A hidden gem, well one that isn’t so hidden anymore, is Coop’s Place on Decatur in the French Quarter.
“Where the not-so-elite meet to eat,” says the Zagat Guide of New Orleans. The first time we sat at the bar we knew this was a true New Orleans dive (and we mean that in the best way possible)! Filled with the characters and storytellers that New Orleans is known for, we were laughing and joking with everyone within the first few minutes.
When you first pass the place, you’ll think Coop’s Place is just a run down dive bar and you may even turn your nose up at it. That, however, would be a mistake.
We tried the house specialties, Gumbo and Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya. Perfectly made with traditional creole ingredients, the Gumbo was some of the best we’ve tasted in the city. Any New Orleanian will tell you that what makes good Gumbo is the roux. The best roux, a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces, at least our grandmother’s homemade roux, took over twelve hours to make, and tasting the Gumbo at Coop’s Place makes me think they put in all the time needed for the roux to really take hold.
We were a bit hesitant to try the Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya, rabbit has never been one of the top foods we’ve wanted to taste, but we are sure glad we got past the hesitation. The jambalaya was spicy and the sausage had all the right notes to bring out the local flavor, and the rabbit was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Together it was a combination that will make you order seconds…and maybe thirds.
We finished our meal with a bourbon Old Fashioned that the bartender made with a grin and a story about how William Faulkner used to drink these by the gallon; a fact we have not been able to verify, but a wonderful antidote with which to wash our meal down.
Coop’s Place, 1109 Decatur St., https://www.coopsplace.net. Menu available here.