As soon as you step into The Quarter New Orleans Style Kitchen & Taproom, the aroma of Cajun spices greedily seeps into your nostrils. Located on Nolana in McAllen, the restaurant and taproom has been providing New Awlins delicacies since 2014 and has grown into a local favorite, where one-of-a-kind craft beers are served ice cold with food so flavorful you might just think you’re in the Big Easy.
Stepping foot inside The Quarter, you’ll immediately notice the modern décor saturated in hues of gray and black spread spaciously across a meticulously shining mahogany wood floor. The dining area is intelligently spread around the establishment’s centerpiece – a gorgeously gleaming dark toned marble bar with fashionable metallic stools. I think it’s safe to say that the entire ambiance of the taproom smacks of the cool and breezy easiness of an urban oasis.
Taking a seat at one of the chic mahogany tables, I peruse through the sleekly designed beverage menu filled with a selection of over 100 craft and domestic beers, as well as cocktails, wine, and spirits. Ever growing, and ever changing, the current tap consists of medium-bodied German-style beer, American pales, dark ales, German Pils, wheat ales, lagers, IPAs, fruit beers, and porters. The sheer amount of choice can be tantalizingly overwhelming, but after a few minutes of gut-wrenching decision making, my thirsts sets in and I settle on Southern Star Brewing Company’s Bombshell Blonde.
But that’s just the beginning.
A whiff of crawfish slowly creeps its way into my olfactory system, reminding my empty stomach to purr affectionately. Again I’m burdened with the abundance of options set before me in a food menu filled with a bevy of delectable items.
Starters. Soups and Salads. Po’ Boys. New Orleans dishes. Local flavors and favorites.
Before I can even choose from between fried alligator, mini burgers, The Quarter Po’ Boy, Seafood Gumbo, Jambalaya, or Ahi Tuna, strumming guitars briskly fill the air. And what’s the Big Easy without music? Completing the New Awlins theme, the music sets in motion the better half of an evening filled with food, brews, and rhythm & blues.
I begin my meal with an order of oysters on the half shell. Served on ice with crackers, I joyously anoint the slippery flesh with hot sauce and lemon. There’s an intangible pleasure that arises with the shucking of the oyster. It’s a process that can be described, but not wholly understood. It’s almost spiritual…a moment attuned to the histories of our ancestors. I slurp the oyster down and take a nice swig of my craft beer. Life is good at the Quarter.
In between the devouring of these saline creatures, I request red beans and rice with sausage.
And with the band in full motion, and the evening twinkling into a Cajun spiced Valley night, my official meal finally arrives. I take a few moments to appreciate the textures and colors and emanations of the simple, but tasteful dish. I take pictures with my mind’s eye and my phone’s camera. This is going to be good.
But alas I am startlingly mistaken. It isn’t good. It’s great.
The hearty spices and lucid flavors throw my taste buds into a frenzy. I devour a spoonful of the grub. Truly astonished that such a basic combination of foods can be so appetizing.
And so with a belly full of delicious New Orleans cuisine and a thirst quenched by a crisp chilled ale, I pay my tab and walk out into the fresh night. New customers arrive to enjoy the ritual I just cheerfully completed. The band welcomes them with a boisterous melody that rollicks into the parking lot.
Yes. New Orleans indeed.