NOLA Travelogue: Parasol’s and Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

After a busy week which saw all my work assignments completed, I was free wander to about with a clear conscience. I had an idea a couple of weeks ago to some day soon have a day Uptown. Lunch at Parasol’s, followed by a Hansen’s Sno Bliz for desert. Nola and Katie and their other halves CS and TF, along with the ever-present and usually well behaved baby Sun, joined in today’s Sunday excursion.

First thing was a little glitch on the way in: I thought I might end up being late because the drawbridge on the Causeway opened up just in time for me to be first in line when the barricade came down. A neat sailboat, whose mast was too tall to go under the bridge, was the reason for the delay. Camera ready and nothing better to do, I snapped this.

Parasol’s is an Uptown masterpiece of a dive in the heart of the Irish Channel at Constance and Third. It is home to the biggest block party in the city come March 17 each year. When it’s not St. Patrick’s day, the bar is just the kind of ginmill where you would expect to see alcoholics drinking shots at 10 o’clock in the morning, and if you go there then, you will.

In 1952, Marlon Brando was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (he lost to Humphrey Bogart). The Korean War was raging; President Truman seized the country’s steel mills to block a strike by union workers, giving rise to a seminal constitutional case proscribing the limits of the inherent power of the executive branch that seems to have been lost in time today, the point being that Parasol’s also opened that year; it doesn’t seem to have changed much since then.

But tucked away up a couple of steps behind the bar is a marvel of a kitchen, serving some of the best poboys in town. And that’s saying a lot.

We ordered poboys and fries. Roast beef, erster and shwimps–I’m not trying to be Yat–that’s what they’re called on the menu.

Here’s the food.

That pile of stuff behind the sandwich is an obscenity of a creation known as “gravy fries.” Their immediate destruction was commenced forthwith. TF also ordered a slightly-less obscene creation, cheese fries. A completely filthy version needs to be on the menu–gravy cheese fries. Think about it.

It was agreed. Best roast beef poboys ever. Best erster poboy ever. Next stop, Hansen’s.

Hansen’s has a great story. They’ve been in the sno-ball business since 1934 and at the Tchoupitoulas Street location since 1944. What they serve is called a sno-bliz; it’s different from any other sno-ball around. The ice is much fluffier, due to the special machine Earnest Hansen invented and no one has ever duplicated.

Hansen’s is famous for its yellow line, indicating where customers need to line up inside the shop. It should extend out the shop and down the sidewalk, because that’s where the line usually ends up.

That’s Ashley Hansen behind the counter. She’s run the place pretty much singlehandedly since her grandparents passed away after Katrina. She’s got a great story, here’s a Gambit piece from 2006 that tells all about Ashley and the family business.

Nola and I waited about 20 minutes in line. Neither of us had experienced Hansen’s before. I decided to go the traditional route, nectar cream; Nola decided on the chocolate cream. That sounded good to me, too, so when I got up front, I asked if anyone ever did nectar and chocolate together. Ashely gave me a big grin and said, “Ooo, that’s good.” And it was.

Nola channeled Richard Collins and called hers “a platonic dish;” saying the fluffy ice melted effortlessy on the tongue.

A very good day. With its own commemorative cup!

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10 Responses to NOLA Travelogue: Parasol’s and Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

  1. Charlotte on May 18, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    The erster po boy there is better than casamentos??
    Nectar cream is my favorite and I luv chocolate. Will have to try the combo.

  2. Nola on May 18, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    That really was the best erster poboy I ever ate. Don’t know if it was the perfectly toasted french bread or the perfectly fried oysters. Or the combo. But it was fabulous.

  3. YatPundit on May 18, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    nice shot of Parasols. Notice the green “service window” in between the two regular windows. That’s a direct-access porthole as it were, to the bartender. Those were used to sell beverages to black folks in the Jim Crow days. I don’t think Parasols uses theirs at all anymore, but Saturn Bar used to use theirs to sell cold drinks to kids who couldn’t come in the bar itself.

  4. stacey on May 18, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I haven’t actually sat down in Parasols, but have had sandwiches from there and they are mighty tasty. I will also have to try Hansens, I am stuck going to Plum St since it is so close, and well pretty yummy! House sitting in that area next week so I may have to check both places out in person!

  5. […] food orgy is captured by Pontchartrain Pete better than I could have captured it.  So click here to read about the best oyster po boy I’ve ever eaten followed up by the best sno-ball […]

  6. Sphinx Ink on May 19, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Love the article–you certainly have a way with words. Made my mouth start watering. (Not for the ersta po-boys, since I’m one of the few locals who doesn’t eat them mollusks, but for the roach beef f’sure.)

    Also, I have never been to Hansen’s, but you have made me determined to drive in from East Jesus to try it out.

    Oh, and thanks for putting the pelican photo back up. Lovely, lovely.

  7. wpmomof2 on May 20, 2008 at 8:08 am

    OH YUM–I counting the days until my visit “home” next month!!!

  8. Sarabeth on May 20, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I took my kids to Hansen’s about two weeks ago. When they got their sno-cones, my middle kid said, “This is no sno-cone. This is perfect.” She had the nectar. I went for coconut, which my 6 year old snapped from my hand remarking that she’d never had anything so good. So worth the ride.

  9. Adrastos on May 21, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Parasol’s is good but my favorite po-boys can be found closer to Hansen’s: Domilises. Their erster po boy is even better than Casamentos.

  10. Lanny on May 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    That poboy looks divine! Have you ever had the roast beef sandwich at The Columns? It’ll make your taste buds do a happy dance.

    I talked about Hansen’s in my entry today and again in the one I’m posting tomorrow. Do you mind if I link this post?

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