I was lucky to get invited to a tour of the Southwest Regional Flood Protection Authority facility on the West Bank with NOSHA and the local Sierra Club group. Absolutely fascinating about how much storm surge they stop and how much water they can pump out and how fast – to fill the Superdome from top to bottom would only take an hour and 45 minutes with their 11 pumps!

Regional Director Nicholas Cali begins the tour in front of the West Closure Complex

After the tour, I stopped for lunch with my friends Charlotte and Thomas at LA 23 BBQ. The entrance is right across from the Belle Chase Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base.

The building isn’t much more than the smokers and kitchen with a bunch of picnic tables under a metal roof. They are mainly open for lunch during the week. The food is good and comes out fast.

I had the pulled pork sandwich. It comes with the slaw on the sandwich but I had them put that on the side. Tender, juicy meat with a good flavor that hardly needed sauce. The mac and cheese was very tasty but a little grainy.

They’ve got a good selection of things besides sandwiches if you wanted to get a rack of ribs, whole or half chicken, turkey or brisket. They offer meat by the pound to take home or have meals for 10, 20, 30 people catered in addition to eating there in the open air. Check out their menu for the full list of options.

So, next time you’re over on the West Bank and want good food, fast – go to LA 23 BBQ

Oh, and if you open carry, you get a free drink!

9661 Highway 23
Belle Chasse, LA 70037
(504) 657-3693
11am to 4pm Tuesday-Saturday

Westside 66 Grocery and Deli

Over the weekend, I took some friends over the Mississippi river to visit the Whitney Plantation. That is the only plantation that focuses on the stories of the enslaved and it is a moving and powerful experience that I highly recommend.

A black angel carrying a baby to Heaven is built in the Field of Angels, a section of the slave memorial dedicated to the 2,200 Louisiana slave children who died before their third birth date as documented in the Sacramental Records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

We were overwhelmed and hungry when we finished and knew we couldn’t make it all the back to New Orleans without refueling. One of the workers in the gift shop told us about the Westside 66 Grocery about 5 miles away.

This is a very unassuming place – just a few tables but it smelled really good and had options for po-boys, catfish and fried chicken. I’m always willing to try fried chicken. I’m so glad we did.

Two pieces and fries and a drink for $5. The skin was crispy and the meat was super juicy. They put a seasoned salt on the fries and they were so creamy inside. Super yum!

Picture by Roxie

When you are visiting the Westbank plantations, consider stopping in here for a meal that is delicious, filling and very reasonably priced.

Westside 66 Grocery and Deli
4229 Highway 18
Edgard, LA 70049
985) 497-8060


Rocky and Carlo’s Restaurant

I was over in Chalmette to see a Pride month showing of To A More Perfect Union and we decided to go old school for dinner.

In 1965, Tommy Tommaseo, his brother Rocky and his brothers-in-law Carlo, Mario and Giuseppe “Joseph” Gioe opened Rocky and Carlo’s over in St Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans. They wanted everyone to know their new place was a restaurant, not a bar and that men and women were welcome so they put ‘Ladies Invited’ on the signs and it remains on the front windows and cups to this day.

We walked to the back to place our order at the counter from a large menu of classic Italian and New Orleans dishes. I had heard good things about their baked mac and cheese, so that was definitely what I wanted but I asked the person taking the order for a recommendation and she said go for the veal parm.

I’m glad I did. I received a heaping portion of baked macaroni and cheese topped with veal parmesan and a thick marinara, along with a basket of bread.

Very yummy. And the one piece of veal parm I didn’t eat then went really well in a sandwich for lunch the next day.

Charlotte ordered a hearty bowl red beans and rice and that thing was huge. It did need some hot sauce but the flavors were good and deep.

Very happy with our visit. We received generous portions and fast, friendly service. It was reasonably priced, too! Definitely consider a trip to Rocky and Carlo’s next time you’re in Da Parish.

Rocky and Carlo’s Restaurant
613 W. St. Bernard Hwy.
ChalmetteLA 70043
Hours of Operation:
Open Tues – Thur 11:00am – 8:00pm & Fri – Sat 11:00am – 8:30pm
Closed Sunday & Monday

La Boca

My parents are in town for my birthday weekend and we went out to La Boca for steaks to celebrate. I’m so glad we did!

I started with a pisco sour – more Peruvian than Argentinian but, close enough! It was very good, nice and limey.

Dad went for the 14 ounce New York Strip. It was cooked to medium rare and he ate more of it than he expected, it was so tender.

Mom and I splurged on the 24 ounce cowboy cut Ribeye Steak – it was ordered rare and came out nearly blue. One of the few times I haven’t had rare steak come out more medium than rare. So nice and tender, there was no talking, only moans as we chewed.

As you can see, we only had a little left on the bone at the end. Just perfect to take home in a doggy bag. Not that my dog got to gnaw on it until I had done so!

Accompanying the meat were some super good mashed potatoes. Creamy and buttery, it was some of the best I’ve eaten that I didn’t make myself.

As it was my birthday, the waiter brought me a piece of flourless chocolate cake. So very dark and delicious.

We also shared some dulce de leche ice cream. Decadently smooth and rich. I could see myself stopping by the restaurant just for the ice cream.

