Dooky Chase’s Restaurant

As many times as we have visited New Orleans we had never eaten at the legendary Dooky Chase Restaurant.

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

One Dining Room at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

I was determined to rectify that on this trip. So on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 we crossed it off our “Bucket List”! In order to fully understand why it was so important to me you need to know a bit of background history of Dooky Chase’s.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant opened for business in 1941 in what was previously a sandwich shop and lottery ticket outlet established in 1939 in Treme. Founded by Emily and Edgar “Dooky” Chase Sr. the restaurant soon became a meeting place for music and entertainment, civil rights and culture in New Orleans.

By the time his father was reaching his peak as an entrepreneur, Dooky Jr. was 16 and already well know for his 16 piece transitional swing to modern jazz band. At the time, in 1944, Dooky’s band with his sister Doris as vocalist was the most progressive in the South. They played the bebop sounds of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Dooky Jr. possessed his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and at 19 promoted the first racially integrated concert at the Municipal Auditorium.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant had become the hot spot for discussing civil and economic rights in the African-American community. Thurgood Marshall along with local attorneys and freedom fighters propelled civil rights and protests in the courts and on the streets of New Orleans. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others joined these local leaders for strategy sessions over meals in the upstairs meeting room at the restaurant.

Edgar Dooky Chase, Jr. married Leah Lange in 1946. Through Leah Chase’s vision the bar and sandwich shop “grew into a sit-down restaurant wrapped within a cultural environment of African-American art and Creole cooking”. She became known as the Queen of Creole cuisine and introduced one of the first African-American fine dining restaurants in the country. Combining her delicious Creole food with African-American art she created a showcase that became the first art gallery for black artists in New Orleans.

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

President Obama Getting Ready for his Meal
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

After Hurricane Katrina Dooky’s was closed for two years to rebuild. But with the help of many it reopened and remains the premier restaurant of authentic Creole cuisine. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant is still family owned and operated. They enjoy serving their regulars, tourists, locals, politicians, musicians, visual artists and literary giants. They have had the pleasure of serving both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, Hank Aaron, Ernest Gaines, Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones and a long list of others including Steve and me.

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

President Barack Obama Deep in Discussion with Chef Leah Chase
Photo Credit: Website

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

President Obama with Chef Leah Chase
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Sadly Dooky Chase, Jr. passed away in November 2016. But Leah Chase still cooks everyday at the young age of 94!

As Steve and I waited to be seated I looked around at the wonderful artwork and photographs. Our excitement kept building as we were handed our menus by one of Chef Leah’s daughters. Before deciding on our lunch options I got the gumption to ask is Chef Leah was in the kitchen. My hopes of meeting her were dashed when I was told that she had gone to a doctor’s appointment. And then much to my surprise she added that she would be right back after and would love to meet me!

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

Amazing Gumbo with Rice
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

Chef Chase Stirring the Gumbo
Photo Credit: Website

I could hardly contain me excitement but managed to devour my fabulous meal. We started by sharing a big bowl of Gumbo happy that we listened when we were told sharing a cup would not be enough. Lovely fresh salads came out next and then the best Fried Chicken we have ever eaten. The crunch of the crust and the juiciness of the chicken were sublime. And we even had dessert that came with our lunch.

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

Best Fried Chicken Ever!
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

It was quite a huge lunch that I will never forget because what followed lunch was truly the icing on the cake. We went back to the kitchen to meet Chef Leah Chase. She was so warm and delightful and adorable in her hot pink chef coat. I gave her my card and could not believe her response. She told me that she was proud of me!!! Can you imagine that? She said that writing about food is so vital because I am educating the world about the importance of food. Mind blown.

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

A Very Proud Moment!!!
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Dooky Chase's Restaurant

An Homage to Leah Chase on Orleans Avenue in Treme
Photo Credit: Steve Axelrod

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
2301 Orleans Avenue
New Orleans LA 70119
504-821-0600

Hominy Grill

For years I have read about Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC and finally had a chance to try it on our last visit in October.

Hominy Grill

Bloody Mary and Boiled Peanuts
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Hominy Grill

Hominy Grill
Photo Credit: Website

Located in a single house, Hominy Grill feels as though it has been open for generations, But actually this landmark has only been dishing up its simple and delicious fare since 1996. Combining the traditions of the past with the bounty of land and sea, James Beard Award winning chef/owner Robert Stehling lets the Low Country’s unique cultural history and flavors guide his cooking. A little off the beaten path in Harlston Village, Hominy Grill is in an old building with siding that has a mural painted on it to let you know you have come to the right place. As the mural suggests the restaurant is casual and homey. To enter the restaurant you walk past a small courtyard with outdoor seating but with a cool autumn chill in the air we ate inside where it was warm and cozy. Lace curtains and butcher paper on the tables gave the place a rustic charm. 

We were warmly greeted by our server who gave us a rundown on the menu and took our drink orders. Bloody Marys seemed to be the drink of choice at our table They were very well made with fresh ingredients and a perfect pairing with the complimentary Boiled Peanuts that we devoured in no time flat. Our appetizer of Fried Chicken with Pickled Vegetables and Pepper Relish was so good that we practically inhaled it. The chicken was juicy, succulent on the inside and the coating was oh so crispy. The richness of the chicken was balanced beautifully with the acetic hit of pickled veggies.

