No, I'm not talking about money. I'm talking about something infinitely more valuable: the avocado. When I was growing up in California, avocados were fairly plentiful, especially when they were in season, but they were still on the costly side. Only enjoying them on special occasions, I lovingly recall rare lunches with my mom when we'd have Crab Louis Salad with half an avocado stuffed with fresh crab atop a bed of lettuce and slathered with that signature tangy, pink dressing.
These days, avocados are plentiful all year round, and though they are still on the expensive side, their unmistakable flavor and nutritional value have made them the hottest thing since sliced whole wheat bread. Considered a fruit, the nutrient-rich avocado grows in warm climates and is chock full of vitamins C, E, K, B-6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat (a.k.a. the good kind) and yet contain no cholesterol. Nutritionists claim that avocados are a “super food” and benefit everything from your heart to your eyes, as well as preventing health issues like depression, osteoporosis, and even cancer.
While the health benefits of the avocado are incredible, its rich flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture make it a food totally worth looking for. Naturally, you can find avocados mashed up into a guacamole at any Mexican restaurant in town worth its salt. If you're lucky, they'll even concoct your guac tableside (a treat available at all of El Gato Negro's locations). But there are quite a few other places to find this fabulous green fruit, especially with the more recent emphasis on healthy dining.
Recently opened in Old Jefferson, just a few blocks past Causeway, Hippie Kitchen is definitely one of those new restaurants aimed at nutritional eats. Using organic, local ingredients, this hip café offers everything from huevos rancheros and yogurt parfaits to a pastrami sandwich and quinoa salad. They also offer plenty of dishes with avocado. Try the Fast Break with house-made “friendship toast” topped with avocado and a fried yard egg, or a Totally Smashed avocado toast. There's also a quinoa wrap with avocado crema; a spicy chickpea bowl with avocado, rice, and braised greens; and a hummus avocado sandwich with sprouts and cucumber from their own garden.
Another great spot for avocado, and a place that just oozes that California vibe, is Bearcat Café. Located on Jena Street just off Freret, this trendy eatery features dishes for both sides of your personality. A “Good Cat” can order a breakfast dish like the Vegan Ranchero with sweet potato tortillas, black beans, avocado, and cashew crema. A “Bad Cat” might opt for the breakfast club made with sourdough bread from La Boulangerie stacked with crisp bacon, roasted tomato, eggs, and, of course, avocado.
Though it's a far reach from authentic Japanese fare, all of the sushi restaurants around town will offer rolls loaded with avocado. Try a simple salmon and avocado roll from Haiku on Magazine Street; a crunchy roll with tempura crunchies, crab salad, and avocado from Asuka Sushi & Hibachi; or a dragon roll from just about anywhere stuffed with tempura shrimp and topped with thin, buttery layers of avocado.
Finally, it may not be the healthiest form, but if you happen upon the Taceaux Loceaux food truck parked outside of Dos Jefes Cigar Bar, your mouth and your belly will certainly benefit from an order of their avocado fries served with chipotle aioli for dipping.