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Where Y'Eat: How French Quarter Fest Shows Street Food Heaven

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Ian McNulty
Po-boys from Vaucresson Sausage are a staple at French Quarter Festival.

With the French Quarter Festival finally back after a two-year pandemic hiatus, there is once again New Orleans music ringing from stages all across the historic neighborhood. And, to no one's surprise, this being New Orleans, the food at this festival is practically a performance unto itself.

With clusters of food booths from local restaurants set up by the stages, the festival essentially turns the French Quarter into street food heaven.

You can shop with your eyes and your nose, assessing the flavors whirling around the scene, from Louisiana classics to a growing diversity of global flavors represented here.

It’s everything from shrimp remoulade from historic Galatoire’s to Ethiopian-style chicken wings from Addis Nola an up-and-comer in Mid-City.

And, because this is New Orleans, many of those flavors come with personalities, the well-known vendors who take part year after year and are back once again. It’s people like Vance Vaucresson, educating people on Creole food traditions one hot sausage po-boy at a time.

Or it’s Miss Linda Green, the Yakamein Lady, dishing out her signature soup, a staple of New Orleans street food.

For some vendors, French Quarter Fest also marks a dramatic step in their comebacks. Consider Cafe Dauphine, a Creole soul restaurant in Holy Cross. It’s been closed since the pandemic began, but the family owners hope to reopen soon. French Quarter Fest will be the first time many regulars get a taste of they are cooking again, to the tune of fried ribs, seafood eggrolls and fried green tomatoes.

Another case in point: Voleo's, a bayou-side restaurant in Lafitte that was laid low by Hurricane Ida. The Voleo's family is rebuilding, and at French Quarter Fest they'll finally get cooking again - that means smothered rabbit po-boys, crawfish enchiladas and crabmeat boudin…oh my.

Paired with all the music, and the interplay of New Orleans people themselves, the food at French Quarter Fest is another exclamation point on the message that our culture is resurgent.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.