La Rumba – Sulphur, LA

DSC_0882

Once again we found ourselves along the I-10 corridor in Louisiana on a Saturday, and stopped to lunch with our friends there. They suggested a Tex-Mex hot spot and off we went.

DSC_0881

Like a lot of places in Sulphur, La Rumba isn’t much to look at, just yet. They are doing a lot of renovation and updating to the building, so it may look a little different if you go to hunt it up. There’s a lovely porch for outdoor dining, and due to their popularity, another large section of porch with plenty of seating while you wait for a table to open up.

 

DSC_0868Inside the decor is typical of it’s kind, with faux stucco walls, heavy dark woods, Mexican ceramics and handicrafts, and a few horses thrown in for good measure. Both booths and tables are available. The floor space is a little cramped, but not too badly.

DSC_0872 La Rumba Dip

La Rumba Dip

 

We were urged to try the La Rumba Dip, which turned out to he a big bowl of hot cheese topped by beef, chicken and shrimp. It’s similar to a queso flameado, though the cheese consistency is more like dipping queso and there’s a lot of meat. It came with tortillas and a large side of pico de gallo.

DSC_0873 Small quesadilla

Small Quesadilla

 

Another member of our group had a small quesadilla as an appetizer.

 

 

 

The menu is packed with all the Tex-Mex classics and a short side list of American offerings like burgers and chicken fingers. The kid’s menu has the typical stuff kids enjoy including a personal size cheese pizza.

DSC_0875 Pizza for the kids

DSC_0874 Monster Burrito

Burrito

One of the teenagers in our party ordered a burrito. We were not quite prepared for the size of the entree. To his credit, he ate the whole thing in one sitting.

DSC_0871 Flauta Mexicana

Flautas Mexicana

 

 

I ordered the Flautas Mexicana, and was not disappointed. Flour tortillas stuffed with chicken and deep fried, served with a small bed of lettuce topped by guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo.

 

Sadly, I missed out on getting photos of what everyone else ordered as we were all hungry and the food smelled so good! It lived up to the aroma with plenty of flavor and filling portions.

On the 1-5 scale, La Rumba gets:
Cleanliness – 4.5
Service – 3
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 4
Overall experience – 4.3

La Rumba
1804 Ruth Street
Sulphur, LA 70663
(337) 287-4846

— Ann Cathey

All photos of individual minor models posted with parental permission.

Fiorella’s Cafe in the French Quarter – NOLA

My partner, I found out, had never had a real muffuletta. I decided I needed to expose him to my favorite hidden market in the French Quarter, but was saddened to find that it had been washed out by Hurricane Ike and had not been rebuilt. With a heavy sigh, we wandered about for a while before spotting a sandwich board on the sidewalk that mentioned muffulettas.

DSC_0214We actually glanced at each other and shrugged. We would give it a shot. Thus we found Fiorella’s Cafe, an Italian restaurant that offers my new favorite muffuletta in NOLA.

DSC_0207
We perused the menu as good foodies will do, but there was no question as to what we would order. We decided to order a whole muff with the intent to each have a quarter and take the rest back to the hotel with us for a snack later. The size of the plate made us think we might actually pull that off.

The whole muffuletta, with seasoned fries.

The whole muffuletta, with seasoned fries.

A quarter cut, showing the goodness inside.

A quarter cut, showing the goodness inside.

DSC_0211

Love at first bite.

That was not to be, however. We tucked in and wound up eating whole thing. Why? It was just that good and after hiking about in the French Quarter, we were just that hungry.

Just in case you didn't catch that, he loves the muffuletta!

Just in case you didn’t catch that, he loves the muffuletta!

On the 1-5 scale, Fiorella’s Cafe gets:
Cleanliness – 3.5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 4
Overall experience – 4.5

Fiorella’s Cafe
1136 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 553-2155

— Ann Cathey

The Boiling Point – Sulphur LA

On our way out to NOLA recently, we were invited to lunch with some friends who live in Sulphur. They took us to a little dive that’s off the beaten path that’s a local favorite for seafood, especially crawfish.

DSC_0013The Boiling Point offers a lunch buffet, so the women went in that direction. My partner decided to try the shrimp po-boy with onion rings, while the last guy in the party didn’t even look at the menu before ordering a 3 pound tray of boiled crawfish with potatoes and corn.

DSC_0023

The buffet held a small salad selection, but made up for it with dirty rice, gumbo, crawfish etouffe, and fried catfish. The daily selection will differ according to season, but as long as there is catfish, I’m in heaven.

