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Four classic New Orleans restaurants that bring the food to you 

From hot dogs and snowballs to oysters and crawfish boils

If you've ever been at a party and thought, "how much better would this night be with a snowball?," you're not alone. Nor are you out of luck — whether you crave a snowball, charbroiled oysters, a Lucky Dog or a few pounds of boiled seafood, these local eateries can provide your heart's desire on-site. Here, a few restaurants (that you've probably heard of) that offer mobile catering services.

click to enlarge Drago’s firetruck cooks charbroiled oysters on-site, as well as several other menu items. - PHOTO COURTESY DRAGO’S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
  • Photo courtesy Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
  • Drago’s firetruck cooks charbroiled oysters on-site, as well as several other menu items.

Drago's Seafood Restaurant
Drago's is renowned for its charbroiled oysters. If sitting in the restaurant watching the flames flare up on the grill isn't exciting enough for you and your party, hire the Drago's Charbroiling Engine to come recreate the experience in your own backyard (or other fire-safe space).

 The fire truck is equipped with two grills, a griddle, two flatscreen TVs with satellite cable and two beer taps. Clients can request any beer sold by New Orleans liquor distributors Southern Eagle Sales & Service and Crescent Crown Distributing, including many local brews.

 The truck recently was remodeled to include a flat upper deck. People can climb a staircase (with a safety handrail) to survey the party from on high. The truck can cook grilled and griddled foods such as burgers, hot dogs, crab cakes and blackened shrimp sliders while keeping pans of jambalaya and pasta dishes (brought over from the restaurant) warm. But most people request the truck with just one thing in mind.

 "Seventy-five percent of all the food that comes off the truck is charbroiled oysters," says Tommy Cvitanovic, owner of Drago's.

 The crew of the fire truck provides all the cutlery and plates for events and can accommodate small groups. There's a 500-oyster minimum for charbroiled oysters, plus a fee for the cooks' labor. If the truck is available on the day of your event, Cvitanovic will send it to your soiree if you like, free of charge, whether or not it was a part of the catering order.

 "If the event is in metro New Orleans, you can get the truck," he says. "The only extra cost is to pay the driver."

click to enlarge Plum Street Snowballs’ mobile setup features flavored syrup packages and the shop’s iconic takeout containers. - PHOTO BY MARK ERIC
  • Photo by Mark Eric
  • Plum Street Snowballs’ mobile setup features flavored syrup packages and the shop’s iconic takeout containers.

Plum Street Snowballs<BR>Snowballs are a cold, delicious treat, and thanks to the city's perpetual summertime weather, they're always in season. Plum Street Snowballs offers a portable snowball machine setup, complete with flavored syrup packages, the option to customize your flavor list and the kitschy takeout container vessels in which the Uptown shop serves its icy confections.

 Catering can work with indoor and outdoor settings, as long as there's access to electricity to power the ice

machine. There's the option of ordering a generator, but it costs extra.

 Plum Street will come out for wedding receptions, birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs — whatever event the client considers worth celebrating.

 "We've even recently done celebration-of-life ceremonies," says Toni Curtis, daughter of Plum Street owners Donna and Claude Black. "They'll have a jazz band and celebrate withall [the deceased's] favorite foods. ... It's so New Orleans."

click to enlarge Lucky Dogs’ fleet of mobile carts dates back to the 1940s. - PHOTO COURTESY LUCKY DOGS, INC.
  • Photo courtesy Lucky Dogs, Inc.
  • Lucky Dogs’ fleet of mobile carts dates back to the 1940s.

Lucky Dogs
There are few French Quarter scenes more iconic than a Lucky Dog vendor standing in front of Jackson Square, rain or shine. Lucky Dog caters special events in the way only Lucky Dog can — from its hot dog-shaped carts.

 "We've refurbished several of the carts from the original 1940s fleet," says Kirk Talbot, co-owner of Lucky Dogs. "It's a smaller cart that can fit in the back of a truck or on a trailer, so they're more portable than the ones you see on the street."

 There's a 300-dog minimum, and cleanup is the host's responsibility unless arranged in advance of the event. Lucky Dogs also offers sodas and snacks like potato chips and popcorn. Talbot and his team accommodate all kinds of custom orders, including requests for the server to dress in costume according to the theme of the event.

 "We've been out to Halloween parties where the worker had to dress up in a costume or in a Santa Claus outfit," he says. "We do it all."

click to enlarge Clesi’s Restaurant & Catering can boil up to 900 pounds of seafood at one time on its mobile trailer. - PHOTO COURTESY CLESI’S RESTAURANT & CATERING
  • Photo courtesy Clesi’s Restaurant & Catering
  • Clesi’s Restaurant & Catering can boil up to 900 pounds of seafood at one time on its mobile trailer.

Clesi's Restaurant & Catering
Seafood boils may be the quintessential New Orleans dining experience, but not everyone wants to purchase and store boilers, propane tanks and 100-gallon pots. Clesi's Restaurant has two trailers that can take care of your next boil, from purging the crawfish to disposing of the picked-over shells and beer bottles.

 Both trailers can boil crawfish, crabs, shrimp and their accoutrements nearly as fast as you can eat them, but the larger trailer can boil 900 pounds of seafood at one time, while the smaller trailer has a grill in addition to a smaller boiler.

 "Now that crawfish season is over, people are looking for crabs, shrimp and barbecued items," says Sonya DiCarlo, Clesi's co-owner. "Shrimp and crabs are still pretty plentiful and are available close to year-round — we have a good relationship with our fishermen and only get seafood that's fresh."

 If the taste of crab boil isn't your thing, Clesi's offers other items. Chicken wings, burgers, po-boys and side dishes like chicken and sausage jambalaya also are on the catering menu. The restaurant also can do a catfish fry on-site along with the seafood boil. This isn't just any fried catfish, though.

 "[It] was voted No. 1 in the New Orleans area on NOLA.com in a recent competition," DiCarlo says. "It started out as a pool of 60 (contenders) ... then it was us and Middendorf's [Restaurant in Manchac]. If you're from New Orleans, you know Middendorf's. ... It was quite an honor to be considered with them."

 There's a minimum purchase of one sack of crawfish or about 35 pounds of seafood, and you can rent the trailer for as few as 15 to 20 people. Clesi's catering team also can bring tables, chairs and chafing dishes, serve food and coordinate cleanup, and even collect garbage for disposal in the restaurant's dumpsters to spare clients' trash cans (and noses) from multiple-day-old crawfish smell.

 "We have it down to a science," DiCarlo says.

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