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A Favorite cheap eats place in New Orleans is Acme Oyster House. Yes it is touristy but the good & cheap food along with the experience is what makes it. If you're lucky, you may snag a spot at the oyster bar. If you're not a seafood eater get the smoked sausage po-boy with a side of fries. The red bean poopa (red beans and rice in a bread bowl w/ sausage links) is a favorite. You can also try a fried oyster po-boy with no bread. Strange huh? ..but a waiter's inside scoop is that you get more that way then ordering the platter. Wait staff is always very nice and attentiveYou might walk past a Micky Rourke look'alike or two on the sidewalk. Just go in. Huge long oyster bar with the hard-core schlerpers shoot'n'm back. A few booths, but ask to sit in the back, and might sit next to gentlemen who've just gone off duty at a hotel, listen to the patoise. Freshest oysters and the best seafood and jambalaya... nothing you order is bad; you'll go back, over and over. Never EVER judge a book by its cover in N'awlins, or you'll miss most of the fun and good food in town.
Another great cheap eats place is Johnny Po-Boys. Po-boys are served ala carte and there are dozens to pick from. The place is teeny tiny so be early or late when you go or you won’t find a table. The Johnny’s special is yummy (Roast beef and ham) and the gumbo was good too with a half a crab sticking out of it.
A third cheap eats place is the Napoleon House. The menu was limited due to the short staff from Katrina. Try the mufflatta and the jambalaya. Both are very good and cheap. You can get some of the best food for a pitance. The restaurant is intimate and wait staff is nice. It's just down the street from the Royal Orleans. They say Napoleon stayed there. Who cares. One of the waiters looked like Napoleon's footman, but he is cool.
If you need a break from cajun food and are looking for a great hamburger, head to Port of Call on Esplanade Avenue, just on the outskirts of the French Quarter. The wait may be long but get a fruity concoction from the nautical bar to pass the time. Or head to Fiorella's on Decatur, right outside the French Market for some fantastic fried chicken. The chicken is cooked to order so there is a bit of a wait, but the food is well worth it, steaming hot and super juicy! A few doors down from Fiorella's is the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, a brick oven pizza place with many styles of pizza to choose from, delicious and it won't put a huge dent in your budget.
If you venture outside of the French Quarter, try the barbeque shrimp po-boy at Liuzza's by the Track, called such because it just a short stagger from the New Orleans Fairgrounds and Racetrack - site of the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. This is the pre-Jazzfest warm-up spot, so if you're feeling festive have a bloody mary or an Abita beer in a frozen scooner.
If you're uptown looking for some great bar food, try Cooter Brown's at the corner of St. Charles and Carrollton Avenues. You can order fresh shucked oysters (only in months with an "r") at the bar and also a variety of sandwiches (even alligator) with cheesy tots! Check out the great artwork on the walls which puts a little personality to every different beer bottle they have (which is a lot!).
Want a reasonably-priced meal, authentic creole/french food? Try Tujague's in the Quarter. You just walk in, and it used to be--don't know if they still do it, but the menu d'jour is on a chaulkboard out front. Go in, sit down and they will start bringing the courses. Boiled beef with some sauce (good!). Of course, fresh bread. Soup. Again, nothing stupendous, but very tasty, and you won't feel like your wallet was picked! So if you want some "french" cook'n without the wait, ask to go to "Two-jacks" as the cabbie calls it!
All places mentioned above are in French Quarter area and you can go easily on foot. If you can drive about 1/2 hour, best seafood is available at Deanie's seafood at 1713 Lake Ave, Metairie, LA 70005-1313. You will have freshest seafood available in New Orlean area and price can not be beat. Try giant seafood platter which contains a lot of fresh shrimp, catfish, and crawfish dressing balls and finally two juicy soft-shell crabs. Spicy shrimp, charbroiled oysters with cheese are quite good too.
Last but not the least, for a cheap, amazing sugar-drenched fried "snack" get the begnets at Cafe du Monde. In days gone by, it was part of the French Market where the working people and the grocers and Chefs found the freshest food. And, they went for coffee with chickory and a delicious pile of begnets (small puff donuts) buried in a mountain of powered sugar. Now, the Cafe has a modernized "look" for the tourists, but it still gives out obscenely large portions of Heavenly pastries quickly fried for you. And in the best New Orleans tradition, they push it way over the top, because they drop the hot donuts immediately into the xxx sugar, and the hot drippings of oil cook and harden with some of the sugar to make these crunchy candied nuggets buried in the white mountain of snow-like sugar. Find them and eat them along with the begnet. To die for. Get the coffee with chickory and cream or cafe au lait, too. Leave one's home town sensibilities and tastes back there. This place is open 24/7 and beignet is good for breakfast and snack for any time including midnight snacks before you walk to your hotel (it's actually a brilliant idea since there is less wait time late at night).
No visit to the Big Easy is complete without a stop at Camillia Grill - at the end of the St. Charles streetcar line, right by Tulane. It's like stepping back into the 50's with white-jacketed waiters at the communal stainless-topped counter. Think greasy spoon late night munch or hangover breakfast & you've got the idea. All sorts of egg dishes, sandwiches grilled to order, etc. Don't let the line out the door scare you away - it moves quickly. Good, cheap eats & the waiters' banter is hilarious!