Hominy Grill

Fried Chicken with Pickled Vegetables
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Following that Eve, Steve and I all had the Shrimp and Grits and Brian the Rib and Chicken Combo with Hush Puppies, Black Eyed Peas and Deep Fried Cheese Grits. The food was all so amazing that not a sound could be heard at our table with the exception of constant lip smacking and finger licking! We were all quite full but somehow we managed to find a little room for dessert. And were we ever glad we did.

Hominy Grill

Fried Chicken and Ribs Combo
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Hominy Grill

Shrimp and Grits
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Brian, who is not a huge fan of chocolate (this from the son of two chocoholic parents) had the Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream with was light and packed with flavor from the addition of pecans and toasted coconut. And, of course, his chocoholic parents shared the Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge that was everything you could want in a chocolate dessert. The rich, warm, fudgy brownie was the perfect raft for the creamy cold vanilla ice cream and both were anointed with thick bittersweet hot fudge. All in all our entire meal was fabulously delicious and we can’t wait to return for an encore!

Hominy Grill

Sweet Potato Layer Cake
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Hominy Grill

Our Brownie with Ice Cream and Hot Fudge at Hominy Grill
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Hominy Grill

207 Rutledge Avenue

Charleston, SC 29403

843-937-0930

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Did you ever want to try a dive for dinner? Here are Two Dives Worth the Drive. If you’re in Charleston, that is!

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Boxcar Betty’s
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Perfectly Franks
Photo Credit: Website

On our last visit to Charleston over Memorial Day Steve and I decided to try to eat on the cheap for at least a couple of meals. This area of South Carolina has so many wonderful restaurants that even with our many visits we have not even made a dent in the list. I think that you could have a meal in almost any of the dining establishments and be wowed by the flavor. 

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Boxcar Betty’s
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Boxcar Betty’s
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Boxcar Betty’s
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

I had a particular craving for fried chicken one evening and our daughter-in-law said she had wanted to try a place called Boxcar Betty’s on the Savannah Highway. So we all piled in the car and headed for the restaurant. Boxcar Betty’s is a tiny little place but there is nothing small about the flavor of their chicken. We ordered at the counter and then they brought our food to us. Everything came out hot, crisp and delicious. The coating on the chicken was well seasoned and so crunchy! And on the inside the chicken was juicy and tender. All of us were impressed with the portion sizes and the quality of each item on the menu. The menu is limited but all we really wanted was yummy fried chicken and that is what we got.

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Boxcar Betty’s
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Boxcar Betty’s
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Boxcar Betty’s started with a picture of a fried chicken sandwich and developed into a desire to bring high-end fried chicken sandwiches to Charleston. The process evolved into an experience for their customers from the incredible award winning chicken, to attentive customer service and a unique space. They craft their sandwiches with great care using the best chicken and and locally sourced ingredients. They work hard to care for our world. In addition to locally-sourced ingredients, they’re committed to helping the environment by ensuring that everything on your tray is completely compostable. Feel good knowing that, at least for this meal, you’re doing your part. Can’t wait to go back there on our visit later this month.

 

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Perfectly Franks
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

Bison Burger at Perfectly Franks Photo Credit: Website

Bison Burger at Perfectly Franks
Photo Credit: Website

As for the other dive, it was in the complete opposite direction. Brian and Eve had been to Perfectly Franks in Summerville when they first moved to Charleston a couple of years ago and loved the food and the town. We really had to check out what they liked so much. We took the lovely drive to Summerville stopping at a plantation store or two along our route. Summerville is charming with little boutiques and antique stores. It even has a Main Street which is where Perfectly Franks is located.

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Perfectly Franks
Photo Credit: Website

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Perfectly Franks
Photo Credit: Website

The Cuda family tradition began in 1910, when Perry’s grandfather, Frank Cuda, Sr., at the age of 15, stowed away on a boat from Italy to America. Later he moved to Pittsburgh, PA. From there, he brought all of his family, eight brothers and sisters and his father, to live with him in America. As the oldest brother, Frank was determined to make his way in his new home by opening a food store and selling hot dogs. With just three stools and a counter, “Cuda’s Hot Dogs” was born. Frank Cuda, Sr. continued to grow his business and soon had four hot dog stores managed exclusively by his family, which included Perry’s father, also named Frank.
Today, Perry Cuda is carrying on the tradition and continues to pay tribute to the “Franks”.

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Perfectly Franks
Photo Credit: Website

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Guy Fieri and Perry Cuda on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives
Photo Credit: Website

It is cool to note that Perfectly Franks was on Food Network’s Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. And I could see why. I never saw such a huge variety of toppings for hot dogs which made it so hard to choose. Steve and I each had a different one so we could share and they were both great. Everything you would want in a dog – an all beef hot dog that’s full of flavor, a soft toasted bun and fresh, delicious add ons. And the fries weren’t too shabby either.

Two Dives Worth the Drive

Perfectly Franks
Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod

I highly recommend both Boxcar Betty’s and Perfectly Franks when you are in the mood for wholesome, flavorful comfort food at a very affordable price. All you have to do is take a little drive from downtown Charleston which I think you will find so worth the trip.

 

Boxcar Betty’s

1922 Savannah Highway
Charleston, SC 29407
West Ashley
(843) 225-7470

Perfectly Franks

118 North Main Street
Summerville, South Carolina
843-871-9730