If the title didn’t make it obvious, the whole purpose of this monthly column is finding scrumptious dishes of all shapes, sizes and flavors that won’t break the bank, ultimately less than $15. We all love it, but dining out is indeed a luxury, an unneeded expense, especially amidst this bleak financial storm we’ve all been trying to weather lately. Even fast food has become ridiculously expensive, considering the quality you receive... or lack thereof. Up steps the plate lunch.
The foods of a plate lunch are comforting and nostalgic, not fancy. Dishes like baked chicken, steamed rice, mixed veggies and pan gravy are whipped up by loving cooks in cozy back-room kitchens of a neighborhood gas station or the corner store and served in Styrofoam containers, with a stack of napkins and plastic cutlery on the side. Add a drink to that order, and from most places there’ll be change from a $10 bill to pocket. There are few better, more economical meals to be found, not counting a free church fish fry and hippie burrito joints.
Secluded among art galleries and office buildings on Julia Street sits a popular little convenience store called Louisiana Products. Large green shutters and a fullsized American flag mark the spot. Open for breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday, this shop bustles with business owners and art dealers, from the moment the doors swing open. It’s the area’s go-to place for breakfast or lunch... or both!
Well-known for the Tuesday ribs special, Friday’s fish fry and super-affordable sandwiches (early birds can nab some premade and ready to go), they also occasionally serve “Pastitso” (Greek Lasagna) with layers of lightly spiced ground beef and macaroni topped with a creamy béchamel sauce. Simple goodness is the roasted chicken with broccoli and mashed potatoes, smothered in pan gravy. In either event, both lunches are less than $8 each!
Across town on the corner of Bienveille and North Jeff Davis, it’s hard to miss Neyow’s Creole Café, the neighborhood’s only restaurant guarded by two imposing statues of Neopolitan Mastiffs. The café is frequently packed during lunchtime, but things move quickly, and parking’s a breeze with a big, free lot across the street. For those not bothered by the heat, Neyow’s also has plenty of outdoor tables with shady umbrellas in case you just can’t wait.
Neyow’s is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner with specials each day. Plates feature everything from rib eye steak to ground beef, shrimp and crab-stuffed bell peppers. On Monday, there’s a humongous plate of creamy red beans and rice with a choice of fried chicken, crispy, breaded pork chops or spicy hot sausage on the side. Plus, every lunch also includes thick, crusty slices of French bread and butter. All that food hits the wallet for $7.75, and for $5 more, dive into a house-made dessert like the sweet, sticky slab of Pecan Cobbler.
For more $15 and Under Tips, visit WhereYat.com
Louisiana Products 618 Julia St. • 524-7331
Neyow’s Creole Café 3340 Bienville St. • 827-5474