Southern Hospitality and Cuisine in Chinatown

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We wish there were more Southern options in Los Angeles, but we celebrate and enjoy what is here now.  One little gem is Little Jewel of New Orleans located in Chinatown.

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It is a Louisiana market, stocked with the delicacies of the region.  We can’t resist wandering the aisles and marveling at specialty items that we don’t normally find in LA.

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Zapp’s potato chips pack a hearty crunch and tons of intensity, in flavors such as voodoo, spicy cajun crawtators and hotter than jalapeño.

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Bags of grits, corn meal, hush puppy mix and rice will stock your pantry with the basics needed for a southern dinner party.

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Exotic pickled eggs, hot sauces, pastries and much more line the shelves, all begging for further examination.

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Ordering is done at the cash register in the market. A menu and a daily specials board list Southern options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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We couldn’t resist the Crescent City fried shrimp Po’boy which is loaded with crispy, plump and juicy deep fried shrimp, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise, pickles and tomato.  We chose to douse the shrimp with Louisiana Red Chili Hot Sauce which adds a nice steady thick heat to the very large stuffed sandwich.

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The chaurice po’boy slides creole hot sausage patties and swiss cheese inside a french loaf with lettuce, mayo, tomato and pickles for a meat packed grinder.

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We find ourselves addicted to the strong flavors of Zapp’s potato chips, especially the voodoo flavor due to its sweet, spicy savoriness, a combination we never seem to tire of.

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Our fond memories of mufflettas from Bourbon Street were reignited by Little Jewels version. The sesame seeded Leidenheimer bread is spot on and the cold cuts and cheese are amped up by a remarkable in house crafted olive salad.

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Another treat is the crawfish mac n cheese, the hearty cheese sauce is spiked with hot chili and crawfish that makes for a creamy yet slightly spicy version of this childhood favorite.

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The desserts also bring a taste of Southern home cooking to the southland.  A cold brew cheesecake and rich, moist, cinnamon heavy coffee cake were on special along with the stellar banana pudding, bread pudding and pecan pie Southern sweets.

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For an affordably priced trip down to a big easy kitchen, Little Jewel feels like a slice of Southern homestyle living, hospitality and grace which makes it a definite yes in our book.

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Little Jewel of New Orleans, 207 Ord Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone – 213-620-0461           web site – littlejewel.la

Southern MasterChef Winner Shares Her Favorite Recipes

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Whitney Miller’s second cookbook, New Southern Table, lightens up the cuisine of Whitney’s childhood and adds her interpretations of global cuisine to the mix.

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Her book launch, hosted by Melissa’s Produce, began with fresh fruit of the season including Christmas crunch grapes and cinnamon persimmons. Both sweet reminders of the glorious fruits and vegetables currently at their peak of fresh sweetness.

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Whitney introduced us to her cookbook with Creole succotash salad. Corn, grape tomatoes, cucumber, green onion and feta cheese are doused in a light vinaigrette. A side of bacon crumbles adds some salty, smokiness if guests choose to toss that in as well. Whitney grew up on a farm in Mississippi, so fresh produce abounds in her book.

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Chopped green beans and mushroom sauté, are covered with slivered almonds and dollops of goat cheese, creating an exhilarating combination of healthy, whole food bounty.

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Inspired by Roy Choi’s sliders she sampled in Los Angeles, Whitney crafted her Mississippi banh mi using seared beef tips and a carrot and broccoli slaw. She doesn’t hold back on the heat either, adding both sliced jalapeños and a mighty tasty Sriracha spread slathered on a sturdy french roll.

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Baked apple hand pies use the authors own olive oil pie dough recipe to insure the crusts stay flakey all the way around the cinnamon and granny smith apple filled centers.

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And simply because everyone loves brownies, she regaled us with her brownie cookies. These addicting, crisp edged, fudge centered disks of joy had us eating more than we care to admit. At least they were calories well spent.

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For guidance on healthier versions of Southern cuisine with a global slant from a 22 year old winner of MasterChef, pick up a copy of Whitney Miller’s New Southern Table and enjoy the ride.

 

Southern Smoke and Shopping Visionaries

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We are continually delighted by the inspired and delicious treasures the city of angels conceals. Today we found J N J Bar-B-Que and Burgers, which has been a Los Angeles icon since 1993, we’re just a tad late. But our timing is perfect because the parking lot is currently being transformed into a grassroots shopping boutique. Configured of lego-shaped storage containers that serve as the brick and mortar, these tiny stores sell produce, clothes, jewelry, hair services, cactus and the list goes on.

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The decor is simply adorable, decked out in country style to align with J N J, each store owner has enhanced their space with stunning old fashioned ingenuity, props and creativity.

