It’s important to use Liuzza’s By the Track’s full name, there is another, unrelated, but equally excellent, Liuzza’s further from the track. This one is a hole-in-the-wall for drinks and such Louisiana classics as po’ boys and Creole gumbo. It’s a friendly, rough and tumble place that is something like a boozy cafe. It comes complete with a closet sized “casino” that features a couple of video poker machines.
The reason most people come to Liuzza’s By the Track is for a BBQ shrimp po-boy, a creation invented here and now popular around New Orleans. It takes a toned-down version of of Creole BBQ shrimp, stripped of the shells and much of the spice, and stuffs them inside a hollowed French roll. The shrimp are gently sautéed to order, retaining a crisp, bouncy texture. There are a few dozen of them — far too many for the bread to contain. You can share one of these po boys, maybe three ways, but you won’t want to after you taste it.
The shrimp also are featured in gumbo, which is very much of the “city” variety, lacking an especially dark roux but boasting a spicy, fragrant broth. It’s a complex dish, albeit lacking the deep satisfaction of thicker, more substantial versions. Crawfish étouffée served atop fragrant rice, is good, too, as are other Creole classics on the menu; but we’ll save our appetite for a BBQ shrimp po’ boy fix.
Pity it’s not open late, but perhaps that is what keeps this place more relaxed than many New Orleans drinking holes. Friendly service and old-school New Orleans atmosphere make it a good place to drink a few beers and relax between harder drinking moments, but note that if you come during Jazz Fest or anytime there is a big event at the race track, it will be completely insane … perhaps a good thing.