Ely's Alterations & Dry Cleaning
220 Decatur St., 566-7081
These days, Ms. Ely serves $5 Philippine buffet lunches on Fridays and Sundays only. The choir performance is a rare occurrence, but word has it that her fruit spring rolls are extraordinary events in themselves.
Vietnamese Open-Air Market
Behind the block of stores at the intersection of Alcee Fortier Boulevard and Peltier Drive
You'll never buy those expensive boxes of supermarket herbs again. Be sure to get there by 8 a.m. each Saturday, and stop by Pho Quang (4611 Alcee Fortier Blvd.) afterwards for an authentic breakfast of pho, beef noodle soup.
Dorothy Ross Restaurant
1416 S. Claiborne Ave.
Study the blackboard menu well while you wait. Dorothy Ross works quickly, and two signs inside her tiny take-out joint remind everyone of the hassle it will cause if she has to fix anyone's mistaken order. Lunch Monday through Thursday until 3 p.m., or until the food runs out.
4430 Magazine St., 899-8350
You'll leave feeling like the world would be a better place if everyone ran a soul food walk-up for a living. Pints of flame-orange, spicy sausage jambalaya bear striking resemblance in color and sweetness to Spaghetti-o's. Lunch and dinner daily.
2301 Orleans Ave., 822-9506 or 821-2294
Use the Orleans Avenue entrance, and call ahead. Lunch and dinner daily.
Le Petit DeGarge
1625 Governor Nicholls St., 569-8868
Try a Malta Hatuey to drink -- a thick, molasses-colored beverage with the bitter and sudsy characteristics of dark beer and the sweet, caramel flavors of a cola. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Inside the Shell station where La. 59 meets I-12, (985) 892-0205
Only a few small letters near the bottom of the Shell sign indicate what lies within. Eat in your car to avoid interrupting service station employees on break making out in the booth area. Breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays, lunch and dinner Saturday.
BP Gas Shop #6
71011 Hwy. 59, Abita Springs, (985) 892-9919
This busy house of gasoline and fried foods -- boudin, seafood, crawfish pies, chicken, spicy fries -- also serves a decent jambalaya. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Manuel's Hot Tamales
4709 Carrollton Ave. 482-6616/ 2301
Schoolboys in uniform and grown men alike fumble around for change in order to buy that extra half-dozen of the spicy, all-beef tamales. Lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.
Old Style Hot Tamales
In the parking lot of St. Vincent DePaul thrift store, 714 Terry Parkway, Terrytown
One of six locations on the West Bank, this stand is run by a 27-year veteran, who will reprimand you if there's any talking while she prepares your order: "I'm counting!" Open daily 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Mendez Family Tamales
Crescent City Farmers Market, 700 Magazine St.
The Mendez girls also sell strawberries in the spring and seasonal Southern vegetables. Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.
Steve Himelfarb, New Orleans Homemade Specialty Cakes
If you don't page the Cake Man, you have to wait for him to find you -- although Himelfarb will give a baking demonstration at Williams Sonoma on Tuesday, June 4. Call 523-3993 for details.
Sister Mary's Pralines
St. Clare's Monastery, 720 Henry Clay Ave., 895-2019
Open most weekdays, with a midday break for prayer.
Hare Krsna Temple, Sankirtan Puri Dham
2936 Esplanade Ave., 486-3583
The faith's founder, Srila Prabhupada, gave the directive that no one within a 10-mile radius of a Hare Krsna temple should go hungry. The Sunday evening feasts begin at 7 p.m.
Hale Boggs Federal Building Cafeteria
501 Magazine St.
Leave your cellular telephone with the security workers at the entrance and head to the basement. Open weekdays for lunch.
Mitchell's Fruit & Snacks
In front of Charity Hospital, 1532 Tulane Ave.
"Roach coach" is a misnomer. Roaches do not discriminate between structures -- plus, Mitchell's looks clean enough inside. Show up early if you want the chicken wings. Lunch weekdays. -- Roahen