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Multicultural History
 

From the Far East to New Orleans East

Vietnamese refugees
Vietnamese refugees holding a copy of the boat that carried them to freedom
Mardi Gras Indian
For many Vietnamese immigrants in the mid-70s, New Orleans tropical climate felt like home.
Tet Festival, Mary Queen of Vietnam
Tet Festival at Mary, Queen of Vietnam Church in New Orleans East

Escaping the incoming Communist regime at the end of the Vietnam War, many Vietnamese fled to America in the mid-1970s, and quite a large number settled in Louisiana. Recent figures put the Louisiana Vietnamese population at 25,000, with the majority living throughout the New Orleans area.

Why New Orleans of all places? For one, the sub-tropical climate and proximity to water appealed to the refugees who felt most comfortable moving to an environment that reminded them of home. Also, many of those fleeing were Catholic, and both New Orleans and national Catholic charities were spearheading efforts to help newcomers find jobs and housing in the city. Word got out among Vietnamese refugees that family and friends were settling in New Orleans, making it an even more enticing destination.

The Vietnamese settled in the newer, suburban parts of the city, particularly in New Orleans East but also in parts of Algiers, Avondale, and other places on the West Bank. Rents were cheap and the housing run-down, but the presence of the industrious Vietnamese community has since revitalized these areas.

Upon arriving, the immigrants took whatever work they could find, in factories, in the service industry, or by doing odd jobs. As they became more established, many opened small businesses like restaurants, grocery stores, beauty and nail salons, and gift shops. Others moved to places like Grand Isle and Empire in Plaquemines Parish to take up the fishing and shrimping trades they knew at home.

The children of the first Vietnamese immigrants have grown up in New Orleans, filling the enrollments at local schools and universities and integrating themselves into the greater city. But all generations of the Vietnamese community remain bonded by language, shared experiences, and the close family ties valued by their culture. Unlike other young adults who often move away when they reach adulthood, the young Vietnamese-Americans of New Orleans frequently prefer to stay close to home in order to be near their parents and extended families.

The cohesiveness and resilience of New Orleans’ Vietnamese was proven after Hurricane Katrina decimated much of New Orleans East, including the large Vietnamese neighborhood called Versailles. The Vietnamese were among the first to return to begin rebuilding their neighborhoods, giving momentum to rebuilding efforts in the East and the rest of the city. Many Vietnamese feel the experience has brought the community even closer together.

Falling in January or February, the biggest Vietnamese celebration is the lunar new year holiday called Tet, similar to the Chinese New Year. At the Mary Queen of Vietnam Church on Dwyer Blvd., a three-day fair open to the public features food, carnival games, dragon dances, concerts, and other performances.

 
New Orleans Vietnamese Restaurants
Ba Chi Canteen
7900 Maple St., New Orleans, LA 70118 [Map It]
(504) 373-5628

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

Description: Ba Chi Canteen is a Vietnamese Restaurant with multicultural influences. Ba Chi provides customers with traditional and non-traditional Vietnamese dishes that are guaranteed to excite your taste buds and leave you wanting more. The menu at Ba Chi is diverse, inspired by Korean, Thai, and other Asian flavors and cooking techniques. Locals rave about the shrimp covered in egg noodles and the grilled corn on the cob cut like a sushi roll and topped with crawfish. The restaurant is BYOB, but customers love the traditional Vietnamese coffee that is a Ba Chi specialty.
Ba Mien Restaurant
13235 Chef Menteur Hwy., Suite C, New Orleans, LA 70129 [Map It]
(504) 255-0500
www.bamien.com

Neighborhood: Gentilly/New Orleans East/Chalmette
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese
Booty's Street Food
800 Louisa St., New Orleans, LA 70117 [Map It]
(504) 266-2887
bootysnola.com

Neighborhood: Faubourg Marigny/Bywater
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Late Night (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: African, Indian, Vegetarian, Vietnamese, International, Tapas/Small Plates, Breakfast, Latin American

Description: Get a taste of the world in Bywater, where Booty’s offers street food favorites from places like Vietnam, Greece and El Salvador. Tapas-style small plates pair well with globally-inspired cocktails, like the Jetlag Brazil. While there, check out some of the more interesting restrooms in NOLA. Bywaterloo, a monthly rotating art installation, invites artists to transform the space into something otherworldly.
Cafe Minh
4139 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70116 [Map It]
(504) 482-6266