This is the top rated Zagat steakhouse in New Orleans and it shows. The cuts of meat were cooked perfectly and the portions sizes were immense. The waiter was very knowledgeable about the wine list and helped us find perfect pairings with some glasses of Malbec. I highly recomend La Boca.

Jo Bob’s of Grand Isle

My parents and I took the scenic drive down Louisiana Highway 1 to Grand Isle. We stopped at the Grand Isle State Park to read more about Jean Lafitte (pirate, privateer and patriot) and to watch the pelicans and seagulls fight to fly across the strong wind currents off the gulf.

On our way out of town we stopped at Jo-Bob’s Gas and Grill for burgers.

The burgers are 100% beef and made to order. Mom got the Jo-Bob burger with mushrooms and bacon and melty cheese with the seasoned fries. Very tasty burger and I ended up eating part of hers! Mine was the basic cheeseburger. Very good and meaty.

Dad ordered the cheddar burger and and it was deliciously cheesy.

They don’t have many tables upstairs but do offer free drink refills. Very friendly staff and a menu of more than just burgers. Definitely worth a stop after a day on on the beach.



Dining Out for Life and Spuds

dining out for life 2016One of the organizations close to my heart is the NO/AIDS Taskforce. Each year, they do a fundraising drive called Dining Out for Life, where a portion of the day’s proceeds goes to NO/AIDS Taskforce and the Food for Friends program (they home-deliver meals to those affected by HIV/AIDS and cancer in the New Orleans community).

The list of participating restaurants grows each year (check out the list here) so I always have new things to try as I make a meal matter.

This time, I headed over to Metairie to enjoy Spudly’s Super Spuds. After hanging a hard right to get onto the service road that runs alongside I-10, I found the little shack with big potatoes.

The menu offers a lot of choices if you just want a meal in a potato – over 20 varieties! I started with the fried mushrooms and then had a cheeseburger to the side of a huge baked potato.


The mushrooms were scorching hot but the ranch dressing cooled them down. The potato was light and fluffy and the burger was darned tasty with lots of melted cheese and a toasted bun.

The place is small and it gets busy but the staff stayed cheerful and friendly. All the servers were quick to check in, even getting me a refill on iced tea before I could ask for it.

I’m definitely coming back to try more of their potato concoctions.



Spahr’s Seafood Restaurant

logos pahrs

I drive Highway 90 fairly regularly to Lafayette from New Orleans and I’ve always seen the parking lot full at Spahr’s Seafood Restaurant. My parents were in town so we went sightseeing in the area before lunchtime. The cemetery we wanted to see was locked so we drove a bit into Bayou Des Allemands and then to the restaurant just as they opened at 11am.

They seem menu and drinkmighty proud of making their Bloody Mary’s from scratch, so Mom and I started with one apiece. They were nice and spicy but with only a celery stalk as vegetation. I’ve gotten spoiled with the pickled okra and green beans that many of the local bars put into theirs. Flavor was good, though, and the drink was strong.

For a starter we had the Tiger Fries – basically a pot roast and gravy poured over French Fries. The gravy was delicious and the fries were thick enough to stand up to the amount of wet. Definitely my new favorite way to get my meat and potatoes.

Tiger fries

I had the catfish chips. Small pieces of catfish lightly battered and fried. Very clean and fresh tasting. Except for Middendorf’s, these are the best pieces of catfish I’ve put in my mouth.

catfish chips

The Bayou Blazin’ Shrimp weren’t hot at all. While the flavor was okay it wasn’t what we expected and it was hard to tell the difference between the ranch dipping sauce and the blue cheese.

bayou buzz popcorn shrimp

Dad had the soft shell crab (and ate the claws off before I could get the plate to take a picture). He said it was fresh and good but I think they look like spiders cooked like that so I didn’t try any.

soft shell crab

Service was pretty fast, which was good as the place filled up quickly the minute they opened.

It is worth a drive or to make it a stop along the way down Highway 90.

Wayne’s Hickory Pit BBQ – Livingston, Louisiana

IMG_20141001_124346_901-1Driving back from Baton Rouge today, we took the scenic road home which took us past Wayne’s Hickory Pit BBQ. It is midway down S. Frost Road between Florida Blvd (190) and I-12 They offer free taste tests and there are cords of hickory wood stacked up in the back. I was very stoked by these encouraging signs.

Obviously, they haven’t spent much on ambiance. There is a serving counter where you walk in and lots of deer heads (and some longhorns) on the walls of the small dining room. However, the folks are very friendly and Wayne sits at one of the booths watching all that goes on in his place.

I ordered the bbq pork sandwich plate with fries – large pieces of meat, very juicy and smokey. One oddity was the use of mustard over bbq sauce but it went pretty well with the meat. Overall, high marks for the pork.

Michelle had the bbq beef sandwich plate with coleslaw – the meat was in smaller pieces but still quite good. Not quite as juicy as the pork, it still tasted of smoke. The coleslaw was a little salty but that was a good offset for the overfilled sandwich.

We also had the banana pudding. In a word, awesome. Might even be better than mama used to make! Fresh made as the wafers were still crisp and had a whipped cream topping.

The servers were friendly and the prices are rather good. Had it not been raining (and if we didn’t have the dog in the car), we would have gotten our meal to go as the dining room is very small. Next time, we will also give the racks of ribs a try as well.