The Sugar Bowl is not the biggest game of the week in New Orleans. The biggest football game of the week came Sunday, when the Saints hosted the Buccaneers, trying to secure an NFL playoff berth.
The streets were abuzz before the 3:25 p.m. kickoff at the Superdome. Both Saturday night and Sunday. New Orleans is in many ways a regional team — fans from Mississippi, Alabama and other parts of Louisiana claim the Saints as their favorite.
But it’s a bummer if you’re a visitor, because it limits your access to the rest of the NFL.
We had another all-day work day, which is fine, especially with good NFL on television as background noise. Alas, Saints-Bucs was the FOX game at 3:30, which meant no Bears-Packers for us. And apparently, the Week 17 dual doubleheaders — both CBS and FOX had two games each Sunday — is preempted in NFL cities, so everyone could watch the local team. That means we didn’t get CBS’ coverage of Chiefs-Chargers.
But we improvised. The Courtyard by Marriott lobby where we were staying had the Dish Network, which included the NFL Red Zone. I called John Shinn of the Norman Transcript, a big Bears fan, and he came over and joined Jason Kersey and I. We sat in the lobby working, watching the Red Zone flip from game to game, with much of the coverage on Green Bay-Chicago.
It was my first experience with the Red Zone package, and it was great. And as you know, so were the games. Great finish for Packers-Bears, great finish for Chargers-Chiefs, great finish for 49ers-Cardinals. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Dish spent the day doing more exploring of New Orleans, this time on foot. Then she returned and watched football with us for an hour or so. We finished working around 5:30 p.m., got to enjoy the end of the games, and then we had the best New Orleans experience of my two Sugar Bowl trips.
We went down the street to Mulate’s, which bills itself as the original Cajun restaurant. I would describe it as sort of a Cajun saloon. More dancing than drinking, but just a place for merriment. A Cajun band — fiddle, electric guitar, drums — played, but not too loudly. And people danced in between their meals. Some dance club — maybe square dancers — were in attendance and had a royal time. One guy, probably about 70, 5-foot-6 by 290 pounds, kept enticing women from the tables to dance with him. He was some kind of instructor. After each dance, he would hand them his card.
Just a great atmosphere. And the food was outstanding. I had a grilled seafood platter, the Dish had grilled shrimp and JK had seafood pasta. It all looked fabulous. The salad dressing, some kind of Remoulade, was fantastic. I kept some aside and dipped my shrimp in it. A great twice-baked potato, grilled veggies, just wonderful. My new favorite place in New Orleans.
Here’s what Mulate’s website says: “This legendary restaurant located in New Orleans, Louisiana is recognized throughout the world as the King of Cajun Dine and Dance halls. Mulate’s features live Cajun music and dancing along with great authentic Cajun food seven days a week. Mulate’s is a place where Cajuns come to celebrate their heritage and the world comes to join them in their celebration.”
It’s all true. We had a great time and will go back.