You say that quaint cottage in Maine or cabin in the Smoky mountains isn’t lined up for the family this summer? Seems like what’s ahead for you and yours is the summer swamp, humid heat that New Orleanians have long survived like a badge of honor. All kinds of creative tactics come to bear (or is that bare?) as locals dress and cook minimally once the temperatures start to rise.
The smartest amongst the sweltering know that shade-seeking outside and refusing-to-turn-the-oven-on inside are two surefire ways to beat the heat. But a body has to eat…and drink. So, consider these frosty beverages, frozen treats and chill savory bites as the first offensive against what is as sure as death and taxes – hot as blazes summertime in New Orleans.
The Creole Creamery
4924 Prytania St., 504-894-8680; 2565 Metairie Road, 504-354-8069; 6260 Vicksburg St., 504-482-2924; Creolecreamery.com.
With three locations and 18 classic flavors (think cookies & cream, Creole cream cheese, lavender honey and peanut butter fudge pie), plus an ever-changing seasonal menu of frosty ice cream, sorbet and dairy-free sorbet favorites, Creole Creamery is a favorite go-to spot for delicious dessert treats. Recent Instagram (@Creolecreamery) posts featured the “Paloma sorbet,” a dairy-free/vegan combo of pink grapefruit, lime, tequila and sea salt in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, and a Jazz Fest celebration special of “Black & Gold Crunch,” double-vanilla ice cream with chicory root, crushed Oreos and chocolate chips. Yes, please! But wait, there’s more. Try adding a little espresso in the mix for a true pick-me-up. The frozen cappuccino (made with Café au Lait ice cream and double espresso) or the “Signature Affogato Sundaes,” with options like S’mores (graham crackers, chocolate ice cream, espresso, marshmallow sauce and topped with chocolate chips) and the Cracker Jack (salted caramel ice cream, espresso, topped with caramel popcorn, whipped cream and peanuts) are two of our favorites.
Rahm Haus is the punk rock of ice cream. The way Jillian Duran sees it, mint chocolate chip is fine for some, bless their hearts. But when she founded Rahm Haus mid-pandemic, the idea was to bring ingredients together that would give customers that mosh pit flavor experience in every bite. The “Look at this F’n Street” is a case in point. Named in homage to the Insta account of the same name, this is Duran’s version of the rockiest of New Orleans roads. Think dark chocolate creole cream cheese ice cream, studded with cayenne candied pecans and charcoal coconut marshmallows, all encased in a crunchy dark chocolate shell punctuated with black cocoa pieces. “The idea was to make it look like a pile of dirt and rubble,” she said with a laugh.
Rahm Haus, which translates to “cream house” in German, scoops at Courtyard Brewery, 1160 Camp St., Fridays 4-10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 10 p.m. Restaurants in the know offer scoops as well, like Blue Giant and MoPho. Every Friday at 9 p.m., Duran releases the coming week’s nine flavors on Instagram and the website. She’s gotten so busy that online orders of custom ice cream cakes are no longer in the mix, but there are always options like her cloud cakes – a semi freddo cake with a ganache caramel center sprayed with a coca butter shell or the baked Alaska cake slathered with meringue or whipped cream.
Duran, a New York native, trained as a pastry chef before moving to New Orleans in 2015. She was working pastry at Maypop when the pandemic shut things down. After chef Michael Gulotta gave her free use of the kitchen and promised to buy her ice cream, she used her unemployment money to start Rahm Haus, eventually moving to Courtyard Brewery’s larger space.
“Cookie Monster” is her number one seller, a tricked-out cookies and cream with homemade chocolate chip cookies and Oreos in an all-natural blue vanilla base. Her personal favorite is “Black and Gold,” a local honey and black garlic ice cream, with salted dark chocolate honeycomb pieces. “I like to mix the sweet and the savory. You’d be surprised at the combinations that work.
Refresh & Hydrate
Alma chef Melissa Araujo shrugs when folks complain about the New Orleans heat. “Where I was born in Honduras, in La Ceiba on the coast, it’s the same,” she said. There, locals deal with the 90-degree head drenched 90 percent humidity climate one important way. They drink agua frescas. Araujo, who was born in Honduras and raised in New Orleans, opened Alma in Bywater on October 2, 2020, five years after launching the concept as a food pop-up that paid homage to her grandmother’s kitchen.
