Eastern New Orleans, sometimes called "New Orleans East", is a large area of New Orleans to the north east of the older central portion of the city.
Before World War II, what became Eastern New Orleans consisted mostly of a few small scattered communities in a large expanse of undeveloped land. The area grew in population with major suburban style development from the 1960s to 1990s. In 2005, the area experienced devastating flooding in the levee failure disaster during Hurricane Katrina. Recovery has been slow, and 6 years later the population is still just a fraction of what it was before Katrina.
Little Vietnam is a Vietnamese neighborhood in Eastern Orleans Parish; take Chef Menteur Highway (US-90) past the urban area to the area from Michoud Boulevard to Alcee Fortier Boulevard. There is an exotic collection of Vietnamese shops, groceries, bakeries, and restaurants. New Orleans boasts some of the best Vietnamese food in North America, and the restaurants here are generally very reasonably priced.
Eastern New Orleans in its entirety
It is pointless to try and get around this area without a car. The principal highway is of course I-10, which most travelers use to rocket through the area without visiting, but US-90 (Chef Menteur Hwy) cuts through or just south of the populated areas, and is the route to take to Little Vietnam or eventually all the way to Fort Pike. Bear in mind that this area is huge—about the size of the entire rest of the city. Plan to be driving for quite a while if going to Fort Pike, closer to the Mississippi State border than it is to the French Quarter. East of Little Vietnam, the district is nearly empty, so don't go out on US-90 with an empty tank.
Fort Pike, 27100 Chef Menteur Hwy (US-90), ☎ +1 504 255-9171, . While officially within the city limits, the fort is some twenty miles distant from the urban area, on Highway 90 towards Slidell, at "the Rigolets", a water pass into Lake Pontchartrain. Interesting well preserved old fort built in the 1820s, saw some minor action during the American Civil War. Visitable by appointment only, to be scheduled between the hours of 9AM-5PM.$4, seniors & kids under 12 free.
Lakefront Airport, 6001 Stars and Stripes Blvd (On the lake shore just east of the Industrial Canal), . This was the city's airport back before the arrival of the big jets and the new New Orleans International airport was built out in Kenner. Lakefront Airport still keeps busy with private and company planes. The 1930s vintage main terminal building and the nearby sculpture fountain by Enrique Alfarez are treats for lovers of Art Deco. The terminal's main fascade was freshly restored in 2010; restoration work on the interior is ongoing.
NASA Michoud 13800 Old Gentilly Road. This was formerly the site of the village of Michoud before it was absorbed into New Orleans, then a World War II Defense plant that made landing craft and aircraft, and since 1961 a NASA facility. Apollo Moon Rocket boosters were built here, and in recent decades, the fuel tanks for the Space Shuttle. With the end of the Shuttle program, the future for NASA Michoud is uncertain. Meanwhile, visitors can park briefly in the little visitor lot on Old Gentilly Road, to look or take a snapshot of an Apollo Saturn V booster on display out front, a pair of smokestacks from the antebellum Michoud Plantation preserved in front of the main building, and what you can see of the outside of the Assembly Building from this spot. (Visitors are not allowed inside without advance arrangement and a sponsor, although on rare occasions limited numbers of the public are allowed in to part of the facility for special events.)
B Windows Inc, 7391 Read Blvd, ☎ =1 504 241-2297. A small women's fashion boutique in an unexpected location, with clothing, handbags, shoes, etc.
Viet My Supermarket, 4656 Alcee Fortier Blvd, ☎ +1 504 254-0682. This is one of several Vietnamese shopping markets in the area, fun to browse for exotic ingredients, salted jellyfish, etc., or just to buy some weird drinks for the road. As a big plus, they sell fresh banh mi (sandwiches). For more tastiness, look outside the store for the Mexican taco truck that is usually parked there, representing the area's new Chicano community, which moved in after Katrina to help with the rebuilding.