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Certified organic produce and edgy fashion are a small portion of the goods these unique merchandise peddlers offer, making this space as inviting as they come.

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Be aware when stopping by J N J that this new retail wonderland is available to explore. Hours are irregular, based on each shopkeepers availability, so expect more shops to be open on the weekends

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J N J is actually two restaurants in one space. The first window we came upon was the burger stand and to order barbecue we had to walk to the patio at the side of the building. The aroma of both burgers and smoking meat fills the parking lot with intoxicating smoke and we couldn’t resist the call of slow cooked meat in spicy sauce.

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Prices here are down to earth, but it’s a cash only situation so come prepared.  Lunches, dinners, combination plates, sandwiches, party platters, sides, beverages and desserts in any combination required abound.

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Covered seating is available and they do a brisk take out business.

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Well packed to go orders keep the meat hot, the sauce in place and all the components pristine until customers are ready to make a mess.

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We got the 4 meat combo with pork ribs, brisket, hot links, and pulled pork, all smothered in the house spicy barbecue sauce.

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For our sides we chose the sweet, smokey, onion flecked beans that melt in your mouth and the cinnamon and clove enhanced chunky yam mash, both bewitching versions.  All the sides are made in house so it’s tough to go wrong.

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The hot links of beef have a nice snap and a slow spicy heat that complements the heavily herb and spice infused meat. A cross between a great sausage and tender, succulent beef jerky flavor, is the best way to describe this taste treat. We will be back for more of this in every form they serve. Hot link sandwich anyone?

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The pork ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, smokey, thick, slabs of  juicy  goodness that are seriously substantial.

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While the brisket, with its thin layer of succulent fat is a rich beefy, tangy testament to the chef’s labor of love and care.

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And finally the soft pulled pork is a mix of shredded, delicate pork interspersed with the intensely flavored sauce it’s cooked in.

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We are loving these meats and for an occasional treat we look forward to diving back into this plethora of southern intensity and skill from the kitchen.

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Some add-ons we couldn’t pass up include the crumbly, honey infused cornbread that arrives warm and ready for a slathering of butter and a drizzle of honey.  For black pepper fans the macaroni and cheese is a creamy, pepper punched, tangy side dish that reminds us of the best food we ate on our trips to the south.

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Hidden on Adams just a short drive from La Cienega and Washington Boulevards, J N J Bar-B-Que and Burgers is a tried and true Los Angeles treasure that is expanding their space into a neighborhood friendly environment. Be aware that their hours are 10 AM to 6:45 Monday thru Thursday, 10 AM to 8 PM Friday and Saturday and that they are closed on Sundays. But don’t let the early closing hours stand in the way of some great barbecue and burgers that have stood the test of time.

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JNJ Burger Shack, 5754 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016
Phone – 323-934-5390           web site – jnj-bbq.com

“Friendsgiving” Is There for You At Tart

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The reenergized Farmer’s Daughter Hotel on Fairfax is home to Tart, a southern slanting restaurant with nods to California’s ethnic diversity and agricultural abundance. The country boutique ambiance is the ideal setting for their holiday season kickoff “Friendsgiving” feast, running from November 15th-27th, 12pm-10pm daily. “Friendsgiving” is the newest way to enjoy the festivities with your nearest and dearest, embracing a throwback to the famous sitcom that taught us so much about Thanksgiving.

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To celebrate, Tart’s executive chef Keith Shutta took inspiration from each of the world’s favorite friends to create his “accommodating” Thanksgiving menu.

For – THE ONE WHO DOESNT SHARE FOOD –  there is a half chicken with all the traditional sides of the season.

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For – THE ONE WHO HATES THANKSGIVING – a TART burger with blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, mustard aioli, fries and a side salad is just the ticket.

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For – THE ONE WHO’S DADDY’S GIRL – it’s the full Thanksgiving feast of roast turkey breast roulade stuffed with turkey meatloaf and covered in a down-home, black pepper tinged, creamy gravy.

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The sides, that also accompany the chicken, include cornbread stuffing medallions, thick slices of baked yam coated in a luscious warm brown sugar, butter, nutmeg, cayenne, marshmallow and toasted pecan topping. Smokey black-eyed peas, onion and carrots that obtain their aroma from a bacon vegetable stock and are finished with whole grain mustard and braised rainbow chard. Cranberries with black mission figs are scented with the juice and peel of fresh oranges, cinnamon stick, allspice and bay leaf. The tart cranberry sauce rounds out this perfectly balanced and enlivening flavor palate that Chef Shutta has wrangled beautifully.