Alma’s modern Honduran cuisine reveals the complexity of the chef’s culinary heritage, which ranges from Spanish influences as well as dishes from the Garifuna, descendants of an Afro-indigenous population from the Caribbean Island of St Vincent who were exiled to the Honduran coast in the eighteenth century. Filipino, Mexican and Colombian influences also present.
From day one, agua frescas were on the menu.
“I grew up drinking them and they are sold on the streets everywhere,” she said. The ultimate hydration vehicle, agua frescas are made with fresh fruit and cold water. “We clean the fruit then blend it and add a little sugar. It really just adds fresh flavor to water and makes you drink more.” Unlike smoothies, which can be thick and rich, agua frescas are light and refreshing.
The flavors change with the season, and might include watermelon, tamarind, horchata (a white rice-based sipper) and pineapple. And yes indeed, they pair well with spirits. Ask for a frozen pina colada, which is made from rum-infused pineapple agua fresca and coconut milk. “Some customers just order them, and then get a shot of their favorite alcohol on the side. That works.”
Chance in Hell Snoballs
4205 Burgundy St., @Chanceinhell_snoballs.
The devilishly named Chance in Hell Snoballs is another neighborhood phenom, this one at 4205 Burgundy at France in Bywater. Kitten LaRue and Lou Henry Hoover started the front porch pandemic project when their neo-burlesque act was shuttered by COVID. It’s a runaway success with flavors like dragonfruit lime, mango tamarind chili and thin mint, with or without booze. Follow them on Instagram to know when to line up.
4801 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-891-9788, @Snobliz.
There’s no sno-ball like The ORIGINAL Hansen’s Sno-Bliz Uptown. It was Ernest and Mary Hansen who pioneered the treat with Ernest’s patented Sno-Bliz ice machine back in 1939. Mary dreamed up endless flavors made from simple syrups, fruit, and condensed milk or whipped cream. Now in the hands of granddaughter Ashley, the stand is a hallmark of imaginative combinations and superior quality perfected by three generations. The sno-balls at Hansen’s drip with handmade syrups in such flavors as ginger and cardamom or the popular “Brown Pelican,” a cream of root beer that will chill you to the bone. The James Beard Foundation named Hansen’s an America’s Classic in 2014.
Big O’s Original Pops
Wander around the Marigny/St. Roch neighborhood and follow the popsicle doorbell signs like breadcrumbs to 1201 St. Roch, home to Jesse Reilly, creator of Big O’s Original Pops. Reilly, a former advertising exec who wanted to spend more time with his kiddos, usually pedals his tasty treats around town on his tricycle outfitted with a cooler, stopping at places like Crescent Park and on Frenchmen Street. He also sells his pops, in flavors like “watermelon basil lemonade” and “cookies and cream,” at Beanlandia, HQ for the Krewe of Red Beans at 3300 Royal Street Wednesday through Friday, 3-7p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Or just ring the popsicle doorbell and see what happens.
Pretty N’ ice
At the newly opened Breakaway’s R&B, located in the former Lost Love Lounge space in the Marigny, chef Paul Artigues and his wife and partner Olivia are killing it with a menu that includes Green Goddess-inspired salads, the airiest of crawfish fritters and Dagwood-sized house roasted sandwiches busting with ham, turkey and beef Daube debris, served til midnight or 1 a.m. depending on the day. But take note, there’s a Giant SnoWizard Machine at the bar turning out Breakaway’s, boozy frozen treats powered by their own alcohol-infused syrups and local ingredients. Try the “Pretty Baby,” made with Nectar Cream and vodka.
Cane & Table
Brain freeze is a welcome state of mind come summer, and these frozen treats can make it happen in the best ways.
Stop by Cane & Table, the swell cocktail bar on Decatur, for a frozen Paloma, a frigid match made in heaven between tequila, a hint of hibiscus infused Mezcal, grapefruit and lime and a drizzle of grapefruit liqueur to sweeten the deal. An order of coctel de camorones, or shrimp cocktail with a Spanish accent, served with avocado and fried saltines, is also an excellent idea.
