a popular destination for the college crowd on Wednesdays in those days.

After a night of French Quarter partying (read over-indulging), ambling back to your car in the shell lot took you right past the Tally-Ho, where you could cheaply get a plate full of eggs, ham or bacon, toast and coffee. And a bit of respite before venturing home.

On January 31, 1977 a mid-afternoon fire-- a grease flare-up from the griddle was to blame-- caused the restaurant heavy damage, but the brigade from the fire house in the next block over on Decatur was able to respond and extinguish it in about 15 minutes.

At some point, Bert and Tillie left the business, and the Tally-Ho was taken over by a Wisconsin couple named Chuck and Lorraine Nahmens, apparently around 1982.

In 1986, the restaurant took a wild left turn and began serving Hungarian food. A woman named Elizabeth White from Virginia, and a native of Hungary, applied for a waitressing job at the Tally-Ho. Her tenure would be short-- only three weeks-- as she was just passing through (on foot!) on her way to Mexico, a religious pilgrimage of some sort.

T-P 3/2/1986

But while she was here, White convinced the Nahmenses to try serving some of the Hungarian dishes she cooked for them. The idea was apparently a hit with the clientele, and when she left to continue her journey, she left printed recipes and instructions behind.

According to his obituary, original owner Bert Levy died November 3, 2000, at age 75, in Austin, TX. Services and interment, however, were here in Metairie.

Information is sparse, but an old Chowhound website post seems to indicate the Tally-Ho closed for good in the early-2000s. Since then the building's facade has been restored to that of the original Perrilliat House, built in 1825. The corner entrance and old Coca-Cola sign are no more.

Tally Ho Coffee Shop: Diner, 400 Chartres, New Orleans (French Quarter) - 566-7071 (do not call) map

Food & Beverage: 

The snow cone is an icy, flavored treat most-often associated with fairs and picnics in the warmer months. Shaved ice is packed into a paper cone and drizzled with various sweet and flavored syrups in bright colors.

New Orleans has a similarly iconic treat, but it is known as a "snowball". A snowball differs from a snow cone by its finely shaved or fluffy ice texture, which allows it to absorb flavors more effectively. And rather than a paper cone, it is served in waxed paper or styrofoam cups, in a variety of sizes.

Here's what sets the New Orleans snowball apart from a snow cone:

1. Finer Texture: The ice in a New Orleans snowball is finely shaved, creating a light and fluffy texture. This is achieved through special, patented machines designed to produce the distinctive consistency.

2. Flavor Variety: Snowballs in New Orleans come in a wide variety of flavors, and vendors often offer an extensive menu. Popular flavors include traditional fruit flavors like cherry, grape, and strawberry, as well as unique and regional options such as mint or chocolate.

3. Toppings and Condiments: In addition to flavored syrups, snowballs can be customized with various toppings and condiments, such as condensed milk, marshmallow cream, or even fruit toppings.

4. Tradition and Culture: The snowball holds cultural significance in New Orleans and is especially popular during the hot summer months. There are many local stands and shops dedicated to serving this refreshing treat. Most are profitable enough during the season that they close the rest of the year.

5. Local Terminology: Similar to the poor boy sandwich being called a "po-boy", snowballs are often seen spelled "sno-ball".

Local icons of the snowball business in New Orleans include Hansen's Sno-Bliz, Plum Street, Harrison Avenue, and Sal's on Metairie Road in the suburb.

The tradition of enjoying snowballs in New Orleans has deep roots, and the treat has become an integral part of the local culinary scene. If you're in the area, trying a New Orleans snowball is a must for a unique and delicious frozen treat experience!

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 

A Lakeview neighborhood institution for decades, Charlie's Deli, as it was more commonly called, served up real, New York deli-style fare made right in front of you. Or at least what you could see through the deli cases that separated the dining area from the galley kitchen. An outlier in a town full of po-boy shops, Charlie's was the destination for fans of real pastrami and corned beef piled high on good Jewish rye.

If you were lucky, you could get one of the few, coveted parking spots right in front, otherwise you parked on the street. As you entered, on the left, at the front end of a line of glass-fronted cooler cases holding the meats, cheeses, salads, etc, was a short few feet of counter space where you placed your order, paid, and picked up your food when ready.

Behind the counter, high on the wall, was a chalkboard style menu listing, in addition to regular offerings like pastrami, turkey and Reuben sandwiches, specialties such as the "Wolfie" or the "Moon". Both were overstuffed combinations of meats and cheese, the latter named for former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu.

