New Orleans, like Galveston, is better in the fall once the massive tourist crowds have gone home. At least in my opinion, these cities are best visited in the so-called off-season. I don't mind waiting for a beg-net, I just don't want to wait over an hour in a line that stretches down the boulevard.

And so with smaller overall crowds in mind, we enter the fall and winter season, my favorites for road trips and discovering places the tourists can't find or won't bother with that are spectacular gems in the jewelry store of cultural and culinary delight that is New Orleans.

As with half the attractions in New Orleans, this is about food. And to be sure you won't find this secret spot in the French Quarter or down one of the legendary boulevards. For this treat, you'll have to cross the Mississippi River on the Algiers Point Ferry. Don't worry about booking passage, you only need to locate the ferry landing at the end of Canal Street. The ferry leaves every thirty minutes to Algiers Point, pedestrians and bikers pay two-dollars each for the ride. The ferry runs from 6:00 am until 11:00 pm, so casual lunchers shouldn't get stranded on the opposite bank.

Once at the point in Algiers, you can stroll the Jazz Walk of Fame and then hit the subject of this post, the Dry Dock Cafe & Bar. Once you disembark from the ferry and walk down the levy a tad, the Dry Dock Cafe will be literally staring you in the face on the point of the corner formed by Delaronde and Bouny Streets. It's a quaint wood lap building painted white that offers all the traditional Louisiana and New Orleans food you love in a warm and cozy setting that mostly caters to the locals.

One of the methods I've found for rating restaurants over my life is to start on my first visit with a cheeseburger and fries. The Dry Dock Burger comes with your choice of American, Swiss, Provolone, Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheeses. My theory is if they can do the easy things to perfection like a burger, then I can trust them with more nuanced plates like seafood gumbo, shrimp bisque, and others.

The red beans and rice are delicious, too. Maybe not exactly like your mama's, but it's somebody's mama's recipe and it's dang good.

If you do make it to the Dry Dock, let me suggest the spinach and artichoke dip as an appetizer. To make it a bit more delectable, it's served with hot tortilla chips. Any fish you get, be sure to have the house tartar sauce which is just about worth the visit in itself.

While Louisiana eaters will testify to Darryl's drippy goodness, the po-boys at the Dry Dock also are worth the drive and ferry ride.

New Orleans at Sunset from Algiers in April. Photo: Lonesome George
New Orleans at Sunset from Algiers in April. Photo: Lonesome George

After your meal, you can stroll the Jazz Walk or the bike paths along the levy and enjoy the view of downtown New Orleans from across the river. The sunsets are spectacular.

Bird watchers will note the batture, or the area of foreshore between the levy and river, the tidal area, is loaded with pelicans, egrets, hawks, owls, gulls, and a number of other small birds.

Even in the crowded tourist season, which is essentially all year long in New Orleans, a trip across the river on the ferry and a quiet dinner in a cozy local place is a treat most casual tourists will never experience, so take advantage and enjoy.

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