Restaurant Insider

Fiesta Latina now has three locations in New Orleans, the newest being 133 N. Carrollton Ave., near Canal Street, which opened about six months ago. Fiesta Latina’s menu at the new location tends towards food that’s more familiar to those of us who grew up eating at Cuco’s – nachos, fajitas and burritos, for example – but there are a few items on the menu that tell you the kitchen is capable of more “authentic” fare, such as the whole fried fish the Costillas Asadas, the grilled beef short ribs cut “flanken” style and a sweet corn tamale, served with mild cheese and crema. While I didn’t find the food at Fiesta Latina’s new location to be quite as “authentic” as the menu at nearby Taqueria Guerrero Mexico, it’s certainly much more approachable for those unfamiliar with the diverse cuisines of Mexico and Central America. Contact them at 454-0590.

The Concept at Dress It, in the Omni Hotel (535 Gravier St. at Camp Street), is simple: You pick from several basic sandwich options, such as hamburger, grilled chicken, pulled pork, veggie burger or smoked sausage, then choose cheese, a host of toppings, bread and sides. The sandwiches I’ve had, which included a cheeseburger and a grilled fish on French bread, were excellent. The same approach is true for the restaurant’s breakfast menu, though there’s also a buffet available. There are daily specials, and red beans and rice with sausage is served as a side all week, which is good news for anyone craving the dish on a day other than Monday. At dinner, the restaurant also serves specials in addition to the sandwiches, such as jambalaya, pasta dishes and Shrimp & Grits. Dress It has a full bar, and serves a number of Abita beers on tap. Call them at 527-0006.

Not long after Hurricane Katrina, comedian Carlos Mencia gained infamy after telling some jokes that many locals found offensive. Personally, I was more offended by the fact that Mencia has never been particularly funny, but that’s a matter of taste. His restaurant, Suave (200 Magazine St.) has been open for almost a year in the space formerly occupied by Huey’s Diner. Suave focuses on Mexican food, but includes a few items from beyond the borders of our neighbors to the South, including Venezuelan meat pies, Columbian arepas (think smaller, thicker pupusas) and a Cuban Sandwich. There is a lunch special that allows you to choose one entrée and two sides for $7, or two of each for $9. It is a pretty good deal, even if the food doesn’t quite meet the standards we’ve come to expect of Latin food post-Katrina.

Just up Camp Street from Dress It, the most ambitious restaurant to open in months is set to debut. Le Foret (129 Camp St. at Common Street) occupies what looks to be a beautiful renovation of a building that dates to the 19th century. With three floors of dining and banquet rooms, there should be plenty of room for Chef Jimmy Corwell, left, to present what I’m told will be a largely French menu utilizing many local products. Danny Millan, whom you may recognize if you ever dined at John Besh’s Restaurant August, will be the general manager. The restaurant, as of now, doesn’t have a phone number, but expect to hear more about it in a future column.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail Peyton: rdpeyton@gmail.com.

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Reader Comments:
Nov 20, 2009 02:50 pm
 Posted by  spidernola

I visited La Foret this week and was entirely impressed. La Foret is to dining what Disney is to youth entertainment. La Foret truly understands the importance of the dining experience. This may very well be the best restaurant in the city. Worth twice what I paid. It is still on my mind several days after the event. If you want to make an impression on a loved one or a client, this is the place to go. I can't wait until they open up for lunch!

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