After forking out a minimum of $55 per day for tickets to the 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, it's likely that you'll want to conserve the rest of your funds for beer or bottled water while grooving your way from stage to stage. Needless to say, you're going to want the best bang for your buck when roaming for food through the many available vendors. Sure, you'll be tempted to go for the signature Crawfish Monica or a Cochon de Lait Po-Boy, but we've wrangled up a few other options that should keep your belly from rumbling all the way through Eric Clapton's last encore.
Hot Sausage Po-Boy: Sink your teeth into a Vaucresson Hot Sausage Po-Boy. Around since 1899, Vaucresson hot sausage is a spicy, Creole mix of beef and pork and at the fest, each link is lovingly laid into a six-inch length of Leidenheimer with room for all kinds of fixins'. Though to be perfectly honest, all it really needs is a squirt or two of Creole mustard.
Trout Baquet: Along with their famous Crawfish Bisque and Creole File Gumbo, Li'l Dizzy's Cafe serves a wonderfully filling and delectable Trout Baquet. Made with fresh, Louisiana trout, the fish is flour-dusted and pan fried, and then topped with lump crab meat that has been sauteed with minced onions, garlic, lemon juice and parsley.
Grilled Chicken Livers with Pepper Jelly: If you're a fan of chicken liver, you should definitely get a taste of real home cooking at The Praline Connection's booth. Go for a full plate of grilled chicken livers with pepper jelly and a side of crowder peas and okra or even collard greens for a full taste of the South.
Stuffed Artichoke: At only $4 a pop, the Stuffed Artichoke from Vucinovich's Restaurant (located in New Orleans East) is a winner. With moist Italian breadcrumbs and perfectly cooked artichoke, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better deal. At that price, you can also order a fried shrimp or fried oyster po-boy from the same booth and still not break your budget. Or, you could just order another Stuffed Artichoke...
Jama-Jama: For years, Bennachin Restaurant in the French Quarter has offered a vendor booth featuring African cuisine at Jazz Fest and they keep coming back. Folks simply can't get enough of the delicious vegetarian dishes like "Jama-Jama," or spinach sauteed with onion, garlic and cayenne, and their fried plantains, plus the price is more than right at $4 each.
Pheasant, Quail & Andouille Gumbo: Prejean's Restaurant in Lafayette knows Cajun cuisine and one thing they've got right year after year is their gumbo. You can't go wrong with a hearty bowl of their Pheasant, Quail & Andouille gumbo that is so rich and thick, it'll have you smacking your lips and hoping for more.
Smoked Sausage Macque Choux: The United Houma Nation, a state recognized tribe of approximately 17,000 members residing in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, St. Mary, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes offers a taste of Louisiana's Native American cuisine in the Folk Area. Their Smoked Sausage Macque Choux with Fry Bread is something that no fester should miss.
Louisiana Crawfish Po-Boy: Although New Orleans boasts all kinds of different po-boys, one would be hard-pressed to find a crawfish po-boy among them. It seems that one of the few places you can get a crawfish po-boy is at Jazz Fest from Sharon & Guilherme Wegner's food booth. You can also indulge in a fried gator po-boy, too, just in case you need to cross that one off your list.
Ya Ka Mein: If you drank just a little bit too much the day before at Jazz Fest, it's best to head straight to Ms. Linda's Catering booth. Ya Ka Mein is a sure-fire, New Orleans-style hangover cure and now it's offered in a vegetarian option as well. If you're really hungry (and really fighting that dog of a hangover) you might want to scarf down one of her fried pork chop sandwiches as well.
Mango Freeze: For dessert, and hydration, you should definitely check out WWOZ's famous Mango Freezes. Enjoy it as is or pour in a shot or two of rum from the bottle you smuggled into the fest in your boot. Either way, they're delicious.