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Food & Drink

GoNOLA Guide to Eating in Central City

Heard Dat Kitchen
Visit Heard Dat Kitchen during Black Restaurant Week (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Nestled between the Lower Garden District and New Orleans’ Central Business District is Central City – a cultural arts district known for its deep roots connected to the Civil Rights Movement and Mardi Gras history, including the Mardi Gras Indians. Visit Oretha Castle Haley or Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and you’ll likely stumble upon vibrant murals, the city’s brass bands and, of course, local cuisine.

From BBQ to vegan food, Caribbean to Italian, Central City’s cuisine is a reflection of the neighborhood’s landscape and history. With most restaurants locally-owned and ethnically diverse, dining in Central City makes trying something off the beaten path easy. Let our guide show you some hidden gems within the heart of New Orleans.

Live music at Casa Borrega (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Casa Borrega

1719 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

Specializing in Mexican street food and classics, Casa Borrega offers brunch, lunch, and dinner with flavors inspired by Mexico City, the ancient capital of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan. Staples such as flautas, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and much more can be paired with one of their Central American-inspired cocktails. Stop by on select dates and listen to live Latin music.

Café Roma

1800 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

Café Roma serves pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, and salads. Start your meal off with one of their irresistible Italian starters such as toasted ravioli, meatballs, mozzarella sticks, and more. For the main course, try one of their specialty pizzas or get creative and build your own.

Dryades Public Market (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Dryades Public Market

1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

Continuing the history of public markets in the Central City Corridor, Dryades Public Market is the perfect location for a quick and casual bite in Central City. Both a local grocery market and eatery, Dryades Market is fully equipped with a daily hot food bar serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a full liquor and coffee bar, as well as on-site chefs preparing select specialties.

central city bbq
Central City BBQ (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Central City BBQ

1201 S. Rampart St.

In a city not necessarily known for its BBQ, Central City BBQ stands out. Their combination of traditional and nontraditional menu items keep visitors coming back for the classics as well as something new. Stop in any day for their beloved burnt ends or an array of smoked meats, but keep an eye out for their occasional specialties such as brisket quesadillas, pork wontons, and egg rolls.

Café Reconcile

1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

Café Reconcile aims to change the lives of young adults through the use of culinary arts. In the process, they’ve created a stellar cafe and menu. Their local, soul-food fare includes items such as red beans & rice, stuffed bell peppers, smothered pork chops, peach cobbler, and more delights. Enjoy a hearty meal and dine for a purpose at Café Reconcile.

Enjoy Sangria and Colombian cuisine at Maïs Arepas (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Maïs Arepas

1200 Robert C. Blake Sr. Dr.

Central City meets South America at Maïs Arepas – a casual Colombian eatery known for its over-stuffed arepas, freshly fried plantains, and house-made sauces. Voted best Latin Restaurant by the New Orleans Gambit, Maïs Arepas uses locally-sourced seafood, authentic Latin flavors, and their well-versed culinary team to create delicious Colombian cuisine in New Orleans’ Central City.

Cafe Porche & Snowbar

1625 Baronne St.

Cafe Porche combines two timeless classics you didn’t know needed pairing: hot breakfast and cold snoballs. Doubling as a cafe and snoball stand, Cafe Porche serves simple New Orleans breakfast during the day and snoballs all night long. After enjoying one of their mid-morning specialties such as smothered shrimp & grits, french toast, or omelettes, check out the sno bar for a selection of over 30 flavors and concession snacks.

Heard Dat Kitchen (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Heard Dat Kitchen

2520 Felicity St.

If you’re in New Orleans’ Central City, you have to make a stop by Heard Dat Kitchen for a taste of their local comfort food. Enjoy fried fish, shrimp, and chicken paired alongside macaroni, potato salad, or red beans. Top off your meal with their special Heard Dat Bread Pudding, a New Orleans delicacy, for a savory and sweet meal.

Mariah Hickman is a Minneapolis native who landed in the Crescent City by way of Dillard University, and stayed to feed her festival fever. She loves writing about the hidden stories of New Orleans, and shedding light on diverse and locally-owned businesses. She is a self-proclaimed listicle queen, so get ready to write down a few of her suggestions for food and fun in New Orleans.

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