Cuban cafe and bar El Libre opens Sept. 16 in the French Quarter.
Grabbing a cafecito
and a Cuban sandwich to go will get a lot easier for French Quarter
residents when Cuban cafe and bar El Libre
(508 Dumaine St., 504-309-2699; www.ellibrenola.com
) opens Sept. 16.
The new restaurant in the former DeVille coffee house and creperie space will serve cocktails, Cuban sandwiches and coffee. The venture is run by several partners, including Blake Lindberg, Konrad Kantor and Bruce Fowler.
Lindberg said the idea for the cafe was hatched over the course of several years, and they eventually decided on the Cuban theme. They imagined a place where passersby could stop in for a cup of Cafe Bustelo and a pressed Cuban sandwich, or linger over a daiquiri or two.
“There’s really not any other Cuban places, at least like this one, in the city,” Lindberg says. “We’ve all had our own pipe dreams of opening up a place someday, and it’s great it’s finally happening this way,” Lindberg said of his crew.
All partners helped design, decorate and refurbish the space. Pale green walls are covered with drawings, sketches and stencils, including several of Ernest Hemingway, who time spent in Cuba and set some of his stories there.
The jewel-box storefront has a smattering of seats downstairs and a small upstairs alcove, accommodating roughly 20 people total.
Chef Barbara Stamatelatos' menu includes a handful of sandwiches, breakfast items, sides and sweets.
There is, of course, the classic Cuban sandwich made with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles from local brine masters French Pickl’er. A similar version features roasted turkey and a vegetarian adaption includes black beans, avocado and Swiss cheese.
Breakfast features a build-your-own format with eggs, cheese, avocado and other fixings.
All sandwiches are served pressed on French bread. Sides include black beans, avocado salad, and rice.
Pastry chef Leah Tenace makes sweet plantain bread, rum-soaked drunken tres leches cake and an assortment of cookies.
Kantor, who formally helmed the bar at nearby steakhouse Doris Metropolitan
, is heading up the bar program, which includes a trio of classic Cuban cocktails: daiquiris, Cuba libres and mojitos.
There is an open house from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 12.
El Libre will will open at 7:30 a.m. and close most days around 11 p.m., with the exception of Mondays, when it closes at 4:30 p.m., and it is closed on Tuesdays. On weekends, the cafe will open around 10 a.m. and stay open till 2 a.m.