Sep 14, 2016

A superior taste of Tex-Mex near New Orleans’ Garden District

If you take a vacation to New England, you’re probably going to try the lobster.  Spending a little time in Chicago?  Then you’re likely to eventually have a deep dish pizza or a Chicago-style hot dog.  And if you find yourself in cattle country, it would be a shame to not order a fat, juicy steak.  

Occasionally, however, it pays to go against conventional wisdom.  So, when Punky and I last visited New Orleans and toured St. Charles Avenue by streetcar, we went against the grain and ignored the many great dining choice for Cajun food, seafood and po-boys.  Instead, we stumbled quite literally into the Superior Grill and wound up satisfying a craving for Tex-Mex food we didn’t even realize we had.

Superior Grill has been a staple on streetcar stop #21 since 1997, and given its location and signature patio you could be forgiven for believing it’s been there even longer.  For years, I had admired the spot from the streetcar but long believed it was just another of many pleasant looking bars and grills that are fairly ubiquitous in every New Orleans neighborhood.  Superior Grill, however, has the natural advantage of not only being on one of the more famous and scenic streets in New Orleans, it’s patio also provides prime viewing opportunities for Mardi Gras parades.

So, after a lengthy ride and a lengthy frozen daiquiri, Punky pointed out Superior Grill as the place for us to stop and check out.  It turned out to be a very good impulsive decision.  

Once we arrived and got acclimated, we very pleased to learn of Superior Grill’s focus on Tex-Mex menu and its signature margaritas.  The interior is much larger than what it may seem in passing, with a long bar that runs much of the length of the main dining area.  We opted, however, for a seat in the interior patio area, the best of both worlds after a long afternoon -- inside dining with a nice opportunity for people watching.

We started with a Superior Margarita, of course, while we studied the menu.  And the drink lived up to its name.  I credit the fresh squeezed lime juice that goes into them.  I refrained from ordering any more drinks, although I couldn’t help but notice a nice selection of top shelf tequilas that would have been perfect for shooting.

Those are some hot tamales!
Punky loves a tasty tamale as much as anyone, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised that she chose the homemade tamale dinner, especially since good authentic tamales are fairly hard to come by in our home town. It turned out to be an outstanding choice ... just see how delicious they look and you get the idea ... corn tamales filled with shredded pork, smothered with chili and topped with melted cheddar and monterrey jack cheese.  Even the sides stand out on this plate.  The refried beans have real beans!  And the rice is super (or is it superior?) fluffy.  

The whole enchilada ... and then some!
My menu selection may have seemed a little tame, but I had high expectations given the items that came with Superior Grill's seafood combination platter.  Again, they didn’t disappoint.  There was nothing small about the size of the  grilled shrimp skewer -- these were easily the largest and most flavorful shrimp I had on our entire trip.  The grilled fish taco featured a full-sized grilled fillet of meaty and flaky grouper, along with a nice side of fresh pico de gallo.  But the star of the platter was Superior’s take on the Cajun classic crawfish enchilada.  

For those unfamiliar with crawfish enchiladas, it’s a standard dish at many Cajun restaurants.  I consider the version at Prejean's Restaurant in Lafayette, La., to be the standard bearer, although they credit the crawfish enchilada’s popularity when it first appeared at Jazz Fest for putting it on the culinary scene.  

Superior Grill’s version of the crawfish enchilada was nothing short of amazing.  It was a perfect blend of melty cheesy goodness and tender, mild tasting crawfish meat in every bite.  It’s filling, but it’s very much worth it.  There’s something about top quality crawfish in a cheesy enchilada that just works in a fantastic way.  

As you can probably guess, Punky and I walked out of Superior Grill happily stuffed and ready to roll.  We eventually left -- the remainders of our margaritas in tow -- caught an approaching streetcar and coasted back to the Quarter to rest up for the evening. 

If you find yourself in New Orleans and similarly craving quality Tex-Mex (with a touch of Cajun flair), I strongly suggest you take a streetcar ride to stop #21 on St. Charles Avenue.  Between the food, the view and the cocktails, I think you’ll find Superior Grill worth the trip.  

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