Second Stop- The Rum House Caribbean Taqueria
Later on Friday, Alexis and I decided it was time to attempt to conquer the New Orleans public transportation system. Alexis may disagree with me but I thought we did pretty good navigating our way from the French Quarter to the Lower Garden District, especially with the construction, street car closures, and Friday rush hour traffic. After one street car ride, one bus transfer, and one last street car ride, and a tasteful walk by all the fancy homes down a side street, we made it to the Rum House on 3128 Magazine Street where tacos were waiting for us.
Will had suggested meeting here after his finals. Rum House was also mentioned on my list as well as recommended by friends so I was pretty pumped to try their tacos.
The Rum House has two locations with one in New Orleans and the other in Baton Rouge. The original location was here in New Orleans in 2009 where Owner Michael joined forces with a trained chef from Johnson & Wales culinary school to make the owners dream menu come true. Their focus here is Caribbean-inspired tacos with island flavor.
Alexis and I were seated immediately and took a long look at the extensive taco list. There were 20 tacos listed on the menu! Options included brisket, lamb, flank steak, duck, chicken, jerked pork and chicken, pulled pork and rib, bison, oyster, mahi mahi, shrimp, eggplant, alligator, and cauliflower. Probably the most diverse list of tacos I have ever seen at one place!
After much thought, Alexis and I both ordered calypso beef and jerk chicken tacos with sides. The waitress told us that these tacos were among the most popular tacos on the menu besides the brisket, alligator, and chopped shrimp.
My thoughts: I liked the calypso beef better than the jerk chicken taco. The calypso beef consisted of flank steak marinated in a sweet sauce topped with lime cream, guacamole, and spinach. I loved this combination and although this was a very wet and creamy taco it was far from feeling heavy. I felt rejuvenated and spirits were lifted with the calypso beef. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the jerk chicken was too dry and the mango salsa did not complement the mild jerk spice very well. Alexis agreed and thought the jerk chicken and mango salsa tasted great separately, but not together. Alexis also liked the calypso beef taco better as she said there was a ton of flavor and she liked the gauc and lime sauce.
I usually do not mention the side dishes with a destination taco location, but I would like to say that the mac and cheese that I got as my side (along with the smothered greens) was a disappointment. The mac and cheese had a mayonnaise base to it and was overpowered with sage. I would take my Kraft box mac n cheese any day over this one. Even the mac n cheese I have screwed up making before tasted better than this one.
Although I was not a huge fan of the mac n cheese or jerk chicken taco, the calypso beef taco exceeded my expectations. I would love if I could find a taco with those exact same ingredients in the ‘burgh.
Price: $4.75-5.25 per taco sold individually or as a combo. We did two tacos and two sides or a salad for $13.95.
Third Stop- Juan’s Flying Burrito
On our last day, we decided it would be the opportune time to see the origin of one of Will’s projects he included in his end of the semester portfolio. We went to a cemetery to observe a tomb that Will focused on for his architecture course. The cemeteries in New Orleans are unique in that the dead are buried in above ground cemeteries and mausoleums. The New Orleans cemeteries reminded of the first time I saw mausoleums in Argentina. I was in awe of the historic, detailed and intricate tombs. After our self-guided tour given by Will, we managed to squeeze in one more order of tacos before our evening flight.
We chose Juan’s Flying Burrito off my taco list to try. Will has been to this place before and was pleased to hear it was on my list. With four nearby locations to pick from in the Central Business District (CBD), Lower Garden District, Mid-City, and Uptown, we chose the Mid City restaurant at 4724 South Carrollton Avenue solely based on the parking ease and availability.
I learned some interesting facts about Juan’s Flying Burrito shortly after my visit. Juan’s Flying Burrito was established in 1997 as the worlds first “Creole taqueria.” The food here is made to order but the final flavors result from last minute placement on the grill. They are a unique New Orleans style Mexican joint, showing off their specialties like the blackened redfish and pork n’slaw tacos.
We walked into the punk rock Tex-Mex style taqueria with funky artwork displayed all over the walls including many wrestling masks. While we admired the artwork, I placed an order for chips and queso. I usually do not order appetizers but I guess when in NOLA, I just let loose.
The tacos here ranged from basic (bean, ground beef, chicken, steak, pork, tofu) to sprucing them up Vietnamese style (Nate history note: The USA’s Gulf Coast has a quite large Vietnamese population stemming from similarity of fishing to their native country, with many refugees finding new homes after the Vietnamese Communist Revolution) with fresh and pickled vegetables and sriracha sour cream. Fish tacos could be prepared different ways to like Caribbean Island to Blackened Louisiana. We know that I am not a huge sea food fan but reading “creole spiced gulf shrimp” sounded appetizing to my surprise. Besides their well known shredded pork and slaw tacos and all the seafood options, they also serve jerk chicken, guajillo chili-spice beef, wagu skirt steak, roasted corn/beans/squash, and home fries with Greek yogurt tacos.
Since all the tacos come in orders of 3, Alexis and I did a classic taco swap. I ordered the pineapple jerk chicken and she ordered three beef tacos with lettuce, cheese, salsa, and black beans on flour tortillas. Will did not participate in the swap since he was craving a burrito. Will went with Juan’s flying burrito which had so many ingredients that I couldn’t fit it into one post.
My thoughts: I liked the jerk chicken taco over Juan’s beef taco and I liked this jerk chicken taco over the one I had at Rum house. The jerk chicken was covered with pineapple salsa, bbq sauce, spicy slaw, pinto beans, and cheese. Part of the reason I liked this jerk chicken taco more was because I liked the pineapple salsa better here than the mango salsa used at the Rum House. It complemented the spices used on the jerk chicken and the bbq sauce was a mild but necessary touch. I liked the addition of the crunchy slaw. It was not overpowering and potent. My only complaints here are that the chicken had a little bit of heavy skin on some of the pieces and the pinto beans took away a lot of flavor. I could taste mainly the pinto beans over the chicken in many bites. Alexis agreed with me on my observations. She really liked the pineapple salsa on the jerk chicken. We also thought Juan’s beef taco was average. The consistency was very wet with the salsa which masked the dryness of the ground beef.
If I were to come back to Juan’s Flying Burrito, I would probably try the wagu skirt steak or the home fries taco. I would get the chips and queso again as they were a huge hit at the table.
Price: Pineapple chicken 3 tacos for $8.50, Juan’s beef tacos 3 for $7.
Final thoughts: My favorite taco place I went to on this trip was definitely Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria and it would be my top recommendation for my friends visiting New Orleans. The tacos were incredibly fresh and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the carnitas and al pastor tacos. Close behind those two tacos was the calypso beef taco at Rum House with its tender steak and leafy greens. I definitely found some quality tacos in New Orleans.
Believe it or not, my next extended weekend trip is juuust around the corner. I’ll be trucking it out west to Lake Tahoe for a beautiful winter wedding in the beginning of January. I doubt I will be having tacos as I will be staying at a lodge all weekend but you will never know. Stay tuned.