Neighborhood: Mid-City
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $18-$24
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese
Dong Phuong
14207 Chef Menteur Hwy., New Orleans, LA 70129 [Map It]
(504) 254-0296

Neighborhood: Gentilly/New Orleans East/Chalmette
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Chinese, Vietnamese
Doson's Noodle House
135 N Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, LA 70119 [Map It]
(504) 309-7283

Neighborhood: Mid-City
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese
Jazmine Cafe
614 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118 [Map It]
(504) 866-9301
www.jazminecafe.com

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vegetarian, Vietnamese
Lan's Palace Chinese Restaurant
3439 Kabel Dr., New Orleans, LA 70131 [Map It]
(504) 433-5442

Neighborhood: Algiers/Westbank
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Chinese, Vietnamese
Lilly's Cafe
1813 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 599-9999

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese

Description: Many visitors to the city are unaware of the thriving Vietnamese population in New Orleans. The city is filled with quality Vietnamese restaurants, such as Lilly’s Café, which locals rave has some of the best food and service in NOLA. Lilly’s Café is a quaint, reasonably priced restaurant that serves a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes, including pho, spring rolls, and banh mi (customers claim the peanut dipping sauce is addictive). The menu is vegan and vegetarian friendly and also offers gluten-free alternatives to meet all dietary requests.
Little Korea
3301 S. Claiborne Ave., New Orleans, LA 70125 [Map It]
(504) 821-5006

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

Description: Little Korea is a quick service restaurant that serves Korean BBQ and Asian cuisine. Customers claim that the wait staff is attentive and friendly, and the food is good quality. Be sure to try the BBQ ribs and vegetable pho!
Lost Love Lounge
2529 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA 70117 [Map It]
(504) 949-2009
www.lostlovelounge.com

Neighborhood: Faubourg Marigny/Bywater
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese

Description: Located in the heart of the Faubourg Marigny, and reputed as one of the oldest taverns in the neighborhood, Lost Love Lounge is well known among locals as a favorite spot to grab drinks any night of the week. The Lounge hosts several fun events weekly, including comedy nights on Tuesdays, a spelling bee on Wednesdays, and massages or manicures on Thursdays. Lost Love Lounge also sports a Vietnamese kitchen, serving authentic Asian-inspired small plates all night.
Lucky Rooster
515 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA 70113 [Map It]
(504) 529-5825
luckyroosternola.com

Neighborhood: Central Business District/Downtown
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Chinese, Vietnamese, International

Description: The Newest joint from the guys that brought you Jaun's Flying Burrito and Slice. A dumpling and noodle house with an Asian 'best of' hit parade of menu items The Lucky Rooster speaks fluently of artisan style cookery with big, bright addictive flavors.
Magasin Vietnamese Cafe
4201 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115 [Map It]
(504) 896-7611
www.magasincafe.com

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese

Description: Locals flock to this Vietnamese café for simple, pitch perfect classics like banh mi, fresh-rolled spring rolls and pho. Reasonable prices and celebrated food make this a great place to catch a meal as you explore the city.
Mopho
514 City Park Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119 [Map It]
(504) 482-6845
www.mophonola.com

Neighborhood: Mid-City
Attire: Casual
Price Range: $12-$18
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese, Contemporary, International

Description: Southeast Asia by way of New Orleans. Brought to Mid-City by Chef Michael Gulotta.
Pho Bang
14367 Chef Menteur Hwy., New Orleans, LA 70129 [Map It]
(504) 254-3929

Neighborhood: Gentilly/New Orleans East/Chalmette
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese

Description: Open daily with casual Vietnamese food.
Pho My A
4021 Behrman Hwy., New Orleans, LA 70114 [Map It]
(504) 368-5694, (866) 679-8904
www.phomyarestaurant.com

Neighborhood: Algiers/Westbank
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese

Description: Pho My A Vietnamese Restaurant is the Vietnamese restaurant to visit for delicious Vietnamese pho recipes in a traditional setting.
Pho Noi Viet
2005 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130 [Map It]
(504) 522-3399

Neighborhood: Uptown/Garden District
Attire: Casual
Price Range: Under $12
Open For: Lunch, Dinner (Call ahead for hours)
Cuisine Type/s: Vietnamese
 
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