Fresh Salsa
Latin American & Caribbean

Fresh Salsa

This is the enhanced first stage of making guacamole. My wife once said to me, why don’t you make that into a into a salsa? So here it is. You can chop everything in a food processor, but it looks nicer and tastes better if you do the chopping by hand. If you use the machine, chop in a few short busts and stop just before it seems right. Read More. . .

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Tex-Mex Chili Sauce
* NOMenu.com

Tex-Mex Chili Sauce

This is half a chili con carne recipe. It has the seasonings and the flavor, but not the meat. You use it as a sauce, not as a finished dish. It’s good on chicken, pork, and cheese-and-onion enchiladas. But triple all the ingredients, add three pounds of cubed or ground beef chuck at the end of Step 1. and you’re on your way to a good, heart-warming (and heart-stopping) bowl of red. Read More. . .

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A Mexican Dream
Mexican

A Mexican Dream

Casa Borrega. Warehouse District & Center City: 1719 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. 504-427-0654. Casa Borrega Warehouse District & Center City: 1719 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. 504-427-0654. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website The search for Mexican food in New Orleans usually brings up the word “authentic,” meant to set apart restaurants serving hard-to-find dishes from those aimed at the Tex-Mex category. I know of no Mexican restaurant in these parts that’s really “authentic.” No restaurant has the combination of ingredients, cooks, customers, and menu to claim strict authenticity. But some…

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Rosa Mezcal. Garden District: 1814 Magazine St. 504-304-7063.
Mexican

Rosa Mezcal. Garden District: 1814 Magazine St. 504-304-7063.

Rosa Mezcal Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 1814 Magazine St. 504-304-7063. Map.Very Casual.AE DC DS MC V Website ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS The dining room looks as much like a junkyard as a restaurant, the brick walls painted with with wildly colorful graffiti, while an old truck sits in the middle of everything, as if to challenge its presence. “Mexican Urban Kitchen,” it calls itself, then dares us to grab a shot of one of the dozen mezcals in the bar. (Mezcal, you probably know, is related to tequila but…

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Santa Fe: 3201 Esplanade Ave. 504-948-0077.

Grab some chips and dig into the superb and offbeat salsa (it has a slightly smoky flavor). It’s good enough that you will go for a second ration, for which you will have to pay extra–but probably without complaint. Margaritas and guacamole are excellent in their turns. After that, pretend you’re in a gourmet bistro. Time for mussels, calamari, steaks, racks of lamb, big flanks of fish, and no small number of other specialties that might not remind you of anything Mexican. But so what? We let Italian and French restaurants get away with that. So why not Creole-Mexican? More to come. . .[divider type=""]

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Mizado Cocina. Mid-City: 5080 Pontchartrain Blvd. 504-885-5555.

What restaurant owners and customers mean when they say an ethnic restaurant is “authentic” is that it’s different from those obviously Americanized restaurants purporting to be, in the present case, real Mexican. But being different from a hybrid doesn’t bestow full-bloodedness on a restaurant. There are many ways in which a kitchen can be inauthentic. Mizado is a great example of this. Its menu is as far removed from the standard Ameri-Mexican cantina as Creole food is from southern eats. But it’s not especially Mexican (where are the orange fat, cactus pads, and molé?). It is, however, a lot like. . . Full Review. . .

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La Carreta. Mandeville: 1200 W. Causeway Approach. 985-624-2990.

La Carreta Mandeville: 1200 W Causeway Approach. 985-624-2990. Map. Covington: 812 Hyw 190, 985-400-5202. Map. Casual. AE DC DS MC V Website WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The best of the American-style Mexican restaurants around the area, La Carreta is the Mandeville location of a Hammond-based chain. Its menus have kept pace with the news dishes introduced by the many small Mexican cafes that have opened in the past few years. La Carreta has been quick to pick up on the best of those and prepare them credibly, in a mainstream restaurant…

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Felipe’s Taqueria. Mid-City: 411 N. Carrollton Ave. 504-309-2776.

Felipe’s Taqueria Mid-City: 411 N. Carrollton Ave.. 504-309-2776. Map.Very Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Taqueria-style Mexican cafes were waiting to happen in New Orleans. It’s odd that the hurricane triggered their proliferation around the city. Felipe’s straddled the divide between the Americanized Tex-Mex restaurants we always had here and the true Mexican taqueria. The latter is to Mexico what the hamburger stand is to America. It certainly has a fast-food aspect, but stops well short of becoming Taco Bell. WHAT’S GOOD Felipe’s deceptively small menu offers more…

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La Carreta. Covington: 812 Hyw 190. 985-400-5202.