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For – THE ONE WHO DOESN’T EAT MEAT – corn, red bell pepper, caramelized onion, zucchini, peas, brown and wild rice are seasoned with fresh thyme and wrapped in blanched savoy cabbage leaves. A burre blanc and parsley are drizzled over the cabbage rolls and surrounding buttered peas and onion. This light yet supremely satisfying entree has us seriously considering vegetarianism as a lifestyle choice.

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For dessert and -THE ONE WHO USED TO BE FAT – all meals are completed with a warm holiday pan purdue lovingly crafted with brioche, golden raisins, dried apricots, fresh pineapple, maraschino cherries, cream, eggs and vanilla extract.  A scoop of Fossleman’s vanilla bean ice cream and stewed cranberries add a sweet tart finish to this cornucopia of flavor.

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A palate cleanser of sorbet is always a welcome interlude during this type of sumptuous repast.

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Once the meal is over and memories made, diners get to take their trimmings home, because TART is fixing a to-go gourmet sandwich for a classic day-after Thanksgiving indulgence. All who partake in the $35.00 “Friendsgiving” celebration, regardless of which entree they choose, will receive a complementary care package of country gravy and a comforting turkey sandwich with stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayo, served on a baguette to complete the holiday in style.

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This perfectly crafted sandwich is a palate pleaser the next day, but if all you crave is the sandwich, it can also be ordered for pick up at the restaurant for $12.

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We found the “friendsgiving” feast an effortless and delectable way to celebrate the bounty and give thanks with friends and family. We are taking the advice written on the wall and opening to the overflowing good that Tart is dishing out this holiday season.

Tart Restaurant, 115 South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone – 323-556-2608           web site – tartrestaurant.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating The Oceans Bounty

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A colorful corner marks the entrance to Mel’s Fish Shack, which is just what it professes to be, a tiny tight spot for fresh fish.

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A few stools and a counter are available for customers to wait for their orders to go.

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The menu lists lunch and dinner plates, but unless you have a minuscule appetite, the dinners are the way to go.

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Prices are a good value for the quality seafood we get here and we take advantage of the Monday and Tuesday specials. Also Groupon is currently running a 50% off sale for Mel’s, grab a deal and you can try two dinners for the price of one.

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First and foremost we are blown away by the grilled shrimp. These plump bad boys are expertly cooked with a delightful seasoning blend and when dipped in their famous dill tarter sauce, take us straight to nirvana.  We like our shrimp with greens to get an infusion of health benefits and we also like the hush puppies. They say balance is everything and no one wants to go overboard with the whole health thing.  The greens are full bodied and tasty and the hush puppies have a crunchy corn meal crust and comforting warm umami essence.

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We also adore the succulent, spiced grilled shrimp salad, served with the signature house crafted ginger vinaigrette and garlic bread.

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The grilled fish wraps are a healthy feast of catfish (you can choose whatever fish you like) and abundant leafy greens wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.  The wraps, also served with the famous dill tarter and hot sauce, are so tasty we could easily eat these everyday.

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If you happen to be in the neighborhood on a Monday or Tuesday, they offer fried tilapia tacos at $2.50 each and the crispy shells are packed for maximum crunch with the heavenly, tangy cabbage slaw and spicy salsa served alongside until eating is imminent and we toss the slaw and salsa on top of the fish so everything stays in top fresh form.  This Southern style fish taco is a flavor profile that immediately made our favorites list.

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We don’t know if it’s just nostalgia, but fish always tastes better to us out of a shack and Mel’s Fish Shack reignites both our memory and our palate with their spectacular renditions of our favorite seafood. Go Mel.

Mel’s Fish Shack, 4524 West Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016
Phone – 323-732-6357      web site – melsfishshack.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Barbecue Search Is On

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The smoke and aroma literaly pulled us into JR’s Barbeque.  Driving down La Cienega, the bright red building with black awnings declares barbeque in big red letters, just in case you miss the plumes of smoke carrying the essence of dry rub ribs being cooked over mesquite, white oak and pecan wood.

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The charming interior looks like things have remained pretty much the same since 1998 when they opened their doors.  Photos of celebrities line the walls of both the counter and the dining room, all send thanks and praise to the owners.

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The menu is filled with Memphis style barbeque delights, all large and offered at reasonable prices.  We chose the three meat combination and two of us were unable to finish it.  But we did order a couple of corn muffins also, which we highly recommend.

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Our trio of baby back ribs, brisket and chicken was all fall off the bone tender, smokey and drenched in mild barbecue sauce.  We also mixed in the super hot barbecue sauce which added a habanero kick to the mild sauce without overpowering the meat.

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The sweet and tangy beans provided a wonderful complement to the richly flavored and sauced meats.

