It used to be in New Orleans that a bar was a bar, and it served alcoholic beverages. Maybe potatoe chips were available at the counter. Not anymore. Neighborhood “dive” bars or even more upscale operations, are serving all kinds of interesting food now. They’re breaking ground in ethnic fare not previously found in New Orleans. Take Marie’s Bar in the Marigny, at 2483 Burgundy St. at the corner of St. Roch. On Sundays now, there’s a pop-up Filipino restaurant, Milkfish. Marie’s is a quintessential “dive” bar, with locals mixing in with afterhours Bywater bohemian and hipster types. And now they can all chow down happily on a menu including Filipino classics like lumpia and chicken adobo. The chef, Christina Quackenbush, has been in the food business for a while, including bartending at the High Hat Café’ and serving at Rio Mar Restaurant in the Warehouse District. A contingent of Filipinos moved to New Orleans after Katrina, joining the 2000 or so already here (according to the 2000 census), and their cuisine is diverse, spicy, and fits right in here. You can read an interview with Quackenbush here for a description of the food and her new business. http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/cristina-quackenbush/Content?oid=2004793.
If you’re not interested in dining in the tropics, you can try out Eastern European fare at another bar and music venue on St. Claude Avenue, Siberia. It’s at 2227 St. Claude Avenue, not far from Elysian Fields Avenue. Fittingly enough, Kukhyna at Siberia, open daily from 5PM to midnight, serves Russian and Polish food. Hearty stuff, noodles and dumplings and blinis, goes well with beer and avant-garde music. Although it’s known as a venue for heavy metal, Siberia also presents out-there jazz and diverse musical acts like Quintron and Miss Pussycat. It’s worth checking the music calendar, but it’s really worth it to try cuisine that’s pretty rare this side of the Balkans. Just sub Russian vodka for the beer, and you’re almost there!
Next time you’re in town and staying at your favorite New Orleans Bed and Breakfast, Southern Comfort, be sure to borrow our complimenary bicycles and check out these two very interesting places.