Isaac and Amanda Toups on Cajun Food, Southern Traditions + Why ‘Whole Hog’ Is a Buzzword

Isaac & Amanda Toups on Cajun Food, Southern Traditions & Why 'Whole Hog' Is a Buzzword

Just over a week ago, Isaac and Amanda Toups opened the doors to Toups South, a restaurant in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) in New Orleans. As a museum restaurant, Toups South is tasked with showcasing the flavors and culinary traditions of the South — a tall order, considering the region’s signature dishes range from barbecue to crawfish étouffée and represent countless distinctive communities from Texas to the Carolinas.

Toups South is the couple’s second concept. Toups Meatery, which they opened in 2012, boasts “straight Cajun” offerings like lamb neck, confit chicken thigh, and authentic cracklins. The Meatery helped Isaac win the attention of Top Chef, where he competed in Season 13 (and won “Fan Favorite”).

Now, just days into their new opening, we talked to Isaac and Amanda about real Cajun food — what makes it special, why stories matter, and why people are listening.Continue Reading

September 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Late Summer Savings

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Summer is coming to an end, but September 2016 restaurant weeks are still in season. 

Flavor Palm Beach has kicked off with $10 + $20 lunches and $30, $35, $40 + $45 dinners through September 30. Make a reservation.

* Charleston Restaurant Week features delightful deals on three-course dinners and lunches through September 18. Make a reservation.

Downtown Dine O’ Round Salt Lake City is almost here. Order $5 + $10 lunches and $15 + $35 dinners, September 9-25. Make a reservation.

Midtown Atlanta Restaurant Week is coming with $15 + $25 lunches and brunches and $25 + $35 dinners, September 10-18. Make a reservation.

Dining Out for Life Baltimore brings you a chance to do good while you dine out. Eat at a participating restaurant and 25-100% of your bill will be donated to Moveable Feast on September 15. Make a reservation.

* Brandywine Valley Restaurant Week has $15 two-course lunches + $35 three-course dinners through September 18. Make a reservation.

Restaurant Week New Orleans lets the good times roll with $20 two-course lunches + $39 three-course dinners, September 12-18. Make a reservation.

Omaha Restaurant Week is 10 full nights of belt-busting fun that benefits the Food Bank for the Heartland with $20, $30, $40 + $50 dinners, September 16-25. Make a reservation.

* Cobb County Restaurant Week has a trifecta of savings with $15, $25 + $35 brunches, lunches, and dinners, September 17-24. Make a reservation.

Center City District Restaurant Week comes to the PHL with $20 lunches + $35 dinners, September 11-16 and September 18-23. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

August 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Summer Savings Ahead

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At home or on the road, you can enjoy discounts on meals this month at cities across the nation, thanks to August 2016 Restaurant Weeks.

* Dine Out Downtown Delray Restaurant Week brings you the best for less with $20 lunches + $20-$40 dinners through August 7. Make a reservation.

* Baltimore County Restaurant Week will charm you with $15-$25 lunches and dinners, through August 20. Make a reservation.

* New Orleans COOLinary offers lunches for $20 or less + $39 or less through August 31 in NOLA. Make a reservation.

* Houston Restaurant Weeks make for a most delicious month. Book $20 brunches + lunches and $25, $35, and $45 dinners through September 5. Make a reservation.

* Miami Spice delivers two months of nice. Take advantage of $23 lunches + $39 dinners through September 30. Make a reservation.

* Downtown Cincinnati Restaurant Week has three ways to save with $25, $35, and $45 dinners, August 8-14. Make a reservation.

* DFW Restaurant Week Preview is your chance to get a sneak peek of all the dining fun to come. Snag a seat for $20 lunches and $30 or $45 dinners, August 12-14. Make a reservation.

* Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week showcases the tastiest of Maryland with $16 two-course lunches + $36 three-course dinners, August 12-21. Make a reservation.

* San Antonio Restaurant Week features $10 + $15 lunches and $25 + $35 dinners with heart, August 13-27. Make a reservation.

* Dine Out Boston is coming soon. Book now for $15, $20+ $25 lunches and $28, $33 + $38 dinners, August 14-26. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans: Top Picks for the Best Eats in the Big Easy

A visit to New Orleans should be on everyone’s culinary bucket list. There are regional specialties galore and more storied restaurants that you possibly fit in one trip. But once you’ve had beignets, bananas Foster, red beans and rice, jambalaya and crawfish étouffée at iconic restaurants like Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s and Brennan’s, it’s time to branch out. Here are some more of the places that are ideal for when you want to dine like a local in New Orleans.

Shaya
Shaya is one of the current darlings of the New Orleans food scene. An anomaly in the area, the focus is modern Israeli cuisine with influences from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Greece. But many of the products are locally sourced and add a unique spin to classics. The dinner menu is designed for sharing; try a selection of the “for the table” dishes, such as paddlefish caviar spread with shallots or wood-roasted okra with tahini, tomatoes, and duqqa. Dishes like the roasted cabbage served with muhammara, tahini, and hazelnuts are a riot of flavors and textures but combined in such a way that the result is much more than the sum of its parts. Make a reservation at Shaya.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

Compère Lapin
This newish restaurant from Top Chef contestant Nina Compton is located in the hip warehouse arts district in a space adjoining a cool boutique hotel. Her food sometimes shows hints of her Caribbean background, but mostly it’s her excitingly fresh approach to New Orleans ingredients and vegetable-forward cuisine that tantalizes. Because Compton previously worked at Scarpetta in Miami, her pastas are noteworthy. But even simple dishes like the beet salad is a revelation. It’s composed or both cooked and raw beets, pesto, tender baby beet greens, candied pistachios and ciabatta croutons. Make a reservation at Compère Lapin.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

La Petite Grocery
La Petite Grocery is set in a historic building which was once the Central Tea, Coffee and Butter Depot, across the street from the bustling Jefferson Market. Over a hundred years later, it positively oozes with charm. Award-winning chef Justin Devillier has been in New Orleans for more than 10 years and has worked at some of the best restaurants in town, at which he absorbed the local techniques and approaches to food. His creative dishes include fried green tomatoes with burrata, arugula, country ham, and herb oil, and blue crab beignets. The restaurant is located on Magazine Street in a part of Uptown on the edge of the Garden District that is well worth exploring. Make a reservation at La Petite Grocery.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

Willa Jean
It’s no surprise that this new spot is a combination of a Southern bakery and a café; the flaky biscuits here are already being hailed as some of the city’s best. While technically a John Besh restaurant, it’s really all about pastry chefs-bakers Kelly Fields and Lisa White. Super popular at lunch, locals rave about the meatloaf sandwich and the avocado toast with poached egg, olive oil, tomato and sea salt. A pure nostalgia dessert is the “cookies and milk” — chocolate chip cookies are served with a glass of Tahitian vanilla milk alongside a beater full of fresh cookie dough. Make a reservation at Willa Jean.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

GW Fins
The French Quarter may be filled with tourists, but locals head there, too, for live music and cool drinks. They also make a beeline to what’s often regarded the best fine dining seafood restaurant in town. In business for more than a decade, it has a fresh and modern dining room. Signature dishes from chef and co-owner Tenney Flynn include the Lobster Dumplings with fennel, tomato concassé, and lobster butter and Scalibut, a combination of halibut encrusted with sea scallops, served with lobster risotto, snow peas, and pea shoot butter. If you’re lucky, you could find lionfish as a special. Make a reservation at GW Fins.

Dine Like a Local in New OrleansContinue Reading