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Muffelata Sandwich...

  • l

I'm coming to NOLA this weekend and am staying near Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, I have seen shows about the Muffelata Sandwich and I want to try an "Authentic" one, any recommendations close to where I'm staying?

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  1. Napoleon House, 500 Chartres
    Central Grocery 923 Decatur
    I prefer mime toasted!

    1 Reply
    1. re: edible complex

      I second Napoleon House. Gimme the 1/4 muff, jambalaya and beans! I love to sit in the courtyard.

    2. Might want to check out Frank's Deli (3-4 doors down River from Central). They still had them on the menu, on my last visit, but many changes were taking place. At one time, their's was the ultimate, but that was years BEFORE Katrina, so do not know if the kids are still doing them, per their grandmother's recipe.


      1. By all means go to Central Grocery, the originator of the sandwich. It's as much about the experience as it is about the food. Eat at the counter, wash it down with a Barq's and soak up the atmosphere. They sell olive oil in 5-gallon cans and have every imaginable Italian specialty. Some have said that the quality has slipped in recent years, but it is still THE place for a "muff."


        1. seems to me the most "authentic" would be getting one from the place they originated: central grocery on decatur in the quarter. i've been going there for nearly 40 years & you can argue over "decline of quality" or "rude service" but the sandwich is STILL a true culinary marvel. to experience a truly "authentic" new orleans culinary debate, head to the napolean house AFTER the central & have a HOT muffelata. the whole concept of a HOT muffelata is anathema to me but some folks just don't like cold cold cut sandwiches. the debate over which form(hot/cold)is best has raged for a long long time. you decide what suits you best & let us know, ok? enjoy.

          1 Reply
          1. Well, I just got back from my first trip to NOLA and what a fantastic experience! I really appreciated everyone's advice and I hit Central Grocery on Sat and Napolean house on Sun. I stepped into Central Grocery and was immediately stopped at the door due to a long line, I knew this was a good indication that it had to be good. After a short wait wait I grabbed a counter stool and unwrapped the whole Muff that I was sharing with a friend. I have to say that it was love at first bite! The olive spread is amazing and the quality of the salami and provolone was first rate. But what also impressed me was the bread was brushed with an olive oil that really gave it an extra dimension. Napolean House - truth be told I had thought that I would like their Muff better because I do prefer my sandwiches warm. It was a beatiful day so securing a seat in the courtyard was a big bonus, I ordered a 1/4 muff and red beans and rice. I know that some serious foodies only concern themselves with the food, but I believe that a restaurants atmosphere is equally important and the courtyard was a definite hit. The Muff came and my first impression based upon sight was that the quality of the bread was not the same as Central. I took my first bite and I loved the meat warm and the cheese melted, but I felt the olive spread was subpar and those little details like brushed olive oil on the bread was not there. So, I had hoped that one would trump the other and I would leave NOLA with a clear cut favorite, but I'm torn. On the one hand I feel the quality of the Muff at Central was superior, but I enjoyed the Napolean House as far as overall experience. Since I plan on making NOLA a regular destination I will go to Napolean house when I'm in the mood for a sit down meal in a beatiful courtyard and enoy a full menu of choices, but I will also take the time when I'm shopping in the French Quarter for a quick bite at Central Grocery, no matter how rude they are it's a great sandwich!

            8 Replies
            1. re: Lost

              I enjoyed reading your report and agree that the atmosphere at Napoleon House adds a lot to the experience. I'm glad you were able to try both muffs, as you had hoped. Hey, you don't have to pick a favorite! Come back and compare gumbos when the weather is cooler.

              1. re: Lost

                hi lost, i have to tell you this was an exceptionally succinct report & it was terrific, very chowhoundy...you have taken the first step of that amazing journey: discovering the subtleties & nuances of the most amazing food city in america(& yeah, i live in the bay area, arguably the SECOND most amazing food city in america). as you continue to wrestle w/the hot/cold muff, you'll also be presented w/the daunting task of discovering your favorite po'boy(you'll even argue w/folks about HOW to correctly identify spelling-wise that delicious sandwich), your favorite plate of red beans & rice(o buster, where are you now?), your favorite oyster bar, your favorite late night feeding spot, the best jambalaya, the best cajun(what do you mean? that's creole?????)etc etc. this is a joyous journey. be happy, fearless, & unafraid. have an appetite & have fun. & thanks for the open-minded report.

                1. re: Lost

                  Lost, that was a fantastic report! You took on the Muffuletta Challenge with gusto....I'm so impressed!

                  I love bataille2's prediction that at some point you'll find yourself questing for the perfect po'-boy. Food quests for "the best" (and the ensuing debates over what is, and what isn't) have kept the city entertained for centuries. In New Orleans, it is possible to fill any conversational lull by saying something -- anything -- about food. It's the conversation everyone is eager to have. New Orleanians are ready to discuss your next meal, your last meal, or the meal you had twenty years ago if only you could remember the name of that place on Arabella.

                  What's adorable about the New Orleans food scene is how happy and enthusiastic it is. New Orleanians are not stuffy when it comes to eating. In that sensual and celebratory culture, food is something to be excited about.

                  Napoleon House is one of my favorite places on earth. I sometimes think it's at its best at three or four o'clock in the afternoon, when the rain is coming down in sheets. You can sit quietly with a Pimm's cup and read, or just listen to the storm roll in from the Gulf. I go to Napoleon House to feel the old city....to time-travel.

                  Come back soon!

