If an alien visited Lowerline, a New Orleans-inspired spot in Prospect Heights, they would go back to their mothership with the impression that running a great restaurant on planet earth is easy. And that the word “po-boy” is standard vocabulary for what they know as “food between bread.” The aliens have no idea how uncommon a restaurant like Lowerline is. But we do.
At some casual restaurants, we have to tell the responsible voice in our head to stop bugging us about how we should have just made pasta with butter at home. (His name is Trevor and he’s kind of an asshole.) But at Lowerline, Trevor can relax. The food is excellent, and the dining experience at this neighborhood place is unique.
To be clear, there is no food at Lowerline that we could ever make ourselves. (Despite wishing we could casually say “we’re gonna go home and whip up some crawfish étouffée.") There aren’t many other places in NYC where you can find New Orleans-style food this good. There’s a slow kick of spiciness, tons of fresh seafood, and crunchy po-boy bread. If you’re familiar with Louisiana cooking, you’ll be excited. If you’re not, you’ll want to book flights immediately. Especially after they bring out a shot glass of complementary panna cotta at the end of your meal. They make it with Cafe Du Monde coffee, and it’s one of the better things to come in a shot glass since Prohibition.
Between the bar and the few tables, there are roughly 12 seats in this place - and that forces a level of closeness between everyone in the restaurant. Not in a middle-seat-on-an-airplane kind of way, but in a way that feels like Lowerline is a small-town joint in a classic movie scene with “Midnight Train To Georgia” playing in the background. If you sit at the bar, you’ll be within creepy-whisper-distance of the friendly owner (who’s from Louisiana, and will probably be shucking oysters). Post up here with a book or bring a date - but we wouldn’t suggest coming to Lowerline with more than one other person. There’s just not enough room.
As much as we think everyone should be able to experience Lowerline, it wouldn’t be as special if it were a bigger restaurant. The size keeps things quiet and calm, and the Cafe Du Monde panna cotta fully stocked. Lowerline is simply a tiny room full of humans, doing human things like hanging out and eating really good food. The aliens could learn a lot here.
Lowerline has dollar-oyster Happy Hour during weekdays from 5-7pm. You want to be there for it.
If you’re looking to try a few things without splitting or over-ordering, get this. You can pick whatever type of po-boy you want, but we like the fried shrimp one best.
If someone brought this on a school field trip, their popularity would skyrocket. Or an older kid would steal it. This has thick, warm roast beef, lots of mayonnaise, and homemade gravy.
The one exception to their otherwise-pretty-traditional New Orleans menu is their play on the Muffaletta. Instead of using provolone or Swiss cheese on the sandwich, they put in layers of Parmesan with prosciutto, coppa, and housemade olive salad. We’re into it.
We don’t know how many crawfish tails were sacrificed for this plate, but almost every bite will have some in it, along with celery, onions, and a bunch of great spices. Thank you crawfish tails, you helped make our favorite thing here.
This is the only thing at Lowerline that we wouldn’t order again. It just doesn’t have the same kind of freshness and excitement as the other things on the menu.