La Carreta Covington: 812 Hyw 190. 985-400-5202. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The best of the American-style Mexican restaurants in the area, La Carreta is the Mandeville location of a small Louisiana chain. Its menus have kept pace with the opening of many small Mexican cafes around the New Orleans area in the past few years. Most of those introduced dishes not before seen in this area. La Carreta has been quick to pick up on the best of those and prepare them credibly, in a mainstream…

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Taqueria La Noria. Mandeville: 1931 LA 59. 985-727-7917.
Latin American & Caribbean

Taqueria La Noria. Mandeville: 1931 LA 59. 985-727-7917.

Taqueria La Noria Mandeville: 1931 LA 59. 985-727-7917. Map.Casual.AE DS MC V WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The North Shore is saturated with standard American-style Mexican restaurants, a few of which are even good enough to make a Houstonian happy. But for those who want a taste of what they really eat in Mexico, La Noria is the best on that side of the lake. The place is charmingly rustic and the food good. WHAT’S GOOD The food here is what most New Orleans people would call “authentic,” which is to say…

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Sun Ray Grill. Warehouse District: 1051 Annunciation. 504-566-0021.
Caribbean

Sun Ray Grill. Warehouse District: 1051 Annunciation. 504-566-0021.

Sun Ray Grill Warehouse District & Center City: 1051 Annunciation. 504-566-0021. Map.CasualAE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The Sun Ray has a history of placing its moderate-price restaurants in neighborhoods where such restaurants are not to be found. So they become popular. The menus have a self-conscious international aspect–mostly quasi-Asian and semi-Mexican–with an underpinning of New Orleans flavor. They refer to it generically as “beach cuisine”–the kind of food you’d find in a place that has beaches. It sounds appealing, and often is. WHAT’S GOOD The Sun Ray’s…

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Santa Fe. Esplanade Ridge: 3201 Esplanade Ave. 504-948-0077.
Latin American & Caribbean

Santa Fe. Esplanade Ridge: 3201 Esplanade Ave. 504-948-0077.

Santa Fe Esplanade Ridge: 3201 Esplanade Ave. 504-948-0077. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Santa Fe never was and still isn’t a lot like other Mexican restaurants around town. How could it be, with a German founder? Although you can get a Dos XX, a basket of chips and salsa, and a platter of enchiladas, tamales, and tacos, that strategy will leave all the best food here unordered. The collection of chef’s entrees and the daily specials reveal a gourmet-level bistro with a Mexican flavor. WHAT’S GOOD Start…

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Canal Street Bistro. Mid-City: 3903 Canal St. 504-482-1225.
Eclectic

Canal Street Bistro. Mid-City: 3903 Canal St. 504-482-1225.

Canal Street Bistro Mid-City: 3903 Canal St. 504-482-1225. Map.Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Anyone who’s visited Mexico City knows that the cooking there goes far beyond the peasant fare that most Americans associate with that ancient, rich, unique culinary heritage. Mexico City-born, classically-trained Chef Guillermo Peters is one of very few local chefs who cooks that way for all its worth, with great fresh ingredients and advanced techniques. That food dominates dinner. The rest of the time, the Canal Street Bistro competes with neighbors like Katie’s, Mandina’s, and…

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George’s. Mandeville: 1461 N Causeway Blvd. 504-626-4342.
Latin American & Caribbean

George’s. Mandeville: 1461 N Causeway Blvd. 504-626-4342.

George’s Mandeville: 1461 N Causeway Blvd. 504-626-4342. Map.CasualAE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY In the decade before taquerias came to the New Orleans area after Katrina, the North Shore had a better Mexican restaurant community than the South Shore did. Amplifying the standard American Tex-Mex menu, a number of family-run Mexican cafes happily piled their ground beef, melted cheese, tomato sauces, beans and rice onto platters that were as good as they were large. George’s was (and still is) one of the two or three best of these….

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Boswell’s Jamaican Grill. Mid-City: 3521 Tulane Ave. 504-482-6600.
Caribbean

Boswell’s Jamaican Grill. Mid-City: 3521 Tulane Ave. 504-482-6600.

