These restaurants are bringing flavors of Africa and the Caribbean to New Orleans
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- Published on February 20, 2023
- Last Updated May 15, 2023
- In Places
The New York Times recently highlighted chefs who are infusing Black history into a ‘whitewashed’ culinary landscape. Here are their restaurants.
The power and appeal of good food go far beyond a dish’s ingredients, spices and flavor profiles. Some of the most memorable meals have a story behind them, rooted in history and culture. The New York Times recently highlighted New Orleans-based chefs who are educating its patrons about Black culture by way of diverse cuisines originating in places from Honduras to Ethiopia. Whether you are in town for Mardi Gras or just happen to be on vacation, these New Orleans-based restaurants, are great choices for your next food exploration.
Dooky Chase is a family-owned and operated restaurant that’s been around since 1941. Located in the Treme neighborhood, Dooky Chase was a gathering place for civil rights leaders like Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr. to discuss issues that were impacting the Black community. Today, the historical restaurant continues to serve locals and tourists who crave the Creole cuisine and New Orleans classics that it’s known for. You can head over to Dooky’s during their rotating lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.You can also stop by at dinner to place an order of the Shrimp Clemenceau, which features tender shrimp tossed in a garlicky butter and combined with garden peas, potatoes and mushrooms.
The tasting menu at Dakar NOLA is inspired by Chef Serigine Mbaye’s childhood memories of Senegal. Mbaye’s creations showcase fresh seafood and produce from farmers in Southern Louisiana. Dinners at the modern Senegalese restaurant feature multiple courses, including the first dish served called “Last Meal.” It’s a soup featuring black-eyed peas, crispy rice and blue crab. According to the Times, it’s inspired by a Senegalese dish called “ndambe.” A variation of the dish was fed to enslaved Africans before being sent to the U.S. “I’ve seen people cry plenty of times when talking to me about the black-eyed pea soup,” Mbaye recalled to writer Brett Anderson. “We need to let people know where the food came from. The story isn’t always going to be pleasant.”
Queen Trini Lisa, named after chef and owner Lisa Nelson, is bringing island flavors and flair to NOLA. Nelson, who is a Trinidad and Tobago native, combines Caribbean, African, East Indian and Asian cultures and flavors to Queen Trini Lisa’s menu. Some menu highlights include curry chicken, rice and peas made with coconut milk, and her award-winning BBQ jerk chicken.
At Fritai, chef and co-owner Charly Pierre is paying homage to his Haitian roots. Fritai’s menu has familiar dishes like mac and cheese, chicken wings and Caeser salad, but Pierre elevates these offerings by infusing them with flavors of his family’s lineage and fine dining skills. The mac and cheese is made au gratin-style, with cheddar and parmesan cheeses, as well as sweet and succulent blue crab. The wings are marinated in Haitian epis, which is a seasoning blend of peppers, garlic and herbs, and tossed in your choice of sauces like Creole hot and passionfruit BBQ. Fratai’s take on a Caesar salad dressing swaps anchovies for smoked herring, or Aranso. Other mouth-watering options at the street food joint include a whole fish that is first marinated in epis and fried, as well as Pierre’s rendition of shrimp creole which introduces green plantain and pilkiz – a Haitian pickled vegetable condiment – to the classic Louisiana staple.
Addis is one of two Ethiopian restaurants in Louisiana, making it a unique offering to the food culture of the state. According to their website, this family-owned eatery “was created as a way to connect New Orleans and the diaspora to the land of origin, Ethiopia.” The restaurant’s namesake is Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Abada, which translates to “new flower.” Addis has options for everyone from meat lovers to vegetarians. Some of the menu highlights include their all-vegan veggie combo plate, which comes with red lentils, yellow split peas, collard greens and more, as well as juicy ribeye tips that are sauteed with onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and herby butter. While you’re there, consider getting the complete eating experience by ditching a fork and eating your meal with injera, a sourdough flatbread that’s used to transport the tasty offerings from your plate to your mouth!
Compère Lapin’s philosophy says it all: “Meals aren’t about trends, shock value, or opulence. Meals are about moments, memories and those who surround you at your table.” Chef Nina Compton, who hails from St. Lucia, pairs her Caribbean and New Orleans influences with her classical French culinary training to present simple, elegant offerings, yet flavorful and nostalgic. Enjoy carefully crafted meals like fried chicken or Jamaican brown stew with the ones you love, and fall in love with the food and the stories behind it.
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