Perhaps the only viable critique of the New Orleans food scene is the lack of international options. In the past few years, more and more restaurants have worked to change that perception. While the French Quarter is mostly focused on a certain type of food, the Westbank continues to support a growing variety of restaurants. The shopping center storefront where you can find Mangú is no exception. The small, family-run, Dominican restaurant is pound-for-pound one of the best in the city.
Having little experience with Dominican food, I was under the incorrect assumption that the island cuisine is often heavy, and pork-centric. The menu and dishes at Mangú, the city’s only Dominican restaurant, are light and fresh. Don’t let the fried food fool you, the flavors are unique and vibrant. Their menu changes with the seasons, with a rotating list of fresh juices and weekly specials. Dariana Marte and her family do an amazing job of representing all Dominican food has to offer.
Classic Dishes and Incredible Bites
A lot of customers come to Mangú for the familiar flavors of home (Mangú itself is boiled and mashed green plantains). It’s no wonder that most of their customers are regulars because once you walk in the door you feel right at home.
I started by trying some of their appetizers and was blown away. The beef quipes, very similar to Lebanese kibbeh, were perfectly fried, light, and full of flavor. During the whole meal, I never reached for the salt—only for a fork, or my Presidenté (The standard Dominican beer). The yuca balls were somehow lighter and fluffier than the quipes. I struggled to take a picture because of all the steam pouring out of the little balls.
Lenten treats and more
The rest of my order was hit after hit. For those of us taking a break from meat during the Lenten season, the whole fried snapper was flaky, tender, and came right off the bone. The seafood was spectacular, especially with the sides of plantains. The camarones en salsa was perfectly balanced alongside their mofongo (similar to the mangú but with fried plantains and mashed with chicharron—fried pork belly). The shrimp were juicy and covered in a vibrant, mild salsa. Dariana told me that when new customers ask for hot sauce, it normally sits untouched on the table once the food arrives.
I also tried their chicharron, fried pork belly, which Dariana suggested I get with a side of their rice and beans. The beans were incredible and proof that at Mangú, there are no afterthoughts—every part of your meal has been considered and cared for.
When I failed to order one of the house specialties, Chivo Guisado, they brought me out a little side so that I wouldn’t leave without seeing all they have to offer. The stewed goat was falling apart at the sight of my fork and the peppery stew is most certainly something I will order on my next visit.
You will not be left wanting. They even have you covered for dessert:Smooth, creamy flan that’s not too sweet, and fried plantains covered in spices, topped with ice cream.
For anyone looking for a beautiful and delicious home-cooked meal, Mangú is a flavor destination worth the trip.
Know before you go: Mangú
Mangú is located at 2112 Belle Chasse Highway, Suite 7 in Gretna. They offer delivery, pickup, and limited in-person dining. Their online menu (letsmangu.com) makes it very easy to navigate and place your order—even for first-timers. But you can always call to place your order at 504-324-9870. Follow them online @letsmangu on Instagram, Twitter and Yelp.