French Quarter: 620 Iberville. 504-522-1138. Map.
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.
The cooking is reasonably decent, but well short of the genius that its most enthusiastic fans accord it. The best dishes are the long-cooked meats like ropa vieja, the sandwiches, and the grilled steaks and chops. But even these need a “for the price” qualifier.
The Country Flame opened in the late 1980s looking like a back-door operation of Mena’s Palace, which was adjacent in those days. (It wasn’t.) It got a lot of its trade from Mena’s overflow, and those looking for a plate of barbecue ribs. As Cuban and interior Mexican food became more popular, the Country Flame found more adherents for that side of its menu, which dominates the action now.
Those who insist that Latin American food can’t possibly be authentic or good unless it’s served in a worn-out old place with mismatched silverware and marginal tidiness will love this cramped little spot.
Ropa vieja (shredded beef stew).
Steaks, Cuban style and otherwise.
FOR BEST RESULTS
Avoid arriving at noon, when the tables can fill up.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
A major cleanup and renovation would take this restaurant far.
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 -3
- Consistency +1
- Value +2
- Wine & Bar
- Local Color +1
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- No reservations