Nawlins BarBQ and Seafood
3317 Cinema Point Drive, 571-9777, nawlinsbarbq.com
I set out for Nawlins on a dreary, drizzly afternoon, craving a little Cajun and hoping for some soft-shell crab. Entering straight from the doorway into the bar — decorated in maroon, black and brick, and filled with Bayou kitsch (purple-and-gold Mardi Gras masks, Saints banners, Tony Parenti on the radio) — I sadly found there was none of the latter.
There was blackened catfish ($13.99), however. With a recipe credited to celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme, the dish features two long, crusted filets with a side of maque choux. Mysteriously, it all was served on a sizzling cast-iron fajita pan, which meant I scraped, more than cut, the fish. The side's buttery corn kernels popped with salty juice, but the heavy poisson was solid and lifeless but for the seasoning. Leaving, I felt nothing but rain and a heavy, unsettled stomach. — Bryce Crawford
2416 E. Boulder St., 475-2621
A sign across the L-shaped counter: "We can only please one customer a day, and today ain't your day. Tomorrow ain't looken to good either."
Ah, classic diner humor, misspellings and all. Fitting, because Jill's is a classic diner. Though ownership has changed over the last two decades — Jill Bennett herself formerly ran it as My Sister's Kitchen with Susie's Westside Cafe's Susan McGregor — the same griddle cook has been there all along. And many of the same patrons fill a bustling community table.
I get the breakfast burrito ($7.25 half order/$9.25 full) with sausage, green chile and home fries. (You can also do Ranch Foods Direct hamburger meat, gravy or hash browns.) The chile was starchy and mild, but flavorful with ample pork hunks. A house-made apple pie slice ($2.50) was super cinnamon-y, with a nice hint of lemon zest next to an always-"meh" cup of Farmers Brothers. — Matthew Schniper
Jives Coffee Lounge
16 Colbrunn Court, 210-7650, jivescoffeelounge.com
To borrow from High Fidelity, only people of a certain disposition go to coffee shops to publicly read, write and yes, drink coffee. And I am of that disposition. That being true, Jives' wide, wood-floored dining room of small tables, Victorian chairs and brick walls is about the closest thing to heaven. Consider the shop's proximity to green-and-blooming Bancroft Park, and the Pearly Gates draw even closer.
And the drinks pretty much seal the whole deal. Ordered from the front counter and paid for through an iPad there, the spicy and Zebra mochas ($4.15 each/16-ounce "grandioso" size), are basically all you'd want from chocolate concoctions. OK, the spicy's really not all that spicy, and the Zebra's white chocolate is a touch too sweet ... but neither could qualify as cloying or burnt. In fact, both went straight to smooth and happy. — Bryce Crawford