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Multicultural History
 

New Orleans’ Latin Flavor

Grammy-winning jazz group Los Hombres Calientes
Grammy-winning jazz group Los Hombres Calientes
New Orleans imported bananas from Central America to distribute across the US
New Orleans imported bananas from Central America to distribute across the US
Latino workers have flocked to the city seeking work in the post-Katrina rebuilding effort
Latino workers have flocked to the city seeking work in the post-Katrina rebuilding effort

Latin rhythms have always meshed effortlessly into New Orleans’ musical heritage, from the famous Carnival tune “Mardi Gras Mambo” to the present-day CDs of the Grammy-winning jazz group Los Hombres Calientes. Historically, Cuba and New Orleans were located on the same trade routes, and scholars have traced cultural exchanges and mutual musical influences dating back to the early 1800s. There were political ties as well, such as when a military effort to liberate Cuba from Spain was launched from New Orleans.

Although the Spanish once ruled colonial New Orleans, and in spite of the city sharing a body of water, geographical proximity, and a similar tropical spirit with much of Latin America, the Hispanic population of New Orleans didn’t become a significant presence until the mid 1900s. One twentieth century influx came from Cubans fleeing Castro’s ascent to power in 1959. However, the largest Latino population can trace its roots directly back to Honduras, giving New Orleans a larger Honduran population than most cities in that country.

As a port city, New Orleans imported bananas from Central America to distribute across the US, and two New Orleans firms in particular, the Standard Fruit Company and the United Fruit Company, developed close ties with Honduras, owning plantations there and influencing politics. Honduran immigrants began arriving in the Crescent City through these connections. Many worked as dockyard laborers, but upper-class Hondurans also sent their children to study at Catholic schools. No one neighborhood became known as Honduran, and this population, while retaining its identity and family ties, has assimilated well into the city.

Hurricane Katrina, however, is bound to have a lasting impact on the Hispanic character of New Orleans. Latino workers have flocked to the city from elsewhere in America seeking work in the rebuilding effort. The Latino population has surged, and while many workers are just in New Orleans temporarily, others are bound to settle for good. Some estimates say the ethnic group’s numbers will more than double in the next five to ten years. How this most recent wave of immigrants will influence the city’s culture remains to be seen. At least one new sight around town is the taco trucks that set up in parking lots all over the city to feed workers at lunch.

Even before Katrina, the city’s airwaves broadcast Spanish radio stations, and New Orleans boasts several Spanish-language publications. Tulane University has one of the country’s best-regarded Latin American Studies programs, first begun with a 1924 endowment of research materials by the Cuyamel Fruit Company.

 
Spanish/Latino Restaurants in New Orleans
Baie Rouge
4128 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 [Map It]
(504) 304-3667
baierougenola.com

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: French, Spanish
Barcelona Tapas
720 Dublin St., New Orleans, LA 70118 [Map It]
(504) 861-9696

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $18-$24
Open For: Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Spanish, Tapas/Small Plates

Description: For diners looking for international cuisine in the heart of New Orleans, Barcelona Tapas is a perfect option. Located in the Uptown neighborhood, Barcelona serves a diverse menu of authentic Spanish small plates. The dťcor at Barcelona Tapas is modern and Spanish-inspired, with a mosaic bar, colorful artwork, and table candles. Customers rave about the friendly service and food always made with love. Be sure to order a pitcher of Sangria along with your tapas for the complete Spanish experience!
Baru Bistro & Tapas
3700 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 895-2225

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $18-$24
Open For: Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: South American, Spanish, Contemporary, Tapas/Small Plates, Latin American
Cafe Granada
1506 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118 [Map It]
(504) 865-1612
www.cafegranadanola.com

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Spanish, Tapas/Small Plates

Description: Cafe Granada is a careful blend of everything about Spain. Warm decor, authentic cuisine and friendly hospitality. Located in the beautiful New Orleans uptown region. All these come together to create a unique and genuine atmosphere.
Galvez Restaurant
914 North Peters St. , New Orleans, LA 70116 [Map It]
(504) 595-3400
www.galvezrestaurant.com

Neighborhood: French Quarter
Attire: Business Casual
Price Range: $18-$24
Open For: Dinner, Sunday Brunch (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Continental, Spanish

Description: Galvez Restaurant celebrates the Spanish influence on New Orleans cuisine. Come and enjoy an array of traditional local and Spanish favorites along the beautiful Mississippi Waterfront. Vegan and Gluten Free menus items available, parking validated with dinner.
Lola's
3312 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, LA 70119 [Map It]
(504) 488-6946

Neighborhood: Esplanade Ridge
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Spanish, Vegetarian, Vegan

Description: A lover of garlic would be in heaven at this Spanish restaurant. Locals rave about the paella.
Mayas
2027 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 309-3401
mojitoland.com

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Dinner, Sunday Brunch (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: South American, Spanish, Latin American

Description: Mayas Restaurant and Bar features and airy and attractive dining area with full service bar, creating a defined, yet decidedly relaxed atmosphere. Serving some of the best Latin American food in the city, Mayas is fast becoming the place to go for Arroz (Seafood Paella), Pinchos (Skewers), Copan Ribeye, Lechon Pork, or the many other delicacies that Latin American cuisine has to offer.
Mimi's In The Marigny
2601 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70117 [Map It]

Neighborhood: Faubourg Marigny/Bywater
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Dinner, Late Night (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Bar/Pub Food, Spanish

Description: Mimiís in the Marigny features live music every night of the week, without fail! The bar has two levels Ė the downstairs is a more relaxed scene with a bar and pool tables, while the upstairs is exclusively reserved for dancing and jazz. Mimiís offers a unique menu of Spanish-inspired tapas items, including goat cheese croquetas, calamari con chorizo, and patatas bravas. The local vibes, funky music, and authentic New Orleans atmosphere at Mimiís canít be beat, so be sure to check it out!
Rio Mar
800 S. Peters St. , New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 525-3474

Neighborhood: Arts District/Convention Center
Attire: Business Casual
Price Range: $18-$24
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Seafood, Spanish

Description: Specializing in seafood from local waters, this restaurant makes it its business to highlight the quality of New Orleans seafood. Reservations recommended.
Salu
3226 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115 [Map It]
(504) 371-5958
www.salurestaurant.com

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Spanish, International, Tapas/Small Plates
Santa Fe Tapas
1327 St Charles Ave. , New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 304-9915
www.santafetapas.com

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Business Casual
Price Range: $18-$24
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Spanish, Vegan

Description: This reasonably priced, casual tapas restaurant is a great option for diners looking to spice up their dinner plans and shy away from New Orleansí usual Creole cuisine. Santa Fe Tapas is conveniently located on St. Charles Avenue and offers a variety of Spanish and Mexican food options, including vegan Saturday brunch and 2-for-1 award-winning margaritas! Diners rave about the creative vegan and vegetarian dishes offered at Santa Fe that are often hard to find in NOLA. If youíre looking for an international spin-off during your trip, donít miss out at Santa Fe Tapas!
The Sweet Palate
519 Saint Louis St., New Orleans, LA 70116 [Map It]
(504) 522-5150
www.thesweetpalate.com

Neighborhood: French Quarter
Attire: Casual
Cuisine Type/s: French, Spanish, Desserts
 
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