During an extensive culinary tour in the French Quarter, I learned about the history of creole versus cajun cuisine, chefs who shaped the landscape of Louisiana cooking, well known restaurants and New Orleans must haves eats. At the conclusion of our tour I asked the guide where a good place to go for an affordable and filling meal was because everything/place she named fell in the “tourist” category of pricing aka expensive ($15 for a po’boys is a bit much and meal at those prices can start to add up). Most importantly, I wanted to know where she ate as someone who lived in New Orleans and than it happened – Libby’s (the tour guide) face lit up and she said “I love the gumbo from Lil’ Dizzy’s” and “they have an all-you-can-eat buffet for $15.99”.
I had to control my excitement – I mean think about it, a place where you can try all the New Orleans classics for one price – under one roof. I didn’t have to jump from place to place to try gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice, fried chicken, bread pudding or sweet tea.
As soon as I entered Lil’ Dizzy’s there was a buzz of busyness which owner and host Wayne Baquet controlled with welcoming ease. A veteran to the hospitality industry, The Baquet family has been in the restaurant business since 1947 and maintain a homestyle appeal that is quintessential to the term “southern hospitality”. Dining alone I was nervous to occupy a table for two for any extended period of time because it was extremely busy and the start of lunch service (they are open until 2pm daily) but Wayne and his staff advised me to take my time and take plenty of pictures ;o).
Feeding the likes of actors, models, presidents and even the late Muhammed Ali (RIP) the walls are covered with memorabilia and autographed photos. As I devoured my first plate of fried chicken and gumbo, I took in the historic attributes of the establishment – beyond just the photos on the wall, the people that were coming in ran the gambit. One after another – politicians, policemen, tourist, men, women, cyclist, the old and the young – they filed in and dined with smiles across their faces. Watching all walks of life converge on a dining room that held at most 25 tables was heart filling and mind blowing. This is a black owned restaurant doing it simple and straight up with no frills in a city with so many options; and they are doing it right.
The food was tasty and filling (I only had 2 plates), I enjoyed every item the buffet had to offer and wish I could have eaten more or at least take some with me (nope, didn’t happen); especially the gumbo – it was the perfect combination of spice, seasoning and seafood. I recommend Lil’ Dizzy’s Cafe because of the history, the “bang for your buck” food and the people (especially Wayne) – it is a solid spot for a taste of New Orleans.