Quest for the Best! Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar, New Orleans / by MEAT ME

People keep asking me what New Orleans is like. It really is like no other city in America. At first glance I might think of a flat San Francisco. Trolley cars running in the middle of streets, Victorian style homes with double vaulted ceilings, front door gas lamps, and elegant porches that wrap around homes like a ballerina’s tutu.

The nightlife is always happening some bars are open 24/7 complete with washers and dryers just incase you needed an extra reason to have a drink. Life is laid back, filled with great food, and wonderful company. Some of the old homes just off St. Charles have been broken into apartments. So often you’ll find your next-door neighbor becomes your best friend.

The weather was perfect no signs of thunderstorms, heat, or humidity. New Orleans always loves to celebrate so if you come to visit don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of some type of festival.  If you head out to the French Quarter you are likely to find yourself in a never-ending party. This place is always going off so don’t ever expect it to stop.

Now that I have had all of the best barbecue, it was time to indulge in the Seafood; some of the richest seafood is brought in right from the local swamplands. Oyster and shrimp are all caught fresh daily. Felix’s Oyster Bar has been serving some of New Orleans best since 1885. Its controversial history has been associated with mob bosses like Carlos “The Little Man” Marcello and former employees involved in the assassination of President John F. Kenney.

If you’re lookin’ for a taste of history this place has it all. Felix’s embraces your quintessential Cajun style seafood mixed with fresh giant oysters shucked right in front of you all night long. I got to meet with GM, Chef Adrian Zado to find out how much history is in these classic New Orleans dishes.

MEAT ME: And you are Adrian…

Adrian Zado: Adrian Zado I am the General Manager.

MEAT ME: How long has Felix’s Oyster Bar been around?

Adrian Zado: About 110 years. The place was opened by a guy from Italy named Felix Randoulf. He came to New Orleans in 1885 and he opened the place a little time before. We don’t know exactly when. He was a good friend with the mobster Carlos “The Little Man” Marcello. He was also a partner with the uncle of Lee Harvey Oswald; he used to own one of the buildings that Felix’s was in. Lee Harvey Oswald also worked as a bus boy here.

MEAT ME: Wow! Really.

Adrian Zado: Yea. Not very many people know about that.

MEAT ME: So how long have you worked here at Felix’s?

Adrian Zado: I have worked here for over 2 and half years. I have been a chef for 22 years. I lived in Italy for 16 years and that is where I learned Italian dishes.

MEAT ME: How long have you been in New Orleans?

Adrian Zado: About 5 and half years.

MEAT ME: So what drew you to New Orleans?

Adrian Zado: I wanted to help out, hang around, and wonder. It’s a hell of a city with amazing energy. I like that.

MEAT ME: So what’s in this dish? (Dish with the clams)

Adrian Zado: This is a dish that I learned in Italy. It is called (muscoli arrabiatti) Muscles in a spicy marinara sauce and I added a hint of licorice-flavored liquor. Most of my recipe is marinara sauce, crushed red pepper, red onions, crushed garlic, and tomato sauce.

MEAT ME: What would you say is the specialty here at Felix’s?

Adrian Zado: The specialty is Gumbo. It’s a recipe that is about 150 years old from the chef who had been hired by the original owner. He was one of those Mason cooks: they don’t have the recipe written down, they just share with family. I don’t have the recipe. It’s just plane seafood gumbo no chicken, no sausage, just oysters, crab, and shrimp.

There is the original truck. Right there over on the wall. Yea it belonged to Felix, the original owner. He started delivering oysters and groceries and then delivered them all over the place. That was his first job.

MEAT ME: So how many oysters would you say you guys go through in a day?

Adrian Zado: On a busy day we would probably do about $2,000 to $3,000 dollars. We go through about 13,000 to 14,000 pounds a week.

MEAT ME: Wow! About how many people come through here on a Saturday night?

Adrian Zado: Usually about 1,000 or more.

Muscles in a Spicy Marinara Sauce
MEAT ME: Yea, cause the 2 times I have been here there was always a line out the door. So you guys are obviously doing something right. What is your favorite dish?

Adrian Zado: I like the Linguini with a white wine sauce, garlic, and a plain white pasta. With a glass of wine on the side.

MEAT ME: So what is this dish exactly?

Adrian Zado: You know I had to come up with a good barbecue shrimp recipe. I had some friends of mine give me a basic BBQ shrimp recipe I added some Italian seasoning with some white onions. I can’t really reveal the rest to you, but everybody likes it. I never thought I would become famous for making BBQ shrimp but they love it.

So when you take the pictures you’ll see it will all come out right. I start on a low heat with all the ingredients, let them mingle together. Then I am going to add beer and worcestershire sauce and then it all comes together.

MEAT ME: I see you don’t hold back on the butter…

Adrian Zado: Yea it has a lot of butter, creole seasoning, garlic, parsley, white onions, liquid smoke, and Louisiana shrimp.

Barbecue Shrimp
MEAT ME: So tell me a little more about this, your favorite dish?

Adrain Zado: It’s a linguini with a light white wine, olive oil, garlic, parsley and I put some fresh pepper. It’s good for your heart with a glass of wine on the side.

For me Felix’s really captured the essence of what New Orleans was all about: history. It really made me realize where we come from, where we are now and that there is no point in worrying about the future.

While I sat at the bar the night I arrived, a homeless man wandered in off the street and stood right next to me. He looked around for a few seconds and then looked me right in the face and he said, “Where ya from?” I said, “Los Angeles.” He then got close to me and said, “So what do you think?” I said “I love it here.” He then looked around and then looked me dead straight in the eyes and said, “Be careful son she’ll show you a good time, but she’ll also chew you up and spit you out!”

The rest of my stay I kept that in the back of my head. I had no idea what he meant. The New Orleans culture has a history in VooDoo. Did it have to do with that? I don’t know, but I do know that New Orleans has a lot to offer. There are many goodtimes to be had here, but if you’re the type of person who lacks self-control and loves to engage in careless shenanigans I can see this place swallowing you up whole.

Adrian's Favorite Dish
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Let the good times roll,
Sean Rice

Edited by Kathryn Emery
Written & Photographed by Sean Rice