Before we caught a flight home, we had a few hours to spend in New Orleans to see the usual sites. We took our daughter to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, which was a lot of fun, and then headed down Decatur Street to find some lunch. My cousin works in the area at a local university and suggested we give Cafe Maspero a try. He said it was basically a simple sandwich and seafood joint that was a solid staple of eating in the French Quarter.
Cafe Mesparo is on the corner of Decatur Street and Toulouse Street with a small double door facing Decatur used to enter. Once you go inside the restaurant, there is a large space filled with tables and a bar running along the wall into the kitchen with a order-up counter in the back. They have a few domestic beers on tap including the local favorite blends of Abita. The menu is relatively straight forward with lots of sandwich choices as well as seafood plates and a couple salads (I believe). We ordered the catfish sandwich (~$9), the shrimp sandwich (~$9), and the roast beef and swiss sandwich (~$8). All of the sandwiches came with fries, but note that the restaurant does not allow substitutions for sides which seems to be a common practice for an establishment in a tourist district unfortunately. I also ordered an Abita Amber on draft (~$3) which was very thirst quenching and finally redeemed Abita a bit in my mind from all of the fruity concoctions they produce. When the sandwiches came out, they were much bigger than I expected. Each was served an a large French bread bun with cabbage and pickles on the side; keep in mind, these are really po-boys, but they are still delicious none the less. The catfish was lightly breaded and prepared in a such a way that it simply fell apart as I bit into it. The shrimp was fried to just the right temperature and not chewy at all. The most pleasant surprise was the the roast beef which was fresh sliced and served with the swiss cheese melted over it. The fries were common steak fries with nothing outstanding about them.
Be aware that Cafe Mesparo only takes cash and traveler’s checks, so make sure if you visit you come prepared. They’re good food, reasonable pricing, and generous portions are enough to warrant a trip to the ATM. Overall though, we left Cafe Maspero energized, ready to dive into the dessert portion of our day with beneigh’s at Cafe Dumonde and pralines at the Southern Candymakers. If you’re looking for an easy decision for lunch in the French Quarter, make Cafe Mesparo your pick for fresh, simple, and great tasting food.
Cafe Maspero is located at 601 Decatur Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tags: cajun, catfish, food, new orleans, sandwich, shrimp