Food

  • Published in Food
  • Written by

Top Five Latin Restaurants on the Northshore

By Dayhanna Velandia

Click aqui para español- >Los cinco mejores restaurantes latinos en Northshore

Find about the top five Latin restaurants that have earned a great appreciation by the community North of Lake Pontchartrain. Visit the Northshore and be surprised by its charming tranquility and good Latin cuisine.

 

  1. EL Paso

Close to its second year in Mandeville, El Paso Mexican Restaurant has been characterized not only by being a franchise that is synonymous with authentic Mexican food in Louisiana, but also because of its comfortable atmosphere that makes it really special for families who visit. The best-selling dishes range from the appetizers, like the freshly-made guacamole and their unique cheese and bean dips, to main entrees, like the Fajitas and the Carne Asada. The latter are served steaming at the table, providing guests with a multi-sensorial experience of sight, smell, and of course, taste that leaves one’s palate with an explosive display of flavors. The House Margarita made with Blue Sauza tequila and the Organic Margarita enhance the menu. For sweets’ lovers, the generous portions of desserts, such as the Tres Leches, complement the whole experience. Patrons recognize this place for its traditional decoration, its cozy atmosphere, and its friendly and prompt service. We give first place to El Paso because it is part of a chain of restaurants known for the owners’ desire to preserve family tradition by keeping an authentic Mexican flavor.

  1. La Carreta

With more than 12 locations, mostly north of Lake Pontchartrain, this giant is always characterized by its colorful menu and festive atmosphere. The delicious menu includes salads, ceviche like no other, in addition to the Pollo Loco and Barbacoa Tacos. The tortilla soup and the cheese dip are always delicious. A restaurant that maintains its locations impeccably while preserving a party atmosphere is never to be missed.

  1. Habanero’s

 With two locations, this restaurant has positioned "La Chingona" as one of the best margaritas of the Northshore. This place has been a favorite among lovers of good Latin American cocktails because of its varied selection of Tequila and Mezcal. The tacos have a combination of unique flavors that go hand in hand with the modern concept of the restaurant that is also shown through its lighting and decor.

  1. Carreta’s Grill

Carreta’s Grill remains dear to this area’s residents. One of the dishes that you cannot miss is the Chile Ranchero, a stuffed pepper that isn’t breaded, but instead filled with queso fresco with a strip of carne asada and caramelized onions and topped with ranchero sauce and Carreta’s Cheese Dip. If you are looking for healthier options, you can get a tasty Taco Salad. The consistent delicious seasoning has kept this chain as one of the favorites of the Northshore.

  1. Empataco

A mix of Colombian food and other Latin foods makes this place a great compromise. In their two locations, one in Mandeville and one in Madisonville, you can find Colombian crispy empanadas, Bandeja Paisa and stuffed arepas, and also Peruvian Lomo Saltado (sautéed tenderloin tips), plus a wide selection of tacos and Central American dishes, which allow patrons to explore a Latin American food tour in one place.

“Tell Me What You Eat, and I’ll Tell You Where You’re From.”

By Marcella Escarfuller

Everyone knows the old adage: “tell me of the company you keep and I’ll tell you who you are.” This version is just as telling: “tell me of the food you eat and I’ll tell you where you’re from.”

Whether we realize it or not, food defines culture in virtually every corner of the world – and the great U.S. of A. is no different. We associate Wisconsin with cheese, and Maine with lobster. So, naturally, it follows that seasonal food traditions would exist. New England has the clambake – and Louisiana has the crawfish boil.

Spring crawfish boils are as much of a social tradition in Louisiana as summer barbeques are for the rest of the country. In fact, locals love them so much that Louisiana produces an average of 50 tons of crawfish a year. That’s 90% of crawfish consumed in the U.S., 70% of which is consumed in Louisiana. And it’s no wonder – crawfish have been abundant in Louisiana for hundreds of years

There are over 30 species of crawfish, but the crawfish we all know and love, the red crawfish, is native to the Gulf of Mexico’s wetlands and swamps. Its culinary history can be traced back to the Native American tribe of southeast Louisiana, the Chitimacha – skilled farmers, hunters and fishermen who fashioned nets stringed with deer meat to attract and catch crawfish.

 

Today, the crawfish-eating tradition lives on. Local college students host Sunday boils up on the Fly, overlooking the river, with plenty of crawfish and beer to go around. But everyone has their favorite spot. Whether it’s Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar in Kenner, Captain Sid’s in Bucktown, or Clesi’s in Mid City, there is no shortage of mudbug grubbing options.

