A pound of deep fried snow crab legs, and melted butter
“Bringing New Orleans to North Park,” says the home page of Louisiana Purchase, and from a kitchen standpoint the University Avenue restaurant did so literally. It recruited chef/co-owner Quinnton Austin from New Orleans, bringing his Big Easy bona fides to San Diego.
2305 University Avenue, San Diego
Indeed, Austin’s menu offers nods to New Orleans restaurants that inspired several of its dishes, including a Drago’s Seafood style lobster pasta; and garlicky, buttery chargrilled oysters in the manner of Acme Oyster House. His own creativity comes through in spins on Cajun and Creole classics such as gumbo yaya, and his signature savory cheesecake, made ultra-rich with alligator and andouille sausage, served with crawfish cream.
Chargrilled oysters, with garlic, butter, and parmesan
If it sounds too good to miss, get in line: particularly since curated lists of Black-owned restaurants were shared and re-shared on social media, Louisiana Purchase has become ground zero for fans of Southern favorites ranging from low-country boil to shrimp and grits. Especially with covid-19 spatial restrictions, reservations are recommended, and take-out is available when you can’t get one.
Glass dividers separate booths on the patio of Louisiana Purchase.
It’s a shame North Parkers can’t make better use of Louisiana Purchase’s gorgeous bar during the pandemic — though it doesn’t stop a litany of craft cocktails being served. Fortunately, the restaurant has done a nice job making the most of its indoor/outdoor and patio seating, installing glass partitions between booths and alternating guest seating to one side or the other of some booths to keep more tables open.
The stylish bar area of Louisiana Purchase
I can’t complain that a New Orleans restaurant menu is dominated by shrimp dishes I can’t enjoy due to allergy, but I can let fellow sufferers know the service and kitchen staff were helpful in letting me know which dishes would put me at risk. In the end, I opted not to try the chicken wings encrusted with a crawfish meat batter, but I might have to return with an epi-pen to take my chances with this dish.
The Louisiana Purchase, located at the intersection of North Park's University Avenue and Louisiana Street
What I can do is watch “Chef Q’s daily specials,” which on Thursdays include fried crab legs. For $30 you get a pound of deep-fried, cornmeal dusted snow crab legs (and knuckles), served with a dish of melted butter. It feels exquisitely messy, in such a fine-looking establishment, to crack these legs apart in search of sweet crab meat. But it’s hard work that must be done, in North Park, with cocktails.