Restaurant: Central Grocery
Last visited: May 24, 2012
Location: New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
Address: 923 Decatur Street
Transit: Dumaine Station
Where I stayed: Le Richelieu Hotel (Walking distance)
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
Service: 3 (Pay at cashier)
Ambiance: 3 (for what it is)
- Since 1906
- Italian family owned
- Original Muffuletta
- Famous for Muffuletta
- Located in grocery store
- Tourist attraction
- Busy/long lines at peak hours
- Counter top seating
- Mediterranean speciality store
- Italian/Spanish/French/Creole goods
- Budget friendly/Cheap eats
- Take out/Eat in
- Accepts credit card
- Tues-Say 9am-5pm
- Closed Sunday & Monday
**Recommendations: Muffuletta, Olive Salad
Follow Me Foodie to New Orleans would not be complete without trying the famous Muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery. This is the “Home of the Original Muffuletta” which is New Orleans’ signature sandwich. I think this is the next biggest foodie tourist attraction after the Beignets at Cafe Du Monde. It’s not even a “foodie tourist attraction”, but just a tourist attraction in general. The sandwich is cheap and can feed a lot of people and although there could be better ones in the city, this is where the Mufuletta was invented.
It’s actually a Mediterranean speciality foods store where you can buy Muffuletta sandwiches and eat them in the back. For a Vancouver reference, it reminded me of La Grotta Del Formaggio, but with only one kind of sandwich and no customization. I feel like every food Mecca or big city with a far back Italian or Jewish population has a famous deli or iconic Italian sandwich. For Montreal it’s the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich from Schwartz’s, and in New York it’s the Pastrami Sandwich from Katz’s Deli. All of these sandwiches are worth trying as a tourist or a local and I can add this Muffuletta to the list.
The menu is as basic as their website – see here.
It is touristy and there can be very long line-ups, but I was lucky to get here before the rush and waited only 5 minutes. It wasn’t a mind blowing sandwich, but it was solid. There are “non-authentic Muffulettas” or gourmet Muffulettas that can taste better, but I’m not sure where they are in NOLA. I’d be fairly confident they exist unlike the beignet situation, where Cafe Du Monde is likely the best it gets. If time permitted I would have tried a couple more places to get a better idea of Muffuletta standards, but the original is always the one to try first.
I already knew what I came here to try, but I remembered reading about their Stuffed Artichokes. I guess it was the vegetarian option on the menu and I was curious to try it… until I saw it.
And there it was. It was sitting in front of the cashier register like a pack of Tic Tacs, but the thing was huge and it didn’t look too appetizing. I picked it up and then put it back down and decided to pass. Of course this was only going to be my side dish to my famous Muffuletta sandwich, but it just didn’t call my name. It was also more expensive than my sandwich which was a bit surprising.
I’m not sure if you can see the size, but it was huge! I put a plastic knife in the front to show perspective, but it’s much bigger than it looks. This was half the sandwich and it was only $7.50. A full sandwich cut into quarters could possibly feed a family of 4 with smaller appetites.
- Half $7.50 Whole $14.50
- You might be surprised that I didn’t give it a 6/6. I’m not sure if it lived up to the hype, but it was enjoyable and affordable.
- Yes, it is the original Muffuletta and it is a New Orleans “must try”, but my level of enjoyment for it was just very good.
- I don’t want to take away from it, but part of me felt like I could find something similar in other cities.
- The sandwich fillings included layers of Genoa salami, ham, Provolone cheese, Emmentaler, Mortadella, pepperoni and olive salad.
- Since this is the original I would consider any other added or removed ingredients or changes in the meat and cheese not authentic to the Muffuletta.
- The bread is non-toasted and the sandwich is served cold and it’s a very flavourful sandwich.
- I found the Sicilian sesame bread to be too thick and quite dense, but at least there was an equal amount of filling to balance it out.
- It was almost like a chewy focaccia bread with toasted sesame seeds on top and it was soft, but not tender, light or fluffy. I’m not sure if it gets better.
- There was an equal ratio of meat and cheese too and they were decent and good quality, but not high quality.
- The cheese and meats weren’t very salty so the intense olive salad was the salt.
- The olive salad was the best part. It also had some acid to enhance the flavours and contrast the meats and cheeses.
- The bread had potential to be really dry, but because of the oily meats and olive salad, the oils ended up soaking into the bread giving it more moisture.
- It was a pretty oily sandwich, but not greasy in flavour.
- It was very garlicky from the olive salad and after a couple bites I wouldn’t want to talk to anyone that wasn’t 5 feet away unless they had just eaten one too.
- It was a very delicious sandwich especially for the price, but I couldn’t help but to think how much better it would be with even higher quality ingredients.
- The olive oil was good and flavourful, but it does get better.
- I have to remind myself this is a casual deli with a $7.50 sandwich though, so I’ll take it as is.
- I was satisfied with my experience, but I wasn’t quite satisfied having this as my one Muffuletta in New Orleans and I would be curious to try others.
- For me, what made the sandwich was the garlicky and pickled olive salad. That was the winning factor and I also love olives.
- The olive salad was super chunky which is better than a thin spread of tapenade. It gave the sandwich bite and texture.
- The olive salad is a family recipe and it was made with good salty and meaty olives, cauliflower, celery, carrots, medium sized caper berries, parsley, pepperoncini (sweet Italian peppers), garlic, spices, olive oil and other oils.
- The olive salad was nice and salty and a bit tangy from being pickled and there was a very mild heat, but it wasn’t spicy.
- The olive salad can be purchased alone.
Okay, so I ended up going back and ordering the stuffed artichoke I had originally expressed disinterest for in my introduction. I split it with the random tourists next to me and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I initiated that. It was the moment I heard him say “I really want to try that Stuffed Artichoke”… well hello there… would you like to Follow Me Foodie?”
Stuffed Artichoke – 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
- I don’t know how to explain this, but it was unexpected and it kind of tasted like what it looked like.
- It was a giant artichoke and I didn’t even know how to eat it or where to start. Do I knife and fork it? Or do I pluck the leaves off? I was so confused.
- I’ve had roasted whole artichokes like this before, but not with so much stuffing like this.
- I ended up doing a bit of both and it was almost all stuffing and the artichoke hearts/meat was where it would naturally be found.
- I couldn’t taste much, if any artichoke in the actual stuffing and it seemed like just bread crumbs, garlic, herbs and spices and parmesan cheese.
- The stuffing was a bit mushy and pasty yet it was somewhat dry and crumbly like a veggie pâté.
- It was quite cheesy and nutty from the baked parmesan cheese, but it was mostly bread crumbs.
- It was savoury and I could taste some lemon juice for tang and there was a very mild heat, but it wasn’t spicy.
It just seemed like something that would taste so much better hot and fresh from the oven rather than chilled and served room temperature. The artichoke part was tender and flavourful, but the stuffing was just a bit odd to eat so much of just like that. It wasn’t bad, but it’s not something I would have to order again. It was worth settling my curiosity.