NOLA Nica – Nicaraguan cuisine in the ‘burbs
Kenna (bra)! – NOLA Nica
Full disclosure: I am an “honorary citizen” of the City of Kenner. Goes back to when I ran a Radio Shack out there. Seriously. What that translates to with respect to food blogging is that I don’t mind going out to Kenna (bra) for lunch. So, when Jessie suggested a place out past the airport the other day, I didn’t blink an eye.
Nicaraguan food in New Orleans
New Orleans has a rich tradition and heritage of Central American food. We’re the northernmost Spanish colony on the Gulf of Mexico, after all. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Mexican migration pretty much stopped at Houston, since there were (and still are) jobs beaucoup there. So, “Mexican” and “Tex-Mex” restaurants were often owned/operated by Central Americans. These days, a family doesn’t have to pretend they’re something else to operate a restaurant, and the guys who own NOLA Nica do their thing and do it well.
We started with an order of Jalapeño Yucca Fritters. That’s avacado ranch dressing drizzled on them. They were fantastic. You see peppers and your brain braces for hot, but these were subtle.
We did our usual, get two or three things and split them up. First up was the NOLA Nica Burger. When you look at their menu, the burger is towards the bottom. You think, why would I order a burger with all these other options?
It’s a six-ounce patty that’s a mix of beef and pork. Some places around town make a burger that’s half beef, half hot sausage, so the concept isn’t new. These guys grind up their pork and put it in the burger. They top the burger with fried cheese, plantains, and a tangy cole slaw. Then it’s placed on a toasted coconut bread bun. That’s why you get the burger. It came with more slaw on the side, and a choice of fries or the yucca fritters. We got the fritters.
Our other choice was the “Fritanga”, a platter containing carne asada, chancho frito, tajadas fritas, platano fritas, yucca, queso frito, slaw, chicharron, chorizo, gallo pinto, and repocheta. The carne asada was well-seasoned. For me, the beef is usually the least interesting in a meal like this, particularly when there’s chorizo to be eaten. The plantain chips were absolutely fantastic, and the yucca didn’t have the peppers of the fritters, so it was an interesting switch. In spite of eating our fill on this wonderful food, we still had a lot to take home.
We had unsweet tea to drink, but there’s a cooler of soft drinks and bottle water to choose from as well.
NOLA Nica is a small, strip-mall sort of place that’s on Airline Drive, past Louis Armstrong International Airport. It’s a counter-service restaurant with no-frills. The guys say they do well with Uber Eats for delivery, and there were a bunch of people who appear to work in the area coming in for pick-up orders.
Worth the trip
NOLA Nica is easy to get to from in-town, just take I-10W to the Airport exit. Turn onto Airline Drive before continuing into the airport. Go west on Airline, past the airport and the railroad overpass. You’ll see it a few blocks up on the right.
by Edward J. Branley
For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.