A seasoned hamburger pattie smothered in an onion based gravy and served with homemade mashed potatoes is perfect comfort food. The Hamburger Steak with Smothered Onions recipe is inspired by the ‘Blue Plate Special‘ off of Liuzza’s Restaurant and Bar menu in New Orleans.
Since it seems like it’s difficult to get down to New Orleans and enjoy the unique neighborhoods, restaurants, and food, I thought that I’d bring a little bit of NOLA to my house – and yours. What I’ve decided to do was select a restaurant, find a popular dish off of the menu, and try to recreate it at home.
Today, we’re strolling through Mid-City and stopping at the corner of Bienville and Telemachus Streets. There you’ll find the popular corner spot, Liuzza’s Restaurant and Bar.
Just as the name indicates, Mid-City is located in the middle of New Orleans. The neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to plenty of landmarks to explore from colorful shotgun houses to Creole cottages. Since it is away from the heart of the French Quarter, it’s not known as being a tourist destination – but you’re missing out if you haven’t been to this quirky neighborhood.
Mid-City is home to New Orleans’s largest park, City Park – which is the 6th largest urban park in America and almost 50% bigger than New York City’s Central Park. The Celebration in the Oaks is a holiday time sight to behold as they light up over a million lights throughout the park. Over 165,000 visitors drive through to see this great winter tradition. City Park also has Storyland, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, and Big Lake (which is tiny compared to Lake Pontchartrain).
Within City Park is the New Orleans Museum of Art. NOMA features 40,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of art and is a world-class museum that shouldn’t be missed.
The neighborhood is not without cemeteries, as well. You’ll find one of the largest cemeteries in New Orleans with St. Louis Cemetery No.3, which is near City Park and runs parallel to Bayou St. John.
One of the best parts of Mid-City is the unique shops for shopping local. A stop at Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Bookshop, located at 631 North Carrollton Avenue, is always on the to-visit list. Another great attraction is NOLA Craft Culture at 127 S. Solomon Street. They are the local resource to the New Orleans folk art community and offer a year-round celebration of unique cultural arts. They offer art classes, a way to create a custom umbrella for a second line, and have the Indoor Art Mart – a unique spot to buy handcrafted items from many of the talented artists of the area. The store was created by three members of the Krewe of Muses.
You’ll find a couple of the more popular music venues in the Mid-City neighborhood. Rock ‘n’ Bowl is located at 3000 South Carrollton Avenue and combines bowling with Louisiana rockabilly, R&B, and swing music. At 2828 Canal Street you’ll find Chickie Wah Wah where you can usually find a great local band performing almost nightly.
Mid-City is full of great restaurants. A visit to Toups’ Meatery is a must. You’ll also find Parkway Bakery and Tavern, Ralph’s on the Park, Mandina’s Restaurant, and Neyow’s Creole Cafe, just to name a few.
Liuzza’s Restaurant and Bar is located at 3636 Bienville Street. Liuzza’s has been a New Orleans landmark since 1947 and known for its down-home Louisiana, classic Creole-Italian, and seafood dishes. Since it’s somewhat off of the beaten path (about 3 miles from the French Quarter), it’s more of a popular destination for locals. Generations have enjoyed an ice-cold frosted mug of beer that resembles a fishbowl and the house sandwich, the famous Frenchuletta – a hot muffuletta style sandwich served on a po’boy French bread. Other favorites are the towering stack of French fried onion rings, eggplant parmesan, and the ‘blue plate’ special, Hamburger Steak with Smothered Onions.
As you walk into the restaurant, you’ll notice the old school neighborhood vibe, decorated tabletops, and a cozy decorated atmosphere. It was reported recently that the restaurant was put up for sale by the long-time owners, Frank and Lori Bordelon. They insist that they are selling the restaurant to retire, and it has nothing to do with the pandemic. They will continue to operate Liuzza’s until a sale has been made, and they say that they hope the future buyer will keep the restaurant open and maintain its traditions.
On the full menu, you’ll find the ‘Blue Plate‘ Special, which is a Hamburger Steak with Smothered Onions. That’s what I decided to make along with homemade mashed potatoes with another type of ‘Blue Plate‘ spin. You may think of Salisbury Steak when you see this, but a Hamburger Steak is made like you’d prepare a regular hamburger. Salisbury Steak is prepared more like meatloaf. There’s no oatmeal or breadcrumbs or eggs to keep this together, just the basic burger ingredients.
