I received so much incredible help and advice here and before I forget, I want to post some notes on where and what we (two New Yorkers who had not been here in decades and remembered almost nothing of our brief, earlier stays) ate.
We arrived yesterday from the airport and after a brief walk in the FQ, stopped in at Central Grocery to share a half muffaletta between us. Neither of us could believe that the slight, elderly woman seated next to us at the rear counter was devouring a whole sandwich by herself.
Never having had a muffaletta before, we were pleased with the sandwich. And I was very pleased with the excellent array of Lousianan, Italian, Greek and Spanish foodstuffs on sale within the store. Not only did I buy some Steen's cane syrup, but I also picked up some G. Cocco dried bucatini (impossible to find in our winter Florida base) for a price ($4.50 for 500 grammes) that was not much more than what I pay on Arthur Avenue back home.
Very friendly staff...terrific place. There was a short line but it moved fast and we we were able to snag two seats at the counter without any trouble just before noon on a Monday.
Next eating stop was John Besh's Luke's for Happy Hour. This would be my first experience with the much vaunted Louisiana oyster.
Happy Hour price was $.75 each for a dozen P&J local Gulf oysters. I was shocked by the huge size of these giants but I cannot say I was wowed by the flavor which seemed kind of flabby without any kind of the sea-salinity that I expected. I actually had a hard time finishing the dozen and gifted two to my neighbor at the bar. Having said this, I admit that I am pretty ignorant on the subject of oysters in general. The shucker gifted me two smaller specimens "from Alabama" that I enjoyed a tad more. Beware the horseradish at Luke's; I love the stuff but suffered an embarrassing coughing fit after heaping it on one of the earlier oysters on my rotation.
We sat next to a young man who revealed that he was a local chef and considered Luke's to host the best happy hour in the city. I am starting to read up on Gulf Oysters and hope to head back there in the next few days. With a Door#3 vodka cocktail, the bill was just over $17 for the 14 oysters plus a nice Door#3 vodka and pomegranate, mint and lime cocktail. Classic space; convenient to our hotel (Windsor Court). Wish I had time to have a full lunch here.