Ask anyone on the street and they’ll tell you – the secret is in the seasoning. Some buy special blends from grocery stores or seafood markets, others pride themselves on making their own. And experimenting has never been more popular. Take Ideal Market’s crawfish for example. Their special ingredient? Jalapeños. Even Viet-Cajun crawfish are on the rise: fresh from the boiling pot, crawfish are sautéed in a pan with butter, garlic, and Vietnamese spices, then served hot with corn and potatoes.

Some call it sacrilege, altering the hallowed tradition of the crawfish boil. Others call it creative liberty or artistic license. Honestly, as long as it’s served on newspaper and plastic in the company of friends and family, that’s all it’s really meant to be.

  • Published in Food

Proveniente de México, el Pozole de Pollo es uno de los platillos favoritos de la cocina de este país y ¡hoy le damos un toque crocante al añadir pistachos!

Krewe de Mayahuel fue todo un “hit” durante el desfile de Mardi Gras, y con el frente frio de hoy y mañana, ¿qué tal agregar un delicioso pozole mexicano junto a los platillos como el gumbo durante el carnaval?
El Pozole es delicioso de por sí solo, pero añadiéndole Wonderful Pistachios, le agregarás más proteína y fibra a esta delicia mexicana. 

Pozole de Pollo con Pistachios Triturados

Ingredientes:

Para el Puré De Tomatillo:

• 1 jalapeño

• 1 chile poblano

• 1 libra de tomatillos, sin cáscara y cortados por la mitad

• 1/2 cebolla roja, cortada en cuatro

• 2 dientes de ajo

• 1 cucharada orégano fresco

• 1/3 taza de cilantro

• Sal y pimienta recién molida, al gusto

 

Para el Pozole De Pollo:

• 2 cucharadas de aceite de oliva, dividido

• 1 libra de pechuga de pollo, sin piel y sin hueso

• Sal y pimienta recién molida, al gusto

• 1 cebolla pequeña, picada

• 3 dientes de ajo, picados

• 8 tazas de caldo de pollo

• 1 lata (28 onzas) de maíz blanco, escurrido y enjuagado

• 1/4 taza de Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Lightly Salted (sin cáscara y ligeramente salados) triturados

 

Ingredientes sugeridos:

• Aguacates en rodajas o en cubos

• Crema agria ligera

• Rábanos en rodajas

• Rodajas de limón

• Cebollas rojas en rodajas

• Cilantro

Preparación:

Para el Puré de Tomatillo:

Precalienta el asador y coloca una parrilla a 6 pulgadas, aproximadamente, de la fuente de calor. Esparce el jalapeño, el chile poblano, los tomatillos y la cebolla roja en una bandeja para hornear.
Asa, girando de vez en cuando, hasta que las verduras estén asadas, alrededor de 8-10 minutos. Retira del horno y deja que se enfríen un poco. Luego pela y remueve las semillas del jalapeño y del chile poblano.
Transfiere las verduras asadas al frasco de una licuadora. Agrega el ajo, el orégano fresco, el cilantro, la sal y la pimienta, y mezcla hasta que quede suave. Cuela y reserva.
Para el pozole de pollo:

Sazona las pechugas de pollo con sal y pimienta.
Calienta una cucharada de aceite de oliva en una olla holandesa grande, a fuego medio alto. Agrega el pollo y dora por todos lados, aproximadamente 2-3 minutos por lado. Retira y reserva.
Añade el aceite de oliva restante, si es necesario. Saltea las cebollas y el ajo hasta que estén fragantes y translúcidos, aproximadamente 2 minutos. Luego, agrega el pollo y el caldo. Una vez que esté hirviendo, reduce el fuego a la temperatura más baja y cocina a fuego lento hasta que el pollo esté tierno, aproximadamente 40 minutos.
Retira el pollo en un plato y desmenuza. Reserva.
Coloca un colador de malla fina grande sobre un tazón grande y cuela el caldo. Vierte el caldo de nuevo en la olla holandesa, desechando los sólidos. Agrega el pollo y el puré de tomatillo reservado, revolviendo para mezclar.
Añade el maíz escurrido. Prueba para condimentar y ajusta la sal y la pimienta, si es necesario. Cocina por otros 5 a 10 minutos, hasta que esté caliente.
Para servir, vierte la sopa en tazones agregando los Wonderful Pistachios machacados y los ingredientes deseados. Sirve inmediatamente.

Nota: Esta receta es un pozole suave. Si se deseas más picante, aumenta la cantidad de jalapeños y chiles poblanos al gusto.