I should mention this quick disclaimer, this recipe has nothing to do with the restaurant itself other than the fact that I saw that they offered it on the menu and I was inspired to make it. This is not their recipe. This is mine. And keeping with that ‘Blue Plate‘ theme, I’m using another New Orleans favorite, Blue Plate Mayonnaise, in my homemade mashed potato recipe to give the potatoes an extra creaminess.
Like what I did there? Blue Plate making it a blue plate.
At the restaurant, they serve the Hamburger Steak with Smothered Onions dish with a House Salad. To make the salad, which I found while watching this video on YouTube by the NOLA Gent, combine spinach, red pepper spears, quartered tomatoes, red onion rings, and mixed with Italian dressing. Then, to round out the meal, a nice cold beer. I can find Abita beer locally and usually have a six-pack or two in the fridge. I froze the beer mug beforehand, but it is not as cold as Liuzza’s can famously offer.
There you have it, your very own Blue Plate Special and House Salad that was inspired by Liuzza’s Restaurant and Bar in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans. Hopefully, the new owners will continue the tradition of the restaurant and keep it going for years to come.
Let me know what you think of this meal in the comment section below. Also, if you’ve been to Liuzza’s Restaurant, what is your favorite dish to order?
Hamburger Steak with Smothered Onions
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp Creole Seasoning
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
FOR THE SMOTHERED ONIONS
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ yellow onion thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups beef broth
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- mashed potatoes see recipe
- fresh parsley chopped for garnishment
- green onions chopped for garnishment
Combine the ground beef with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Make four evenly shaped patties about ½-inch thick.
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over MEDIUM heat and cook the hamburger patties for about 5-minutes. Flip, and cook for another 5-minutes. Remove the hamburger steaks from the pan and place on a plate; remove the pan, as well - the gravy comes out better with a new pan and without all of the fattie residue from the hamburgers.
FOR THE SMOTHERED ONIONS
Melt the butter in a large clean pan; add the thinly sliced onions to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions have softened and caramelized. Add the all-purpose flour to the pan and mix to coat the onions in it.
Slowly pour the beef broth into the pan and continue to stir as the broth thickens into a gravy. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer on MEDIUM-LOW for about 5-minutes. If the gravy becomes too thick, slowly add small amounts of broth to thin out.
Turn heat to LOW, return the hamburger steaks to the pan, cover, and simmer on LOW for 15-minutes.
Place mashed potatoes on plate and top with Hamburger Steak and Smothered Onions. Garnish with fresh parsley and chopped green onions.
Mashed Potatoes with Mayonnaise
- 3 pounds Russet potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 tsp salt
- water to cover the potatoes
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter warmed
- 3/4 cup Blue Plate Mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp salt more to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper more to taste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
Clean and scrub the potatoes. Remove any bad spots. Peel and cut into even-sized chunks.
Put the potatoes and salt in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are tender about 15-20 minutes - they should be tender enough that a fork can easily stab through them.
Drain the water from the pot. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes. Add the warmed butter, Blue Plate Mayonnaise, and milk into the potatoes and continue to stir until smooth.
Season the mashed potatoes with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and fresh parsley. Check flavor and add more seasoning, if needed. If the masked potatoes are too thick, add more milk, in small increments, until the potatoes have reached your desired texture.
For More Information on Mid-City New Orleans
If you want more information on Liuzza’s Restaurant and Bar, you can find them online at http://www.liuzzas.com. You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Liuzzas-Restaurant-Bar-252990229029. They are located at 3636 Bienville Street in Mid-City, New Orleans.
Here are links to the other spots in Mid-City that I mentioned in the article for further reading:
- New Orleans City Park: https://neworleanscitypark.com/
- New Orleans Museum of Art: https://noma.org/
- St. Louis Cemetery No.3: https://nolacatholiccemeteries.org/st-louis-cemetery-3
- Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Bookshop: http://tubbyandcoos.com/
- NOLA Craft Culture: https://www.nolacraftculture.com/
- Rock ‘n’ Bowl: https://www.rocknbowl.com/
- Chick Wah Wah: http://www.chickiewahwah.com/
What are your favorite stops in Mid-City New Orleans? Let us know in the comment section below!
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Keep the red beans cookin’!
Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.