Carondelet Cafe
Carondelet Café, located at the Hampton Inn on Carondelet Street, offers a fresh and refreshing alternative to the sometimes-heavy fare of typical New Orleans eateries. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, Carondelet offers a “Classic café menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, plate lunches, pastries and gourmet locally roasted coffees,” says owner Glen Armantrout.

Diners can experience  pastries from Sucré sweet shop, baked potato soup, club sandwiches and fresh salads in a chic dining room with hints of French Provincial design. Outside of the Café, catering orders are available for parties between 20 and 75 people.

Carondelet Café offers “foodservice with a conscience,” hiring graduates of the Café Reconcile program and using recyclable and biodegradable products wherever possible.

“It’s a slice of New Orleans with a coffee chaser,” says Armantrout.
Information, 654-1000, 222 Carondelet St., – Alex Gecan

Mad for Martin’s
Dining Features
In 1946, David Y. Martin opened Martin Wine Cellar on Baronne Street and expanded the business over the years to include five wine cellars, including one with a deli and bistro. (The original Baronne Street location was damaged during Hurricane Katrina but will reopen in 2010.) Today, the deli and bistro is a Metairie hot spot during lunch hour where customers can catch up on gossip, relax in the middle of a workday and enjoy a meal with a glass of wine.

Yolanda Williamson, marketing and special events manager, says it serves a “wide assortment of gourmet delicacies, including special entrees, soups and a quiche of the day, specialty sandwiches, fresh salads, cut-to-order cheese, pâté, smoked salmon and exotic meats.” The clientele is varied, she explains, but the majority of patrons are long-standing customers; some of them have been coming to the restaurant since they were children. “We get families, friends hanging out and business people,” says Williamson. 

With its combination of food (executive chefs are David Bockstruck and Mark Majorie), management (owner is Cedric Marin, general manager is Sophie Wegmann and bistro/deli and catering manager is Gena Gilberti), Martin Wine Cellar has a bright and warm feeling to it. “It’s open, airy and relaxed,” says Williamson.

Information, 894-7408 (daily special hotline), 714 Elmeer Ave., Metairie; – Sarah Ravits

La Macarena at Riverbend
Dining Features
La Macarena, which dishes out Latin American and Spanish cuisine, opened in Kenner in 2003, prior to the “stampede of Mexican taquerias that converged in the suburbs and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” says operating manager Manny Ocho y Galvez. The restaurant quickly drew a loyal fan base; residents of the French Quarter, Mid-City and Uptown dined on pupusas, carne asada (with filet mignon), yucca frita con chicharron and a variety of homemade tropical teas and juices.

The restaurant then packed up and moved to Metairie with an expanded location and this month, another location will open Uptown in the Riverbend, “Until now, Latin food foodies had to make pilgrimages to suburbia to get the tasty Mayan treats!” says Galvez. Family-owned and operated, La Macarena attracts a broad clientele, including families with small children. (“Children crave our refried beans and sweet plantains,” says Galvez.) Galvez believes that the quality, originality and presentation of the food separates the restaurant from the rest. He adds that lunch specials are available during the weekdays and a takeout menu is also available for nearby students.

Information, 8120 Hampson St., 578-5000. – Sarah Ravits