Eat here: New York classics – Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters

It wouldn’t be a trip to New York without good food, and if you’re going to eat something, look to the classics.

It can be hard to give food recommendations because the food scene is so fickle and ever changing – what was hot and new last week is going to be old news, possibly even shut down in a month or two. So when you’ve got institutions that have been around for decades and are still pulling in massive crowds, you know they’re worth visiting.

 

Katz’s Deli
205 E Houston St, New York
http://katzsdelicatessen.com/

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You remember that who “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in When Harry Met Sally? That was here. That helped put this place on the map. But you’re not visiting to get your photo taken at the table it went down at, because there’s a much, much better reason to come here. And that’s to eat. A pastrami and mustard on rye sandwich piled to a ridiculous height, that may well be the most tasty sandwich anywhere. Also, get a knish – basically a mashed potato nugget with a thick, crispy, golden crust, which is so heavy and filling you won’t be able to move for 20 minutes after eating it. Not that that’s a problem.

Fair warning – the sandwiches are not cheap, but they are absolute behemoths, so that well and truly balances out. Also, it’s a cash only thing, so come prepared. And they get hella busy – we went right on opening time and the place filled up pretty quickly! But it’s a classic for a reason – opened in 1888 and still going strong, you haven’t experienced New York without a visit to Katz’s.
Katz's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

 

 

Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St, New York
http://www.russanddaughters.com/

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One of the most commonly associated foods with New York is the bagel – everyone I know who’s been to NYC has made the effort to try one smothered in cream cheese and topped with salmon. Classic. I wanted to make sure that the bagel I tried was as goof as it could get, and general consensus was Russ & Daughters. They just celebrated their centenary, having kicked off in 1914, and haven’t stopped serving the city since. They’re one of the last “appetizing” shops anywhere – appetizing being best translated in this context as the foods that one eats with their bagel, such as the cured and smoked salmon varieties, and  many different types of cream cheeses on offer here.

We visited around midday and the line was out the door, as it apparently is every day. I ordered myself an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and Scottish smoked salmon. It was perfect. Nothing else I write about it will do it justice; I know there are limitless choices in bagels in New York, but Russ & Daughters is where you NEED to be getting yours from!

Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon

Eat here: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, New Orleans

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen
416 Chartres St, New Orleans
http://www.kpauls.com/kpaul

I enjoyed my visit back to New Orleans yesterday, so I’m gonna stick with it a little longer. Back in January when I visited the Voodoo Museum, it was late in the morning and I was pretty hungry by the end of the visit. So from one NoLa classic we went to another: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.

If you have even the slightest interest in the cuisine and history of New Orleans, you’ll probably have heard of Chef Paul Prudhomme. His legacy includes several restaurant, cookbooks, spices mixes, blackened redfish, staying in the city post-Katrina where he and his team cooked over 6000 meals in 10 days for the military and remaining locals, and of course for bringing Cajun cuisine to the world. The man is a living legend, and I was really excited to actually visit his restaurant, which opened its doors back in 1979.

Seeing as we were visiting one of the classics of the city, we decided to order the classics: po boy and gumbo 🙂

We decided on the Andouille sausage po boy, which came on a soft roll, dressed with lettuce and a tomato/onion/herb salsa type concoction, as well as a side of breaded, deep fried cauliflower. Because almost everything in America is deep fried (seriously, I even ordered a tofu salad in LA thinking that’d be a safe bet to settle my upset stomach – the tofu was breaded and deep fried. I shit you not.), apparently. I really liked the sausage, and the fancied up salsa was a nice change to a classic. My only complaint was that the bread roll was a little too soft; it got soggy quite quickly under the weight of the filling.

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The second classic of the meal was the chicken and Andouille gumbo. And it was magic. Honest to goodness magic. Not really sure what else I can say about it – sounds as floggy as all hell, but the depth of flavour was out of this world, the chicken pieces were so soft and tender, delicious chunks of sausage, oh my God it was perfect! If you only order one thing from K-Paul’s, make it the gumbo!

