When we talk about diversity in New Orleans restaurants, it usually means minority representation, or to put it plainly, with black-owned restaurants.
Recently, though, I found a refreshing dose of diversity even within the ranks of black restaurants in New Orleans, diversity in different flavors and different ways to get started in the business.
While the Essence festival was going on last week, a separate event was rolling called Black Restaurant Week, featuring a small circuit of newer, sometimes lesser-known black owned restaurants around town. I knew most of them, but not all, and I wanted to fix that.
To be clear, I think the city needs more black restaurants, especially from younger generations. We more of their perspectives and voices in the New Orleans dining scene.
My outings brought me to Café Porche & Snobar, a cute-as-pie eatery in Central City that serves breakfast and lunch, and then opens it own cottage-shaped sno-ball stand in the afternoons.
Next up, I found Beaucoup Eats at the back of a supermarket in the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood, operating like a permanent pop-up back by the deli.
The Beaucoup Eats crawfish bread resembles a French bread pizza built on a po-boy loaf, the pasta jambalaya had char flavor from the grill, and fresh bursts of grape tomatoes. There was even scratch made mango lemonade.
Then there’s Pra_LEES which shares a roof with the Stop Jockin sno-ball stand in Gentilly. Praline cakes are a specialty, but it was the crab fried rice topped with a grilled lobster tail that got my attention. Pra_LEES is tiny, barely more than a walk-up take-out joint. But when you walk in expecting fried shrimp and walk out with grilled lobster instead, that's a big first impression.
Visiting each of these places scratched an itch for different, original food. But when I thought about what’s possible from a more diverse New Orleans dining scene, it also felt like just scratching the surface.
1625 Baronne St., 504-930-4249
3911 Washington Ave., 504-267-1200
3600 St. Bernard Ave., 504-478-6868