Pupuseria La Macarena
Uptown 4: Riverbend, Carrollton & Broadmoor: 8120 Hampson. 504-862-5252. Map.
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 large tablefull of diners several visits to explore.
The ingredients are of great quality, and the cooking goes beyond merely delicious to end up as artful. The platters are almost too beautiful. Get over the prejudice that a restaurant must be funky to be authentic. Nothing about La Macarena’s menu has been watered down for American consumption. On the other hand, the prices are higher than in most Central American restaurants. Which still leaves them pretty low.
The original, minimal location was in Kenner, opening in 2007. The Riverbend restaurant opened in 2009, and seems to be operated by the young side of the family.
The Riverbend restaurant is small and oddly configured; it looks as if it had been a take-out place before La Macarena moved in. The service is orchestrated by two very enthusiastic young people, who tell you more than you might really want to know about the food and the culture of their homeland. The place has no liquor license, so you may bring in your own wine, beer, or whatever at no corkage fee.
»Tostaditas with beans and cheese or avocado
Olives and heart of palm (cold plate)
»Stuffed corn pies with veggies or chicken
Avocado and tomato salad
»Sweet corn tamale
»Montaditos (canapes) with chorizo, salami, shrimp, meatballs, filet mignon, or shredded beef
Mini-tamales with pulled pork or chicken
Flautas/taquitos de pollo
Shrimp, mushroom and cheese stuffed yuca dumplings
»Pupusas (stuffed, grilled tortillas)
»Black bean soup
»Combination platters of pupusas, enchiladas, tamales, etc.
»Ropa vieja (pulled brisket with beans and rice)
Carne asada (filet mignon)
Mayan roast turkey sandwich
Isabela’s Mayan stewed chicken
Grilled chicken and shrimp platter
Pan seared flounder
»Spanish garlic shrimp
»Tres leches cake
FOR BEST RESULTS
A dinner made entirely of tapas is a very good idea, although the entrees are good, too. A Latin American breakfast is available on Saturdays and Sundays.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The no-credit card policy, despite the whining paragraph on the menu about how much the credit card companies take out, is simply an unwarranted inconvenience for customers. Every other restaurant can handle it–why not this one?
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 +1
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color
- Sidewalk tables
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Easy, nearby parking