How New Orleans History Influences What We Eat

By Marcella Escarfuller

Click aqui para español- >Cómo la historia de New Orleans influencia lo que comemos

As the music dies and the last of the beads are thrown, the entire city of New Orleans sinks into the thick haze that is the aftermath of Mardi Gras. The next day, it’s back to reality and going to work on a Wednesday while sustaining a major hangover (of both the alcohol and king cake varieties).

Gone from menus are the previously ubiquitous king cake and gimmicky king cake-flavored everything - from lattes and cocktails, to donuts and burgers (yes, burgers). After the extravagant indulgence of weeks past, the items that take their place are bland by comparison. But, still, a common theme remains even after carnival season – seafood.

New Orleans is a food city. Its culture and its celebrations revolve around food. Lent is no exception. Starting Ash Wednesday in New Orleans, Meatless Mondays are swapped out for Meatless Fridays – and not just for practicing Catholics. Walk into a local grocery store on a Friday in March and you’re guaranteed to find at least one seafood dish in their prepared-food section.

Some might call it another one of New Orleans’ many charms; an old-world tradition carried over into a city known for its amalgamation of old and new. But when confronted with the question of why, it merits a deeper exploration of these traditions and our city’s rich history.

Lent was first formalized as a religious practice of the Catholic church in 325 A.D. by the Roman emperor Constantine I. Almost 1400 years later, French Jesuits started settling in the gulf region. By the time the Archdiocese of New Orleans was established in 1793, the city had become the Jesuit missions’ headquarters, and the iconic St. Louis Cathedral had been standing for nearly five years.

It’s safe to say the city was cradled in French Catholicism in its infancy. The influence of the Catholic church during this critical time in our city’s history has had a lasting impact that is evident in our culture today. And let’s not forget that Louisiana is the only state in the Union that consists of parishes, a Catholic establishment, as opposed to counties.

Today, 36% of New Orleans is Catholic. It’s no wonder that a significant part of our culture as a city is influenced by Catholic traditions like Lent. And it’s a good thing, too – because without Mardi Gras, where would we be?

A Conversation with Chef Adolfo Garcia

By Leslie Almeida

Click aqui para español- >Una conversación con el Chef Adolfo García

Therapist. Referee. Ringmaster. There isn’t enough space on a nametag for all the titles a restaurateur holds. When your job is to put out both literal and figurative flames while juggling a variety of tasks at several properties across the city, you likely have some great advice to share. I sat down with Adolfo Garcia, James Beard Award-nominated chef and restaurateur, to talk business and glean a few words of wisdom.

The son of Panamanian immigrants, Chef Adolfo grew up in the Greater New Orleans area. At the age of 12, his family moved to Panama for 4 years, but returned when Adolfo was in high school. His career in the hospitality industry started early but did not stem from a place of nostalgia.

“It really wasn’t that romantic. I was 16 when we returned to Louisiana from Panama, and I needed a job. I wanted a car, to be able to do stuff, so I took a job at Pancho’s washing dishes.”

He moved through the ranks of busboy, then server, and went on to wait tables at La Riviera, an upscale restaurant in Metairie that influenced how locals thought of Italian food, and how local chefs would prepare it. It was the chef and owner of La Riviera, Goffredo Fraccaro, that piqued Garcia’s culinary curiosity.

After high school, Garcia attended UNO and UT-Austin with plans of majoring in Political Science and becoming a lawyer. As law school loomed ahead, he realized his passion was in food, and asked Fraccaro for help.

“Chef Goffredo was my mentor. He wrote my letter of recommendation to attend CIA (Culinary Institute of America). He was all, ‘You’re gonna go to school to be a chef? You don’t need to do that,’ and I said, ‘I’m gonna do it, and I need a letter.’ He said, 'Alright, I’ll write you a letter.’ Throughout my career, I touched base with him. He was an important figure in my life, especially from a culinary standpoint.”

Upon graduating from CIA in Upstate New York, Chef Adolfo started from the bottom once again, working his way through the ranks of high-profile NYC restaurants. His humble beginning is a stark contrast of the empire he has built today.

While the current count of restaurants Chef Adolfo co-owns stands at three, at one point in his career, that number was doubled. His first venture, Criollo, opened in 1997. After its closing, Rio Mar was opened in 2000, followed by La Boca in 2006. Prior to selling his share in Rio Mar in 2012, he opened High Hat and Ancora, both on Freret Street, in 2011.

Today, Chef enjoys more of an operations role and can often be seen at La Boca, but not behind an apron.

“It’s the evolution of a business person. When you first open, you’re in there on your hands and knees, fixing the plumbing, changing a lightbulb, answering the phone. Over time, your role becomes one more of overseer and advisor.” He goes on to compare owning a restaurant to raising a child.