Art Deco details at Lakefront Airport
While there are quite a few tasty off-the-beaten-path eateries in Eastern New Orleans, the main attraction is the restaurants of Little Vietnam. Authenticity reigns over a cuisine that perhaps has a natural home in a city where French finesse similarly was applied to unfamiliar local ingredients against the backdrop of an existing exotic culinary tradition. The menus in the Vietnamese places are usually bilingual in Vietnamese and English. Eastern New Orleans also has a smattering of seafood, po-boy, and similar restaurants, like most other sections of the city.
Ba Mien Restaurant, 13235 Chef Menteur, ☎ +1 504 255-0500, . Tu-Su 8AM-7PM. Vietnamese. While often overshadowed by the ravings inspired by Dong Phuong, this is still a great option, with a nicer atmosphere inside—brighter, more spacious, etc. The minty house specials are in particular worth seeking out.$8-33.
Banh Mi Sao Mai, 14321 Chef Menteur, ☎ +1 504 254-3977. 8AM-5PM daily. Pretty much the city's standard bearer for banh mi sandwiches, both traditional Vietnamese style and those influenced by the New Orleans po' boy tradition. And perhaps the New Orleans tradition could take a page from the Vietnamese menu—so called "po' boys" in New Orleans often run close to $10 (not really fit for actual po' boys), while you can't find banh mi over $4. For banh mi purists, note that they eschew cilantro here.$2.50-5.
Big Momma's Chicken & Waffles, 5741 Crowder Blvd, ☎ +1 504 241-2548, . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 8AM-3PM,7PM-11PM. Soul food combination; the chicken is good, the waffles are good, and the price is right. The location is a little hard to find in the giant parking lot, but trust that it is there.$7-12.
Brocato's Eat Dat, 8480 Morrison Rd, ☎ +1 504 304-3465, . Tu-Sa 10:30AM-4PM. New Orleans is a Creole town, and it's hard to find really excellent down home Cajun cooking within the city limits (as opposed to New Orleans Creole dishes which sometimes have a "Cajun" label stuck on them for visitors). A glance at a map ascertains that 8480 Morrison Rd is indeed in New Orleans, but your taste buds will tell you you're down in Acadiana. We're talking housemade crawfish boudin, smothered rabbit, shrimp etoufee with cornmeal-crusted catfish, and incredible blackened redfish. The full meals here will likely set you back less than $15 a person. The drive from Central New Orleans is fairly short when you compare it to the distance to Cajun Country.$6-14.
Castnet Seafood, 10826 Haynes Blvd, ☎ +1 504 244-8446. Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM. When you go to New Orleans, and you find a shack that says "seafood" on the side, and it has enough people packed into and snaking out the front door to alarm a fire marshall, you better come to the party hungry. The crawfish, shrimp, and crab boils are excellent, as are the profoundly over-stuffed po' boys (if it's in season, they do a soft shell crab po' boy). Bottom line is that if you like seafood fresh, fried, or boiled, you should go way out of your way to find this place—if you are claustrophobic, bring someone else with you to go inside and order. Picnic tables out back.
Chris' Cakes and Donuts, 7030 Bullard Ave, ☎ +1 504 248-1601. M-F opens 5AM, Sa-Su opens 6AM. A good little Vietnamese-owned bakery with fresh, handmade donuts, popular cakes, some diner options, and a bunch of assorted sandwiches and po' boys available.$3-10.
Deanie's, 7350 Hayne Blvd. (a short drive east of Lakefront Airport), ☎ (504) 248-6700. Another great bet out east for local seafood, fried or fresh, along with some other New Orleans standards. Deanie's on Hayne is not to be confused with the Deanie's in the French Quarter. Unsurprisingly, those bacon-wrapped shrimp taste really good.
Dish on Hayne, 9734 Hayne Blvd, ☎ +1 504 301-0356, . Tu-Sa 3PM-10PM. Four star dining rears its handsome head right by... the Pontchartrain levees east of the Lakefront Airport? This is a surprising location for such a fashionable restaurant, but Dish boasts some really impressive high-end Creole cooking. The upstairs piano bar/cocktail lounge/dance floor spills out onto the rooftop deck, with an impressive view over Lake Pontchartrain. Late night entertainment ranges from casual jazz to live bands to DJ nights.$15-35.
