Everyone knows that New Orleans is home to some of the best food in the entire country. Since New Orleans has claim to so much amazing food, even the locals tend to forget that there are restaurants beyond Orleans Parish that have some pretty remarkable things to eat as well. Many of these places, in my opinion, are located on the Westbank.
I know there is a stigma about the Westbank that is still present today, especially from Eastbankers. But that's a shame, because as a Westbanker myself, I can attest that the Westbank is home to some of the best Vietnamese, Italian and even New Orleans-style cuisine that I have ever had. As part of the Greater New Orleans Area-- part of the very culture of New Orleans itself, the Westbank should not be neglected simply because it's across the river. I want to bring to light some local Westbank restaurants that I feel should be recognized as great places, and definitely worth a trip across the Crescent City Connection. Come on over, try these incredible restaurants and explore the "Bestbank" for yourself.
Banana Blossom Thai Restaurant
500 9th St., Gretna
Located in Old Gretna, Banana Blossom serves some of the best Thai food anyone can find in Southern Louisiana. They have an expansive menu that includes wok-fried bowls, spicy curries, delicious Pad Thai noodles and their signature trout and crab dishes. You can also determine how hot and spicy you want your dish from mild to Thai hot, which is recommend only for the bravest of souls. Don't forget to order Banana Blossom's famous roti, pan-seared Malaysian-style flatbread, as an appetizer or even as a dessert.
Café 615 Home of Da Wabbitt
615 Kepler St., Gretna
In the mood for some good ol' traditional New Orleans-style cuisine? (Honestly, what local isn't always in the mood for that?) If so, then you can head right on over to Café 615, home of the famous pan-fried "Da Wabbitt" burger. They serve many traditional New Orleans specialties like seafood and okra gumbo, turtle soup and shrimp etouffee with fried catfish, as well as an oyster dressing-stuffed pork chop and finger-licking fried chicken. Go in, order some drinks from the bar and enjoy yourself some fine New Orleans cooking.
Common Grounds Coffee House & Café
335 Huey P Long Ave., Gretna
Common Grounds is a nice, family-style café located in Old Gretna, that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their menu features many home-style dishes like hamburger steak and Gretna grilled chicken with fried potatoes and vegetables. Common Grounds also has a nice selection of specialty sandwiches such as the Honey P. Long and Huey's Reuben, as well as a number of different po-boys. When you're done, order yourself a cup of café au lait, enjoy the breeze while sitting in their outdoor seating and get to know somebody while you're at it.
1788 Carol Sue Ave., Terrytown, & Multiple Locations
Do you love muffulettas? You're in New Orleans, so of course you do. Wanna try one of the best muffulettas in Southern Louisiana? Well, DiMartino's is a great choice to please that craving. Their muffulettas are a nice, hearty size and made with a mouthwatering olive salad dressing that will leave you satisfied. DiMartino's has many locations around the Westbank, as well as a newly-opened location on the Northshore, so you have many different places to visit to pick up that same great muffuletta.
Fuji Hana Sushi Bar and Hibachi Steakhouse
1130 Behrman Hwy., Gretna
Nothing says "I'm having a good afternoon" like dinner and a show, especially if the dinner and the show are the same thing. Fuji Hana delivers on this tenfold by having its expert chefs cook wonderful Japanese hibachi plates right there in front of you. You can order from the kitchen if you like, but the main attraction is watching these chefs make filet mignon, lobster, salmon with vegetables and fried noodles while having fun and cracking jokes with your party. Fuji Hana's will have you leave with a full stomach and a smile on your face.
Gattuso's Neighborhood Restaurant
435 Huey P Long Ave., Gretna
We often think to ourselves, "I want to go to a restaurant that has a ton of good food and drinks so I can have a great night out." Well, Gattuso's is just such a restaurant. With a truly large selection of burgers, club sandwiches, po-boys, muffulettas and other entrees like grilled marinated chicken and grilled tuna, you won't leave hungry. Gattuso's also has a Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m., so there are many reasons you'll have a great time there.
Huey P's Pizzeria
139 Huey P Long Ave., Gretna
Everybody loves pizza. It's a given fact of life. Luckily, Huey P's has some of the best pizza on the Westbank. Their thin crust specialty pizzas like the BBQ pulled pork pizza, the Chisesi ham and pineapple pizza, and their very own Huey P's pizza are simply to die for. The menu also includes delicious dishes like their popular bruschetta dip and chicken and waffles. Huey P's has a complete draft beer selection and an arcade room. You can also order from owners Donovan and Betty Archote's other restaurant, Thanh Thanh, which is located right next door.
Specialty Italian Bistro
2330 Belle Chasse Hwy., Gretna
What began as a delivery service called Specialty Pizza Co. in 1991 has become a nice and pretty sit-down Italian restaurant that still does delivery. Specialty has many heavenly dishes that almost seem to have been transported straight from Italy, like veal parmesan, stuffed artichokes and an Italian roast beef sandwich. Of course, they also have their own specialty pizzas such as the blackened shrimp pizza, the muffuletta pizza and the b.l.t. pizza. Make sure to also save room for Specialty's scrumptious coconut bread pudding.
131 Huey P Long Ave., Gretna
Operated by the same owners of Huey P's Pizzeria, Thanh Thanh offers authentic and unique Vietnamese dishes in the heart of Old Gretna. Make sure not to pass up some of their signature dishes like the pan-fried shrimp, spicy Pad Thai noodles with chicken or shrimp, crispy chicken club and Vietnamese-style bahn mi. If you want to do some sharing for two, try the ultimate banana split for desert. It will fill both of you up immensely, so make sure to bring a friend.
The Red Maple
1036 Lafayette St., Gretna
With fresh Louisiana seafood and juicy prime cut steaks, The Red Maple is a great choice for fine New Orleans dining. This restaurant has a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere and some really great seafood dishes like oysters on the half shell, shrimp remoulade salad, Salmon Lafayette and Gulf Fish Pontchartrain. Tasting one of their $30+ steaks will make you think everything is right in the world. Don't forget to go in early and try one of The Red Maple's $10 lunches like the juicy boiled beef brisket and the tasty hamburger steaks.