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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!

Lilly's Cafe #PhoDown

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.

Lilly's Rolls from Lilly's Cafe in New OrleansNext 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!

Crab Rangoon from Lilly's Cafe in New OrleansOur 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.

Spicy Tofu Appetizer from Lilly's Cafe in New OrleansFor 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.

Rare Beef Pho from Lilly's Cafe in New OrleansFinally, 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?

Vegan Pho from Lilly's Cafe in New OrleansSo 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.

Get There:

Lilly's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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  • This reminds me the pho tours that Leslie of NOLA Eats started a few years ago under the Tour du Pho moniker. While there are a myriad of dining events around town that will inevitably mimic one another in terms of format, this seems to be a facsimile of the original NOLA Eats dinners.

    • Hi Christy, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure what the scope and purpose of NOLA Eats dinners were, but we’re just a group of 8-10 friends looking to try every bowl of pho in the New Orleans area. Of course, getting a group of people together in New Orleans to try different restaurants that offer a particular dish/cuisine/etc isn’t an “orignal” idea. People have been doing it for a long, long time. We’re not trying to be or do anything. We’re just looking for good pho. You’re welcome to join us any time.

  • Sara

    pho is one of the rare foods that is both light and filling. LOVE it!

    • Oh me too! 🙂 We’re so fortunate to have so many places to choose from here in New Orleans. 🙂