LOCATION: 312 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130
After spending the better course of the afternoon exploring the French Quarter and then conquering an escape room in the evening, we all decided to get some food in the tank before venturing out to Bourbon Street later that night. My friend Bryan ended up finding a place called Streetcar Café on Yelp, and after a look through their menu, everyone agreed on giving the place a shot.
The spot seemed like a bit of a hole-in-the-wall type of place, with only a small sign at the bottom left corner of the front window to indicate that you had arrived at your destination. Since we got there pretty late in the evening (probably around 8:30 p.m. or so), the restaurant was relatively quiet, with only a few of the other tables occupied with diners.
I’ll be honest — the inside of the restaurant was a lot nicer than I was expecting. It was really well-lit from a large number of lamp fixtures hanging from the ceiling. There was definitely a modern feel to the place, with a lot of wood elements in the flooring, dining furniture, and walls. The small bar in the back of the restaurant looked like it had been built up with bricks, and a granite surface on the top.
The menu had a good range of selections, varying from seafood to pastas to po’ boys. Of course, your New Orleans staples of jambalaya and gumbo were also on there as well. Since it was relatively later in the evening, my appetite had built up quite a bit at that point, so I talked with Bryan about splitting an appetizer. The Blackened Alligator Bites stood out; Bryan hadn’t tried alligator before, but he was down to give it a shot. For my main dish, I had already gotten one po’ boy for lunch, but that didn’t stop me from choosing another one for dinner as well. This time around, I decided on the seafood route and went for the Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy.
Being that there weren’t that many other tables occupied in the dining room, the kitchen was able to focus solely on our entire group’s order. Some of the appetizers, like our Blackened Alligator Bites, came out in a pretty short timespan. The rest of our entrées were not far behind them.
The alligator pieces looked like they had been lightly breaded and maybe pan-fried before getting finished off with some additional spices for those layers of flavor. They were served on top of a bed of mixed greens and topped off with some remoulade sauce. I thought that the gator itself was cooked pretty well, and didn’t end up chewy or anything (which would have been a sign that it might be overcooked). From a seasoning standpoint, I was able to taste primarily salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, all of which helped to impart an overall savory flavor to the gator. I particularly enjoyed the extra black pepper that provided a lingering sense of heat.
Then came the main attraction: the Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy. When the plate first got put down, I was actually surprised how big the sandwich was. It was the quantity of fried shrimp, however, that did catch my attention. Granted, the shrimp did seem a bit larger, but I only counted probably around seven or eight pieces total, which I thought was a bit lackluster compared to the size of the sandwich. Perhaps adding maybe another two or three pieces of shrimp would help the sandwich visually look more complete.
But nonetheless, I dived right in, where I was able to get the shrimp, remoulade, red onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce all captured in one bite. The shrimp itself was nice and crispy, with the remoulade sauce providing a tangy and slightly tart contrasting flavor. The periodic burst from the raw red onions also helped to cut through some of the bites as well. I will say that I thought the shrimp was relatively meaty, and I didn’t get the impression that the breading was too overpowering or anything like that.
I walked into the restaurant really without any expectations, but came away rather impressed. Streetcar Café strikes me as a place that just aims to serve up tasty renditions of New Orleans regional fare, and doesn’t try to put a fancy spin on things or anything like that. The storefront is not going to catch your eye if you’re walking down the street, but if you’re interested in a place to grab some good food and chill out for a bit, maybe consider Streetcar Café on your next time in the area.
Let’s now take a look at the Streetcar Café Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Streetcar Café:
Food: 4.25 / 5
Flavor-wise, I thought that both the alligator bites as well as the shrimp po’ boy delivered. Everything was well-seasoned, and the breading on the shrimp was just the right amount. The menu also offers a pretty good selection of New Orleans regional dishes to choose from as well. The only downside I felt was really just the portion of the shrimp in the po’ boy itself.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
The dining area seemed pretty spacious with how the tables were laid out. Plenty of lamp fixtures made sure that the inside was well-lit, and the other modern décor elements like wood and brick helped to round out the ambiance.
Service: 4 / 5
Given that we were customers pretty late into their dinner service, it’s slightly tough to gauge how fast the food would normally take to get out of the kitchen. But the staff seemed to handle pretty well getting 13 orders dropped at once, since we were not left waiting very long before things started showing up at the table. The waitress that was helping us out was also very accommodating and stopped by a few times during our meal to check in.
Price: 4 / 5
It’s a tale of two dishes when it comes to price. On one hand, I think the alligator bites were pretty reasonable coming in at $10, given how many pieces you got as well as it being a specialty protein. On the other hand, the proportion of fried shrimp to size of the po’ boy was unbalanced, and I don’t think the $14 price tag had as much value there.