Dining in typically meant having to stand near the front waiting for a table to open up during busy times, and hoping your order wouldn't be ready before one did. Once a table was secured, it usually needed a wipe-down of whatever stickiness the previous occupant left behind. Handwritten signage warned diners to clean their own tables lest they incur the "wrath of Sharon", but those who didn't were apparently out the door before it could be invoked, leaving the clean-up to those who came after.

The typical sandwich construction went something along these lines: A generous portion of meat (or meats) for a sandwich, thinly sliced, of course, was piled high on a paper plate and topped with sliced Swiss cheese. This amalgamation would then be placed in a drawer-style steamer to gently heat the meat and melt the cheese. A few pumps of the handle on the front and, voila! This would all then be transferred to authentic deli rye bread slices for further amendment with Russian dressing, slaw, sauerkraut or the like.

Charlie's rounded out its "New York-ness" with shelving and racks along the wall opposite the counter filled with Kosher grocery items like matzos and gefilte fish, mostly Manischewitz brand, and none of which I ever saw anyone purchase during any of the probably one hundred times I ate there.

The "Charlie" of Charlie's Deli was Charlie Young, noted for being the originator of New York style delicatessens in New Orleans. The Lakeview outlet was the second of two Young owned before selling the Harrison Avenue location and opening another in Metairie.

Charlie had also been a trumpet player in several area dance orchestras, and was for many years the bugler at the Fairgrounds race course.

In the summer of 1986, then 62 year-old Young was working the night shift at a Metairie Time Saver convenience store. A teen-aged armed robber, under the influence of LSD, alcohol and other drugs, shot and killed him, taking a paltry $11, the money used to buy fishing bait. The jury deliberated for just 35 minutes before convicting him of first-degree murder.

After Charlie's Deli became a casualty of Hurricane Katrina, it was succeeded in the spot by Touche Café, Dan’s Place, then an iteration of Koz's, and currently by Francesca by Katie's. The latter pays homage to Charlie's in the form of the Moon sandwich.

Charlie's Deli: Sandwiches/Deli, 515 Harrison Ave, New Orleans (Lakeview) - 486-1766 (do not call) map

Francesca's by Katie's: Sandwiches/Deli/Pizza, 515 Harrison Ave, New Orleans (Lakeview) - (504)266-2511 map

Food & Beverage: 

The King Cake is a traditional and iconic dessert associated with the annual Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana, particularly in the city of New Orleans. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a festive season that culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Christian season of Lent.

The King Cake is a symbolic dessert that is closely tied to the Mardi Gras celebration. It represents the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night or Three Kings' Day, which commemorates the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus.

The traditional King Cake is usually a ring-shaped sweet bread or coffee cake, often adorned with colored sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. These colors are said to represent justice, faith, and power, respectively.

A small, plastic baby figurine is often hidden inside the cake before baking. The person who finds the baby in their slice is considered to have good luck and is sometimes expected to host the next Mardi Gras gathering or bring the King Cake to the next celebration.

Originally, the plastic baby was made of ceramic, but unwary consumers were known to chip or break a tooth, or worse, swallow the baby. Due to liability concerns, many bakeries will either place the baby underneath the cake or just in the box with the cake, in order to avoid accidents. And lawsuits.

The cake itself can vary in flavor and texture. It is often a sweet dough, similar to that used in cinnamon rolls, and may be filled with a variety of ingredients such as cinnamon, cream cheese, fruit fillings, or nuts.

Over the years, bakers have created various versions of the King Cake, including twists on flavors and fillings. Some may include chocolate, praline, or other regional variations. Bakeries frequently produce them around other holidays, decorated accordingly, such as a red and green sugar topping for Christmas.

The King Cake is meant to be cut into slices for serving, rather than being pulled apart as one might do with a pan of cinnamon rolls or monkey bread.

King Cakes are typically enjoyed throughout the Mardi Gras season, which begins on January 6th (Twelfth Night) and concludes on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. However, they are most commonly associated with the period between Twelfth Night and the official start of Carnival season.

Sharing a King Cake is a significant part of Mardi Gras traditions in New Orleans. Many locals and visitors alike enjoy the sense of community and celebration that comes with sharing this festive dessert.

While traditionally associated with Mardi Gras, King Cakes are often available in bakeries and grocery stores throughout the Carnival season, and their popularity has spread to other regions beyond Louisiana.

The New Orleans Mardi Gras King Cake is not just a delicious treat; it's a symbol of the vibrant and lively culture that defines the Mardi Gras celebration in Louisiana.