Trep’s, the former garage turned spacious climate-controlled outdoor eatery in Mid-City, is always a good hang. Chef Jerry Mixon dishes uplifted bar food that’s fun to eat, and the drinks menu zooms with engine-inspired categories like “Lubrications” and “Frozen Stabilizers.” The house f’roze is boosted with St. Germaine, Bacardi and passion fruit; the Paloma style margarita includes grapefruit soda; and the Pimm’s Cup brings the fine Brazilian gin McQueen and the Violet Fog into the mix, along with Pimm’s, cucumber and ginger.
Planning a porch party? Cochon Butcher’s frozen “Butcher Cane” is made with Don Q Cristal, 151 and Oak Aged Spiced Rums, fresh passion fruit, Aperol and Angostura bitters. It’s thankfully available by the gallon to go. Have one while you wait.
Chilled Out Caffeine Buzz
Cold brew is all the rage, delivering a jolt of caffeine energy along with frosty coffee flavor. It’s fitting that CoolBrew, the original cold-brewed, fresh coffee concentrate, was created here, the epicenter of American coffee culture, in 1989 by the late pharmacist and renaissance man, Phillip McCrory. Now available in specialty and grocery stores from coast to coast, CoolBrew is still made here, at a 30,000 sq. ft. manufacturing hub in Mid-City. Yep, that’s what’s been chilling the crowds at Jazz Fest, cold and iced, since 1993. Coolbrew.com.
Available at the best coffee shops everywhere, there are variations of iced java that are worth a sip. Iced Vietnamese coffee tops that list, and are available everywhere from French Truck Coffee (@Frenchtruck) to Bahn Mi Boys (@Bahn.mi.boys). Mr. Bubbles Café at 1441 Canal Street (@Mrbubblesnola) does a super version of the dark roasted coffee sweetened with condensed milk, available cold or frozen. Get two.
Both Erin Rose (@Erinrosebar) and Molly’s at the Market (@Mollysondecatur) dispense what may be the perfect eye-opener meets hair of the dog, frozen Irish coffee with a single or double shot. Tough call.
501 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-324-3073, Gospelcoffeenola.com
All kinds of tasty coffee drinks and boozy treats are offered at Gospel Coffee (@Gospelcoffeenola) in the Hotel Fontenot (@Hotelfontenot). But the vegan Matcha freeze is a notable alternative, made with the fermented rice base, oat milk, hazelnut and spices, with or without a shot of rum. The Irish Coffee Shake and the Abita Root Beer Float also caught our eye, with a refreshing take on a childhood classic. Breakfast burritos, pannini, ice cream and more round out a perfect snack stop any time of day.
Good to Go
Barracuda Taco Stand and Margarita Garden
3984 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-266-2962; 446 Pelican Street, Algiers, 504-766-7268; Eatbarracuda.com.
Barracuda Taco Stand has outdoor dining and take-away options for all of your cool Taco Tuesday (and any day) needs. Taco highlights include the beer-battered Louisiana catfish taco with cool-slaw and homemade crema, two veggie options (grilled mushroom or vegan broccoli), and beef, pork or chicken all served on a fresh flour tortillas. Deck your plate out with a side of queso, guacamole, beans or rice. Top it all off with a refreshing margarita, paloma, ranch water or non-alcoholic limeade or horchata, and you’re good to go. No sweat.
Yes, you can get New Orleans favorites like chargrilled oysters, gumbo, jambalaya and fried chicken at Morrow’s in the Marigny at St. Claude and Franklin. The food is good, as the constant line out the door attests. But for hot and steamy days, two dishes on chef Lenora Chong’s menu scream for attention.
Although temperatures are most extreme in Korea in the winters, the summers are long, warm and muggy. What could be more refreshing than an assembled ssambap (ssam means wrap and bap means rice) or Korean lettuce wraps, made of boldly flavored seasoned meat, rice, a zesty soy-powered sauce called ssamjang, and crisp vegetables? An ideal dish to order to go at Morrow’s, Chong’s version is built with Korean style spicy chicken, rice, leafy lettuce and special sauce for your assembly at home.