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I really enjoyed the lunch service and was glad we chose to go then instead of dinner; the atmosphere is really laid back, feeling more like you’re in a familiar school canteen or something. The lunch menu is also a fair bit cheaper than the dinner service too, meaning you can eat more! Winning all round!

In a city known for incredible chefs and food, it’s pretty hard to stand out, but Chef Prudhomme has been a big name for decades for a reason; after you visit the Voodoo Museum, you should probably drop by K-Paul’s for lunch, too!

 

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Domilise’s Po-Boys, New Orleans

Domilise’s
5240 Annunciation St, New Orleans
http://www.domilisespoboys.com/

2015/01/img_6189.jpgBloody hell, June 1st… when did that happen??! I can’t believe it was already 6 months ago we were mid-trip in America, the time has passed so quickly since we’ve been back! I’m reminiscing back to one of the great places we ate at in New Orleans back in January today: Domilise’s.

This place is an absolute city stalwart, holding legendary status amongst locals and visitors alike. A family owned and run operation for almost a century (they opened in 1918) and led by matriarch Miss Dot (Dorothy Domilise) until her passing in 2013, the only time Domilise’s has closed was when Hurricane Katrina hit back in 2005; when they re-opened, after a lot of hard work and restoration by not only the family, but the community, they re-opened to a line of customers several blocks long. Domilie’s IS New Orleans, it’s always up there in any list of best po boys in the city, and I was excited to find out why!

It’s tucked away on a quiet, nondescript street well and truly away from the French Quarter, which suited us just fine; while we loved the craziness of it all, it was nice to get out and see a different part of the city. We actually walked the full 5 miles (8km) from our hotel to Domilise’s, taking our time and enjoying the stroll down Magazine Street, through the garden district, with a stop at District Donuts Sliders Brew for a donut to fuel the journey.

When we finally got the the iconic lemon yellow, weather boarded eatery, we were hungry and ready to put all those burnt calories back into our bellies, and then some. We were welcomed warmly like old friends overdue for a visit. We were happily and proudly guided through our options, and invited to please take a seat while our sandwiches were put together. It was like checking into the most wonderful sandwich hotel on earth! We ordered two po boys to share, the roast beef (top) and the fried shrimp (bottom), both fully dressed with tomato, lettuce and mayo.

2015/01/img_6188.jpgThe roast beef was really nice, tender meat, lovely gravy (though not quite enough), really good sandwich. The shrimp one though was the money sandwich. Absolutely indisputably on point, sandwich perfection. The shrimp, no idea how, stayed golden and crispy and crunchy the whole time, despite the other stuff in there. The bread was perfect and crusty on the outside, pillowy soft inside. I honestly don’t know how else to describe it other than one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had!

Are you lucky enough to be visiting New Orleans? Planning on spending your visit in the French Quarter? That’s fine, it’s lovely, just do yourself a favour and get out to Domilise’s for the best shrimp sandwich you’ll ever have – it’s worth the trip!

 

Domilise's Po-Boy & Bar on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Chicago classics: Billy Goat Tavern & Lou Malnati’s

While I was writing yesterday’s post on the Homewood Suites we stayed at in Chicago over Christmas, I mentioned the Billy Goat Tavern, which got me thinking about the feed we had there. It also got me thinking about one of the other classic Chicago institution we ate at, Lou Malnati’s. So once I finished writing that post, I decided to stay at my laptop and write this one, too – makes me smile just thinking about these places!

When husband and I started researching our stay in Chicago, other than the classic Chicago hot dogs, two other things kept popping up on the “must eat” lists – the cheeseburgers cheezborgers at the Billy Goat Tavern, and the deep dish pizzas as Lou Malnati’s. They’re both city institutions, stalwarts of the Chicago food scene, and have been around for a long time for a reason. Let’s visit the Billy Goat first…

 

Billy Goat Tavern
Beneath the Streets of 430 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
http://www.billygoattavern.com/

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The Billy Goat Tavern has a long, rich history in Chicago, and has been servicing the city since opening back in the 1930’s by Greek immigrant innkeeper William “Billy Goat” Sianis. The Tavern became well known for two reasons:

1. The Billy Goat Curse: Read all about it here, but basically Bill Sianis went to watch the Cubs play in the World Series with his companion, pet goat and tavern mascot Murphy, but Cubs owner PK Wrigley wouldn’t allow Murphy to enter, on the basis that he was, well, a goat. . Legend has it that the outraged and indignant Bill declared on his way out “the Cubs ain’t gonna win no more!” And that was it – they were cursed.

