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Eating Red Beans and Rice Without a Fork

I make a killer red beans and rice. It's so simple and easy to do, it always makes me flinch a little when I get the urge to order it at a restaurant - unless I'm in New Orleans, where it just comes with the territory, along with po-boys, hurricanes and Abita beer.

On a recent visit to New Orleans, I downed a pint of brew at The Avenue Pub on St. Charles and ordered a new dish I would never have the desire to experiment with at home -- red beans stuffed inside a wonton wrapper and deep fried. Whoever developed the recipe must have been tired of the same old red beans and rice served at every other place in town, or just been really stoned. No matter -- I'm truly thankful someone thought of it.

You'd think that this quirky, yet appetizing, combination of a deep-fried wonton wrapper and gooey red beans and rice would be enough of a draw, but The Avenue Pub doesn't stop there. They serve the not-so-delicate-looking wontons (they're not big on presentation here) with a side of sweet chile sauce for dipping, which seemed totally inappropriate. Where was the obligatory dipping sauce made with Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce? Nowhere in sight, and I couldn't have been happier.

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Somehow, it all works together. I can't explain it, nor do I want to cheapen it by attempting to analyze why the chile sauce was the perfect accompaniment or why red beans and rice stuffed inside a greasy wonton is one of the best bar food dishes I've ever come across - it just is.

The Avenue Pub is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you have no excuse not to hop in and place your order for those greasy little pockets of red beans and rice next time you visit our adopted sister city.

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