If you’re iffy on oysters, I can guarantee you will be in love with one bite of chargrilled oysters at Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar in New Orleans.
In December I was in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. When I first started working at OSU, I traveled with the team to the bowl game. So not only was I there for an entire week, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my friends. Because by the time they got there, I was knee-deep in work. Last year was the first time I didn’t travel to the bowl at all, and as of this year I had no work responsibilities there. It was kind of weird at first, but I quickly got over it, since I didn’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn or tell my friends “I’ll see you when I’m done working”. That Thursday morning I did get up early, but that was so I could go for a run and stop for beignets at Cafe du Monde before it got really crowded. Beignets are fantastic, but not really filling. So by lunchtime I was very hungry.
Ever since I saw the episode of Man vs. Food where he eats 12 dozen oysters at Acme Oyster House, I decided I just had to go there. Certainly not to eat that many oysters, but to experience it. But then I was hearing so many people rave about the oysters at Felix’s Restaurant. And they raved even more about the chargrilled oysters. I discussed with Joni & Tony since they have been to New Orleans several times, and Tony said definitely Felix’s. Shawn & Karen were headed towards downtown, and agreed to meet us.
Felix’s Restaurant and Acme are literally across the street from each other, in the heart of the French Quarter. Like many popular New Orleans restaurants, they both had a line out the door, but the line at Felix’s Restaurant was half the length. They also, like many restaurants, require your entire party to be present before you’ll be seated. Since we were waiting for Shawn & Karen, a couple of parties were seated before us. But the weather was fine and we were chatting, so it wasn’t a big deal. Oh, and you can go inside, buy drinks at the bar, and come back out to wait in line. After a 20-minute wait, we were taken inside.
Many restaurants in New Orleans are relatively small, and Felix’s Restaurant is no different. It’s a long, narrow building, with a full bar on the right and tables on the left. The kitchen is at the far end of the restaurant, and the charbroil grill is behind the bar. The smell from the charbroil smoke makes your stomach grumble, even if you’ve just finished eating. At the end of the bar there is also a walkway that goes to the right and takes you to another seating area. We were seated in the main dining space, towards the back. Like most New Orleans restaurants, they make use of every single space, and so there’s definitely not a whole lot of extra room. But once you’re seated you are fine.
Oysters are most certainly an acquired taste. I’m very much a texture eater, so for a really long time you couldn’t pay me to touch them. Then about 20 years ago, friends convinced me to try them at a bull & oyster roast. I resisted, but they were relentless. I’m so glad they were, because I was sold after just one. Yes, it still took a little bit to get past the texture, but I absolutely loved them. Now I eat fresh, raw oysters any time I have the chance. This was going to be my first taste of charbroiled oysters. We decided to start small, and got a dozen
Oh my…these could possibly be the most amazing things I’ve ever tried. They come to the table sizzling, and the smell is phenomenal. I’m not sure exactly what they top them with, but it looks like some sort of seasoned bread crumbs. Oh, and then that oily, buttery deliciousness collecting in the bottom of the plate? Yes, I did dip my oysters directly in them. And some of the bread too.
As much as I would have liked to just order another 2 dozen, that would be a very expensive, yet completely unfilling, lunch. So we had to order entrees. Joni went simple, with the fried crab fingers appetizer
These were really small, kind of like the crab finger that was in my lunch the previous day. But I have to remind myself, not all crabs are going to be large and meaty like you get in Maryland. I tasted one, and they were really good and had a lot of flavor.
Tony had the red beans & rice with andouille sausage
Karen had the seafood gumbo
Shawn got the fried seafood platter, mainly because of the hush puppies
I didn’t try any of those dishes, but they said they were very good
Of course, I couldn’t decide what to order, and was going back and forth on numerous items. I had originally just glanced over the platter dishes because platters are usally huge mounds of food. But when I heard Shawn mention the hush puppies, my ears perked up. The only way to get hush puppies is with the platters, so I did the shrimp & fried fish
Of course, the hush puppies were my first taste. And they were outstanding. The shrimp were huge and perfectly fried. I’m not sure what the fish was, but it was a light and flaky whitefish. The breading on both the shrimp and fish had a kick and lots of flavor. The tartar sauce and cocktail sauce were both wonderful and tasted homemade. I rarely eat cole slaw, and quite often it’s really heavy. This one was very light and I really liked it. The fries were just okay, and had gotten a little soft from being under the shrimp and fish. Normally I would be really disappointed by that, but with all the other food it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Will I go back to Felix’s Restaurant? No question. The rest of the trip I was trying to figure out how to squeeze in a visit for the oysters. Couldn’t make it happen, but I can confidently say that Felix’s will be on the list every time I visit New Orleans.