Boswell’s Jamaican Grill Mid-City: 3521 Tulane Ave. 504-482-6600. Map.Very CasualDS MC V WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY A storefront in a commercial neighborhood that has seen better times, Boswell’s is a clean, pleasant cafe serving the everyday food of Jamaica. Although the names of Jamaican dishes seem unfamiliar, the cooking of this island nation resembles other Creole cuisines–including our own. You’ll hear the restaurant’s many fans say it’s “authentic,” but the meats and fish cooked here are much better than those in Jamaica. WHAT’S GOOD Jerk pork and chicken–Jamaican barbecue–is the menu…

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Panchita’s. Riverbend: 1434 S Carrollton Ave. 504-281-4127.
Mexican

Panchita’s. Riverbend: 1434 S Carrollton Ave. 504-281-4127.

Panchita’s Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 1434 S Carrollton Ave. 504-281-4127. Map.Casual.AE DS MC V WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Panchita’s was the first restaurant that convinced me that the state of Mexican restaurant cookery in New Orleans might actually get a boost from all the Hispanic people who came here to work after the hurricane. Family run and modest, it nevertheless has a good sense not only of what tastes good, but what might appeal to the adventuresome local palate. WHAT’S GOOD Panchita’s got my attention with just one dish:…

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El Gato Negro. Lakeview: 300 Harrison Ave. 504-488-0107.
Mexican

El Gato Negro. Lakeview: 300 Harrison Ave. 504-488-0107.

El Gato Negro Lakeview: 300 Harrison Ave. 504-488-0107. Map.Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY In the center of the new restaurant row next to the French Market, El Gato Negro opened its first location in 2007. From day one, it purveyed a menu that its fans–especially those who have never been to Mexico–call “authentic.” What they really mean is “not Tex-Mex.”) In late 2011, a second location in Lakeview opened, adding to the fat pickings already on Harrison Avenue. WHAT’S GOOD The menu includes a minimum of combo platters,…

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Rum House. Uptown: 3128 Magazine. 504-941-7560.
Caribbean

Rum House. Uptown: 3128 Magazine. 504-941-7560.

Rum House Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 3128 Magazine. 504-941-7560. Map.Very Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Everybody knows Mexican food, but the market has filled up with chains. This triggered the rise of a related but different style of Latin American cooking, usually described as Caribbean. However, the menu at the Rum House–a great example of the new genre–is enough like Mexican that people feel comfortable about it. The restaurant is also free of imperatives to do anything authentic (whatever that means). The flavors of Jamaica and…

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El Mesquite Mexican Grill. Gretna: 516 Gretna Blvd. 504-367-1022.
Mexican

El Mesquite Mexican Grill. Gretna: 516 Gretna Blvd. 504-367-1022.

El Mesquite Mexican Grill Gretna: 516 Gretna Blvd. 504-367-1022. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY In a time when most new Mexican restaurants are very modest, El Mesquite will put you in the mid of the kind of Tex-Mex restaurants in that big parish west of the Sabine River. While the cooking here is a bit Americanized, it is much less so than most of the city’s other Mexican places, and certainly more appealing than the Mexican chains. The menu offers tremendous variety, and not just by filling…

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Mi Casa. Covington: 109 Crestwood Blvd . 985-892-8969.
Mexican

Mi Casa. Covington: 109 Crestwood Blvd . 985-892-8969.

Mi Casa Covington: 109 Crestwood Blvd . 985-892-8969. Map.Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The North Shore has surplus capacity in its Mexican restaurants, but new ones keep opening anyway. This is one of the better newcomers, with food good enough that even its hard-to-see location doesn’t deter customers. It’s a standard Tex-Mex menu, but turned out well. WHAT’S GOOD The food is flavorful and fresh, and the presentations clean and appetizing. Of course, they give you too much food. Prices are very low. BACKSTORY Mi Casa took over…

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Liborio. CBD: 321 Magazine. 504-581-9680.
Caribbean

Liborio. CBD: 321 Magazine. 504-581-9680.

Liborio CBD: 321 Magazine. 504-581-9680. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Cuban friends all say the same thing about Liborio: it’s good, but not as good as the Cuban food their grandmothers make. To those of us without that resource, Liborio has been a good place to remember for decades. It cooks all the Cuban specialties, along with a scattering of Mexican and Spanish dishes. Some straightforward grilled items are here for those hesitant to try unfamiliar cuisines. WHAT’S GOOD Liborio is frequented mainly by people who work…

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Felipe’s Taqueria. French Quarter: 301 N Peters. 504-267-4406 .
Mexican

Felipe’s Taqueria. French Quarter: 301 N Peters. 504-267-4406 .

