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Where Y’Eat: A West Bank Flea Market for Latin American Food Finds

A selection of dishes at Nawlins Market, a flea market with many Latin American food vendors.
Ian McNulty
A selection of dishes at Nawlins Market, a flea market with many Latin American food vendors.

Before ordering anything at Nawlins Market, we did some serious window shopping. I mean that quite literally.

This is a West Bank flea market with an open-air pavilion turned into an arcade of pint-sized eateries, mostly with home-style Latin American food; we walked the length of it one hot July afternoon, peering through the windows of each to preview the dishes they were sending out to their respective customers.

Nawlins Market is in a one-time self-storage facility that sits well hidden just off the Westbank Expressway. It’s open only on weekend and yes, this Nawlins is indeed spelled with a W.

It’s one of two such flea markets on the West Bank; the other found in Algiers. But this one in Harvey functions more purely as a food destination.

We watched families gather at the kind of homey dining room tables you find at thrift stores, digging into spreads of Honduran pupusas and Mexican seafood soups in bowls the size of helmets.

But it was the stand called Curramba la Bella that drew us in for Colombian food.

I met its chef at this market years ago, when her stand was called Golden Gate Bistro. Later, she turned this into a restaurant in New Orleans. It closed in the pandemic, but now she’s back at the flea market.

She serves arepas, empanadas and the patacon, which is like a massive family-sized sandwich with a buffet worth of grilled meats, all housed between fried planks of plantain the size of palm fronds.

The trouble with me window shopping, however, is that eventually I want to try it all. So we couldn’t leave without visiting a stand called El Recoqueo DR.

The DR is for the Dominican Republic and soon we were sampling mofongo, a mash of plantains with crispy chicharrons, and mondongo, a tripe soup renowned for its restorative abilities after a night on the town.

We ended with leftovers by the armful, and a conviction to keep exploring this tour of Latin flavor right in our own backyard.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.