Reality Bites: Williams Boulevard

05 ANTIGRAVITY- Reality Bites Illustration by Ben Claassen III-JULY2016-WEB_Page_08_Image_0001
Published  July 2016

05 ANTIGRAVITY- Reality Bites Illustration by Ben Claassen III-JULY2016-WEB_Page_08_Image_0001


There’s lots of talk about NOLA foodie hotspots, streets where every block is jam-packed with hip, cool restaurants: Freret Street, St. Claude Avenue, even good old Magazine Street. Well, this month we’ll be looking at a street that often gets ignored. We’re strutting down the boulevard: Williams Boulevard, that is. That’s right, we’re eating in Kenner!


 

Pupuseria Lila’s (3118 Williams Blvd.) 

 Pupuseria Lila’s is conveniently located next to a quinceañera dress shop and a fortune teller, so you could really spend your whole day entertaining yourself right on this block. It’s a no-frills kind of place and you absolutely have to go there… possibly right now. Like go ahead and drop whatever you’re doing, gather your family and friends, and go to Pupuseria Lila’s. Or just go by yourself if you don’t have any friends; it doesn’t matter. These are hands down the best pupusas I’ve had outside of Central America. And I say this with full respect and deference to the now defunct El Divino Corazon Pupuseria on Belle Chasse Highway, where I was literally a lifelong customer. I had a standard order, I knew exactly what my dad would get, and I could gauge dates by their reactions to that restaurant. So when I heard they were closing several years ago, I was understandably devastated. Where was I supposed to get pupusas or yucca with chicharron? In case you’re not familiar with pupusas, I both envy and pity you. I envy you because you get to try a pupusa for the first time! So lucky. I pity you because you’ve managed to get this far in life without experiencing that amazing, delicious joy. A pupusa is similar to an enclosed arepa or gordita, if you’re more familiar with South American or Tex-Mex food—it’s a thick cornmeal patty that’s filled with cheese, beans, meats, or some combination of the three. They’re usually served with curtido, which is a cabbagy/vinegary slaw. And they’re my single favorite food item. I ordered the pork skin and the bean pupusas, both utterly divine. I need to try the baleadas and the tacos Hondurenas next, which will likely be very soon as I plan on eating here once a week! Did I mention they have pastelitos? Heaven.10/10 Lifelong Joys

 

Taqueria Jalisco (3315 Williams Blvd.)

People are always whining about the dearth of good Mexican food in New Orleans, and yeah, I get it. It’s weird that Louisiana is right next door to Texas, but somehow our only options are Juan’s (which is fine, but let’s be real, no one is going there for the authenticity) and Felipe’s (which is just horrible). I feel like I have to be super honest right now, though: I’m not a fan of Tex Mex. I don’t get the appeal. Burritos are just too overwhelming! Rice inside a tortilla? No thanks. But I love real Mexican food, which is what I was hoping Taqueria Jalisco could deliver. But it was totally meh. I ordered three different tacos: chicharrón (pork skin), al pastor (pork), and pollo (chicken). The chicharrón was the winner, although not amazing. The al pastor was honestly kind of disgusting, and the pollo tasted exactly like the ones at Taqueria Guerrero on N. Carrollton (I think they use canned chicken?). So they’re not bad, necessarily, they’re just not worth the trip to Kenner. The salsa is really good, though; I think it has beef broth in it. I will find a good Mexican restaurant, y’all—I swear—but this isn’t it. 5/10 Pork Skins

 

Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar (3203 Williams Blvd.)

Whenever I have folks in from out of town who want an authentic New Orleans food experience, I end up taking them to the suburbs. I’m sure that someone more sociologically minded than me could explain why all the really good NOLA food is out in Jefferson Parish, and Harbor Seafood is no exception. Because we’re greedy, my table of two ordered the ½ & ½ Seafood Basket, which is half fried shrimp and half fried oysters served with coleslaw and garlic bread, a couple pounds of boiled crawfish, a dozen raw oysters, a basket of hush puppies, and an order of fried pickles. I have a couple complaints: they didn’t serve the ½ & ½ plate with lemons and the coleslaw was horrible. Other than that, this place was a total win. The fried seafood tasted the way God intended it to and the crawfish was surprisingly spicy. Come to think of it, maybe Jefferson Parish has good NOLA food because they explicitly aren’t catering to tourists, so they don’t have to serve weird, bland food. Harbor is great but be prepared to wait; the line is always long. 8.75/10 Sociologists

 

Churra’s Brazilian Grill (3712 Williams Blvd.)

This isn’t for me. I don’t think Churra’s is bad, but really this isn’t my thing. I like meat but I don’t LOVE meat and the whole conceit of this restaurant is that you pay a flat fee and eat as much grilled meat as your heart desires. It’s totally delicious; don’t get me wrong. I tried everything: pork tenderloin, ribs, steak, chicken wrapped in bacon— and it was all really good. But I can’t just eat a big ol’ pile of meat and that’s really all they have. There’s a sides/ salad bar that’s almost amazingly unappealing, like insultingly bad. The lettuce was limp and wilted, the rice was hard, the yucca wasn’t quite cooked all the way, and there’s no bread option. I don’t know. I feel like someone would adore this place but that someone ain’t me. Recommended for die-hard carnivores only. (It feels unfair for me to rate Churra’s—I just don’t like meat enough.)

 

Imperial Garden (3331 Williams Blvd.)

Imperial Garden was slammed when I went there; every table was packed. I don’t know if it’s always that busy, but it’s locally famous for having the best authentic Chinese food in the metro area… you just have to ask for the secret Chinese menu. In the interest of comparison, I ordered off both the Chinese menu and the regular (American) menu. I like authenticity but I also like a nice American-style Chinese dish. For our appetizer, we  ordered off the Chinese menu and got the “Special Appetizer,” which turned out to be a salad of thinly sliced pieces of beef shank, served cold over jellyfish garnished with cilantro. I’d never eaten jellyfish before and was pumped to try something so completely outside my normal purview. The texture of jellyfish reminded me of chicken feet (apologies for not having a more “normal” food item to compare it to). It was light and vinegary without being sour or tart. I felt like the beef was superfluous to the experience but went in hard for the jellyfish and cilantro. I also tried the General Gau’s chicken and the Tong Cho Chicken (from the American menu) and the Orange Beef (from the Chinese menu. Note that Orange Beef shows up on both menus so we specified that we wanted the one from the Chinese menu—I’m unclear on what the difference is exactly). The Orange Beef was the clear star of the show; why don’t we deep fry beef more often? The texture was perfect. General Gau’s chicken was the same thing as General Tso’s chicken. No complaints from me! And the Tong Cho chicken was also General Tso’s! The two dishes seem to be exactly the same. Oh well, who cares? I ate a jellyfish!10/10 Stars Of The Show

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