Garden District

Sake Cafe

2830 Magazine St.

Happy Hour: 3:00 – 6:00 P.M. Daily

When one thinks of New Orleans cuisine, sushi isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. When the mood strikes, it’s good to know there’s a place to satisfy this particular craving. Located on Magazine street near Washington, the Sake Cafe instantly wins points by providing ample free parking on either side of the restaurant. With the plethora of restaurants and bars lining the street, the convenience of easy parking cannot be overstated.

Full disclosure: We have been here many times, and we arrived armed with our patience, as it does sometimes take a while to get served. We were seated immediately by a friendly and cordial hostess. Within minutes, we met Robert, who introduced himself as our server for the evening. As far as ambience goes, the lighting always tends to be on the pleasingly dim side. Musically, it’s usually a miss with techno, dance sort of pop music that is often too loud. We were surprisingly pleased this time with the understated jazz. There is plenty of seating with an open floor plan, huge sushi bar, and clean, modern decor.


Interior – looking into the bar area.

As always, we begin with beverages. The special is two for one drinks. Listed on the menu are twelve specialty cocktails,  six draft beer options, three house wine selections, hot or cold sake, and two frozen drinks. We landed on the specialty cocktails, even though we were somewhat reluctant, as the menu did not specify what vodka was being used. We were impressed with the creative mixers and fresh ingredients. We  both enjoyed the Lemon Drop (Citron Vodka, Cointreau, and fresh lemon in a sugar-rimmed glass). Sweet, sour, and boozy for $3.00 – amazing.


Partially-consumed Lemon Drop.

Food options include the standard Asian small plates, such as edamame and gyoza for $3.00 each, and chicken spring rolls for $4.00. There are eight varieties of sushi or sashimi for $3.50 per order (two pieces per order), and seven selections of rolls for $3.50 as well.

We ordered one each of avocado, California, snow crab, and crawfish rolls, as well as one order of tuna sushi. Robert was professional as we rushed our order to beat the 6:00 P.M. deadline for happy hour. There were five sushi chefs on at the time, so our food arrived relatively fast. It was fresh, delicious, and presented beautifully. We were especially impressed with the crawfish roll – a local take on a Japanese specialty. It was spicy, creamy, and unique.


Dinner for two.


Tuna and crawfish roll with wasabi and ginger.

As we started our meal, Robert was attentive in reminding us that we had a free drink coming. The timing was perfect.


Soy sauce remnants.

Another happy hour score. A complete meal for happy hour prices: four drinks, four rolls, and two pieces of sushi for just over 30 dollars. Sake Cafe is our go-to restaurant for those late afternoon sushi cravings.


A bargain by anyone’s standards.








Arana Taqueria y Cantina

3242 Magazine St.

Happy Hour:  3:00 – 7:00 P.M.  Monday through Friday.

We’ve always been fond of Mexican food; it’s filling, comforting, and of course, cheap. We have frequented this establishment many times prior to starting this blog. We were thrilled to learn that Kitty, one of our favorite New Orleans bartenders, now works here, although she was not on staff the night we were there for this review. If you are fortunate enough to stop by while she is working, she will make the experience even more enjoyable. It’s obvious by now how important customer service is to us, and she always goes above and beyond.

Nestled amongst many beautiful restaurants and bars on Magazine Street, we were drawn in by the chalkboard sign outside that advertised half price tacos and all drinks. Once inside, we immediately shuttered at the loud salsa music, but stayed for the decor and intoxicating smells of Mexican food. The giant spider with the Day of the Dead mask on the wall certainly added to the authenticity. Tin star lights hanging from the ceiling set a dark, yet comfortable tone.


Looking out on Magazine St.

Drinks: You go to a Mexican restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ll get a Margarita. The options range from house, to seasonal, as well as their original creations. The seasonal drinks are made with the house made agua fresca, such as Strawberry Cucumber and Spicy Watermelon. Original creations are the Champagne Margarita and the Jalapeno Pineapple Cilantro Margarita. Other drink options include specialty drinks, such as a Mexican Mojito and the Bloody Maria. Tequila Flights are available to try three 1 ounce samples of different tequila, ranging from 18 to 50 dollars. As for those of us (Jay in particular) who lean more toward the pedestrian, the beer selection on tap limited to two standards. The bottled selection is much more extensive, including locals as well as Mexican. Nancy enjoyed the Deconstructed Margarita, which was lime juice, agave nectar and Sauza. Light and refreshing, but lacking the necessary kick in the pants, so her second drink was the house Margarita, which rendered her docile and giggly. Jay had the Negra Modela on draft. When in Rome…sort of. No complaints.