DSC_0022The onion rings and po-boy were definitely tasty, though the meat was a little thin on the bun. The onion rings had a light and crispy batter with a nice crunch.

 

DSC_0024

 

What can I say about the crawfish? There were a lot of those spicy little red bodies on that tray! Everyone shared a few, and for a little while there were only the crunching sounds of breaking carapaces and the slurping noises of traditional crawfish consumption. We were delighted with the way the mudbugs turned out and are reassured that they are consistent in their flavor and spiciness all season.

The menu also offers a variety of seafood dishes beyond the boiled crawfish, catfish,  hamburgers, steak, and a kids’ menu that’s full of comfort food. Baked potatoes have their own section on the menu and may be stuffed with several different meats including shrimp and chicken. Even the appetizers and salads are seafood-centric.

Drinks are the usual range of sodas, tea and coffee. Beer is available by the bottle, pulled glass, or pitcher, though the selection is a bit limited.

DSC_0019

On the 1-5 scale, The Boiling Point gets:
Cleanliness – 3
Service – 3
Quality of food – 4.5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 4
Overall experience – 3.9

The Boiling Point
1730 Beglis Parkway
Sulphur, LA 70663

(337) 625-9282

— Ann Cathey

Cafe Du Monde, NOLA

DSC_0158If the name Cafe Du Monde doesn’t ring a bell, then clearly you have not traveled to the French Quarter of New Orleans. The name should evoke thoughts of a deep, rich, satisfying cup of coffee and the best beignets to ever have passed my lips, and a wonderful people watching opportunity.

DSC_0162

The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862, and with the exception of Christmas Day and those few days when a Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans, it is open 24/7. It is a traditional coffee shop, offering dark roasted coffee and chicory, beignets, white and chocolate milk, and fresh squeezed orange juice. The coffee is served black or au lait. DSC_0164Au lait means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk. Beignets are square French-style doughnuts about the size of a man’s palm, lavishly covered with powdered sugar, and served in orders of three. Iced coffee and soft drinks were added to the menu in 1988, apparently due to rising demand.

According to the website: “The taste for coffee and chicory was developed by the French during their civil war. Coffee was scarce during those times, and they found that chicory added body and flavor to the brew. The Acadians from Nova Scotia brought this taste and many other french customs (heritage) to Louisiana. Chicory is the root of the endive plant. Endive is a type of lettuce. The root of the plant is roasted and ground. It is added to the coffee to soften the bitter edge of the dark roasted coffee. It adds an almost chocolate flavor.”

L3AzI have found the coffee at this establishment to be consistent over the years, and some of the best of it’s type I have been privileged to consume. While it is available in many grocery and specialty stores, sporting the unique yellow label, it’s never quite the same as the fresh coffee from the French Quarter.

DSC_0159Cafe Du Monde has branched out from the original coffee shop. There are now eight Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stands in the New Orleans Metropolitan area. They are located in the French Market, Esplanade Mall, Riverwalk Mall, Lakeside Mall, Oakwood Mall, Mandeville, Covington and 4600 Veterans Boulevard as well as a gift shop in the French Quarter.

DSC_0167If you are not inclined to visit the original location, or want to Christmas shop for the coffee lovers in your life, you may also visit the Cafe Du Monde Online Store.

DSC_0166A word of warning for those who try the beignets! Breath out before you bring this pastry near your face, open wide to take a bite, and whatever you do don’t breath or laugh while all that powdered sugar is anywhere near your face! If you think I’m kidding, try it.

DSC_0168DSC_0169

DSC_0170

 

 

 

 

Both my partner and I have experienced the hazards of breathing wrong, either taking sugar into the nose and lungs, or spraying it all over the table and everyone with us. Cafe Du Monde’s beignets are an adventure to eat, to say the least!

On the 1-5 scale, Cafe Du Mond gets:
Cleanliness – 4
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 4.4

Cafe Du Monde – French Quarter
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-4544

— Ann CatheyDSC_0161

The Alibi, NOLA

DSC_0084One of the many quaint little hole-in-the-wall-bars in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Alibi “New Orleans Best Excuse” may well boast the best burger in the city. It also maintains a wall inscribed with all the beers they have on tap and in the cooler. It’s an impressive list.

The place might have a standing room only capacity of about 60 people, but the night we crawled inside there weren’t even a dozen. We took a seat in the back and shared our space with The Most Interesting Man in the World.

