Corned Beef Po-Boy
Fair Grounds Race Course
1751 Gentilly Blvd.
Served at concession stands around the Fair Grounds, this sandwich ($9.75) may subtly bring to mind the holidays for some, since a Thanksgiving visit to the track is a longstanding local ritual. It’s delicious without any dose of nostalgia, however. Thickly stacked beef separates into salty, fatty-edged particles in your mouth, but until then stays neatly encased under the crackle-crisp crust of Leidenheimer loaf, no matter how much mustard and mayo you add.
In the new WYES-TV documentary “New Orleans Fair Grounds Memories,” Angelo Brocato III, of Mid-City gelato parlor fame, explained that in the old days this po-boy was a status symbol around the track, since having enough money to buy one showed at least a modicum of luck at the betting window. If you’re off to the races this week, you might want to pony up for one of these at the start of a visit, just to be sure.
Red-Eye Caramel Bread Pudding
4800 Magazine St.
(504) 301-2367; mccluresbarbecue.com
Bacon-laden desserts turn up here and there, but this bread pudding ($3) from Neil McClure’s restlessly inventive Uptown barbecue shop still stands out. Made from banh mi bread, the texture is creamy and custardy and the sauce is caramel crossed with red-eye gravy, prepared with ham drippings and coffee. The bacon is rendered down to crisp bits crushed into a fine dust. It’s available periodically, whenever McClure’s has leftover sandwich bread. That, at least, is highly traditional.
Shrimp, Blue Crab, Avocado Stack
214 Royal St., (504) 681-4444; criollonola.com
Big weekends in the French Quarter often involve a spin around the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. The festive lounge flows into the hotel’s quieter restaurant, Criollo, which offers some unique and beautiful compositions from chef de cuisine Joseph Maynard. This chilled “stack” ($15 lunch/$17 dinner) has become something of an emblem for his style, with a meticulous layering of avocado and lightly-dressed crabmeat crowned with a single grilled shrimp, set over a spicy tomato coulis to enliven all its cool richness.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA