El Gato Negro (New Orleans)

Location: New Orleans, USA
Address: 81 French Market Place
Website: http://elgatonegronola.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner

Located just across the street from the French Market Place, El Gato Negro (translates to The Black Cat) is somewhat away from the bustling tourist area. Just off of a quiet street, it’s a calmer atmosphere; during our visit it was busy enough but still had plenty of empty tables. With an extensive menu, it was shame we weren’t overly hungry as there were so many tasty sounding items.

To start, we were presented with a basket of complimentary chips and salsa. The chips were crispy and not too oily and the salsa an ideal consistency, not too thick or thin, with just the right amount of spiciness. Having chips on hand is important as they ended up going well with the rest of our meal.

The chips were great for scooping up the stuffed avocado ($11.75) appetizer. Indeed, there were chunks of ripe avocado in the dish but the highlight, in my opinion, were the plump grilled shrimp. The creamy sauce had a depth of flavour to it and comingled with tomatoes, crunchy onions, mushroom, fresh chimichurri and Cotija cheese. Quite a large starter it was substantial enough to be a main and would have been delicious with steamed rice.

The aged skirt steak burrito ($12.75) was filled with tender grilled pieces of beef, pinto beans, Mexican rice and Chihuahua cheese. I was surprised to see the burrito smothered in the chorizo salsa. Maybe it’s a cultural difference but in Canada our burrito wraps are dry and generally toasted with a crispy crust. The burrito at El Gato Negro reminded me more of an enchilada with the soft tortilla becoming mushy (a texture I’m not too fond of). In the end, I ate the burrito’s insides without the tortilla to get the most of the flavours; the skirt steak was tender and flavourful, overall a great piece of meat. With plenty of creamy guacamole accompanying the burrito, it was another excuse for us to eat more of the chips.

My friend tried one of their “famous margaritas”, a pineapple cilantro mix ($7.75) which was refreshing and pleasant. El Gato prides themselves with using fresh squeezed juices and you could certainly taste the difference in the cocktail. If you’re feeling like a baller, you can even order the El Rey margarita – for $225 you’ll be treated with a drink made with Dos Lunas Grand Reserve 10 year old tequila and a special cave-aged Grand Marnier all mixed with agave nectar and hand-squeezed juices finished table side. Alas, no one ordered it that night. 

I was happy with the meal, the ingredients were fresh and the flavours well balanced. El Gato Negro is a great place for cocktails and shared plates.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!