NEW ORLEANS -- Spend a few hours on the parade route screaming for beads and a family can work up quite an appetite. Picking a spot to eat at the height of Carnival season can be a daunting proposal, however. Parade routes cut off access, parking is never easy and sometimes impossible and many restaurants curtail their menus or service format. But don't give up.
Below are four picks for places that are en route to the Uptown parade route but not tied up by it, open late enough for a bite after the last float passes by and casual enough that a bead-strung family can walk right in and feel comfortable.
The Midway, 4725 Freret St., New Orleans, 504-322-2815
Freret Street, in general, is a good choice for post-parade dining, and the Midway is particularly apt. This place is all about deep dish pizza, those huge, crusty, cheese-piled monsters. They're easy to love and perfect for a group to share and the bar has a great selection of wine and draft beer. With cool art, a big cypress bar, comfy booths and a rootsy soundtrack playing, the vibe is like rock 'n' roll softened around the edges for a family crowd.
Little Tokyo Small Plates & Noodle Bar, 1340 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, 504-861-6088
If visiting a Japanese restaurant still makes you think about a quiet, refined experience, this place will change your mind. All the normal sushi rolls are here, and done well enough, but this restaurant is mostly focused on Japanese-style bar snacks and big bowls of ramen noodle soup. Hours extend well past midnight, there's a loose vibe and sometimes even a party atmosphere, and karaoke is available if you want to get your own post-parade party revved up.
Morning Call Coffee Stand,. City Park Casino, Dreyfous Dr., New Orleans, phone n.a.
What has traditionally gotten people through Mardi Gras over the years? Beignets, preferably with cafe au lait on the side. If a trek to Cafe du Monde is not part of your parade night plans these days, keep in mind that Morning Call Coffee Stand has opened a new cafe inside City Park. The park is not exactly situated near the Uptown parade route, but if you're headed back to Gentilly or Lakeview or New Orleans East or parts of Metairie, it's worth working this detour into your own route. The Morning Call is open 24/7 and in addition to beignets and coffee it serves a few hot dishes like red beans and rice or jambalaya, a small selection of beer and even Irish coffee for a different sort of pick-me-up.
Felipe's Taqueria, 6215 S. Miro St., New Orleans, 504-309-2776; 301 N. Peters St., New Orleans, 504-267-4406
Felipe's Uptown and French Quarter locations both serve a quick, cheap, convincingly authentic Mexican menu of burritos and tacos that provide a refreshing alternative to fast food and sandwiches when you want an easy meal out. Speed is the name of the game at Felipe's, and the service line has this priority firmly in mind. Customers queue up in front of the hot prep counter and call the shots for what they want in their tortillas. Most basic items are less than $5 and you can easily get a full meal here for under $10. The tasty food is prepared to your specifications before your eyes and it's priced right. That's a winning formula, and Felipe's has it down pat.