Baru Times Two
Baru Bistro & Tapas (3700 Magazine St., 895-2225) features Colombian dishes and is run by a guy whose last name is Caro. That's the same story at Baru Café (3235 Williams Blvd., 467-5404) in Kenner, yet the owners of each say the businesses have nothing to do with each other. The local metal artist Hernan Caro opened the Kenner Baru last year. The new Uptown Baru is run by his nephew, Edgar Caro, who worked at the original restaurant before leaving to open his own place in April, using the same name and a lot of the same dishes. Baru is the name of a small island off the Caribbean coast of Colombia, the native country of the Caro family. Both restaurants serve dishes like the smoky corn casserole called mazorca, a hot salad of grilled avocado and Portobello mushroom chunks that both menus call "Gaucabello" and fried green plantain cakes called patacones piled with meat and Colombian cheese. Both restaurants are currently BYOB.

Medianoches in Mid-City
Café Cubano (424 S. Broad St., 427-9235) is both the name of a new Cuban coffee shop and the name of its most popular beverage, an ultra-strong, espresso-style coffee served in a vessel that is either the world's smallest coffee cup or the world's biggest sewing thimble. Located half a block from the Orleans Parish Criminal Court building, Café Cubano does business beneath a law office in a collection of nicely renovated rooms with earth-tone walls, restored brickwork and tropical chic furniture. Cuban music pulses through the place and even the people bent over their laptops with their morning coffee bob their heads to its beat. The café also serves pressed Cuban sandwiches and its sweeter relative the medianoche, plus a few others, and has daily specials like Cuban pork with black beans, the Cuban beef hash called picadillo and seafood paella. Breakfast includes pancakes and fruit salads. Café Cubano is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Performance Dining
Perhaps more like a dinner variety show than dinner theater, local performance artist Heather Weathers is hosting a night of food and entertainment called Art a la Cart on Thursday, May 31, at the Big Top Gallery (1638 Clio St., 569-2700; When the appetizer course of a "bloody Mary salad" comes out, so does comedian John Sharappa. The main course is a Swiss penne pancetta and a performance by the Rev. Spooky LeStrange of the local burlesque troupe the Storyville Starlettes. And for dessert, the Auctioneers perform music while guests eat fried pound cakes with pineapple, dark rum sauce and chocolate. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and the cost is $45 per person, which includes wines. Reservations are required.

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