"In the formative years, you try to influence as much as you can to put it on the right track. At some point you go, ‘You’ve grown up, now you’ve got to do your thing.’ You talk in their ear to coach them, but for the most part, they’re on their own.”

Whether it be 6 or 3 restaurants, Chef Adolfo says he wouldn’t be able to do it without his business partners. He owns La Boca with Nick Bazan, who was also his partner at Rio Mar, opened High Hat with industry veteran Chip Apperson, and operates Ancora along with general manager Bryn Thompson and chef Adrian Chelette.

“I don’t really thrive on micromanaging,” Chef Adolfo snickers. “I’m more of a person that wants to see people do their job, doing it how they feel. You can’t stifle them and be there all the time telling them what to do. Because then, what are they? They’re just a part of a machine. That’s not conducive to growth, and to the long-term health of the business or the partnership.”

To Chef Adolfo, his business partners and staff are more than just co-workers. He is known for putting the right people in the right places, then giving them equity and a position where they can create their own dreams. He stresses the importance of having a mentor and being a mentee, and credits Apperson as a role model and positive influence.

“Mentorship is important; I try to teach that, and I try to live it. Chip was my boss in New York. When I worked with him, he was the guy I looked up to. The way he ran his operation, the way he treated his people, the way he thought. I tell my employees to find someone they admire, emulate them, do the good things they do, and then pass it on.”

Wrapping up with Chef Adolfo, I asked him what was in store for his restaurant empire. Would there be more openings in the future? He shook his head and grinned as he replied. “I love the restaurant business and I love to cook, but for me it’s about the hospitality. If I do anything, I’m going to buy another building and figure out something there. But I think I’m done."

I guess we will have to wait and see about that one, Chef.

 

 

Tito's Ceviche & Pisco

By Leslie Almeida @nola.eats

Click aqui para español- >Tito's Ceviche & Pisco

New Orleans is a tapestry of food cultures. From the earliest influences of Spanish, French and African cuisine 300 years ago, to the eventual introduction of Vietnamese, Italian and other European food identities, the weave is myriad and diverse. Our most famous Cajun and Creole dishes incorporate the flavors from all these ethnic groups and more, creating gastronomic experiences that are often imitated yet seldom duplicated.

Peru, like Louisiana, was developed by indigenous peoples, later colonized, and then inhabited by immigrants from around the world, creating a multicultural nation. Unlike Louisiana, it’s been around a lot longer than three centuries. The comestible customs of these societies are reflected in the cuisine of Peru, with aspects of Spanish, Asian and African cooking often sharing the spotlight with the Amerindian and Andean ways. It is befitting that Tito’s Ceviche and Pisco, the Peruvian restaurant helmed by Chef Juan Lock, would find its place in the New Orleans dining landscape.

Chef Juan, a native of Lima, Peru, is no stranger to the city. After managing a popular steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale, he returned to New Orleans, eventually opening Tito’s Ceviche and Pisco with his wife, Tatiana, in August of 2017. Cooking, he says, has always been a family affair. “I started cooking as a little kid helping my mother in the kitchen, and I really enjoyed it.”

Ceviche, widely considered to have originated in Peru (sorry, Ecuador), is the star of the menu, served alongside complementary seafood dishes that may be seared, poached or fried. When slavery was abolished in Peru in the 1850s, Chinese and Japanese immigrants flocked to the country in search of work. Finding the ingredients they usually cooked with to be unavailable in their new homeland, they adapted their recipes, which are now staple dishes of Peru known as chifa.

Chef Juan pays tribute to his Chinese heritage with the lomo saltado and chaufa de mariscos, essentially a stir fry and fried rice, respectively. Japanese influence is represented with the tiraditos, which resembles a thinly sliced crudo but is more akin to sashimi. Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Peruvian cuisine is the presence of ancient foods and the crops that are thought to be native to Peru; tomatoes, quinoa and most varieties of potatoes have been traced back to the country’s earliest years.

Peruvian food may not have always been on the radar of New Orleanians, but the appreciation for fresh seafood, if nothing else, is enough of a reason for locals to embrace it. Chef Juan realized an opportunity in New Orleans when he couldn’t find the dishes he was searching for. “In Peru, you will find cevicherias with lots of varieties of ceviches. It’s a lot of fun. We wanted to share some of that with New Orleans, to offer other Peruvian dishes, and a full pisco bar. New Orleans has great local seafood, which makes it easy to create a bridge between Peru and this wonderful city.”

 Tito’s Ceviche and Pisco is located Uptown at 5015 Magazine Street. For more info, visit titoscevichepisco.com or follow them on Instagram at @titoscevichepisco.

