When I moved to New Orleans for college in 1990, I was lucky enough to meet a friend who had grown up in New Orleans and he was invaluable in showing me around and taking me to some of the more off the tourist-path restaurants. One of them was a small Middle Eastern deli/grocery located on Carrollton, across the street from the tamale place, not too far from Canal. He called it Jerusalem Deli and I still do, though I cant recall if there is a sign on the building proclaiming it as such. Over the years, the configuration of the place has changed. When I first starting going there, it was a counter with all the cooking done in the open behind the counter, spare a few of the preparations that were made in the back or upstairs. The counter was subsequently removed and the cooking/preparation is now all done upstairs, I believe. A small bummer, as I always enjoyed the visual appeal of the large spit of beef rotating away from the flame and towards the customer, dripping with juices. Anyhow, this is easily one of my favorite places to eat in New Orleans for many reasons. One its cheap, two its very rarely ever crowded, three its a nice change of pace from the Cajun/Creole restaurants that dominate New Orleans and four, most importantly, the food is delicious. Its your standard Middle Eastern fare, shawarma, shish kabobs, falafel, hummus etc., but far superior to most places Ive tried in and out of New Orleans. I adore the Shawarma sandwich, a pita stuffed with meat that has been charred around the edges served with a chop of lettuce, cucumber & tomato and plenty of tahini, reminded me of the ones I ate in Amsterdam. But the baba ghanouj is the real star. So flavorful, the tang bursts in my mouth. I had never had baba ghanouj before trying it here, and in fact have tried it many subsequent times at other places, and have found each version to be far inferior to Jerusalems deli, so much so, that I wont eat it anymore except here during my now twice annual visits to New Orleans. Interesting to note I have taken many, many friends, some who swear they dont like eggplant, and all have walked away with an affection for this dish. The falafel are excellent as is the hummus and Ive also enjoyed the lamb shish kabob and salad with tahini, a finely diced chop of cucumber & tomato with tahini dressing. Frankly, I dont think you can go wrong with much of anything on the menu. The place is family owned by Arabs and occasionally frequented by the rare Arabic speaking cabbie in New Orleans. You can get orders to go and theres a small Middle Eastern grocery as well.
Curious to know if anyone else has tried this place and what they thought? I was told to try Monas, and did once a long time ago, but found it to be thoroughly mediocre in comparison and never went back. If you havent tried it yet, please do, as I think this hidden gem in New Orleans will pleasantly surprise you.