Father Crankenpants Tom Fitzmorris is back from vacation on Planet Calamari this week with a selection of best new casual restaurants that opened in 2013: "Look down the list and you'll pick up a clear emphasis on sandwiches, pizza, barbecue and fried seafood" and also no barbecue at all, more Asian options, and at least one place that opened in 2012. And while "$10 hamburgers and $12 po' boys are proliferating" faster than a bunch of stank hipsters in an extremely loud restaurant somewhere in the Bywater, have no fear, folks... T-Fitz stays far far away from the Bywater and all those bullshit chefs ruining the industry in his top dozen casual restaurants to open in 2013.
1.) Blue Crab and Brisbi's near West End: "A tie...Both are locally owned and each is managed by a guy with family connections to a famous New Orleans restaurant. The jury's still out as to which will prove better. It may be that way permanently, like the competition between Bruning's and Fitzgerald's in the old West End Park days."
3.) Lucky Rooster in the CBD:"Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean are all here, usually in hybrid form. The flavors are big," almost as big as certain people's britches.
4.) Mizado Cocina in Mid City:"All the dishes are takes on the Mexican flavor and not attempts to achieve authenticity." Thank goodness, lest señor remind us of our misconceptions about Mexican while devouring a tub of choriqueso again.
5.) Morning Call in City Park: "It's at the historic casino (which has never been a casino) in the handsomely renovated, extensively tiled, antique space that used to be the snack and souvenir shop," and it opened in 2012.
6.) Bistro Orleans in Metairie: "The young owner knows how to cook, and they put out a fine menu of sandwiches, salads and platters. Among the latter is a rarity: fried wild-caught catfish."
7.) Liberty Cheesesteaks on Freret: "This one makes the po' boy equivalent of Pennsylvania with a lot of copy about how this is the authentic original. That's not worth getting into, but the cheesesteak sandwiches and others definitely are." Wait, so do you order the Pennsylvania po' boy or the cheesesteak sandwich or the Pennsylvania po' boy cheesesteak sandwich?
8.) Noodle & Pie, Uptown: "The noodles are Asian."
9.) Wayfare on Freret:"It looks like a full-fledged bar ran into the back of the diner," not really, but it is "another cool-looking place for the very-hip Freret Street dining row" with "very fine" sandwiches.
10.) RocketFire Pizza in Metairie: T-Fitz declares his love by throwing some serious shade... "This is strange: RocketFire, after taking months to pull its act together at its first restaurant in Covington, opened a second location next to Dorignac's in Metairie. Then it closed the original place, claiming that it was far too big for a pizzeria... Its unique selling point: a coal-burning oven for the pizza. But that lasted less than a year as a unique touch. Two other places now have coal as fuel." Right.