-NOLA Eats is Leslie J. Almeida, food and dining writer and native New Orleanian. As the host of dozens of curated culinary experiences, she aims to highlight the people behind the city’s most interesting dining destinations. Since 2003, her past work includes contributions to Forbes, Food Network, CNN and Gambit. Tell Leslie where you’re eating and drinking -- she’s @nola.eats on Instagram and Facebook.

South of Eden

Click aqui para español- >South of Eden

Bad habits are hard to break, especially when they are the kind associated with food. We eat our feelings, snack while bored, and overindulge; in a city like New Orleans, it’s difficult not to. Our food-obsessed society has even associated certain days of the week with food-themed hashtags, such as #MeatlessMonday and #TacoTuesday. Coincidentally, Liliana Ruiz-Healy knows a thing or two about both of those topics.

Liliana, a native of Mexico City, is the proprietor of South of Eden, a vegan pop-up serving authentic Mexican recipes with a healthy approach. Each Sunday, her team takes over the kitchen at Good Karma Cafe, another vegan eatery, located in a building that shares space with Swan River Yoga. It’s more than fitting that South of Eden sets up shop there; Liliana, a Culinary Nutritionist and Health Coach, prefers to describe her menu as plant-based rather than vegan, emphasizing that eating meat-free does not necessarily equate to eating healthy.

As a teenager and young adult, Liliana struggled with the effects of a poor diet, both mentally and physically. Today, she prepares dishes that are pleasing to the palate yet nourish the mind and body from within. Her strategy is one she implemented and has seen work for herself. “I dealt with a lot of eating disorders and body image issues for many years. This led me to depression, anxiety, fatigue, and pre-diabetes. I went to psychiatrists, dermatologists, dietitians, you name it.”

With no solution in sight from medical professionals, Liliana did her own research. She experimented with omitting meat and animal by-products from her diet and began to see improvements in the condition of her skin, energy levels and overall health. But, with traditional recipes calling for meat, lard and dairy, where does a vegan fit into a Mexican household? “I think at first they thought it was crazy, but the more time passed, the jokes stopped, and they saw I was committed to it. Even so, both of my parents have been very supportive in this journey.” And it was indeed a journey ahead. Needing an about-face, Liliana moved from Mexico City to New Orleans in 2015.

“I was pretty stuck with my life and felt I needed a big change. This seemed a little tricky to do back home, since, well…in order for big changes to happen, you need to break away from the routine, the normal, the comfortable. I was ready for a new adventure, and New Orleans captured me on my first visit.” Soon after, Liliana became certified as a Health Coach from Dr. Sears Health Coaching School, and as a Culinary Nutritionist from Plantlab Culinary School, focusing on herbalism, Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.

In 2017, she earned her certification in Plant-Based Cooking and Desserts from Plantlab, perfecting her technique with raw foods. Liliana’s aspirations as a nutritionist and as a chef led to the creation of South of Eden. Her menu, while meat-free, showcases dishes that are as appealing to the eye as they are delicious. “Plant-based food has a place in high-end cuisine, with beautiful ingredients, plating and techniques. I just want to do what I enjoy the most, to share the flavors I grew up with in Mexico, and breaking the idea that Mexican food is burritos, margaritas and nachos.”

The menu at South of Eden is quite varied, offering Mexican comfort dishes, twists on brunch classics, and house made baked goods. The satisfyingly crunchy chilaquiles feature a bright chile salsa and a vegan almond cream that can pass for the real deal. For those that prefer their brunch resemble dessert, options like the high-protein Belgian waffle with dairy-free coconut whipped topping placate the sweet tooth with ingredients you won’t feel guilty about enjoying. Also, on the menu is a menagerie of coffee, herbal teas, and intriguing beverages such as a kombucha ice cream float or beet latte.

Such a diverse and creative menu calls for an equally talented staff. Liliana doesn’t hesitate to commend her all-female team, noting that vulnerability and the ability to communicate are as necessary as basic knife skills. “South of Eden is a team. I don’t like to take full credit, and I can’t. They really hold it down. They are patient with me, they understand my brain, they make all my ideas take shape, and they have amazing ideas and knowledge.”

Their approach certainly works for them; Sunday takeovers at Good Karma have recently been extended from a 2p.m. close time to 5p.m. While pop-ups aren’t always convenient to patronize, specialty items from the South of Eden team are available at Crescent City Farmers Market Uptown on Tuesdays, and on Thursdays at the Mid-City site. Goods include dairy-free yogurt, kimchi, tinctures, soups, and a cacao brew. "The goal is to open our own brick and mortar in the future, and at some point, take this concept back home to Mexico. While we get there, we’ll just keep on getting creative.”

