Lilly’s Cafe – #PhoDown
March’s #PhoDown took place here in New Orleans on the East Bank of the Mississippi River. Tomorrow we’re actually headed back to the West Bank one last time for our April #PhoDown but then we’re solidly planted on the East Bank to try all the delights in New Orleans, Metairie, Harahan, Kenner (uh-huh) and then finally, New Orleans East. So many more new and exciting places to visit and bowls of pho to try!
So in March we visited Lilly’s Cafe. It’s a fairly new establishment located on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District. This was actually my first time visiting. It’s a tiny little unassuming place that appears to be run by Lilly herself with the help of a kind and gracious staff. We actually had eight people in attendance and ate until our hearts were contented!
First we tried Lilly’s Rolls – a spring roll dish stuffed with shrimp, ham, avocado, strawberries, lettuce, mint and vermicelli noodles. They were accompanied by a peanut sauce, like most spring rolls are. These rolls were light and delicious. All the ingredients worked together rather harmoniously.
I’d really never seen a spring roll like this before – most of the Vietnamese places here in the New Orleans area are very traditional. I really appreciated the creativity and thoughtfulness that went into these rolls.
Next up was a plate of Crab Rangoons. We almost always order these when they appear on a given menu. I really love Crab Rangoons – crab and cream cheese deep-fried in a wonton. Um, YES please! These Crab Rangoons were a little special – they had bacon in them (yep!) and came with a light gingery sauce (tasty). They were fried well and tasted really good. I’m a fan!
Our final appetizer was the Spicy Tofu dish. I’ve been liking tofu more and more lately, and this was a really good one. It was lightly fried (I think – it’s hard to tell with tofu sometimes) and then covered in “Chef’s Spicy Sauce” topped with fried shallots and fresh green onions.
The spicy sauce was amazing. It was a little smoky and had a deep flavor dimension to it. I really wish I could identify what made it so delicious. I know there was some ginger in there, but I don’t know what that red sauce was. Overall, this was a fantastic dish. I’d order it again for sure.
For consistency’s sake, I always get a Beef Pho when I visit places on our #PhoDown tour. I try to get a rare beef when they have it and Lilly’s did. Below is my pho before I dressed it up with all manner of herbs, bean sprouts, limes and sauces. Their beef pho was pretty tasty. Not the best I’ve had, but it was a good, solid pho. Definitely worth trying.
Finally, I had to show you this. Daniele, one of our regulars at #PhoDown, is a vegetarian and Lilly’s actually has vegetarian pho! Even better – it’s actually a vegan pho! It is packed with tofu and vegetables. It’s so pretty. I definitely want to go back and get some. Isn’t it lovely?
So that’s it – that’s what we had at Lilly’s Cafe. This is definitely a more “gourmet” place than the pho shops we visited on the West Bank. All of the food we had there was really tasty, and I highly recommend you visit if you haven’t already.
- Address – 1813 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130
- Phone – 504.599.9999
- Hours – Mon – Sat: 11a to 9p; Closed Sundays
- Find them on Facebook, Google+, Urbanspoon and Yelp