Everything including gas and groceries seems to be more expensive these days, and it seems like prices are only going up. But if there’s one thing that we can really count on and love about New Orleans, it's that we can get some great food at a great price.
You can plunk down money and get great food anywhere, but the reputation that New Orleans has is good food without spending an arm and a leg. So, we wanted to find out if that's still true these days.
We set a challenge: Find 10 dishes, each under $10.
And there are some ground rules: No chains - we want local, independent New Orleans area restaurants. And, we also want fully hearty meals - no snacks, no sides, no appetizers.
We started off at Frady’s One Stop Food Store in the Bywater, which is a great example of the value you can get from old New Orleans places.
There’s creamy grits, sausage, bacon, pan-fried hash brown potatoes. For just six dollars (tax included) you can get the “Grumpy Old Man Breakfast” plate which comes with two eggs any style, a choice of meat and grits or potatoes. The delicious and affordable Grumpy Old Man Breakfast has been making grumpy people not grumpy since Frady’s opened up in 1972.
We found really good bargain plate lunches at Leni’s Cafe on Barrone Street in downtown New Orleans. Leni’s has been there forever, and their plate lunches change every day of the week and most of them are still $9.75.
There’s also Adams Street Grocery & Deli, an old-time grocery near the Uptown universities on Adams Street, of course. These days, it’s best known for its po'boys, most of which are going to be under $10 for a full po’boy, and a lot less if you have a smaller appetite and get a half po’boy.
If there’s one thing people love in New Orleans it's some delicious crunchy fried chicken and you can’t beat McHardy’s Chicken & Fixin'. McHardy’s has been one of our favorites and is a place for value and quality. We can get a five-piece here (that’s half a chicken) for $7.04 - they have the pricing down to the penny.
What makes McHardy’s stand out? This chicken can last! It’s delicious and hot right out of the box, but if you have it a few hours from now, say you’re at a party or on a parade route, it’s going to be just as good.
There are some other New Orleans classics that people can choose from. Just down the street is gumbo at Orchid Seafood. The restaurant has a full menu, but we love their gumbo as a good value dish.
Looking for a hamburger? Try Bud’s Broiler for a bargain burger. The classic Bud’s Burger with shredded cheese with hickory-smoked sauce is cooked to order right there. You can get one of those with a side of fries and still keep it under $10.
The grocery store deli is a great place to find value in your food dollars. And one of my favorite examples is Norma’s Sweets Bakery on Bienville Street in Mid-City.
The deli here is just filled with all kinds of traditional Latin American dishes, and is home to one of our favorites: the baleada. That’s a handmade flour tortilla with crema, a bit of dry cheese and some beans. It scratches the same itch as a breakfast taco, but if you have one of these you might never go back. We can eat these all throughout the day, breakfast lunch and dinner it doesn’t matter And the place is just filled with people - so that’s always a good sign.
Another grocery store that we loved is Hong Kong Food Market over in Terrytown, and it’s an Asian food store. In the lobby of the grocery store is a sandwich shop called Mr. Bubbles Sandwich House, and they have the best Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese po’boys with crusty loaves and fresh mix of pickled vegetables, savory meat. All of those sandwiches are well under $10.
Now we need something for our vegetarian friends. How about falafel? You can get a lot of falafels around town for under $10, but we really like the ones at 1000 Figs on Grand route St. John and Faubourg St. John. It brings the house with garlic sauces and the fresh garnishes. So, you really feel like you’ve had a feast for under $10.
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