Another one of chef Chong’s bracing dishes is the Asian chicken salad, a light toss of grilled chicken with apples, grapes, oranges and strawberries served on a bed of mixed greens with a sesame ginger vinaigrette on the side. The dressing is so good, order an extra one to go.
Oodles of Noodles + More
Ba Mien Vietnamese Cuisine
13235 Chef Menteur Hwy., 504-255-0500, Bamien.com.
Another throwback to Jazz Fest food, Ba Mien Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans East is behind the bracing cold vermicelli plates sold at Fest or get them at the restaurant any old time. Chilled noodles come adorned with lemongrass chicken or pork and bun (egg roll), all topped with lettuce, fresh bean sprouts, cucumbers, min and peanuts.
4600 Magazine St., 504-269-3777, Laboulangerie.com.
Why turn on the oven when you can bring home any one of these satisfying savory dishes. Uptown, almost every salad and sandwich created at La Boulangerie (@Laboulangerienola) is takeaway friendly. Try the “Le Parisian,” a stack of Butcher ham and Comté cheese, spiked with cornichons on a buttered baguette. Or the cobb salad, a hearty mix of romaine, blue cheese crumbles, cherry tomato, hard-boiled egg, bacon, avocado in a creamy vinaigrette.
Ceviche Three Ways
Ceviche is such a perfect hot weather dish that its often served on the beach in Mexico; a quick marinade of chopped fresh caught fish, citrus, herbs and chiles created a la minute in a shack at the surf’s edge.
Chef Nanyo Dominguez was born in Pueblo and raised in Mexico City. He’s crazy about ceviche, which informs the menu at Besame, the Latin-centric eatery he opened in November 2021, on Rampart Street just past the French Quarter. Dominguez spent 16 years working in New York before coming to New Orleans to open Johnny Sanchez with chef Aaron Sanchez.
The first section of the Besame menu is devoted to ceviche, offering three takes on the citrus-cured seafood specialty, each with a different global spin on the dish, from Peruvian to Oaxacan and Caribbean. Cubes of salmon are dressed with citrus and passion fruit to cut the richness of the fish, soy sauce, bits of avocado and chili oil adding more depth of flavor and texture. Mezcal informs the Oaxacan ceviche, made with Gulf fish, roasted guajillo peppers, and diced cucumber and tomato. Cubes of sweet potato and crispy corn add texture to nibs of Gulf fish, bits of Aji Amarillo, a yellow pepper popular in Peru and Leche de Tigre made with red onion, ginger, garlic, and lots of lime.
4930 Prytania St., 504-300-8135; 2854 St. Charles Ave., 504-301-9949; 1000 Norman C. Francis Pkwy, 504-321-6233; Graciousbakery.com.
Chef Megan Foreman has more up her sleeve that pastry. All the Gracious Bakery (@Graciousbakerynola) locations offer terrific savory takeaway. The tarragon chicken salad sandwich and the vegan smashed chickpea sandwich with turmeric and lemon are just two tasty options.
Although they are best known for their steak (that spinalis cut is to die for) and Italian specialties, Rizzuto’s Ristorante and Chophouse (@Rizzutosristorante), by the lake and across the river in Gretna, does a swell beet salad, a mix of golden and red roasted beets with marcona almonds and feta in a Steen’s vinaigrette. Their Caesar is damn good too.
The same flavors come between a split baguette as a Bahn Mi sandwich, with both traditional and offbeat combos served at the original Bahn Mi Boys on Airline and the Uptown store on Magazine Street (@Bahn.mi.boys).
Any salad from Meals from the Heart (@Mealsfromtheheartcafellc) in the French Market is also a good idea but their raw avocado and beets is a vegan winner.
Cool composed salads and platters of dips abound at 1000 Figs (@1000figs) in Bayou St. John. Everything looks and tastes gorgeous, but the falafel platter with kale salad, hummus, tahini … so good.
Then there’s the Salatim cold dishes and dips from Saba (@Eatwithsaba), with options like labneh, pickled vegetables, red grapes with pickled onions and pine nuts, and tabbouleh. Of course, order any and every flavor of hummus with that amazing house fired pita.
Finally get the one-two combo of grilled fish tacos at Val’s (@Valsnola) with a frozen margarita, a duo that refreshes with hardly a smidge of guilty pleasure.