Before embarking on my trip to New Orleans I asked every single one of my friends who had been to NOLA recently for their recommendations for vegetarian friendly restaurants. One of my friends strongly endorsed Satsuma Cafe. She said, "Though this place is off the beaten path, it is an absolute must for vegetarians." Well, that was enough praise for me!
On our second night in NOLA we took a cab from our hotel to Satsuma. The neighborhoods seemed to get quieter and quieter and when the cab pulled on to Satsuma's street, the cafe was like a beacon of light, magnetizing us toward it.
Before we even set foot into the cafe I loved it. I was really taken with the outdoor patio furniture which looked like an antique/junkyard hybrid.
We opened the door and I felt transported. I could easily see this cafe in Savannah, GA or Brooklyn, NY.
We were seated right away against the left wall of the restaurant. From our seats we had a great view of all the eclectic art work on the walls.
From our seats we could also see the breakfast and lunch menus which are scrawled in rainbow colored chalk on a black board above the cash register.
Our bubbly waitress popped over to bring us water and the dinner menus.
We were both super jazzed about all the great options. In fact, we decided to have three courses!
To start we ordered the marinated olives and the spiced Marcona almonds. For the first 26 years of my life I had convinced myself I didn't like olives. Then some time last year I decided to give them a second chance and now I am obsessed with them! These olives were swimming in a flavorful olive oil and each bite was packed with rich flavor.
The spiced almonds were addictive and had a kick to them. They were coated in smoked paprika and sea salt. These should be mandatory at bars all across America.
While we noshed on the appetizers, our waitress brought us each a piece of rosemary polenta bread. It was very dense and had a consistency similar to corn bread.
After working our way through the olives and almonds we moved onto salad. My coworker ordered the winter vegetable salad which came topped with crispy Brussels sprouts. How incredible does this look?
I ordered the zucchini salad which was shaved, wide ribbons of zucchini, topped with frisee, feta cheese, pistachios and lemon. It was so light and refreshing. I ate every last morsel.
For dinner my coworker ordered the gnocchi with tomato and kale ragu, topped with a poached egg. Our waitress explained the gnocchi was actually more like polenta cakes and she was exactly right. Though it wasn't traditional, small, round gnocchi it was incredibly delicious.
I decided on the pappardelle with mushrooms. The pasta was yummy, the mushrooms were fresh and the whole dish was topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I liked that the portion size was small. I couldn't have eaten another bite because the dish was so rich.
At some point during the meal we told our waitress we were from Boston and while we were eating our pasta the head chef came out to our table and said, "I heard you ladies are from Boston, is that true?" Turns out he grew up in Newton, MA and graduated from my high school just a few years before me! He was so kind and even gave us names of five other restaurants he thought we should try while in New Orleans.
Just as we finished chatting with the chef, another waitress came over and said, "I heard you two are from Boston, I just moved here from Somerville!" How funny! It was so nice of the Boston-bred staff to come over and say hello. It really made us feel like part of the Satsuma family.
After what was truly a vegetarian's paradise, we asked our waitress where we could catch a cab back to our hotel. She said we'd have to walk about three blocks to a main street and cautioned us to be very careful and stay alert. The only down side to visiting Satsuma was its remote location. Thankfully, we found a cab after we'd walked just two blocks, but we were definitely nervous leaving the restaurant.
If you're a vegetarian visiting New Orleans, Satsuma Cafe is a must. Their food is exceptional, the hipster vibe is inviting and relaxing and the staff is wonderful.
Visit Satsuma Cafe at 3218 Dauphine Street in New Orleans.