Welcome to 2012, a year in which Blackened Out will take a hard look at some of New Orleans' most iconic dining and drinking traditions (beignets at Cafe du Monde, dinner at Antoine's, etc...) and find out if it is worth it or not. We have counted up 40 or so spots that seem quintessential stops for a New Orleans tourist. Should be a fun year.
Casamento's is a sea of humanity between 11 am and 2 pm from the first break in summer until they close at the end of May. This, along with its easy to find location, makes it a magnet for tourists. You probable know the rules. Stand in line, bring cash, don't ask too many questions, make sure you are in the door before closing time. That sort of eating can be more than a little stressful, but going to Casamento's at night is a much more pleasing alternative. For one thing, the Magazine St. shoppers have retired for the day. Secondly, they are open for longer hours at night giving you a greater window.
While the crowds don't evaporate at night, Casamento's becomes slightly calmer once dusk falls. The interior of Casamento's is layered in pearls, yellows, and greens. The interior lights filtering through the blinds creates a warm, welcoming glow. As you wait in line, see if you can catch a waitresses attention. If so, ask for a cold beer and a squat, chilled glass. Soon you will meet the Champ and that beer will come in mighty handy. Champ shucks oysters better than anyone in the city and he has the awards to prove it. With a smile larger than the oysters shucks, you can barely wait for him to place the oyster on the oval plate before greedily grabbing them up. They are always cold and fat, the meat glistening under the flourescent lighting. I believe it was Dean Wormer who said, "A dozen raw, with a make it yourself cocktail sauce, and a cold beer is great way to go through life, son."
If it was just for the opportunity to visit with Champ and take in those salty, bulky oysters, Casamento's would be worth it. Pro tip: The Champ's cocktail sauce he crafts is better than anything you will concoct. But there is more to Casamento's once you are seated. The oyster loaf is the biggest celebrity on the menu, a celebration of hot oil, cornmeal, oysters, and soft white bread. I made the mistake of trying the meatball loaf last time I was in, and while it wasn't bad, you will feel like a chump for passing up the oyster loaf.
Before you tackle that celebrity, a cup of the seafood gumbo. The rust colored potion is built on the foundation of a hearty stock and fortified with shrimp, bits of crab, and other miscellany. It goes well with, you guessed it cold beer, and another dozen of the Champs oysters. They should rename this place Champsamento's.
Worth it? Hell Yes.
4330 Magazine St.
Closed Wednesdays, June July, and August; Open 11-2 and 5:30-9