The place is called Marcela's Creole Cookery, but it may as well be titled Slow Burn. Anthony MacDonald and Marcela Fuenzalida's New Orleans-inspired restaurant in Pioneer Square serves a lot of heavy, unfussy, delicious Southern comfort food (including gator), all of it laced with just enough heat to feel it on the back of your tongue without sending you scrabbling for the water glass.
There are a lot of good deals to be had here, none more so than the Express Lunch, which changes daily. One day it might be smothered pork chops with rice and gravy, another it'll be barbecued chicken thighs with potatos ya-ya. Today it was meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corn, a meal that graced the dinner plates of our adolescence more times than we care to remember, but it was never this good (sorry, Mom!). Studded with onions and perfectly seasoned, it's tender but won't crumble to bits when you cut into it with your fork, which you'll be doing compulsively until every last mildly spicy bite has vanished from your plate, along with the peppery mashed potatoes you've bulldozed the meatloaf through en route to your mouth. The corn, of the canned variety, rises above its pedestrian pedigree with that same unidentifiable hint of fire.
Don't feel like throwing yourself at the whim of the daily special? Marcela's sandwiches are a solid alternative. The andouille sausage po-boy came loaded with lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickles on good firm bread. The proportions are good, with the mildly spicy sausage cutting through the veggies and bread as the dominant flavor (as it should be). Po-boys here are served with two potatoes ya-ya: boiled and thick-sliced potatoes coated in a crunchy shell of spices. They're surprisingly tame, with little more flavor than the core potatoes, so if you don't feel like packing away the extra carbs, you won't be faulted for shunning them.
Whichever way you go, you must save some room (and cash; this stuff ain't cheap) for a warm slice of their fantastic pecan pie. It's one of the gooier renditions of this dish we've encountered, but also one of most delectable. The filling is a sticky, drool-inducing testament to brown sugar and butter, and there are whole chunks of pecan aplenty to gnaw on. Days later, we’re still thinking about it.
Express Lunch ($6.95) + pecan pie ($6.50) + tax ($1.35) + tip ($2.69) = $17.49
Andouille sausage po-boy ($8.50) + pecan pie ($6.50) + tax ($1.50) + tip ($3) = $19.50
106 James Street
Seattle, WA 98104