Dong Phuong Restaurant, 14207 Chef Menteur, ☎ +1 504 254-0296, . W-M 9AM-4PM. Perhaps Little Vietnam's most esteemed restaurant serves a variety of Vietnamese dishes, and also has a bakery and sandwich shop and bubble teas. The sit down restaurant is on the right side of the building, the bakery & sandwiches to go on the right. Make a point to grab a loaf of French bread on your way out—while startling, it's perhaps not unintuitive that a bakery from the former French colony of Vietnam is producing some of the best French bread in New Orleans.$3-16.
Vucinovich's Restaurant, 4510 Michoud Blvd, ☎ +1 504 254-5246. M-F 10AM-2PM. Run by a big Italian family with an Slavic last name, this place serves some of the best fried seafood and chicken that you will find in the city. They also do various Creole dishes, some great po' boys, and a few Italian entrees, but the fried foods is where it's at. If the location on Michoud didn't give it away, they do their business with the lunch crowd from the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility down the road—hence the limited hours.$6-16.
Walker's Southern Style BBQ, 10828 Hayne Blvd, ☎ +1 504 241-8227, . W-F 10:30AM-2PM. Attached to Castnet Seafood is this mysterious, nearly never open BBQ hole in the wall has brilliant cue on offer: brisket, ribs, pulled pork, links, smoked chicken, etc., plus great sides. But all this pales in comparison to their highly acclaimed cochon de lait po' boy (Esquire included it in its "Top 30 Sandwiches in America" list). Cochon de lait is, strictly speaking, a whole suckling pig slow-roasted over hardwood, and a cause for a backwoods Cajun party throughout the roasting process. Walker's cochon de lait is actually done with pork butts, slow roasted on a rotisserie over hardwood, before making its way to one heck of a po' boy. They have served their po' boys for years at the Jazz and Heritage Festival to rapt audiences, but you can actually get them year round at this little storefront, but call ahead to place an order—the waits during their tiny open hours are long, and there is always the possibility that this little operation will be closed on a given day.
Outside the restaurants (and Dish on Hayne has quite the great "restaurant bar"), the only drinks you will find are at the occasional seedy looking strip club. That's it for bars in these parts.
Best Western Avalon Hotel & Conference Center, 10100 I-10 Service Rd, ☎ +1 504 378-7000, . It's a pretty big hotel for the location in post-apocalyptic East New Orleans. It has a good sized outdoor pool, gym, and business facilities. On a comical note, this hotel's website lists under nearby cities: "9.00 mile(s) from New Orleans."$90-140.
La Quinta, 12340 I-10 Service Rd, ☎ +1 504 355-0200, . $75-120.
Riverboat Travel Park, 6232 Chef Menteur Hwy, ☎ +1 504 246-2628, . An RV Park that is reasonably close to the French Quarter without, ahem, being located right next to the Iberville Housing Projects.
Super 8, 6322 Chef Menteur Hwy, ☎ +1 504 241-5650, . This is by far the best consumer-rated property in Eastern New Orleans, with an attentive staff. The building is even a little stylish, with a balcony-laden old New Orleans style to it, plus courtyard pool. You are in the middle of nowhere, of course, but the hotel does offer rare free parking, and is a dependable budget chain option.$50-75.
East New Orleans Library, 5641 Read Blvd, ☎ +1 504 596-0200, . M-Th 10AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. The big branch library appropriately on "Read Road" flooded severely in 2005; the temporary trailer branch is closed as of writing in preparation for the grand reopening of the rebuilt library 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 12. Free public internet terminals.
Interstate 10 and Chef Menteur Highway (Highway 90) are the main auto routes passing through Eastern New Orleans. They link with the rest of the city to the west; to the east are Slidell and Mississippi. Paris Road connects with Chalmette to the south.
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