House Margarita

The menu consists of appetizers, soups, salads, sides, and traditional entrees. Many looked interesting, specifically the fried oyster tostada and ceviche, but we skipped right to the tacos. There are fourteen taco options, including tongue, duck, pork belly, beef, chicken, fish, and vegetarian. Jay consumed two Fried Chicken on flour tortillas, and two El Gringos with sour cream. Nancy had one Chicken Tinga, one Chipotle Shrimp, and one Carne Asada. Obviously, our tastes are considerably different. Jay always enjoys the El Gringo with seasoned ground beef, and was excited to see the fried chicken available. He was slightly underwhelmed, as it was essentially a chicken wrap in a tortilla. Nancy was impressed with hers, loving the pickled vegetables and cilantro. The Carne Asada was marinaded perfectly with an abundance of flavor. The only drawback is the soggy corn tortillas, easily amended with finishing the dinner with a fork and knife.


Jay’s plate.


Nancy’s plate.


Clean plate. Done.


No need to go elsewhere.

Ultimately, this is a Happy Hour Hor win. We were able to get four drinks and seven tacos at a great price. This was dinner. (This was also the place we went to after Delmonico.)


Emeril’s Delmonico


1300 St. Charles Avenue

Happy Hour: 5:00 -7:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.

This is one of those place we would probably not patronize were it not for happy hour. Everyone knows Emeril Lagasse. You know you’re getting quality here – and paying for it. Hence – happy hour. Located near Lee Circle on St. Charles, it’s easily accessible by streetcar. The interior is just as beautiful as the restored exterior. Once again, we were greeted by a friendly hostess. If an establishment can’t get this right, everything else is suspect. As it was only 5:00 P.M., the restaurant was virtually empty. We generally gravitate towards the bar as opposed to a table. We’re just more comfortable there, and we – and by we, I mean Nancy –  do enjoy engaging the bartender.

It’s a small bar with only six seats. Considering the layout of the rest of the place, it’s understandable that most people will sit at a table.The grand piano only adds to the gravitas. The bartender  – whom we later came to know as Markos – poured us some water and handed us menus. As for the atmosphere, the volume level of the music was perfect, which was traditional blues, including legends like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. The interior was unassuming beige and other muted neutral colors.

While they have a fairly extensive beer selection, there was nothing on tap. As for the wine, we don’t claim to be well-versed enough to make an objective critique. Suffice it to say, it’s safe to assume this place will satisfy the most discerning of wine consumers. Ultimately, we decided on mixed drinks. Having come to appreciate a fine Sazerac, I decided to try my luck here. It was better than most I’ve had in town. Some bartenders make it too boozy or too sweet. Markos got it right. Nancy enjoyed a Pimm’s Cup for the first round, and one of the specialty cocktails for the second. It was called a “Rice, Rice, B.B.”, which consisted of Oryza vodka, blueberries, basil, and lemon. She enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the Sazerac. For the record, happy hour prices on drinks include half off all beer, wine by the glass, and mixed drinks.

Rice, Rice, B.B.

Rice, Rice, B.B.

Best Sazerac in recent memory.

Best Sazerac in recent memory.

The primary draw for this happy hour was the fifty cent char-grilled oysters. Most places generally offer deals on raw only, so we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. The oysters were char-grilled in lemon butter, light on the cheese. Unfortunately there was no bread for sopping, which is crucial. It’s worth mentioning that the oysters come with complimentary candied bacon. Your tolerance for sweetness will determine how you feel about this. But after a couple drinks, the smell of the bacon is dangerously intoxicating. Rounding out the happy hour menu were five dollar small plates. We decided on fried eggplant, house-made sausage, and deviled eggs. The eggplant was either not ripe or undercooked. The breading, however, was fried to crispy deliciousness. The side of mayonnaise was a refreshing change from the standard marinara. The sausage was authentic, spicy Italian sausage, with a surprising side of honey mustard and pickled vegetables. Very unique take on an Italian staple. Simply put – delightful. The deviled eggs were dressed with shrimp and mixed with andouille. I was mildly impressed, but wouldn’t pay five dollars for three deviled eggs again. Nancy’s take – “They’re deviled eggs…”

Only 11??? Nancy found a double. It was a dozen after all.

Only 11??? Nancy found a double. It was a dozen after all.

Candied bacon and Pimm's Cup.

Candied bacon and Pimm’s Cup.

Small plates. Some smaller than others.

Small plates. Some smaller than others.

Overall, we certainly enjoyed the drinks, and will return for the Sazerac and other specialty cocktails. As we mentioned in the introductory post, the main goal of going to happy hour is frankly – dinner. After the oysters and small plates, we realized we were still hungry, so we hit up another happy hour – to be reviewed later. Oddly enough, we encountered another patron from Delmonico at happy hour number two. Nancy intended to connect with her, but she slammed her campy cocktail and cheap eats before taking off. Probably a booze hound, but what does that say about us?

The obligatory aftermath shot.

The obligatory aftermath shot.

The damage. Who pays?

The damage. Who pays?