Credit: GoNOLA, www.gonola.com
Written by Hartley Casbon
In an effort of full disclosure, I must admit that I am not a good Catholic. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school and even graduated from a Catholic university, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a terribly observant Catholic. And so when Lent rolls around, I usually attempt to come up with something – anything – to give up, only to find myself breaking that Lenten promise within a matter of days.
But one aspect of Lent I seem to have no problem sticking to? Meatless Fridays. And how is that, you may ask? Easy: because I can eat as much delicious New Orleans seafood as I want AND make my mother happy at the same time. Two birds, one stone.
And just because Lent is technically supposed to be about giving something up and repentance, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a touch of indulgence, right? So for all you practicing Catholics, non practicing Catholics and non Catholics who just happen to be jonesing for some seafood on a Friday evening in New Orleans: take note. Here are my top five picks for seafood in the city.
1. GW Fins – Fins is in their name and seafood is their game at GW Fins in the French Quarter. This upscale New Orleans seafood restaurant exceeds expectations with their largely locally sourced and supremely fresh seafood, all prepared in-house with vibrant sauces and garnishes. Their Asian inspired yellow fin tuna and wahoo, when in season, are stand outs on the menu, but you really can’t go wrong with any of their delicious dishes paired with carefully selected sides. If you need further convincing, GW Fins’ genious chef Tenney Flynn won New Orleans Magazine’s Chef of the Year in 2011 and he’s on the Louisiana Seafood Chefs Council, in case you were wondering the quality of their credentials.
2. Rio Mar Seafood Restaurant – For those looking to observe Lent in a more upscale environment, swing by Rio Mar, located in the Warehouse District. The menu created by award winning Chef Adolfo Garcia is heavily influenced by his Spanish and Latin American heritage while still showcasing the very best in local produce and Gulf seafood. Added bonus – the dim lighting and a sleek interior make this an ideal date spot. Rio Mar is located at 800 S. Peters St. and can be reached at 504.525.3474.
3. Pascal’s Manale – Barbecue Shrimp is arguably one of the greatest inventions in all of New Orleans cuisine, and it all came from the kitchen at Pascal’s Manale. For those not familiar with the iconic dish, it’s a far cry from what we typically think of when we think of barbecue. The shrimp are served head-on in a broth-like sauce of spicy buttery amazingness with tons of French bread for dipping – because dipping is more civilized than just drinking the sauce, which you’ll likely be tempted to do. Pascal Manale’s is located at 1838 Napoleon Ave. and can be reached at 504-895-4877.
4. High Hat Cafe – High Hat is among the outstanding restaurants to pop up along the stretch of Freret Street between Napoleon and Jefferson avenues. The menu is all about southern comfort – most notably their crispy thin fried catfish plates. Be sure to order a side of their sweet potato salad, and be on the lookout for their Satsuma Lemonade, which is downright addictive when they have it. High Hat is located at 4500 Freret St. and can be reached at 504.754.1336.
5. Big Fisherman Seafood – Want to enjoy seafood like a true local? They swing by Big Fisherman Seafood, pick up a few pounds of boiled crawfish (or shrimp), ask them to throw in a few potatoes, garlic and corn – and a crab or two for good measure – then head to The Fly up by Audubon Park to enjoy your picnic feast. You should also swing by Breaux Mart right across the street to pick up some beer and a whole lot of paper towels (you’ll need them). Also be sure to grab some newspaper to pour the crawfish out on – and remember, the more sturdy of a base you lay down, the easier your clean up will be. Big Fisherman is located at 3301 Magazine St. and can be reached at 504.897.9907.