Outside Atlanta


It lives in one of the oldest buildings in Shreveport, so old it’s on the National Registry. The section of town is hardly the best, and it’s only open at lunch. But the look, outside and inside, has to be seen to be believed, and they serve what they call a muffy, so designated (so my father tells me) because Fertitta’s was sued when they tried to use the phrase “muffuletta”.

The "small" muffy. The large one is bigger than my spread hand.

Fertitta’s muffy is an original, in part because of the home made olive salad they use, in part because it’s a sweeter olive salad than most. It doesn’t transport me the way the muffuletta at E. 48th Street Market Italian did, but something with a near 80 year history deserves some respect. I enjoyed the sandwich, enjoyed the meal, loved the ambience. The ambience alone makes this something of a “must visit” for a food aficionado in the Shreveport area.

Fertitta’s Delicatessen
1124 Fairfield Ave
Shreveport, LA 71101
(318) 424-5508

Fertitta's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

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Many years ago I met and befriended a guy named Wayne Comeaux, and he was from the city of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. I heard plenty about Breaux Bridge’s crawfish festival, and when I recently visited home to attend a high school reunion, on the way back I decided to give the memory of Wayne the homage it deserved and find an eatery in Breaux Bridge and try  it out. It was about 3 hours out of my way, but I thought it would be a worthwhile detour.

Breaux Bridge is about 6 miles or so east of the I-49/I-10 intersection, and its historic district is less than 2 miles off the interstate. It makes this small community very  inviting for a  traveler, and historic Breaux Bridge itself is an eyeful.

I arrived on a Sunday around 10:30am, and so was ordering from Cafe Des Amis’s Sunday brunch menu. A lot of the items were starchy and  I was alone, so I had to avoid personal favorites for those items I could safely eat. I had a cup of their chicken and sausage gumbo, and what they called their marinated seafood salad.

The cup of gumbo was small (a bowl was available for 5 dollars extra), but flavorful, and not especially hot. I’d say that was also true of the salad as well, being more sneak-up-on-you hot than anything else. I’m still not quite sure of the  salad’s “vinaigrette”. Perhaps it’s me, but I don’t associate that orange shade with any kind of vinaigrette. Nonetheless, I enjoyed  the flavor of the dish, bits of seafood sparkling like jewels between the sauce and chunks of cheese.

The building itself is very pretty upon entry. Walls are largely brick, with plenty of wood and also some aluminum siding towards the front. It looks old, it feels old, but the walls are also decorated in art – abstracts when I was there, along with some religious iconography near the bar. There was seating equivalent to about 15 to 20 or so tables for 4, though some tables were scooted together so large parties could eat. There is a lot of graffiti on the walls, and a sign to please not add to it, unless you were one of the artists that contributed to the walls in one fashion or another.

Service was friendly and excellent. The experience was pleasing. I’m going to have to make this detour at least one more time.

Cafe Des Amis
140 East Bridge Street
Breaux Bridge, LA, 70517
(337) 332-5273

Cafe Des Amis on Urbanspoon

I ran into Mc Alisters the same day I visited the Waysider in Tuscaloosa. I was hungry, tired and the signs near Jackson MS were appealing. So we pulled off the road, took a look inside, and were generally impressed.

Deal is, you go inside and order. They have a large selection of sandwiches, some soups of the day, plenty of large filling salads. You pick up a number and sit.  As you wait, staff will refill drinks, make sure everything is okay. The spacing of tables is roomy. It’s a good place for, say, a mom weighed down with a few kids and needing some help getting them all calm and fed.

At the time I got the impression Mc Alisters was a small regional Mississippi chain. The food was good, not mind blowing, but good. There was a smart, interesting menu; things like gumbo and muffulettas were available, pointing out how close Mississippi was to New Orleans. Another sandwich, the Memphian, pointed out that Tennessee and Memphis was a neighbor as well. They served other southern favorites, such as iced tea. For those who didn’t like the stock sandwiches, they had a “build your own” option. I was thinking it’d be cool if they expanded into Atlanta.

