This week Gambit critic Helen Freund turns her attention to the often overlooked (and ever-growing) diverse mom-and-pop dining operations on Williams Boulevard in Kenner. Since Katrina, the strip has changed into a destination for "cheap, authentic international foods with a strong Latin influence"—mainly credited to a major boom in the Latino and Hispanic populations after the storm and a 2007 ban on new food trucks in Jefferson Parish— but as of late, there are also Asian and Middle Eastern elements helping to shape the albeit "unglamorous" stripmall hellhole into a "hotbed for cuisines from around the world."
This all begs the question..is Kenner home to the realest restaurant row in the greater New Orleans area? Perhaps so, judging by the incredible, affordable and diverse dining offerings—from Brazilian to Palestinian—with zero pretension all within in a few-block radius of each other.
Here now are Helen Freund's best dining bets on Williams Boulevard.
Churra's Brazilian Grill
This grocery store/cafe "serves a variety of grilled meats churrascaria-style as part of a buffet... The rotisserie is full of charred, fatty pieces of sausage, chicken and steaks, including picanha, the fat cap-topped sirloin." Also home to a salad bar. 3712 Williams Blvd., (504) 467-9595. [Photo: Yelp/Eddie S.]
"The Palestinian-owned operation... opened in late 2013 and has become a popular destination for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine." 2424 Williams Blvd., (504) 305-1797
Open since April, this Salvadoran spot specializes in pupusas "but also sells Honduran baleadas and Mexican enchiladas." Bonus, the snack pupusas "usually include chicharrones." 3118 Williams Blvd., (504) 336-4184
Brazilian Market Cafe
The cafe's signature rich bean stew Feijoada comes "topped with farofa — toasted cassava flour — and served with stewed collard greens" every Saturday at 5 p.m. Owner Greyze Vieira has even "custom-built a machine to dry the beef needed for the stew." 2424 Williams Blvd., Suite N, (504) 468-3533 [Photo: Facebook]
Asian Gourmet Market
This market was opened by "Little Tokyo owner Yusuke Kawahara... nearly 20 years ago, offering a wide selection of Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese staples," including sake and beer. 3239 Williams Blvd., (504) 466-0077
"Located in a former Pizza Hut building near 38th Street, serves Chinese American staples... but also features a decent selection of traditional Chinese dishes, including rice porridge congee" plus family-style offerings. 3800 Williams Blvd., (504) 305-0580
"The food is a nod to the beachside restaurants and seafood shacks that dot the coastal towns of Mexico" and there's also karaoke and Chilangaritas, "Corona dumped upside down in a giant, icy margarita." 3617 Williams Blvd., (504) 471-6100 [Photo: Yelp/AJ S.]
"A handwritten menu in Chinese hangs on the wall, informing those able to read the language of the daily specials, most of which are served family-style... servers usually can point adventurous eaters to one of the featured dishes." 3331 Williams Blvd., (504) 443-5691
Yes, it's called Cuban Restaurant and it's actually Honduran-owned with a menu of Honduran and Cuban specialties including congri and ropa vieja. 4221 Williams Blvd., (504) 305-5035
Pollos a la Brasa Fiesta
"Peruvian-style spit-roasted chicken is the star" at this spot that also turns out Argentinian and Salvadoran specialties. 3901 Williams Blvd., (504) 467-1119 [Photo: Yelp/Casey B.]
"The Guatemalan fast food chain opened in 2012 and serves chicken (fried or grilled), usually accompanied by beans, yuca fries and rice." 2810 Williams Blvd.
Taqueria Mi Rancho
"Affordable, traditional tacos and Mexican street specialties with not a Tex-Mex dish in sight." 3901 Williams Blvd, (504) 287-4715