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Growing Pains: Dining out as a displaced NOLA Native

A delicious shrimp salad from Rivista on Magazine Street

A delicious shrimp salad from Rivista on Magazine Street

Charlottesville, Virginia is soon to be home to a new restaurant called Fig, which will feature a Mediterranean and New Orleans inspired menu. Terrifying? I thought so, too.

Eating out outside of New Orleans is an interesting experience. When dining in NOLA, you become accustomed to having an abundance of unique, character-filled restaurants within five minutes of wherever you happen to be.

And having, arguably, the best food in the world at your fingertips.

And all of this at relatively inexpensive prices.

That last NOLA dining expectation caused the biggest culture shock when I began eating out of state. While you can always find an exceptional meal in NOLA that costs a pretty penny, you don’t have to traumatize yourself with an expensive bill to enjoy the amazing food that puts us at the forefront of the world for culinary genius. In fact, some of my best meals in NOLA were not the most expensive. I'm thinking Bacchanal Wine, Origami, Taqueria Corona, lunch at Maya’s, lunch at Bayona, Parkway Bakery, Satsuma, Stein’s. The list goes on forever.

It’s something wonderful, it’s something unique, and it’s something I took for granted during 18 years growing up in New Orleans.

Then, I moved.

I, like many NOLA ex-pats, now find myself navigating the tricky and often disappointing waters of trying to find restaurants with unique character and good food. The one or two restaurants I have found in Charlottesville that possess both attributes make my poor wallet appear bulimic. Finding the magical trio of character, food, and price outside of NOLA? Nearly impossible.

Which makes me homesick. Every meal. Every day.

Native New Orleanian Elizabeth Kukla is a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She writes about being a NOLA girl from afar in “Growing Pains,” a weekly column at NolaVie.