IF you’ve been getting hungry while watching “Treme” – David Simon’s HBO series about New Orleans – that’s perfectly understandable.
New Orleans takes its food seriously, and not just in the famed French Quarter. So after you’ve hit the Quarter and consumed the requisite chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde and the muffuletta at Central Grocery, here are three mainstays to visit:
* Commander’s Palace
Given its status as one of the oldest and most highly regarded eateries in the Big Easy, you might be afraid that you just set foot into a tourist trap as you walk into the 19th-century turquoise-and-white Victorian house in the Garden District.
But this will change after you throw back your first martini. During the week, martinis are 25 cents at lunch (the staff cheerfully says you’re expected to order an entree for every three martinis – y’know, to soak up all that booze) but even without this perk, lunch would be lovely at Commander’s Palace. The three-course prix fixe of gumbo (excellent), pork tenderloin (also excellent) and bread pudding (not worth the calories) is worthy of its $32 price tag, but the barbecued Black Angus beef with Tabasco-crusted onion rings that comes with a soup or salad for $21 is an equally good value. 1403 Washington Ave.; 504-899-8221
When you look at the exposed brick and the young crowd at Cochon, and hear about the “locally sourced” menu, you might be forgiven for thinking that you accidentally wound up in Brooklyn and not in the Warehouse District. But, of course, “locally sourced” in New Orleans includes ingredients like alligator – which Cochon serves fried with chili garlic aioli ($10).
A trip to Cochon seems like a waste, however, if you don’t load up on pork: The cane syrup-glazed pork cheeks with mushroom and roasted corn grits ($11) are sweet, savory and buttery. The smoked pork ribs with watermelon pickle ($12) are even better, tender and falling-off-the-bone.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Cochon doesn’t do other foods exceptionally well: Oven-roasted catfish ($26) is another standout.
And save room for dessert: The chocolate peanut-butter pie ($8) with candied peanuts is worth all the accompanying guilt afterward. 930 Tchoupitoulas St.; 504-588-2123
Food nerds who hear the words “New Orleans” undoubtedly associate the city with one of its brightest stars (no, not Emeril Lagasse): John Besh. He has created a mini-empire of eight restaurants in the Crescent City, and recently extended his reach into Texas.
For a classic Besh experience, one can’t go wrong with August. The restaurant features mahogany floors, high ceilings and a second-story wine room. Accompanying the elegance of the space is a courteous and knowledgeable staff, who will treat you to a more formal experience than typical New Orleans restaurants.
And the food? August has a mixture of classic French dishes (think foie gras, $26, and roast breast of duckling, $37) balanced with local ingredients (a creamy potato gnocchi is tossed with blue crab and black truffle, $18).
But after a few days of decadent eating, you might consider the vegetarian tasting menu ($60), consisting of roasted carrots with candied hazelnut, crispy eggplant gattafin (sort of like a samosa), roast cauliflower steak and white chocolate cremeux. 301 Tchoupitoulas St.; 504-299-9777