New Orleans is a city heavily influenced by Hispanic heritage since Spanish rule in 1763 all the way until 1803. Today, you can still see that influence all around the city. Many historic sites, cuisines, and attractions today are thriving – here are 10 notable NOLA Hispanics that you should know.
1. Rocío Mora
Rocío is a New Orleanian Latina, a content creator, and the brains and beauty behind @RisasRizos. Her YouTube channel highlights the importance of embracing naturally curly hair and focuses on proper curl care for multiple generations. Her bilingual platforms have gained rapid recognition and reached more than 100,000 subscribers in the last year. Visit New Orleans and GoNOLA have partnered with Rocío for Hispanic Heritage Month to show New Orleans through her eyes. You can follow along with her as she explores classic NOLA spots and more of her favorite ways to spend time in her hometown here.
2. David Mantilla
Located on the corner of Carondelet and Clio Streets, you’ll find a little slice of Colombia. At Maïs Arepas, owner David Mantilla serves authentic cuisine with a modern twist, finding inspiration in New Orleans. A native of Colombia, Mantilla moved to New Orleans in 2003, bringing a passion for his heritage to his new home. For his first solo restaurant, he built a mouthwatering menu around arepas, a cornmeal cake that is a staple of Colombian cuisine. Grilled and stuffed with flavor, arepas are the perfect canvas for Mantilla’s unique style. Don’t forget to order a Sangria (or two) with your arepas!
3. Chef Phillip Lopez
Chef Phillip Lopez is a native New Orleanian who has owned several modern New Orleans restaurants including: Root, Square Root, Monkey Board, and Petit Lion at the Troubadour Hotel. Adding to his accolades, Lopez was recently named the new executive chef at Galatoire’s. Check out GoNOLA’s 20 questions with Chef Phillip Lopez here.
4. Chef Adolfo Garcia
Chef Adolfo Garcia grew up in New Orleans with Panamanian parents. Garcia took seafood and Creole to a whole new level. His work includes New Orleans restaurants LaBoca, Ancora Pizzeria, and High Hat Café. All of his restaurants are perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a little bit of Latin spice in their dining experience.
5. Mayra Pineda
Mayra Pineda is the President & CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, which is located in New Orleans. The goal of HCCL is to build and help the Hispanic business community grow. It also works with traditional American businesses to help them approach the Hispanic population in the U.S. The HCCL organizes the Hispanic Young Professionals of Louisiana, which connects the growth of young Hispanic professionals through networking, community service, and leadership throughout New Orleans. Visit their website for more information here.
6. AnaMaría Bech
AnaMaría Bech is the Director of VIVA NOLA Magazine, a print and digital variety publication. VIVA NOLA was inspired by the culture of New Orleans and the influence of Spain, Latin America, and the Caribbean. This bilingual magazine strives to include a unique Latino/Hispanic perspective and highlight individuals of Hispanic Heritage who help make New Orleans a great city. This magazine also has the hottest events and where to eat, see, and do from the perspective of a Latino/Hispanic living in New Orleans.
7. Mirian Rodriguez
Mirian Rodriguez, The Pupusa Lady, can be found at Roux Carre with her husband, son, and the rest of her crew. Before Roux Carre, Rodiguez was a ceviche chef with Adolfo Garcia at RioMar restaurant, which is now closed. Rodriguez is Honduran and considers Chef Adolfo Garcia a dear friend, mentor, and inspiration for opening The Pupusa Lady.
@eatenpathnola is a Cuban New Orleans foodie who knows all of the best places to go in New Orleans. On her Instagram account, she shows her followers the latest happenings in New Orleans and that includes Hispanic restaurants. Some of her favorites for a food tour are: meat pies from Norma’s Bakery, traditional Dominican breakfast from Mangu, Vegetarian Chile Relleno from El Pavo Real, Colombian corn from Maïs Arepas, and Mojo Pork on fried plantain from Paloma Café.
The Spanish word “ritmo” means rhythm, and this krewe is bringing it with the first ever Latin Dance Mardi Gras Marching group. The mission of Ritmeaux Krewe is to promote Hispanic/Latino heritage through dance and music. And they’re doing it. You can see the group march in the upcoming Carnaval Latino parade on October 13. You can also catch their rhythm, or try to, every Tuesday at Rock n Bowl’s Latin night.
10. Benoit & Rachel Angulo
Benoit and Rachel Angulo are the owners of La Cocinita, originally a food truck and now inside of the newly-opened Pythian Market. Benoit is from Caracas, Venezuela and met his wife Rachel while working at Commander’s Palace. While both working late one night and disappointed with the absence of late-night food options, Benoit got the idea to open a food truck together. La Cocinita food truck opened in 2011 and the Pythian Market reopened in mid-2017 with La Cocinita inside. Be sure to follow them on Instagram to see where their truck will stop next!