Which is the better story: the food in this insanely inexpensive, sparkling center-city cafe? Or its lofty reason for being? Cafe Reconcile is an excellent neighborhood cafe, with a menu of Creole home-style dishes, prepared under the guidance of major restaurant professionals. But the people who work there are young people whose lives are at risk for a host of reasons, ranging from absent parents to crime. They receive training from the staff pros, after which they can easily find a well-paying jobs in the restaurant industry.
The Cafe is one of several enterprises under the aegis of the non-profit LSF Foundation, founded in 1996 by the Father Harry Tompson, S.J., the most inspiring Jesuit I ever met in a lifetime of being inspired by Jesuits. The foundations mission is to lift undereducated, underskilled people into careers that would keep their lives productive. Over the years, the restaurant industry--notably Chef Emeril Lagasse and the Brennans--has given deep support to Cafe Reconcile. It has resulted not only in a very successful social program, but seriously good food. The cafe is about to build a major addition to its facility as it continues on its dynamic mission.
It's on large room in a late-1800s building in the old Dryades Street commercial district. Tiled floors, high ceilings, and an excellent renovation some years ago make the restaurant a very pleasant place to take lunch. You never know who you're going to run into here. Politicians make particularly frequent appearances.
The neighborhood is unfamiliar to most diners, but fear not. It's well patrolled, and parking is easy on the street nearby.