With so much to explore in New Orleans, there are countless ways in which to work up an appetite. One particularly pleasant divertissement is a ride on the landmarked St. Charles streetcar line to the Garden District. Magnificent mansions of various architectural styles afford a delightful setting for an afternoon constitutional. When evening arrives, we return to the Central Business District and prepare ourselves for an authentic Cajun dinner.
We pass Emeril's and follow Julia Street four blocks to our destination at the corner of Convention Center Boulevard. A group of colleagues introduced me to Mulate's 14 years ago while we were in the Big Easy to attend a convention—I've been a fan of "the original Cajun restaurant" ever since. From the street, we can hear the cavernous hall resonating les bon temps. The party is already in full swing as we enter the circa 1885 Italianate warehouse. A Cajun band is playing, people are dancing, and everyone appears to be having a good time.
In terms of food, Mulate's sets the standard for Cajun cooking. From the gumbo to the alligator to the catfish to the crawfish to the jambalaya, this is the real deal. We ordered the Catfish Mulate's—a seasoned fillet, lightly floured, grilled, and topped with crawfish étouffée. Jambalaya, sautéed vegetables, and a twice-baked potato filled out the remainder of the plate. Beer was the perfect libation to accompany the food, music, and checkered napery. With everything having been prepared to perfection, this remains one of the tastiest Cajun meals I can recall.
Celebrating its nineteenth year in New Orleans, Mulate's continues its tradition of blending authentic Cajun food, music, and culture with reasonable prices. Though I prefer the shack-like ambiance of the original Mulate's in Breaux Bridge, the large space on Julia Street has its own charms—to say nothing of its easier accessibility to conventioneers.
201 Julia Street (NW corner Convention Center Blvd)
New Orleans, LA 70130-1622 (map)
Riverwalk and Convention Center across the street