Felipe’s Taqueria French Quarter: 301 N Peters. 504-267-4406. Map.Very Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Taqueria-style Mexican cafes were waiting to happen in New Orleans. It’s odd that the hurricane triggered their proliferation around the city. Felipe’s straddled the divide between the Americanized Tex-Mex restaurants we always had here and the true Mexican taqueria. The latter is to Mexico what the hamburger stand is to America. It certainly has a fast-food aspect, but stops well short of becoming Taco Bell. WHAT’S GOOD Felipe’s deceptively small menu offers more…

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Taqueria Corona. Uptown: 5932 Magazine St.. 504-897-3974.
Mexican

Taqueria Corona. Uptown: 5932 Magazine St.. 504-897-3974.

Taqueria Corona Uptown 3: Napoleon To Audubon: 5932 Magazine St. 504-897-3974. Map.Casual.AE MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Like all ethnic restaurants, Taqueria Corona has drifted in the direction of American tastes over the two decades it’s been around. But its food remains much more like that of the interior of Mexico than in most other Mexican restaurants. It was the first true taqueria here, with a menu and cooking style that was very exciting back then. Now other taquerias riddle the market, but the TC–particularly the Magazine Street original–still stands…

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Taqueria Corona. Harahan: 1827 Hickory Ave. 504-738-6722.
Mexican

Taqueria Corona. Harahan: 1827 Hickory Ave. 504-738-6722.

Taqueria Corona Harahan: 1827 Hickory Ave. 504-738-6722. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Like all ethnic restaurants, Taqueria Corona has drifted in the direction of American tastes over the two decades it’s been around. But its food remains much more like that of the interior of Mexico than in most other Mexican restaurants. It was the first true taqueria here, with a menu and cooking style that was very exciting back then. Now other taquerias riddle the market, but the TC–particularly the Magazine Street original–still stands out. WHAT’S…

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Taqueria Corona. Metairie: 3535 Severn. 504-885-5088.
Mexican

Taqueria Corona. Metairie: 3535 Severn. 504-885-5088.

Taqueria Corona Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 3535 Severn. 504-885-5088. Map.Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Like all ethnic restaurants, Taqueria Corona has drifted in the direction of American tastes over the two decades it’s been around. But its food remains much more like that of the interior of Mexico than in most other Mexican restaurants. It was the first true taqueria here, with a menu and cooking style that was very exciting back then. Now other taquerias riddle the market, but the TC–particularly the Magazine…

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La Fiesta. Gretna: 1412 Stumpf Blvd. 504-361-9142.
Mexican

La Fiesta. Gretna: 1412 Stumpf Blvd. 504-361-9142.

La Fiesta Gretna: 1412 Stumpf Blvd. 504-361-9142. Map.Very CasualMC V WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY This is what Mexican restaurants in New Orleans were like before the Americanized chains took over and made even family-run Mexican places seem plastic. Eating at La Fiesta–which I have done about every three years since my first review of it in 1977–is like entering a time machine. We have come a long way. The menu is dominated by combo platters of mainstream Tex-Mex dishes, prepared in a very plain style. A few new, very Mexican dishes…

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Juan’s Flying Burrito. Mid-City: 4724 S. Carrollton Ave.. 504-486-9950.
Mexican

Juan’s Flying Burrito. Mid-City: 4724 S. Carrollton Ave.. 504-486-9950.

Juan’s Flying Burrito Mid-City: 4724 S Carrollton Ave. 504-486-9950. Map.Very CasualAE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY It’s a Mexican cafe that glories in its eccentricities, both in the cooking and the service. While the base of the menu is Tex-Mex, you find flavors from all over the Hispanic spectrum, with an especially good taste of the Southwestern burrito shop. (The restaurant’s own description of what it does is “Creole taqueria.”) Clearly aimed at a twenty-something crowd that wants to eat inexpensively and amply but reasonably well. WHAT’S GOOD The…

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Juan’s Flying Burrito. Garden District: 2018 Magazine. 504-569-0000.
Mexican

Juan’s Flying Burrito. Garden District: 2018 Magazine. 504-569-0000.

Juan’s Flying Burrito Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 2018 Magazine. 504-569-0000. Map.Very CasualAE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY It’s a Mexican cafe that glories in its eccentricities, both in the cooking and the service. While the base of the menu is Tex-Mex, you find flavors from all over the Hispanic spectrum, with an especially good taste of the Southwestern burrito shop. (The restaurant’s own description of what it does is “Creole taqueria.”) Clearly aimed at a twenty-something crowd that wants to eat inexpensively and amply but reasonably well….