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We just couldn’t get enough of the sweet, cake-like corn muffins and when the salted butter softened a bit, we slathered it on the warm corn bread for a sweet and salty blast.

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The dessert menu reads like a tour of the south if you have any room left after a hearty plate of pig, cow and chicken.

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As we explore the southern offerings of Los Angeles, we are pleased to include the delightful meats, baked beans and corn muffins of JR’s as a Memphis bench mark and look forward to sharing how the unfortunately limited  number of barbeque establishments locally compare.

JR’s Barbecue, 3055 La Cienega Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
Phone -310-837-6838     web site – jrs-bbq.com

A Little Southern Hospitality

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We love exploring America’s regional cuisines and Southern is one of our favorites.  So when we heard about Les Sisters Southern Kitchen, we ran right over and boy are we glad we did.

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The charming space, decked out in Mardi Gras paraphernalia, beads and colors, makes us feel we are celebrating life, which we are when we come here.

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Les Sister’s Southern Kitchen has been in business for 29 years and we can see why.  The service is hospitable, the menu plentiful, the food heartwarming and scrumptious, which all combine to make the dining experience here jubilant.

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We started with the shrimp jambalaya which we requested spicy.  We also understand they have a spice level called WOW.

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The spicy was medium, and we like it hot, so we took advantage of Louisiana’s traditional hot sauces from the table to add a jolt.  The shrimp is perfectly cooked and melts in your mouth, while the rice, sausage, vegetables, herbs and spices all meld together to create a homestyle version of this classic.

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We also couldn’t pass up the spicy fried chicken.  Again I don’t think we would call it spicy as much as we would say it’s exceptionally well spiced.

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The crisp coating crunched under our bite, revealing juicy, tender dark meat as requested.  We love the juxtaposition of crispy skin over moist, flavorful chicken.

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The collard greens are well cooked and with the addition of Trappey’s spicy vinegar, become the perfect accompaniment to the meal.

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The crowing glory, that makes us feel delightfully decadent, is the buttermilk pie with fresh whipped cream.  This warm, slightly sweet, smooth slice tastes like a marriage between a bread pudding, a soufflé and creme brûlée.   The perfect end to a memorable meal.

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 For a traditional taste of some of the most authentic Southern hospitality and cuisine locally, stop by Les Sisters and allow them to bring  you into the family.

Les Sisters’ Southern Kitchen, 21818 Devonshire Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311 Phone – 818-998-0755     web site – lessisters.com

 

Orleans & York Brings Southern Enchantment to LA

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I always think of Los Angeles as representing every diverse culture, yet as I dig deeper, I realize how little we have of certain iconic cuisines.  One of these hard to find, world-famous cooking styles is Louisiana fare.  If you’ve been lucky enough to travel to New Orleans you know that the entire city is devoted to the most luscious lifestyle, drinking and cooking possible.

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Thank goodness Orleans & York Deli has picked up the slack and brought to LA some remarkable southern enchantment.  Today our search for the highest-quality hidden deliciousness in Los Angeles took us to Inglewood, where we strode into the immaculately clean deli and grabbed the best Shrimp po-boy we’ve ever had.  It took all our willpower to pass up the fried shrimp version, which comes extremely highly recommended, but for the sake of our heart and arteries we opted for the grilled shrimp version and dang, that is one fabulous Po-Boy.

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The plump, spiced, grilled shrimp jumped right out of the sandwich when we split it in half.  And split it we had to, because this is one big po-boy.  But you may not want to share it once you get a bite of the freshly baked, chewy french bread smeared with mayonnaise and stuffed with grated lettuce, thick slices of tomato and that sweet, spicy shrimp.  Oh that shrimp!

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We were also pleasantly surprised with the garden-fresh grated coleslaw, delicately dressed and spiked with pineapple.

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If you like a little kick, don’t forget to ask for a side of their house-made hot sauce which is a spot on rendition of the vinegar-tangy hot condiment we drooled over in the Big Easy.

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They have a daily board of specials, so feel free to explore the menu, but don’t forget to order the shrimp.

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An abundant and varied selection of Zapp’s potato chips, the famous kettle-style brand from New Orleans, lines one entire wall, so you can dig in to your tastebuds delight.

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If you have any room left you will find at every turn, southern desserts to temp you, both made in-house and from outside bakers.

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When you need a taste of the south there’s no need to go any further than Inglewood to find the Mardi Gras.

Orleans & York Deli, 400 E Florence Ave, Inglewood, CA 90301
Phone – 310-671-6200  web site – orleansandyorkdeli.com

or

Orleans and York Deli, 4454 W Slauson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90043
Phone – 323-291-8800