Other than Mosca's Restaurant, the Avondale Shipyard and Dollar World, I had absolutely no clue what I'd come across while riding the Avondale bus. Turns out I'd try a new snoball flavor, dine at a strange restaurant, meet a local rapper's father, do some impulse thrifting and more...
To ride the Avondale bus, coming from New Orleans, you have to catch the Westbank Expressway bus. There is no other bus to take you there. I thought there was a Walkertown Terminal to and from the CBD bus, but the driver said there wasn't. As I've said before, those new JeT buses are so luxurious and the marquee and stop announcements make it easy to figure out where you are. But I really wish they provided day passes so it wouldn't be so expensive to go on route explorations. Again, they had them before Katrina. Once you arrive at the Walkertown Terminal, the Avondale bus, which passes through Marrero, Westwego, Avondale and Waggaman, should be waiting.
The houses in Avondale and Waggaman remind me of '80s/'90s New Orleans East or Gentilly and make me happy. And you can tell by the toys in so many front yards, the well-maintained parks and the plethora of snoball stands that it's a nice place to raise a family. Some of the houses even have quirky touches like a gold sequined ceramic swan, a cat poster or an old school satellite dish. There were also quite a few Blessed Mother statues.
Once the bus came back to Westwego, I stopped at the bodega on the corner of Laroussini Street and Westbank Expressway, because I can never pass up a bodega. It was pretty small, but I found a few intriguing items: Mui-Bon candy which appears to be the love child of a Ferrero Rocher chocolates and a Kit Kat, Salsita de Chamoy which is apparently a sour goo that goes well with everything and alum which has a centuries-old reputation of providing vaginal tightness when used in a douche. Anyway...
When I was leaving, a man struck up a conversation...
"What flavor is that?"
"Oh you from the islands?"
"No, I'm from New Orleans, the 7th Ward. Over there (points toward New Orleans)."
"Oh...OH! I know where that is! Where they passe blanc (when fair-skinned blacks would pass for white), huh?"
"Um, yeah, well not so much now. But yeah. I'm just taking pictures because I work for the Gambit."
"Oh, Gambit! My son's been in there a few times! He's [local rapper] Baby Boy da Prince!"
Here's the Baby Boy da Prince song that was in constant rotation in New Orleans after Katrina, "The Way I Live."
(Speaking of passing for white.... My mom and I were at a relative's funeral, Lydia Sindos' to be exact, when I met a relative who passed for white and moved to Los Angeles. When my Mom introduced me to him, I wanted to laugh because he looked like a tan person wearing far too light makeup or as we say in the 7th Ward, "the roach who fell in the flour." My Paw Paw talked about how close he was to passing for white and moving to Los Angeles, but that his brother convinced him otherwise.)
After that, I walked across the street to go to Joe's Southern Eatery at 812 Westbank Expressway. It looks chain-y, so I asked the young lady at the counter if it was a chain. She said that it wasn't, but that the owner had a few other restaurants in the greater New Orleans area. She offered to let me speak to him, so I asked him about the other restaurants and he said that Joe's was his only restaurant. Now I was getting secretly angry. Was he lying to me? Since it looked so chain-y, I asked what sides were prepared in-house. He said that the dirty rice, snap beans and cole slaw were, so I thought about trying them. But the seafood menu was sort of strange and only had meals that came with two sides, without a drink. I got a little frustrated and left to go to Walgreens next door to suck up the air conditioning. While checking out, the cashier noticed the Joe's menu in my hand and said that she really liked it. So I went.
The fried catfish and jumbo shrimp were good, but I didn't care for the snap beans or coleslaw. Oddly enough, I really enjoyed the tartar and cocktail sauces. The portions are huge — way too much for me, especially lately — and you can't order anything a la carte. Another menu issue is that only some menu items are on the menu that hangs on the wall, with the entirety of the menu on a printed brochure. If I were to go back, I'd split a plate with someone. I'd also order something grilled or the gyro since the streets are saying that the owner also owns a Middle Eastern restaurant. But since I may have been outright lied to, I'm not too sure I'll go back.
The devil was beating his wife when I headed back out, which was fine since it was so hot.
Thank you for checking out this bus adventure! Please join me again next week! A few outtakes are below, as always.