Paloma Café

An Interview with Chefs Danny Alas and Justin Rodriguez

By Leslie Almeida

Click aqui para español->Paloma Café

Imagine that you are back in high school and your teacher says everyone must pair up with a classmate for a project. You turn your head toward your BFF and they turn their head toward you. You exchange a nod or maybe a raised eyebrow. Nothing needs to be said because you both just know you will be working together on this. And everything is going to be alright. Now snap out of it, because it’s 2018 and you have to get to the office and work on that presentation with The Guy That Makes Noises When He Eats. Ugh. Wouldn’t it be great if we could work with our best friend again? Danny Alas and Justin Rodriguez, the chefs at Paloma Cafe, have managed to do just that. The duo met while at culinary school in Miami, went on to work together at critically-acclaimed Scarpella, and then made the move to New Orleans to join the team at Compère Lapin. Eventually, they would open Paloma Cafe, an eatery in the Bywater heavily influenced by their Latin-Caribbean upbringings. For Chef Danny, part of the appeal is having a support system in an environment where things can get pretty hectic. “Working with Justin, I know my best friend’s got my back.”  “She knows I’m not gonna bullshit her,” Chef Justin adds with a laugh. “If something isn’t right, I’ll tell her, ‘we’ve got to throw the whole thing away.”

One would think that sharing the duties of running a professional kitchen would present some major challenges, but the camaraderie extends to the logistical side of running a restaurant. “We’re generally on the same page,” says Danny. “It’s like we’re telepathically sharing these ideas and then work them out until we have the finished product.” “As in all other aspects of running a business, it’s all about balance,” adds Justin. While Chef Danny and Chef Justin -- Venezuelan and Dominican, respectively -- tend to see eye to eye on most matters, there is one thing that divides them: tripe. With a grin, Danny admits, “I eat it. I like to get nasty like that.” Justin, however, is not on board. “No, it’s a texture issue for me. My family grew up eating it, but I do not love it.” Fortunately, there is plenty to love about Paloma Cafe, perhaps one of the most adaptable spots in the New Orleans area. Previous tenants -- first Booty’s Street Food and later Cafe Henri -- struggled with the complexities of a changing neighborhood. Paloma, attuned to the community’s needs, serves breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, dependent upon the day of the week. Additionally, the Revelator Coffee Company-owned cafe welcomes the laptop crowd, offering a space where they can work or study with a caffeinated beverage and housemade pastry. Regardless of the time of day, each menu reflects the influence of the chefs’ heritage and culture. Breakfast includes heartier offerings such as a plate of eggs, potatoes and choice of chorizo or avocado, and lighter fare such as the vegan-friendly avocado toast with cumin roasted chickpeas. The lunch and dinner menus deliver on amped up homestyle favorites; think yuca frita, marinated chicken thighs, platanitos, and braised short ribs. Diners can now get their favorites one additional night a week; dinner service was recently extended to Tuesdays. In a restaurant named Paloma -- a Latin derivative meaning “peaceful” -- the pair strive toward a positive work environment for their team, especially during a time where there is little to no room for the contrary. “We have a chill space here,” says Danny. “We try to be mindful of our team. We never have to go out of our way to hire, because the staff is generally friends of friends.” Friendship seems to be a recurring theme with Chef Danny and Chef Justin at the helm of Paloma Cafe. How could it not when two friends navigate analogous professional paths across multiple state lines? “We are both far from our families,” says Danny, “but we have each other.” Paloma Cafe is located at 800 Louisa Street in the Bywater. For more info, visit palomanola.com or follow them on Instagram at @paloma_nola.

- NOLA Eats is Leslie J. Almeida, food and dining writer and native New Orleanian. As the host of dozens of curated culinary experiences, she aims to highlight the people behind the city’s most interesting dining destinations. Since 2003, her past work includes contributions to Forbes, Food Network, CNN and Gambit. Tell Leslie where you’re eating and drinking -- she’s @nola.eats on Instagram and Facebook.

Congreso Cubano

by Leslie Almeida

Click aqui para español->Congreso Cubano

New Orleans is a city of hustlers. Here, big thinkers with modest budgets can turn a side gig into a day job. Or night job, if that’s more your thing. And that’s exactly what Orlando “Orly” Vega did when he moved here from Miami and launched Congreso Cubano, a pop-up dining experience with Cuban roots. I asked Orly about his journey with Congreso, what inspires his menus, and the future.

