Ian McNulty

Producer

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat. 

Ian is also a staff writer for the daily newspaper the New Orleans Advocate, covering the culture, personality and trends behind the city’s famous dining scene.

He is the author of two books - “Louisiana Rambles: Exploring America’s Cajun and Creole Heartland,” a travel narrative about south Louisiana culture, and “A Season of Night: New Orleans Life After Katrina,” an account of the first months in the city after Hurricane Katrina.

He has been a contributor to WWNO since 2009.

Scenes from New Orleans nonprofit cafes including the gumbo at Cafe Reconcile (top), boudin balls at Cafe Hope (right) and the new Liberty's Kitchen cafeteria in the CBD.
Ian McNulty

You know you’re living right if you polish off a restaurant meal and feel like you’ve accomplished something. I don’t just mean you crushed some burger or you won the battle of temptation by skipping dessert. I mean you actually feel like you took part in something bigger then yourself.

That’s part of the deal at a circuit of nonprofit restaurants around New Orleans, where just by having lunch you’re supporting programs that help local youth get a new start. They even set the table with inspirational names: Café Reconcile, Liberty's Kitchen, and Café Hope.

Parleaux Beer Lab is a new addition to the New Orleans craft brewing scene.
Ian McNulty

You can call this one where’ya drink. And if you're a beer lover in New Orleans, these days the answer is a lot more likely to be this: local.

The names of Louisiana beers now line restaurant menus. Their tap handles sprout from the draft clusters at dives and fancy lounges alike. And these local beers flow from the breweries’ own tap rooms, where they’re available to sip on site, right there at the brewery.     

A sampling from Allie's Donuts, a renowned Rhode Island donut shop with a special connection for food writer Ian McNulty.
Ian McNulty

Father’s Day is this weekend, so of course, I have doughnuts on my mind, and not just any doughnuts. The doughnuts of my youth. The doughnuts with dad. 

Creole tomatoes arrive in New Orleans as symbol of the season, and a source of local pride.
Ian McNulty

This one is the tale of the man with the Creole tomato tattoo. It’s a story for the season and, really, a reason to take heart as another New Orleans summer descends.

The French 75 Bar recently brought new attention to the old line French Creole restaurant Arnaud's.
Ian McNulty

The pace of change for New Orleans restaurants feels rapid and constant. But we still look to one corner of the dining scene as a rock of stability. It's the old-line French Creole restaurant, steeped in history, bound by tradition and never changing. Right? 

Well, actually no. Change and even trends visit these restaurants too, though sometimes in ways that are subtle and gradual, but still fundamental. To see what I mean, let's go to the French Quarter.

Cheese oozes from a grilled sandwich at Melt, part of a cluster of new eateries to open near New Orleans' new hospital complexes.
Ian McNulty

If a restaurant can feel like it’s on the fringe and right in the thick of things at the same time, it's Fharmacy.

This is a bar and grill on Banks Street in Mid-City. It’s in a narrow shotgun house that looks like you could load the whole thing onto a flatbed and deliver it somewhere. It feels a bit like a clubhouse with a diner counter and it serves some international ideas for comfort food.

The name Creole tomato can turn heads in the market place this time of year.
Ian McNulty

When does summer start? Consult the calendar and you’ll see it’s still a month away. But in New Orleans the seasons aren’t necessarily tied to the conventions of solstice and equinox.

For me, the New Orleans summer always begins immediately after Jazz Fest, and it’s not the changing weather alone that marks the shift.

It’s the feeling that the long New Orleans train of one big celebration after the next has reached the station, and it’s time to hop off for a bit.

If you’re a vegetarian in New Orleans you’ve probably learned to ask questions before digging in and you know to never take the name of a dish at face value. 

This is a town, after all, where the key ingredient in traditional vegetable soup is beef. And it’s widely accepted here that when the cook tells you your beans were made with love, she means made with pork. 

Boiled seafood is a tradition in Louisiana with many of its own rituals.
Ian McNulty / WWNO

Making a good run at a crawfish boil is a two-fisted effort that might even require some juggling. There's the twisting, pinching and peeling, the sorting and rummaging for sides and the concurrent demands of beverage management. 

That also makes the crawfish boil one of the increasingly rare aspects of modern life that remains cell phone free.

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