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Felipe’s Taqueria. Broadmoor: 6215 S Miro. 504-309-2776.
Mexican

Felipe’s Taqueria. Broadmoor: 6215 S Miro. 504-309-2776.

Felipe’s Taqueria Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 6215 S Miro. 504-309-2776. Map.Very Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Taqueria-style Mexican cafes were waiting to happen in New Orleans. It’s odd that the hurricane triggered their proliferation around the city. Felipe’s straddled the divide between the Americanized Tex-Mex restaurants we always had here and the true Mexican taqueria. The latter is to Mexico what the hamburger stand is to America. It certainly has a fast-food aspect, but stops well short of becoming Taco Bell. WHAT’S GOOD Felipe’s deceptively…

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El Gato Negro. French Quarter: 81 French Market Place. 504-525-9752.
Mexican

El Gato Negro. French Quarter: 81 French Market Place. 504-525-9752.

El Gato Negro French Quarter: 81 French Market Place. 504-525-9752. Map.Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY In the center of the new restaurant row next to the French Market, El Gato Negro opened its first location in 2007. From day one, it purveyed a menu that its fans–especially those who have never been to Mexico–call “authentic.” What they really mean is “not Tex-Mex.”) In late 2011, a second location in Lakeview opened, adding to the fat pickings already on Harrison Avenue. WHAT’S GOOD The menu includes a minimum of…

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Casa Garcia. Metairie: 8814 Veterans Blvd.. 504-464-0354.
Mexican

Casa Garcia. Metairie: 8814 Veterans Blvd.. 504-464-0354.

Casa Garcia Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 8814 Veterans Blvd. 504-464-0354. Map.Casual.AE DC MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Before the influx of the more ethnic Mexican restaurants that arrived here in the past few years, this was about as close as we came to the real deal. The menu is based on a collection of family recipes, but it’s highly Americanized, with all the dishes made popular in the chains here as well as the home-grown eats. A Mexican place with spinach-artichoke dip? Please. WHAT’S GOOD The kitchen…

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Blue Tomato. Jefferson: 4401 Jefferson Hwy. 504-734-3000.
Mexican

Blue Tomato. Jefferson: 4401 Jefferson Hwy. 504-734-3000.

Blue Tomato Jefferson: 4401 Jefferson Hwy. 504-734-3000. Map.Casual.AE DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY A colorful, pleasantly grubby, small cafe serving Americanized Mexican food and a good bit of Italian and New Orleans cooking, too. The Blue Tomato has a strong following among people who live and work in Old Jefferson and Elmwood. It’s more about low prices and big portions than excellence–but those criteria draw big crowds. WHAT’S GOOD If what you want is an enormous platter of nachos covered with everything but the kitchen sink, slabs of grilled…

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Country Flame. French Quarter: 620 Iberville. 504-522-1138.
Barbecue

Country Flame. French Quarter: 620 Iberville. 504-522-1138.

Country Flame French Quarter: 620 Iberville. 504-522-1138. Map.Very Casual.AE MC V WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The name and the look of the place both suggest that this is a barbecue joint. It is, but the menu is primarily Cuban, with enough Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes that those looking for any variety of taco will be satisfied. So will those whose palate finds more to like when the price is low. WHAT’S GOOD The cooking is reasonably decent, but well short of the genius that its most enthusiastic fans accord it. The…

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Pupuseria La Macarena. Riverbend: 8120 Hampson. 504-862-5252.
Central American

Pupuseria La Macarena. Riverbend: 8120 Hampson. 504-862-5252.

Pupuseria La Macarena Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 8120 Hampson. 504-862-5252. Map.Casual.Cash only. WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY Of all the little Latin American cafes that have opened since the hurricane, this is the most interesting. The owners are clearly on the ball–maybe to the point of selling their food a little too enthusiastically. La Macarena’s menu is primarily made up of the food of El Salvador, centering on pupusas–grilled, stuffed tortillas, the national dish of El Salvador. The rest of the menu is widely varied, and will take even a…

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Mayas. Garden District: 2027 Magazine. 504-309-3401.
Central American

Mayas. Garden District: 2027 Magazine. 504-309-3401.

Mayas Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 2027 Magazine. 504-309-3401. Map.Nice Casual.AE DC DS MC VWebsite WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY The corner of the world formed by the intersection of Central and South America has a unique cuisine, and Mayas explores it well. The menu’s clear reference to Mexican cooking is misleading. In fact, the Mexican dishes are in the minority here, with the food of Panama, Columbia, and the Caribbean forming the better part of the menu. Dishes from Brazil and other parts of South America appear, usually as specials….

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