James Felder Reviews “Mara’s Homemade”

The beloved James Felder of Snapshot Artifact has a review for you. Here it is, please enjoy:

My friend Gregg has been whispering about Mara’s Homemade (342 E.6th Street, between First and Second) like it’s a government secret. He took me along this Sunday during torrential rains. It was worth the wet cuffs and socks.

Let me say outright, Mara’s has the best BBQ combo in the city. There might be specific BBQ places that have individual pieces that rival Mara’s ribs or brisket, but none that can rival the whole package. I had the ribs and brisket combo. A big tin Arbita Beer tray comes loaded with food. The two types of rib, baby back and St. Louis, were meaty and delicious. The brisket was cut thick, had a beautiful smoke ring, and was tasty throughout…unlike the uber-bland brisket at the much-beloved (not by me) R.U.B.. You get a choice of two sides. I had fried okra, that was not greasy and okay. And I had a great side of collards that Mara recommended I douse with a bottle of vinegar with peppers soaking in it; nice and tangy. There’s also a molasses-glazed cornbread which was good, but not a favorite of mine. I suspect Southerners might like it, though, as the Southern taste tends to run to a more austere cornbread.

Mara’s is run by Mara and David Levi, a very cordial couple. This is not an anonymous waiter experience like in a regular restaurant. David runs the bar. Mara usually waits the tables. They’re training up their son to run the smoker. They clearly keep an eye on the kitchen throughout the evening and are curious to know what you like and don’t like in the final result. The restaurant specializes in New Orleans cuisine, even though my friends and I couldn’t resist the BBQ. We’ll be back for a specific New Orleans visit soon.

It’s a great spot for summer dining. David offers up fresh iced tea, mint iced tea, and lemonade which is sweet and delicious, unlike that sour, unsweetened stuff they serve up in “sophisticated” places in the city. We started our meal with fried gator. The cornmeal batter was lightly fried, not greasy at all, even though the flavor of the gator was somewhat lost in the crust. There’s a mouthwatering selection of homemade deserts, including red velvet cake, a favorite of mine. We were so full after the combos that we shared an order of beignets. This was the only dud of the evening — thick and bland compared to the Cafe Dumond standard. But my friend said it was an over-cooked anomaly, as he had had it another visit and it was much lighter.

I can’t believe there are any secrets in this city, but this might be one of them. Do yourself a favor and drop on in on the Levis and avail yourself of some great homemade cooking.

3 comments

  1. Hi James (and Adam) — Mara’s sounds delicious! I love good barbecue. I’ll keep it in mind next time I’m back in the city.

    I just wanted to observe that, as someone with deep Louisiana roots, Cafe Du Monde’s beignets are hardly the standard; in fact, they’re not even that good. The best beignet I have ever eaten is at a little place called Morning Call. If you’re in New Orleans, it is well worth the 15-minute drive. There are two, on Severn and on Veterans, both in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. (Do not drink the tap water, though; get the hot chocolate or coffee.)

    Cafe Du Monde’s beignets are heavier and thicker than a proper beignet should be, so I can’t even imagine just how heavy the beignets must have been at Mara’s.

  2. Wes,

    Thanks for the tip! I spent a week or so in New Orleans 5 years ago and sure would love to go back if I ever get the time and money. Great city, beautiful culture, friendly folks.

  3. The co-owner David attacked his wife in front of the restaurant on the 11th of May, 2006. The police were called, she said everything was ok, but the people on the street, and in the restaurant, were horrified at what they saw. David even dared to ask the cops what was wrong with him grabbing his wife! Don’t support this restaurant. If you read reviews on other sites, you’ll read similar stories.

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