Veggie Girl: Lucile's Creole Cafe

I've been trying to get to New Orleans for years. The first time, my road trip across America was cut short by an early start date for a new job. The next time I wanted to go was for my honeymoon, and we seriously considered New Orleans before I decided that an August trip there was a bit risky. Two weeks later, Katrina hit.

But now whenever I want to visit the Big Easy, I can just head to Lucile's at 275 South Logan Street. Sure, I might be missing the live music, history and everything else good about New Orleans besides the food -- but since I've never seen much point in traveling anywhere that doesn't have a unique culinary contribution, Lucile's has the most important point covered.

This Lucile's, an offshoot of the Boulder institution, serves up eggs Sardou and numerous other Southern variations on eggs Benedict, as well as tasty rice pudding porridge, grits, awesome potatoes and huge buttermilk biscuits. It also has its own spicy ketchup and hot sauce to liven up the already lively food. Lucile's serves both breakfast and lunch (it's not open for dinner), but I've never tried the lunch selections because the kitchen continues serving those great breakfasts through the mid-day meal. (And besides, there's only one vegetarian option, the zydeco salad, on the lunch menu.)

I always start a meal here with the beignets -- which taste like a wonderful, heart-stopping combination of sopapillas and funnel cake, covered with powdered sugar. And I always leave absolutely stuffed.

But when I stopped in yesterday morning, I learned that Lucile's offers half portions on most of its entrees and the beignets, which usually come in orders of four. This meant my companion and I could each have a beignet and still have room for our meal.

I went for a half order of the Eggs New Orleans: a poached egg on top of a fried eggplant slice, topped with Lucile's spicy Creole sauce and a rich, creamy hollandaise. It came with grits or potatoes (I went with the spuds, which were crispy and perfectly spiced) and a buttermilk biscuit. Since we were there at lunch time, our server graciously offered to let me try the corn bread instead, and it was delicious topped with both the house apple butter and the rhubarb jam. Even a half-order was more than enough food, and a steal at $5.80,

While it's notoriously difficult to find good vegetarian options in the South -- I once spent two hours looking for local joint that served anything vegetarian (even a salad) in Memphis before grudgingly settling on a Hard Rock Café -- Lucile's makes it easy to accommodate most vegetarian dietary needs. The beignets are vegan, for example, and the oatmeal can be served with organic soy milk instead of milk.

Lucile's is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lucile's brunch is one of my favorites in town, even if the wait can be long and the restaurant doesn't take reservations. But there are alcoholic beverages to help that wait along. (Fair waning: the bloody Mary has a shrimp skewered along with the veggies, so it isn't vegetarian.) A better option, though, could be to linger over a long weekday lunch. -- Aubrey Shoe

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