Bronson's Big Easy
All month long, we're celebrating the people, places, dishes and traditions that make Southern food so special. Come take a seat at our table.
New York-based rapper and chef Action Bronson recently visited New Orleans to shoot his Vice Munchies show, "F*ck, That's Delicious," but left feeling like he only scratched the surface of the city. "I wasn't able to try everything I wanted to, but the things I did left me wanting to explore more," he says.
Bronson covered the most ground possible by meeting up with locals and packing in some must-have dishes like fried chicken and gumbo. "Every single place had its own unique take on a dish and its own unique feel, and they're all characters," Bronson says. Fittingly, New Orleans is also an iconic city for music lovers like Bronson, who's currently prepping for the March 23 release of his major-label debut album, Mr. Wonderful.
Here are Bronson's picks for best places to catch live jazz and feast on lamb neck, beignets and foie gras fondue in the Big Easy.
Breakfast: Café du Monde
"You wanna start off with a big boom, so I usually get a beignet," Bronson says. "I don't play those beignets at night—I go to there right in the morning, and I like to eat them straight up. I don't even like too much powdered sugar on it. There's a similar thing in my Albanian culture called a petulla, and I like them without sugar. Du Monde is good for coffee, too. I'm not a big coffee guy, but I've been watching this show on the Travel Channel where this dude travels all over the place for rare coffees, and it's kind of getting me into it."
Lunch: Willie Mae's Scotch House
"You're gonna hit Willie Mae's Scotch House in the Tremé neighborhood, and you're gonna get the fried chicken," Bronson says. "Plus, you gotta get the beans, you gotta get the rice, you gotta get the corn bread. Every thing they make is top notch, but the fried chicken is key. They make you feel like you're right at home—Southern hospitality is real here."
Light Dinner: Bar Gumbo
"After a heavy fried chicken lunch, you're going to want something light," Bronson says. "Hit the streets. Go eat some bar gumbo from a random bar. Especially on Mondays, a lot of places do gumbo or rice and beans for free when you drink. Go in, act like you're gonna order a drink and get you a bowl. Then keep it moving. Do some tastings around the neighborhood."
Sit-Down Dinner: Toups' Meatery
"Isaac Toups was born and raised in Rayne, Louisiana, and he wanted to deliver a real taste of home in his restaurant. The atmosphere is kind of woodsy, and he cooks real down-home Louisiana stuff (they call it 'contemporary Cajun')," Bronson says. "You've got to get the lamb neck—he braises it and puts it over black-eyed peas, with the bacon grease. It's incredible. He also makes these cracklins that are phenomenal. He hits it with this incredible salt; it's just too good. I'm always on the lookout for new information to use in my own shit, and I'm going to try some of his brine techniques to make the cracklins. I do chicken cracklins though. And salmon cracklins."
Jazz Clubs: Frenchman Street in Faubourg Marigny
"We saw Little Freddie King at d.b.a. in the Marigny, which is just down from the French Quarter. It was incredible. But they switch up on all these places. One guy will be there one night, and another guy will be there the next. You get hints from the locals, or you can just hang out on the street and hear music coming out of the clubs."
Dessert and Cocktails: SoBou
"We were staying at the W and decided to go to the restaurant attached," Bronson says. "They had these little tuna-avocado ice cream cones with pineapple ceviche, which was just, like, next level. I had some sweet potato beignets and foie gras fondue with duck and ganache, too. You know, some real fat shit. This place is known for cocktails, but I'm not a big drinker. If alcohol tasted better, I would be into it. We're smokers. We just smoke anywhere we want. Everywhere's a smoketail bar."
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