MARDI GRAS COMES TO DOWNTOWN L.A.
Celebrating its one year anniversary, the vibe at Little Easy in downtown’s Arts District is that it’s always Mardi Gras at this bayou-like lounge brimming with Southern charm. Anyone who has been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras knows that its chaotic, over the top and one hell of a ride. Time spent at Little Easy is somewhat the same.
I walked inside and was immediately taken with its charming front bar. Coming from the downtown L.A. urban jungle, the Big Easy laidback vibe was a welcome relief. You can chill at the bar or make your way to the back dining room, which is a replica of the French Quarter with huge tiered water fountain in tow.
Do take note that there is no table service—a business plan that I’m not fond of. It needs to be more obvious that there’s no wait staff as I saw some guests become annoyed and actually walked out thinking they were being ignored. I opted to order from the front bar as it meant less wait time but it also meant I had to constantly get up and leave my dinner date alone every time I needed to order a drink or food item.
And when in Rome, or in this case Mardi Gras, err, New Orleans, we decided to start with cocktails during our recent visit. The Milk Punch, a native New Orleans drink, seemed like the obvious choice. And as much as I think milk punch is the most overrated drink in Los Angeles, this mix of Goslings dark rum, honey, cream and egg whites was a pretty good libation. The same can’t be said for the sad Sazerac, humdrum Hurricane or mediocre Lavender Ramos Gin Fizz. Apparently this Mardi Gras party isn’t about drinking quality drinks, but then again, drinking at Mardi Gras has that “more is better” approach where the quantity of booze reigns over the quality.
“The inspiration for Little Easy came from a trip I had taken to New Orleans,” says Partner and former L.A. Derby Doll Vianey “Vee” Delgadillo. “The city’s incredible culture revolves around music, food and drinking and I knew I needed to bring that back to L.A.”
While you won’t be drinking the best the city has to offer, the grub at Little Easy is very satisfying. We started with an order of Swamp Fries—a hot skillet of seasoned waffle fries smothered in house-made gravy and a blend of melted cheeses. Think of this as Cajun poutine. Another good bar bite option are the Mudbug Poppers—battered and fried pickled jalapeños stuffed with shrimp, crawfish and cheese served with Cajun ranch.
If you came hungry, the Jambalaya with blackened chicken, Andouille sausage and rice is a must. This is one very hearty dish. Likewise, the Cajun Shorty—braised short rib topped with gravy, served with cheese grits and seasonal farmer’s market veggies—is a winner. Both of these selections really hit the spot.
There’s also live entertainment, including jazz at brunch and burlesque every other Wednesday, however, that was disappointing as it seems the girls performed for about two minutes every 20-30 minutes, which hardly seemed worth the time or effort. Don’t go just for that, but consider it gravy if and when there’s any kind of burlesque performance.
Dessert was a mix bag as the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding was tough, while the beignets with confectioner’s sugar and chocolate lavender sauce were good but nothing like being at Café Du Monde late at night eating the best beignets imaginable. That’s one of those moments in New Orleans that just define what a trip to the Big Easy is all about.
“We hope that Little Easy can be an escape for our guests,” says partner Jigger Mercado. “Come in, forget your problems, take in some live music, enjoy great food and cocktails, along with friendly service and truly relax.”
Little Easy is located at 216 West 5th Street. Hours: Tuesday through Friday from noon to 2am; Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2am. Closed Mondays. Call 213-628-3113.
Photography Courtesy Of: Little Easy
Story by Jose Martinez