I’m headed to Argentina next week, and I’ve always heard that the Latin American way of life is very similar to that of New Orleans. Citizens of both sides of the border would rather do business over beers than in boardrooms, and we all value social relationships more than we care about efficiency or infrastructure. Also, New Orleanians and Latinos are willing to accept a little corruption as long as it’s still socially acceptable to be 15 minutes late to anything, including your own funeral (which is often more like a party anyways).
For these reasons it’s no wonder that we’ve received so much influence from south of the border in the past few years, and it’s a welcome addition to the ethnic landscape of our town. So, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage in New Orleans here are our choices for putting a little ole in your au lait.
Described as a “Latino Super Rouses,” Ideal is a local chain of grocery stores offering the widest selection of Latin American food and fixings. Whip up a fall time posole or grab a housemade breakfast, complete with chorizo. You’ll find predominantly Mexican brands and products that we promise are way more authentic than what’s in the pantry at Chili’s. Ideal offers hot flavors in a clean bright space at a major discount. What more could you ask for from a neighborhood mercado? Check it out next time you’re on Broad St., in Metairie, or virtually anywhere. Ideal has bunch of locations to feed your Latin soul.
If “grande” and “burrito” constitute the extent of your knowledge of the Spanish language, it may be time to invest in a little lingual development. Spanish is a great asset to employers, and also a hot way to impress the ladies. There are plenty of opportunities to learn from scratch or just brush up a little. Obviously the academic institutions in town could help you out, but what about if you’re looking for something a little more catered to the working young professional that you are? Casa de España in The Healing Center offers an evening crash course en Español and more intensive beginner, intermediate, and advanced offerings. If all the tequila and Tecate you drank during college washed away some, but not all remnants of your required Spanish classes, then don’t fret. The casual Spanish language meetups around town will have you back on the burro in no time.
There have been a ton of new places to celebrate Taco Tuesday around town lately, and we just heard of a nuevo haunt for your munching pleasure. Johnny Sanchez is a concept from John Besh and Aron Sanchez that probably originated over a few cervezas one night. The Poydras St. spot had its soft opening this week, and we have no doubt that the CBD hora feliz crowd will flock to the joint faster than you can say Tenochtitlan. Eater has been stalking the restaurant so you don’t have to. Read more about it here.
You’ve got to give Enrique Iglesias a little credit. He had a damn good suggestion back in the late 90s. Dance is like the language of the body, and if you don’t speak Spanish it’s a good way to communicate with some Latin flair. Plus, we could all use some lessons in being a little sexier, right? Nola has some awesome latin dance classes just down the street. Check out the beginner and intermediate Tango lessons at Dance Quarter if you are looking to get a bit caliente with a certain someone in your life. If you like variety, the Reily Center changes up their schedule every semester and offers more than the generic Zumba of traditional gyms. In the past there has been Samba, Salsa, Cha Cha, and more. Reily classes are open to the public for a fee and are held in facilities on Tulane’s campus.
This weekend you can have your tres leches cake and eat it too…twice! It’s a big weekend for our local friends with Latino roots, since National Hispanic American Heritage Month is coming to an end, so in true New Orleans style we’re celebrating with festivals. The first is Celebración Latina hosted by the Audubon Zoo. It’s a family friendly experience with food and music that’s on punta. For a well-rounded experience check out the Carnaval Latino put on by the Hispanic American Musicians and Artists Cultural Association. The riverfront reunión will feature music, food, crafts, all with free entry! The highlight of this year’s event is a hispanic style desfile, or parade, with themed floats, costumes, and throws. The festival runs Saturday and Sunday and the parade kicks off Saturday evening at 6pm.
Do have a local spot for getting in touch with your Latino or Latina side? Let us know your favorite place in New Orleans to tomar un tragito in the comments below.