“The Crescent City.” “Nawlins.” “The Big Easy.” “NOLA.”
Whatever name it is you have for this South Louisianan city, there is no denying that New Orleans is a place unlike any other. The music, the art, the history, the triumph, the crazy people, and most importantly, the FOOD, make this city undeniable. Being the eaties that we are, the food is, of course, Eat Jackson’s favorite reason to visit New Orleans.
On our most recent trip, we dined at two noteworthy restaurants that you should know about in our short “worth the drive” summer travel series on food in New Orleans.
Port of Call
Located at 838 Esplanade Avenue, on the far side of the French Quarter, you’ll find Port of Call, a restaurant famous for its mean hamburger. Port of Call has been around since the 1960’s, so there is some age to their building. Port of Call won’t be winning any awards for cleanliness any time soon, but they might for being different and interesting.
Be forewarned: Port of Call typically has a bit of a wait. They do not take reservations, so your best bet to get a table in a timely manner is to visit at a relatively obscure hour. As you wait, you can either sit outside and people-watch or hang out inside by the bar with its intriguing aquarium. Speaking of which, the aquarium is basically the only light source in the entire place, so you should also be prepared to feel like a vampire seeing light for the first time each time the restaurant door opens!
On this trip, my party was seated in the back room of this New Orleans restaurant, which has a lot more natural light than the rest of the place. When it comes to the menu, you’ve got four choices in their famous hamburger category: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Mushroom Burger, or Mushroom Cheeseburger. Instead of fries on the side, Port of Call serves a Baked Potato with butter, unless you request otherwise.
On this visit we ordered a Hamburger with a specially requested side salad and a Cheeseburger with the standard Baked Potato.
While you’re waiting on your burger to come out (OR while you’re waiting for your name to get called for a table), try Port of Call’s signature cocktail, Neptune’s Monsoon. The menu describes this super-sized adult beverage as “an old recipe used frequently as a last request by pirates condemned to walk the plank.” It is a fruity rum drink that any adult, male or female, would likely enjoy. Warning: It comes in a very large cup, so if you’re not careful, this drink could get you into some trouble. They do offer a half-sized Monsoon under the pseudonym “Windjammer.” This is a must try for any “of-age” first time Port of Call guest!
Once your hamburger appears, it’s time to dress it and start eating. The red, yellow, and white condiments come on the table, along with some stellar BBQ sauce. Don’t go too crazy on the condiments, though, or you’ll cover up the seriously savory and juicy meat, which is guaranteed to be the highlight of your trip to Port of Call! The half pound, ground fresh daily, beef patty will absolutely take your beef-loving breath away. Combine that magical patty with some shredded (not processed) cheese, a soft sesame bun, and a light sprinkling of condiments, and the burger is golden.
The burger experience is elevated further by the baked potato on the side. The executive decision-maker who made the call to nix fries and replace them with a whole baked tater did the right thing. The baked potato is perfectly cooked and comes standard: baked potato with butter. Cheese, bacon, sour cream, mushrooms, and chives are available upon request with a slight upcharge.
As far as the side salad in place of the baked potato… Well, that was a bad call. The side salad was actually really good, thanks to the great house-made Italian vinaigrette, but it paled in comparison to the baked potato.
Another insider’s tip: If you’re traveling – and eating – with a group, keep in mind that Port of Call does NOT allow for separate checks.
FOOD: Get a Hamburger (or Cheeseburger) with a Baked Potato on the side. Chances are, you’ll never look at a burger the same way again!
SERVICE: We had a very friendly server with an outrageous haircut who kept us stocked with napkins and drinks topped off. He had our food out less than 15 minutes after we ordered, which was quicker than expected!
ATMOSPHERE: As you walk in, you’ll feel like you’re walking into a cave illuminated only by the fish tank I mentioned earlier. The back room, where we were seated, was more light-filled and open. This place is old and every available wall has been graffiti enhanced, which just adds to the character if you ask me. I did overhear one guy say, “If I was a pirate, this would be my favorite hangout.” No telling how many Monsoons brought forth those words, but it was worthy of sharing!
Port of Call is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m.
Port of Call
838 Esplanade Ave
New Orleans, LA 70116