The St. Claude neighborhood of New Orleans is on the up-and-coming list. A neighborhood that has historically been working class residents is now filled with transplants to the city who are transforming the area into a hip community with tons of new art galleries, bars and restaurants.
One of these new eateries is Red’s Chinese, an unassuming storefront turned into one of the best spots in town. Much like many of the establishments in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, Red’s is founded by two out-of-towners who met in New York City and then relocated to NOLA. They took over the lowest level of a building on St. Claude Avenue. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but once inside, the open kitchen stretches down the right wall and on the opposite wall is a full bar. The ceilings are low and the place is decorated sparingly, a few pictures, a chalkboard with a Hemingway quote, plants and trinkets in the back courtyard. The relaxed environment creates a perfect background for the menu to really stand out.
Though Red’s specializes in Chinese food, their menu is unlike most Chinese food you’ve had before. The chefs do a great job sculpting a menu that highlights some of our favorite local ingredients and combines them in creative ways. They also take some traditional Creole dishes and add more of a Chinese flair to them. For example, as a small dish, you can order the craw rangoons, a crispy fried dumpling filled with cream cheese and crawfish meat, a take on crab rangoons. Or, as a larger dish, you can order the dirty rice, a traditional Creole dish, but at Red’s they make it more of a traditional fried rice dish with egg, chicken liver, ground pork and duck.
All of the dishes are served “family style,” which means they come in big portions, are meant to be shared with the table, and come out as they are ready, so make sure you come with a group of people who like to share and explore a new menu. Though you may see some familiar sounding food items listed on the menu, I can almost guarantee that each menu item will surprise you. For a more traditional dish, try the ginger scallion noodles, a warm, flavorful bowl filled with soft noodles. There are many different kinds of fried rice available on the menu, such as the dirty rice or the Hawaiian fried rice with bacon, chicken and pickled pineapple. The restaurant also has a fully stocked bar, complete with a cocktail and beer list. And for dessert, be sure to enjoy a boozy snoball. Though the flavors change daily, it’s sure to be something interesting, such as a bourbon-rootbeer or lemongrass-tequila.
For a trip off the usual tourist route, take a trip downtown to check out the St. Claude neighborhood and Red’s Chinese food.