There’s big news from one of New Orleans’s most lauded chef talents, Ana Castro: She and owner Michael Stoltzfus are closing their acclaimed modern Mexican tasting menu restaurant, Lengua Madre, at the end of the year, and Castro is branching out on her own for a more casual, Mexican mariscos restaurant to open in spring 2024, called Acamaya.
Castro will open Acamaya at 3060 Dauphine Street in partnership with her sister, Lydia Castro. Castro tells Eater Acamaya will serve Mexican mariscos, “which is an entire culture of its own. Bright and spicy, taking advantage of the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico. We’re gonna have the most fun,” Castro says. Mariscos is a catch-all Spanish word meaning seafood or shellfish and usually refers to aguachiles, ceviches, fish soups, shrimp cocktails, tostadas, and other dishes served in the morning and afternoon. It sounds somewhat similar to Cantina Night at Lengua Madre, which was held a handful of times on Monday nights in 2022 as a chance for customers to walk in and order shareable seafood dishes like raw oysters, ceviche, and fish dip, as well as vegetable dishes and margaritas. Acamaya is a Spanish word for crawfish or a similar type of crustacean, though the restaurant will not specialize in boiled seafood, Castro notes.
Castro and Stoltzfus, the chef and owner of Coquette, opened Lengua Madre in 2021, a few years after her first nomination from the James Beard Award Foundation — Castro was named a finalist for the rising star chef of the year award in 2018 when she was sous chef at Coquette. Lengua Madre was a semifinalist for best new restaurant in the 2022 Beard Awards, and Castro was again nominated in the 2023 Awards for best chef, South. Lengua Madre was Eater New Orleans’s fine dining restaurant of the year in 2021. The end of Lengua Madre — which is not until December 31, 2023 — is also the end of Castro and Stoltzfus’s seven-year working relationship.
As for the Lengua Madre space at 1245 Constance Street, Stoltzfus plans to open a new tasting menu-only restaurant that may resemble the tasting menus offered at Coquette, according to a press release. That to-be-named restaurant will open in early 2024. Finally, Stoltzfus also has some changes planned for Coquette, his acclaimed 15-year-old restaurant in the Garden District. The seven-time James Beard Award nominee will expand Coquette’s menu, making it exclusively a la carte. It will close on September 24 and reopen on September 28 with the new menu.
Lengua Madre will remain open through December 31, 2023. Stay tuned for more details as the opening of Acamaya approaches.