What brought you to New Orleans from Miami? Quite honestly, there wasn't much that wasn't calling me to New Orleans. It was not the food at that time. I regularly visited for Jazz Fest and, being a musician myself, it was always somewhere I wanted to be. Simply put, I had a bad year in Miami, so I threw everything in my car and took up a friend's invitation in Mid-City. That was almost seven years ago.

 Did you have intentions to create a culinary experience upon arriving, or was it a happy accident?

The food came a bit later out of a mix of culinary homesickness, a desire to showcase my family's food, and a deep interest in the historic links between New Orleans and Havana and the idea came out of necessity. I had left my 9-to-5 and decided to make the best of my newfound free time while I was job searching. The job market was rough, so I kept making sandwiches to entertain myself and would set up on stoops or work out of the car.

What were some of the hurdles you faced, and what kept you going in those challenging early days as a pop-up?

When you are popping-up, everything is a potential hurdle. It’s nice not having a rental overhead, but you give up a lot of control to property owners, weather, transportation logistics, etc. Not to mention that everybody wants a cut of your sales until you can prove that you know how to fill a room.

For a city whose culinary landscape derives great influence from Latin cultures, yet had few Cuban eateries, was it difficult to explain to customers that Cuban food isn't "tacos and margs"?

No, it really wasn't. These days there's a big buzz around Cuba and a surprising amount of our guests have had the chance to travel there. It’s been a fun experience listening to our guests' differing expectations of a dish. Since Cuban cuisine has continued to evolve throughout the diaspora, you'll find guests that expect very different interpretations of a dish. Sometimes one was introduced to the dish in Tampa, Florida while the other tried it in Santiago de Cuba. Even among neighboring provinces in Cuba certain dishes can vary quite a bit.

 When you create a menu, are you inspired by tried-and-true family recipes or fresh takes on the classics?

Our mission is to connect New Orleans to its ancestral sister cities through our food. Some of our dishes come straight out of my great-grandmother's copy of Nitza Villapol's Cocina Criolla. Many of our recipes are very Spanish in their influence, as not only is Spain where most of my family settled, but they were the colonial rulers of Cuba. And, of course, many Cuban recipes have a deep and undeniable African influence, some even retaining their West African names. Cuba, being an island, has survived in large part through the import of its neighbors’ foods and cultures which are inevitably expressed in the cuisine. It is this trans-Atlantic story that culminated to produce the city of New Orleans.

What can we expect from you in the future?

More good food. Beyond our regular events, we are expanding our catering operations to provide fun options such as pig roasts, ceviche bars, and Latin-style parrilladas. Over the years, Orly has turned customers into fans, and fans into friends. His secret to success? “Word of mouth and generosity is more responsible for our continued success than any marketing widget I've ever been pitched. We would not still be here if it were not for our community's constant encouragement.” Congreso Cubano pops-up with a new menu Tuesday night at Barrel Proof Lounge, 1201 Magazine Street. Visit CongresoCubano.com to inquire about catering and follow them on your favorite social media outlet for announcements.

 

NOLA Eats is Leslie J. Almeida, food and dining writer and native New Orleanian. As the host of dozens of curated culinary experiences, she aims to highlight the people behind the city’s most interesting dining destinations. Since 2003, her past work includes contributions to Forbes, Food Network, CNN and Gambit. Tell Leslie where you’re eating and drinking -- she’s @nola.eats on Instagram and Facebook.

  • Published in Food
  • Written by

La Carreta

By Winston and Martha Landymore

Click aqui para español->La Carreta

La Carreta Mexican Restaurant is truly a unique treat and a family-friendly Mexican restaurant that opened 7 months ago in the Lower Garden District. The owners, Saul and Leticia Rubio, opened their first restaurant nearly 20 years ago, and their other locations include Mandeville, Covington, Ponchatula, Lafayette and Houma.

Located at 1814 Magazine St near the corner of St. Mary, La Carreta serves traditional and Tex-Mex favorites. What immediately grabs your attention when you walk into La Carreta are the colorful murals, tapestries and pictures of Mexican art including a homage to the Luchadores, the great masked wrestlers of Mexico.

Of course, one cannot miss a fully customized early 1960’s Ford Econoline truck converted into a bar. Yes! They have a real full-size “Bar Truck” adorned with a mural of horn-playing Day of the Dead Mariachi musicians painted on the front of the iconic truck. The atmosphere is relaxed with a combination of families, hipsters and professionals all enjoying Latin music and Mexican cuisine.

The window tables provide an excellent view for people-watching on Magazine Street while downing ice cold cerveza or one of the best frozen margaritas in the city. I must confess, my wife is somewhat of a margarita connoisseur, and she ranks La Carreta’s frozen margaritas at the top of the list.