Turns  out that Mc Alisters is much larger than my original guess. They’re in 22 states, and there is a location in Lawrenceville. One of the things I was planning to do before being snowed in  this January was find the Lawrenceville location, and try it out.

The menu, as currently posted in Georgia, is much reduced compared to the menu in Mississippi. I ordered a sandwich for myself and then a couple sandwiches for my family. I spoke with a member of the Lawrenceville staff (Tyler I believe) for a few minutes, asking the questions that were on my mind.

To note, the menu in Georgia is about to change. Things available in Mississippi can be had in Georgia. For now you have to ask for them. The one meat item they didn’t have is pastrami, and  that meant the New Yorker was off the menu here in Atlanta. But having the muffuletta available is huge for me. I’m a big fan of muffuletta sandwiches.

The Lawrenceville location is off Old Peachtree Road, and it’s just a minute or two north of Discover Mills. For those of us near Snellville, considering Mc Alisters when we make a jaunt up Sugarloaf towards 85 and Discover Mills simply makes sense.

Mc Alister’s Deli
1030 Old Peachtree Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
(678) 407-0818

Mc Alister's Deli on Urbanspoon

From the corner of Brown Road and Sugarloaf Parkway, next to Discover Mills, take Brown Road north. Mc Alister’s will then appear on your left, as you approach the intersection of Brown Road and Old Peachtree. It’s in the strip mall that has a Publix.

Mc Alister’s Deli
200 Riverwind Drive
Pearl, MS 39208
(601) 933-0476

Mc Alister's Deli on Urbanspoon

There are two other locations in the Atlanta area:

Mc Alister’s Deli
1425 Market Blvd
Roswell, GA 30076
(770) 594-3220

Mc Alister's Deli on Urbanspoon

Mc Alister’s Deli
2950 George Busbee Parkway
Kennesaw, GA 30144
(770) 499-1581

Mc Alister's Deli on Urbanspoon

This last location has an interesting review by John Bickford.

It’s in a section of town that steps back in time, with small, single story buildings overrun by the larger houses that have grown up around these structures. Old, in the style of a town center. Still, it’s fashionable these days, repainted and fresh, and in this segue back to the first half of the twentieth century is the City Cafe.

It has an exceptional online reputation for being an inexpensive “meal and three” shop. Lines will form, waiting for seating. According to users of Urban Spoon, it can take as long as 20 minutes to get a meal around lunchtime. So when we arrived about 11:30ish on a Monday just after New Years, I counted myself lucky that only 7 or 8 people were ahead of us.

The deal is this: you basically wait and watch for one of the booths to open up, and when it does, you sit in it. Staff will then come by, clean up and then take your order.

Service is fast and efficient. Prices are dirt cheap. Meal and 3 costs $5.10, and you don’t have to get 3 vegetables.

I wish I could say we had no issues with the food, because so many other components of the experience were appealing. But my daughter had issues with the flavor of her catfish and my wife felt her chicken was a bit too salty. The bigger issue for me was the catfish, which either had an odd spice or was a little old that day. I couldn’t be sure. I had salmon croquettes, and they were good. So, our experience with the entrées here was hit or miss. Choose carefully. Vegetables were excellent, and made in the southern style.

Verdict: Good sides, hit or miss main dishes. Choose carefully, and you’ll be rewarded.

City Cafe
408 Main Avenue
Northport AL 35476
(205) 758-9171

City Cafe on Urbanspoon

“Best alligator I’ve ever eaten,” my brother says as the alligator bites make it to the table. They are indeed flavorful, grilled and tasty as the plate barely survives my brother and daughter. There were only the three of us that day, my wife and father sick with the flu. But we were trying to scope out some Cajun and this was not only my brother’s choice, it was one of our late mother’s favorites.

Ralph and Kacoos is a small chain and sit-down restaurant, with locations in Baton Rogue, New Orleans, and Lufkin Texas. It’s in an older, popular strip mall in Bossier City, one heavily used since I was a young boy. I had my first Baskin Robins ice cream in that mall, and it used to have a coin dealer and a Radio Shack. Perhaps it still has the Shack.

alligator bites

I found our service to be exceptionally good, and the menu a little tricky in these times. Being a diabetic means avoiding any serving of rice you can’t adequately gauge by eye, or in general, avoiding any unmeasurable carbs. I wanted to try some of their soups, and so rice was unavoidable. But Ralph and Kacoos had fish, and with the fish you could get vegetables. That’s the route I went this day.

crawfish, fries, and étouffée

 

Fish smothered in étouffée.

