The East New Orleans You May Never See But Should
There are no suburbs in New Orleans proper, as any areas that could officially be called a suburb are located in Jefferson Parish, a neighboring area that holds Kenner and Metairie. But “The East”, or “da east” is where the people who do the work actually live.
Across the Highrise Bridge lies a land where the locals live, the ones who work for the government, the restaurants, the bars and the small businesses. The East is a residential area that lies from the industrial canal all the way out through Boyou Sauvage clear to Lake Saint Catherine. In total area it is as large as the rest of the city put together in terms of land mass.
The primary path of passage is Interstate 10, the east to west coast highway, that traverses “da east.” There is a real shortage of malls, supermarkets, department stores and there is no full service hospital so residents have to travel outside of the immediate area for those things.
There are however, lots of fast food places, and some really good shrimp and crawfish sea food shacks, where the food is classic New Orleans fare of crawfish, boiled shrimp, turkey necks and potatoes. Beer flows in a plentiful style, but the tourist trade might be just a trickle because this is where the locals live, and it is not on most of the tourist maps.
But if you are a tourist and you are looking for some real authentic New Orleans food, you have come to the right place. In fact, this might be the only place where you can get the best authentic New Orleans food available. You can count on the fact that the guy who drove the cab you rode in earlier that day, in now getting his order of deep-fried catfish with fries, and a side order of more fries – the fries are really good and extremely addictive too.
Little Vietnam is located in the eastern section of “The East” where the fishing communities live and fish Lake Saint Catherine, Village de L’est, and The Irish Bayou. The Dong Phoung Bakery is famous for its banh mi and French bread which is in great demand all over New Orleans. People are crazy about this bread as it is the lightest and tastiest bread you will ever taste.
The East was originally planned as a major suburb for New Orleans expansion and many single family homes were built in order to accommodate that dream. The vision never came to be largely due to the bust in the oil industry in the 1980s, white flight and general economic decline.
Hurricane Katrina was an end cap to a longer period of time of decline, but the area is coming back. By and large, the residents of the area are pressing hard for lots of redevelopment, and slowly they are having good results.
One of the more impressive aspects of The East is when you are leaving the area, and going back west. There you will see, as you cross the Highrise bridge, the entire view of the New Orleans, the French Quarter, and the downtown skyline. It epitomizes the feelings of the residents in that they have chosen to live off the New Orleans radar, but still in the city limits as they lead their lives in their own neighborhood.