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[whitespace] Cheap Eats

By Todd Inoue

A Taste of New Orleans
655 N. Sixth St., San Jose; 408.275.8877
Mon-Fri 11am-3pm; Thu-Sat 5:30pm-10pm; closed Sun
Kool-Aid, lemonade, soda

FOR YEARS, there's been a gaping void in South Bay Creole cuisine: Nola's is slick and fusion-y, Catahoula is in Calistoga, Praline Connection involves airfare. If you've resorted to Popeye's--as I have--to extinguish the N'awlins craving, I am tickled to announce a brand-new option. In April, the beloved Bini's diner in Japantown reopened as A Taste of New Orleans. There's no deep concept here--just hearty Creole cuisine prepared with soul and served with a smile.

"Southern Platters" of fried chicken, fried shrimp or catfish ($12-$15) come with sides of dirty rice, jambalaya or red beans and rice and a salad. They're fried the Southern way--corn meal, baby. Po' Boys ($7.50)--those delicious, hunky New Orleans sandwiches--are stuffed with fish, shrimp, hot links or hot patties and come "dressed" with tomato, lettuce and mayo.

The gumbo ($3.50 cup) is a stirable medley of hot link, chicken and crab in a roux-based broth. The red beans and rice ($8) could use a smokier texture, but that's personal preference. The dish comes with a hot link sliced open-face and freshly baked corn bread.

Best of all, A Taste of New Orleans is homey and friendly. The counter, a Bini's leftover, offers opportunity to chat. All kinds of New Orleans memorabilia line the walls. The radio plays KBLX. They even offer Kool-Aid as a beverage option--how homey can you get?

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From the May 16-22, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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