WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
How it is that visitors to New Orleans somehow hear about this cafe is a mystery. It looks like any of dozens of other sandwich-and-platter shops in the French Quarter. But they do, and although the lines aren’t as consistent as they once were, it’s still always busy. The sandwiches are somewhere between poor boys and deli. The prices would be a bargain even outside the French Quarter. Important: this is not to be confused with the nearby Pierre Maspero’s, a different, unrelated restaurant.
Cafe Maspero is not as good as it once was, but it still chucks out excellent sandwiches, served on an unusual bun-shaped variation of French bread. The best are the deli meats, notably the pastrami, corned beef, and ham. The hamburgers are celebrated but just okay. The menu has expended over the years to include all the dishes from the local pantheon that begins with red beans and gumbo–not bad, but other nearby restaurants are better.
In 1971, Charlie Malachias took over a historic restaurant space in a late-1700s building on the corner of Chartres and St. Louis. The cafe was operated from by Pierre Maspero, and was a meeting place of some of the most famous and colorful figures in early New Orleans history. Malachias began serving much the same menu there now–which, in those days, was offbeat in New Orleans. Cafe Maspero moved to its present location–the square root of two blocks from the old one–in the 1980s. (It has no connection with the Pierre Maspero’s that took over the old place.)
On large room with an open kitchen and tile floors, with an open kitchen in the back and big tables jammed in maximum numbers. Although large French doors open to the street corner on both sides, the restaurant is a little dark even in daytime. The service staff is always on the run, but gets the orders in and out efficiently.
French onion soup
Chopped sirloin hamburger
Roast beef with gravy
»Grilled chicken breasts, sautéed in Greek spices.
Smoked sausage sandwich
Alligator sausage sandwich
»Fried oyster, shrimp, or catfish sandwich
Sirloin strip steak
»Red beans & rice
»Maspero’s Cajun jambalaya
»Fried oyster, shrimp, calamari or catfish platter
»Combination fried seafood platter
FOR BEST RESULTS
If the line is long, go elsewhere. It’s good, but not that good. Unless the undeniably fine value is of importance to you.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
It’s time for renovation. The meats are sliced a bit too thick for maximum flavor. There’s no good reason anymore for any restaurant to refuse credit cards.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -1
- Consistency +1
- Value +2
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness -1
- Local Color +1
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children