We had oysters, fresh and good, as well as the alligator bites. Hush puppies came with the meal; I had a bite of part of one. My daughter and brother had a crawfish and étouffée dish, served with fries. Everything was good, though we initially caught a bad batch of rice. We mentioned this to staff, and it was replaced without issue.

Verdict: An old warhorse of a Cajun eatery, still going strong after decades. Good food, great staff.

Ralph and Kacoos
1700 Old Minden Road #141
Bossier City, LA 71111
(318) 747-6660

Ralph & Kacoo's Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Podnuh’s is perhaps my brother’s favorite barbecue in the Shreveport area. A small chain with a cafeteria line style of service, you order your meats, and once handed what you order, you pick your choice of sides as you stroll down towards the register. On this day I had brisket, and ordered ribs to go for my family.

The brisket was pretty ordinary; the ribs were quite good. They are large ribs, done in the Saint Louis style. The smoke flavor in the ribs is distinct and you can easily see a smoke ring on the ribs. By contrast, the brisket tended to be dry and the smoke flavor was sometimes there, sometimes not.

Sides are decent; staff is quite helpful. The looks inside are worth a peek. Bits and pieces of western memorabilia cover the sides of the walls. A television is in one corner, but otherwise was a quiet place to spend an evening between Christmas and New Years.

Pudnuh’s Barbecue
1146 Shreveport Barksdale Highway
Shreveport, LA 71105
(318) 869-3371

Podnuh's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

It’s a red building, seen on your right as you head north on highway 69. It’s not the easiest to get to, nor the easiest to find parking for, though signs for parking exist and eventually will get you to the right spot. It is small, the converted house, and the size is the eventual cause of our misfortunes here, because being small and also being popular create unique issues for any eatery.

We came here for breakfast. Waysider serves a variety of breakfast items. There are good looking pancakes, good buttery biscuits, excellent buttery grits. Rich starchy foods abound. The Paula Deen axiom, “You can never have too much butter,” is in play here. Walls, like so many Tuscaloosa eateries, are covered with Bear Bryant and Alabama football memorabilia. There aren’t many staffers but they constantly move, remaking the  eatery for every new family, or group that eats here. Groups of eaters often exceed a dozen in a party.

Good juice, tiny glasses of it.

 

The only plate of food that came as we ordered it.

I had ordered steak and eggs.

Hash browns missing here.

Our issue with Waysider is a little exceptional, and a product of the need to feed many mouths. Our waitress didn’t get our order accurately, and to be plain, she goofed big time. I had hardly half the food I wanted, and big portions of my wife’s order were simply skipped. So much of it was missing I simply assumed that it was coming on a separate set of plates. Now, in 99% of other establishments, this gets fixed. But not in the Waysider.

When I finally told our waitress that there was a problem with the order, staff came out of the kitchen and in a loud voice exclaimed

WHAT’S GOING ON  HERE? ARE YOU TRYING TO TAKE ANOTHER ORDER? YOU CAN’T TAKE AN ORDER TWICE HERE!

At  that, we decided the best approach was to pay our bill and leave.

I just have a few more words to add to this. Our situation was unusual, but the actions were not hard to understand, given the crowd of eaters behind us. That said, the actions were hardly “Southern Hospitality”. In fact, we were treated quite harshly, the worst treatment I’ve suffered in my nearly 2 years of food blogging. This isn’t a failure of the waitress, or the staff. This is a wholesale management failure. Management has to step in and fix this, or decide if they want a reputation for ruthlessness  in dealing with customers to dog them the rest of their days.

Verdict: Good food. Staff is broken, literally. Recommend as long as they can get your order right.

Waysider
1512 Greensboro Ave
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
(205) 345-8239

Waysider on Urbanspoon

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