The name Messina has been a local institution since the Sixties, when Andy Messina opened near the airport in Kenner. For decades this little Italian restaurant served the local community with delicious Italian food in the restaurant, or, out of the restaurant, as caterers.
With the explosion of restaurants since then, the Messina family closed the restaurant in Kenner and focused on events, particularly weddings, still offering an updated version of the food that made them a culinary legend in Kenner.
This wedding business led them to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, and soon Messina’s Runway Cafe opened, serving breakfast. It was a little out of the way for breakfast, particularly for the old customers from Kenner, but here was a unique experience. And a trip back in time.
The Lakefront Airport was barely used as an airport before Moisant Field in Kenner became the official New Orleans Airport in the Forties. But Lakefront airport has stayed alive as a home to private planes. It’s like walking into a time warp there. It even smells like the Forties. That’s not a bad thing. It’s fascinating, and utterly unique. So much so that the owners of Messina’s Runway Cafe kept it intact when they opened the Cafe.
As you walk into the airport, the little coffee shop with the vinyl swiveling bar stools conjures up images of what it must have been like when air travel began. It’s a small place, so most of the activity for Messina’s Runway Cafe takes place around the corner to the left. Follow the hallway to the back room with the windows. It too is a smallish room with little tables and white table cloths.
The menu is really basic, with a few surprises. You can have the eggs-any-style option with an unusual selection of breakfast meats. Andouille sausage and chorizo, plus the usual ham and bacon. And chicken sausage. Omelets are a Build-Your-Own program, with eggs and cheese at $9.50 and anything else $1 each. Shrimp and crab are plus $6 each, and breakfast meats plus $2. Egg whites $3 more.
Specials are Steak and Eggs or Shrimp and Grits, and proving they can keep up with the times, a breakfast sandwich at $10. It features eggs and a choice of breakfast meat on toast or an English Muffin or biscuit, with a side of Brabant potatoes.
There is a stack of three pancakes called the Runway Classic. These are quite simply ordinary pancakes.
It was all pretty ordinary, and not in a bad way. I got the eggs over easy with bacon and a biscuit, though I did not have their signature sweet potato biscuit this time. It is good though. I had it once before. This plate comes with real Brabant potatoes or cheddar grits. I got the grits.
Service was fine. As was the food. I was there late, so I saw some good-looking lunch plates.
Messina’s Runway Cafe is a good place to go if you are in the general environs, or are looking to have a really basic breakfast in unusual surroundings. On a nice day, you can watch planes take off and imagine the days of early air travel.
None of this is brilliant, but it is pleasant enough.
Messina’s Runway Cafe
6001 Stars And Stripes Blvd New Orleans