2. The SNL skit: “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger!! No fries – CHEEPS! No Pepsi – COKE!” ‘Nuff said. Watch it here.

There’s only one thing to order here. The cheeseburger (USD$2.85). Preferably a double (USD$4.55). A triple if you’re really keen (USD$5.85).

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It’s not the BEST burger in the city (that honour goes to Au Cheval), but it was bloody good. Just remember to go to the condiment station before you tuck into the burger, otherwise it can be a little dry (ketchup and mustard FTW). Oh, and for fellow Australian – when they say chips, they mean CHIPS. Like, plain, chicken or salt & vinegar potato chips in an aluminium bag. Just a heads up!

Billy Goat Tavern on Urbanspoon

 

 

Lou Malnati’s
805 S State St Chicago
http://www.loumalnatis.com/

When most people think of Chicago food, after they think of the hot dog, the deep dish pizza is usually the next thing they picture. There are no shortage of deep dish pizza places in the city, but we chose Lou Malnati’s – it seemed to be up there every time we Googled “best pizza in Chicago” and it was also highly recommended by a friend who’d visited before. It’s a family business, started in the 1940s by one of the city’s numerous Italian immigrants. So what makes them stand out in a city full of pizza? It’s quality. All of their pizzas are handmade from scratch using the family recipe that’s been handed down over the generations. The ingredients are specially selected to compliment each other, and they even use the same small dairy for cheese that supplied Lou when he first started. No wonder this place was so popular.

So, we went. The line was out the door. Doesn’t sound so bad, except that it was around -15°C (or 5F), and the wait was gonna be around 30 minutes. After a few impatient (smart?) parties bailed ahead of us, we found a corner to wait it out inside; we also found out you could place your order while you waited for your table, which would cut your waiting for food time in half – happy days!

We ordered the Malnati Chicago Classic – sausage, cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce. That’s the thing with classic Italian – it doesn’t need to be complex. You don’t need 20 ingredients for a good dish. You only need a few good quality ones to create magic. And that’s what this was. Perfect, flaky, buttery crust filled with fantastic sausage, sweet tomato sauce and pizza perfect mozzarella. Believe the hype and wait out the line – worth it!

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Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Central Grocery, New Orleans

Central Grocery
923 Decatur St, New Orleans
http://www.centralgroceryneworleans.com/

So you saw Melbourne’s best attempt at a muffuletta sandwich yesterday at The Vertue of the Coffee Drink (delicious), so  now, allow me to introduce you to the original from New Orleans’ Central Grocery. New Orleans is known, primarily, for it’s music and it’s food. Music wise, you associate jazz with NoLa. Food wise, there’s gumbo, po-boys and muffuletta sandwiches, and the place to get those sandwiches from is Central Grocery. There are imitators, but we were assured by half the city that if you were going to have one, it had to be from here.

The Italian-American grocery store opened back in 1906, and the muffuletta sandwich was created to feed the hungry Italian truck drivers who wanted a taste of home. What goes into this monster? Delicious, oily olive salad, salami, Italian ham, mortadella, provolone and swiss cheeses, piled high, sandwiched in a special bread roll made just for this guy.

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It is an absolutely fantastic sandwich, especially for an Italian girl who grew up with this sort of stuff in her school lunch sandwiches! That olive salad is something special too, all oily and delicious… Word of warning though – if you order a full sandwich, you may want to bring another few friends along, because a quarter muffuletta is the size of a regular giant sandwich and more than enough to fill you up!

Also, don’t think it’s just for sandwiches; it’s a proper Italian grocer, so you can stock up on all your other necessities while you’re there!

 

Central Grocery on Urbanspoon