DSC_0082DSC_0081The pub menus are on the table, but you have to order at the bar. There’s also a one drink minimum, which is understandable for such a small place in such a busy tourist spot. The beer came back fast, though the burgers took a while.

DSC_0083

 

 

 

I had my usual Bass Pale Ale, and my partner had a Samuel Smith Imperial Stout. If we were only going to have one, they might as well be good ones!

 

When the burgers arrived, all our reservations melted away. While the base price was $10.50, the monster sandwiches that were laid before us made us grin with delight.

DSC_0086 DSC_0085
The flavor lived up to the visual promise as well. The 3/4 pound patties were close to an inch thick, juicy and flavorful, and dripping in cheese, just like we like them.

The top is a medium rare with provolone cheese. The second is also medium rare, but with sharp cheddar. There was no scrimping on the beef or the cheese!

If you are staying in the area, you can skip the one drink minimum by ordering for delivery or calling in a takeout. They deliver food to residences, businesses and a lot of the area hotels.

 

On the 1-5 scale, the Alibi gets:
Cleanliness – 3 (It’s a pub!)
Service – 3
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – 3
Overall experience – 3.8

The Alibi
811 Iberville Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

–Ann Cathey

Raising Cain’s – Hammond, LA

Warhol style dedication to Raising Cane I.

Warhol style dedication to Raising Cane I.

The story is on the wall of how Raising Cain’s was formed and named. It’s rather humorous and involves a dog. This is one of those neat success stories where the guy who started it was told that a chicken finger place “just won’t work” by individuals and lending institutions who reviewed his business plan. Guess what, people – you were wrong!

IMG_0234

We first encountered Raising Cain’s in Hammond, Louisiana. We were lucky enough to stumble over another location in the Woodlands, Texas, that upheld all the quality we experienced in Hammond. There is now a location open in Conroe, Texas, too. Each location has had some local flare, but overall the sense of humor and decor follow a distinctive pattern.

IMG_0248

Raising Cane’s in Conroe, Texas.

 

 

The dining area in each location we have visited has been very open and airy. There’s a lot of red brick, light colored wood, and cutesy local stuff on the walls. Not so much as to be distracting; it’s just enough to be interesting.

Airplane propeller ceiling fans add to the cool temps and the ambiance.

Airplane propeller ceiling fans add to the cool temps and the ambiance.

 

 

 

A 6 Piece Meal

A 6 Piece Meal

 

 

 

The chicken – that’s all they serve is chicken tenders – is outstanding! The breading is light and crispy. The meat is consistently, across three locations, tender and never hard or dry. The fries are crinkle cut, but they are thin rather than thick. This gives them a lasting crunchy texture. The Texas toast is light and lovely, being a very soft bread that’s butter grilled to a crispy outer layer that accentuates the spices and textures of the chicken. The coleslaw is fresh and not pretentious – it’s green and purple cabbage, slivered carrots and a light sauce that doesn’t overpower the cabbagy goodness. It also has a hint of melon that accentuates the natural sweetness of the veggies.

IMG_0238IMG_0237IMG_0236

 

IMG_0239While everything else on the menu is good, the sauce deserves it’s own paragraph. At first glance,it seems to be just another ketchup and ranch dressing concoction. Upon first taste, you will find this to be a gross underestimation. There is plenty of black pepper and cayenne, without being too much. Notably, there is a hint of curry underlying the general sauciness that can make you overlook all the other spices that have been included. No one flavor is strong enough to be overpowering. They all work together to delight the palate and bring together all the other flavors on your plate. It’s so good, it made me forget all about ketchup for my fries.

No leftovers here!

No leftovers here!

A friend of mine in Louisiana has been saddened that she is allergic to coconut, and there appears to be coconut in some form in the Raising Cain’s recipes. Whether it is oil in the sauce or ground coconut in the chicken batter, we do not know, and the employees cannot confirm or deny it for us. If you are allergic to coconut be aware. If you are not, go find a location and try them out!

 

IMG_0241If you are into supporting your favorite eateries by wearing their gear, Raising Cain’s is ready to oblige with an online store. They offer apparel, koozies, and the ever present gift cards. They do not, however, offer their sauce (yet) or the recipe!

IMG_0232

 

 

 

 

On the 1-5 scale, Raising Cain’s gets:
Cleanliness – 5
Service – 5
Quality of food – 5
Flavor – 5
Pricing – Moderate
Overall experience – 5

IMG_0243

Christopher – photo by Ann.

Ann - photo by Christopher

Ann – photo by Christopher

 

 

–Ann Cathey