Digging In: In Mid-City, a pork chop for sweater weather

UPSCALE

Double Cut Pork Chop

Rue 127

127 N. Carrollton Ave., (504) 483-1571; rue127.com

The description of the pork chop ($26) at this tiny, reliably impressive Mid-City bistro does not exactly leap off the menu. But after you try it, it’s likely to be one of those dishes you crave at certain times, especially as the cooler weather settles in.

The main act is a thick-cut, two-bone chop that leaves the grill with dark, aromatic lines of sizzled fat at the edges. It’s set over coush coush, which chef Ray Gruezke said he uses as a nod to Cajun country tradition. The heavy chop sinks just a bit into this soft cornmeal bed, which has a creamy texture, a roasted corn sweetness and a moat of red pepper jus spiked with Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

Over the top of it all goes a veritable salad of herbs, micro greens and crisp, batter-fried shallots, which look like onion rings in miniature and lend some crunch to the pork. It’s a dish that will have you checking the forecast for sweater weather.

CASUAL

BBQ Tofu Po-boy

13 Monaghan

517 Frenchmen St., (504) 942-1345; 13monaghan.com

A vegetarian option is practically a given at any new restaurant opening around town these days. But that definitely was not the case in New Orleans in 2004 when 13 Monaghan first opened as a diner-esque spinoff from the same family that owns Molly’s at the Market.

This late-night eatery stood out from the beginning by making vegetarian dishes, and even vegan options, a mainstay of its menu. Through the years, the BBQ Tofu Po-boy ($10) has become a favorite even for omnivores.

The mild-tasting bean curd is dense and moist, dosed with a sweet barbecue sauce and stacked high on a classic length of Leidenheimer loaf. It crackles and crunches like a good po-boy, it fills you up like one too, and it’s served until 4 a.m.

WILDCARD

Seafood Nachos

Casa Garcia

8814 Veterans Blvd., (504) 464-0354; casa-garcia.com

A big, complimentary basket of tortilla chips with salsa and bean dip arrives at the table practically the minute you sit down at this family-friendly Kenner cantina. That might make an appetizer order of nachos seem redundant, but the seafood nachos ($8.35) are cut from a different cloth. If you crossed a crab cake with Tex Mex nachos, this is what you’d get. What arrives is not a pile of chips but rather three large, round tostadas each completely covered over with a thick cap of bright yellow cheddar and white Monterey jack.

Never mind the “lump crabmeat” mentioned on the menu — under the cheese there’s a sort of milky salad of thin but copious crabmeat with white and green onions, augmented by sweet pink shrimp. Scatter the top with pickled jalapenos, divide the rounds into slices like a pizza and you have the answer to why seafood nachos have been a menu staple of this long-running restaurant for years.