                  1. re: SBrooksB

                    my finest quests were the oyster po boys and crab cakes...more like a crusade. lately, it's been all things shrimp.
                    we definitely "live to eat" and make our breakfast, lunch and dinner plans while eating.
                    love reading your memories of Napoleon House...as the sky's stomach is growling and about to open up and cool things off...might have to grab a Pimm's for this afternoon's shower.

                  2. re: Lost

                    Should have taken a CG muff. home. They travel well and taste great a day later. Enjoyed your post. Thanks for coming.

                    1. re: JazzyB

                      Good to know -- next time we will buy one on Saturday and enjoy it on our flight home Sunday. Because we ran into the problem that Central is closed on Sunday (although admittedly we were not very resourceful in exploring alternatives). Are there any places downtown/Quarter to pick up a fresh muffuletta to take to the airport on a Sunday? This is for tourists who can't necessarily take a detour en route to the airport.

                      1. re: Mark Alberts

                        It is sad to say...but I have actually changed my departure dates just so I could make a stop at Central before heading to the airport. My kids always request that I bring muff's home. A couple of years ago, I had to fly out on Monday and Central Grocery was closed. I decided to bring home Frank's so as not to have a mutiny. BAD CHOICE. Sooo...now i fly out on Tuesday!

                    2. re: Lost

                      I was in New Orleans last August (gasp! hot humid hot!) on business. On my last day I went to Central, ordered 1/2, and took it two blocks over to the banks of the Mississippi for a little picnic. Caught a nice breeze. Remembered to bring lots of napkins. A blissful afternoon.

                    3. Lost, thanks for your report back. I'm happy that you enjoyed the foods that make New Orleans unique.

                      1. The best one is in the Frenchquarter right across the street from the French Market. We just returned on Saturday. We bought two of them. They came recommended from my brother in law who grew up there. THEY ARE FANTASTIC. Good luck.

                        1. I've been reading the muffelata post for a long time. Nor Joe's in Metairie keeps coming up for muffs. I finally took the time to drive out to the store and purchased a half muff. I was really disappointed. IMO, it does not compare to Central's. The service was good and it is an interesting store. I think the thing that tanked it IMO is the bread. I took a couple of bites and it went in the trash. I'm going back to Central and put up with the "attitude" of the owners.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: bg1811

                            For some reason, Nor Joe's protected the bread from the olive oil, making mine a pretty dry sandwich.

                            1. re: bg1811

                              try the Little Joe at Nor Joe's!
                              with the muff there, were you taking it to go? I've had go muffs and found they packaged them with the olive salad on the side, so the bread won't all apart from being soaked too long or overnight (as was my situation).
                              also in Metairie, try R&O's.

                              1. re: bg1811

                                IMO, Nor Joes = worst muff, EVER. So bad, I wouldn't take one for free. In fact, I took one bite and trashed the rest. It was to go and the olive salad was on the sandwich. Bread was too thick, dry and tasted stale.

                                1. re: JazzyB

                                  IMO, Napoleon House wins that award. You're right about the bread at Nor Joe, but I think the relatively tasteless olive salad and second quality meats at NH make for a much worse experience.

                                  1. re: jnc

                                    Yikes! Hard to imagine being worse than Nor Joes.

                              2. Hi all. My girlfriend and I have been, um, "discussing" variations on the basic muffuletta orthodoxy. Obviously there's the distinction between cold and heated, but we are in disagreement about the extent to which the cold cuts can vary. Is it prosciutto and salami, or is regular ham OK? How about roast beef? Black olives in the relish? Obviously we're all entitled to eat whatever we think tastes good, but I welcome your thoughts.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Mark Alberts

                                  The tradition is cappicola ham, salami, and mortadella. lots of places (supermarkets, etc) will cheap out and use only low grade ham and a few pieces of salami.

                                  never seen one with prosciutto or roast beef. I have seen black olives on a muff, at nor-joe's (which I wasn't impressed with either).

                                  1. re: Chris Martel

                                    Don't know if it's common practice there, but the lady at Nor-Joe's put prosciutto on mine a few months back. A pretty good muff except for the dry bread...next time I'll ask her to ladle a little olive salad oil on it.

                                  2. re: Mark Alberts

                                    Back in the days when Frank Gagliano's m-i-l did the muffs at Frank's Deli, she'd use 3 different salamis. Do not now recall exactly what they were, nor do I know exactly which ham she used. Still, these were the ultimate for my palate. She also ran them through the toaster oven for a moment. The cheeses got a touch soft, and the cooler ingredients (except for the olive salad) were slightly above room temp (NOLA "room temp"). She'd take the muffs out, when the bread had only a tiny toast on the edges, open them up and add the olive salad. When she'd turn away, I'd add a tiny bit of hot mustard, that Frank always had for me, hidden behind the bar. I hate to admit it, but I'd put a bit on her roast-beef po-poys, as well - but only when she was not looking. I suspect that I got this special latitude, since we were their first customers, when they opened.

                                    It was similar to my ordering of a "turkey Ruben," at Goldstein's Deli in Denver. If Mrs. Goldstein was there, I had to whisper to her cook, what I wanted. If Mrs. Goldstein heard me, she'd scream, "there is NO such thing as a 'turkey Ruben.' I cannot make such a sandwich!" The cook would wink at me, and when Mrs. Goldstein wasn't looking, I'd get my turkey Rueben. Same at Frank's. Gotta' do some things behind the cook's back.


                                  3. Had an eary flight home last trip and we always get a muff for the ride. Picked one up at Johnnie's Po'boy on St Louis. The filling was great, the bread not so, but it sure beat the h*ll out of the airline peanuts.