The last time I was in New Orleans, I had trouble finding good vegetarian food with a “local flavor”. Cajun cooking relies heavily on sausage and seafood. In fact, even traditional red beans and rice are cooked with ham hocks. Now, with the introduction of Cafe Bamboo, vegetarians now have an oasis in this meat-centric city.
I came to Cafe Bamboo on an early weekday night and there were a few customers already in the restaurant. It’s an easy walk from the French Quarter. Just walk all the way through the French Market and go around the Louisiana State Museum and Old Mint Museum.
I readily fell in love with the place because it looks like a comfy “lived in” neighborhood bar. As a bonus there is a beautiful outside patio, so I was able to take advantage of the warm spring weather while eating my meal.
I ordered the collard green rolls that were described as “hand-rolled and stuffed with seasoned collard greens and “ham” chunks”. The sweet chili pepper dipping sauce added the right amount of zip to the dish. My only complaint is that I wished there was more on the plate. It was a perfect appetizer for one person, but if I was sharing, it would leave me wanting more.
I had a hard time deciding on what kind of entree to get. The menu is full of great Louisiana cooking including red beans and rice, soul crispy fried “chicken” and voodoo sticks or grilled seitan beef and pepper kabobs. There were also several wraps, sandwiches, pasta and rice bowls.
I finally decided on the bourbon chicken dinner. The spinach was delicately cooked and the mashed sweet potatoes were flavorful. Honestly, I would have preferred having a little more of the sides and less of the BBQ chicken. Don’t get me wrong, the BBQ chicken was very good but there was a little too much of it and not enough of the sides.
As the evening geared up, I was entertained and amused by the staff coming out of the kitchen and singing along with the music playing over the speakers. It’s really a relaxed atmosphere and I can see how it could get quite lively as the evening goes on. The service was very good and they were very attentive.
Cafe Bamboo has only been around since January 2009. I hope this great vegetarian restaurant succeeds in this city of meat-heavy cuisine. I wished I had a few more free moments on my trip so I could steal away to this vegetarian nirvana. I think they’ll get a lot of local traffic but hungry vegetarian tourists should definitely seek this place out. It’s worth the trip.