With falling leaves and slightly cooler temperatures of fall comes the sudden onset of yet another rabid football season. Millions of people all over the country will be plopped down in front of their television sets, rooting for their favorite team in the only way we know how...with lots of beer and plenty of munchables. In New Orleans we are no different...except perhaps for our level of perseverance (over four decades?) and, of course, our brand of halftime edibles. Luckily for us, a few new teams have been added to the dining league this year...
Two local boys, chefs Allen Ngyen and Kyle Makepeace, recently opened an eatery featuring one menu item that is practically synonymous to football...hot wings! Located in a little strip mall on Claiborne Avenue, not far from the upside-down Frostop Mug, Bayou Hot Wings has quickly become the go-to place for those little chicken morsels we have all come to know and love. They offer a variety of sauces ranging from "Bayou Beast" - a habanero-based flavor guaranteed to make your nose run and your eyes water —to irresistibly sweet Steen's Cane Honey BBQ. They also offer Southern fried chicken tenders, frog legs, shrimp and even gator for your supreme snacking pleasure.
If you want someone else to deal with the mess, you could always catch the game at the newly opened Happy Irish Pub over on Poydras at O'Keefe. This Baton Rouge based sports bar is a happy cross between an old Irish sports bar and, well...Hooters. Lovely ladies sporting dangerously short kilts and bare midriffs provide chilled mugs of beer and a hefty array of grub from yet another Red Stick source, Walk-On's. Their menu offers a huge selection of locally-themed dishes like fried catfish and boudin balls, plus quite a few items with their own little twist. For example, I am looking forward to tasting their "Cajundillas" featuring flour tortillas stuffed with spicy chicken, Pepper Jack cheese, Andouille sausage, Cajun rice, Chipotle Ranch Dressing and served with a side of Red Beans & Rice.
Pizza, another classic, game-time dining option, has recently blown up like burger joints lately with the launch of two more pie spots in the Crescent City. On September 7, Pizzicare had a blowout opening where they were actually giving away free slices of his delicious pies. Crescent City Pie & Sausage creators Jeff Barron and Bart Bell have successfully opened their new baby aimed at making "the best New York-style pizza in town" and quite a few local foodies have already been inclined to agree. The "pizze" menu offers nine different-style pizzas that can all be bought by-the-slice or by the pie, depending on how hungry you are, or how big of a crowd will be at your place watching the game.
Though it already has Ancora, the "Freret Jet" recently opened another pie joint featuring Chicago deep dish, The Midway. The owners of the Kingpin launched in early September and have been going strong with unique deep dish pies like a "Slim Harpo" with Spanish onion, green pepper, mushrooms and black olives or their signature "Kingpin" featuring house-made meatballs, caramelized onion and shaved Parmesan. You can kick back with a nice cold beer and enjoy it in-house, or take your bounty home to share while watching our beloved Saints charge through another great season.
For those particular ladies and gentleman wishing for a venue on the opposite side of the spectrum, never fear. Escape to the Velvet Espresso Bar on Magazine and Arabella Streets offering new menu items that are as far away from football as Earhardt is from being finished with construction. Not only are they still offering specialty coffees and tasty tea cakes, they recently started serving breakfast and lunch dishes. Try a toothsome tostada or an "Odin" Egg Sandwich with their signature "steamed" eggs that are fluffy, light and cooked using the frother on the espresso machine!
Pizzicare creator Jeff Baron in the kitchen.