According to General Manager Luis Nava, the secret to their quality is the use of fresh ingredients, and the daily preparation using a special Don Saul Tequila made in Jalisco, Mexico. More importantly, the daily Happy Hour is from 3-7pm and the delicious margaritas are just $4!

There are certain signature dishes that resonate with great Mexican restaurants and here, I have to say, the Picadillo Nachos are uniquely incredible. Their picadillo (spicy ground beef) is seasoned to perfection and served with queso blanco, it becomes a nacho feast you just can’t stop eating. Other favorites are their steak chimichangas made with creamy queso infused steak, and a variety of traditional seafood dishes.

 Taco Tuesday is a good excuse to try as many types of tacos as you dare without spending a fortune. La Carreta’s flan is incredible. I have never had a more incredibly rich, deep flavor-packed flan anywhere like this. Make sure to save room for it. You won’t be disappointed. La Carreta is a fun, laid-back restaurant with great food and drinks at fair prices all in a cool atmosphere where tequila is the “Soup of the Day”...Only in New Orleans!

Taqueria Corona

By Angela Hernández

Click aqui para español->Taqueria Corona

On any given night, Taqueria Corona humbly sits nestled on Magazine Street where it’s been for the past 30 years. On the inside, diners sip on margaritas and devour tacos while merengue music joyfully fills the colorful restaurant. But what most patrons don’t know is that the meal they are enjoying has made a significant mark in New Orleans restaurant culture.

 In the past 30 years, the Magazine Street Taqueria Corona has seen a lot. Owner Roberto Mendez fondly remembers the days of 1988 when it was just him and a dishwasher. This was a time when making $50.00 daily was considered all in a normal day’s work. But a feature in “The Times- Picayune” four months into Taqueria Corona’s opening changed everything.

Mendez soon found himself trying to keep up with the long lines outside his restaurant. The demand was so great that he even had to shut down his taqueria once because he ran out of food. Not only were the locals eager to try his tacos, but also movie stars such as Kevin Costner and Brad Pitt have pulled up a chair to savour his food. Nowadays, Mexican restaurants are as common as Taco Bells, but that is where Mendez believes he is different.

Taqueria Corona isn’t a typical Mexican restaurant nor is it fast food. Although their menu has expanded over the years to include common Mexican dishes, tacos remain as the heart and soul of the restaurant. Mendez recalls that many restaurants weren’t serving what he calls “soft tacos”. At that time, tacos were hard shells and filled with ground beef instead of soft tortillas filled an array of juicy meats and garnished with cilantro and onion. I wasn’t until his first time attending Jazz Fest that Mendez realized authentic street-style Mexican tacos were missing.

This spurred his idea to ask Jazz Fest if they would let him open a taco stand known as a taqueria. “The word ‘taqueria’ was introduced by Taqueria Corona into the New Orleans lingo. I attribute that to spotting the trend for tacos, not Mexican restaurants but tacos,” said Mendez. This innovative idea has certainly become increasingly popular within the past couple of years as Americans search for a place to have their #TacoTuesday.

Although Jazz Fest had denied his application, Mendez decided to open a restaurant instead. Without any formal training, Mendez began to study different recipes, visited taco stands in Texas, and perfected his own recipes through trial and error. Looking back, Mendez remembers feeling unsure if his tacos would be authentic enough, but his crazy idea proved to be worth it in the end, as Taqueria Corona remains one of New Orleans’s most beloved taco joints. “Seeing the customers’ happy faces while enjoying the food always give me a sense of accomplishment,” said Mendez.

Featured Articles

Archive

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Publisher's Note

Ready for the outdoors!

Although we do not have very well defined seasons, the weather changes enough to create different vibes in and around the city.

The moderate Spring weather accompanied with sunny clear skies is inviting to get back to the outdoors and be more active. The backyard also gets more use in the form of the very Louisiana tradition of the crawfish boil, which we learn more about in our food section.

Short day-trips are perfect during Spring and the Northshore offers some amazing destinations for nature and food lovers. Just sitting down on the bank of the Tchefuncte River, looking at the boats pass by can be a relaxing change of pace and scenery.

In this edition, we visit the Northshore to explore some of the Latin restaurants in the area. We will be coming back to enjoy the different places and activities that the Northshore has to offer. St. Tammany hosts a vineyard, a safari, strawberry and blueberry patches, breweries, swamp tours, museums, kayaking, and tubing, among so many other interesting things. The Northshore is the perfect destination when you need a little getaway.

But for now, we prepare to get outdoors in New Orleans to enjoy the great music during French Quarter Fest and to see the national and international superstars coming to Jazzfest. See you out there!

AnaMaria