Everyone seems to have an opinion on what makes the best Breakfast sandwich: the classic egg, cheese and meat combo folded into a croissant, layered on a bagel or stacked between two biscuits. It seems every new breakfast place has its own version, but for diners, there can't be too many options. Luca Eats, a new breakfast and lunch nook in a sleepy stretch near South Carrollton Avenue, provides a welcome addition: pressed breakfast sandwiches on French bread or ciabatta.
The simplest version is a medley of classics: crispy applewood-smoked bacon, shirred eggs and melted sharp cheddar cheese pressed on French bread. It's everything you'd expect and no surprises.
The shrimp and grits sandwich takes a bold approach, similar to the barbecue shrimp version at Liuzza's by the Track. A French bread loaf is hollowed out and filled to overflowing with shrimp, andouille and corn grits — a rich medley full of garlic, celery and herbs.
An excellent chorizo version combines the crumbly spicy sausage — which packs a warm, slow heat — with eggs, thick slices of avocado, melted Swiss cheese and cool chimichurri.
At lunchtime, sandwiches are served with house-made rosemary potato chips, fried deep golden brown and sprinkled with sea salt. Crispy fried bell pepper rings retain surprising crunch and are best when dunked into salmon-pink remoulade.
The sandwich menu includes shredded chicken salad topped with almonds, lettuce and tomato on a croissant. The hearty grilled steak sandwich is reminiscent of a Philly cheese steak with its paper-thin layers of grilled sirloin and strands of caramelized onions. It's served on ciabatta and finished with thick slices of melted white cheddar and creamy, tangy horseradish sauce.
Not every sandwich is a success, and I found the roasted vegetable version to be strange. The filling of roasted portobello mushrooms, red peppers, piping-hot tomatoes, hummus, avocado and feta carried a collection of great flavors, but it was too much for the thin slices of multigrain bread to hold. Also, avocados and hot roasted vegetables make for odd bedfellows, and I would have preferred the vegetables cold.
Though it's been open only a few months, Luca Eats has built a reputation on its Oreo beignets, an impossibly rich combination in which cookies are folded into beignet dough, deep-fried and showered with powdered sugar. They deliver a swift saccharine kick, but the creamy, chocolaty orbs are a nice, sweet finish to a meal.
There's a good selection of French Truck Coffee, including a dark chicory blend, which is enough to balance the sweetness of a batch of beignets or to start the day. It's also a nice touch in a spot that offers neighborhood appeal. And breakfast sandwiches or not, New Orleans is nothing if not a city in love with its neighborhood spots.