An official “day of drinking” in the French Quarter is a thing of beauty, but you’ve got to start it off right. I did that this weekend at Manolito, an adorably tiny Cuban restaurant and bar near the corner of Decatur and Dumaine.
The place is very cute inside. The door opens onto a tiny dining and bar area with kitchen in the back, and upstairs is a loft area with a few more tables. Decor is very Cuban, naturally, but not overbearing. Our bartendress/server was SO ADORABLE and very attentive, and started us off with fantastic cocktails. I got the Bywater, a rum and green chartreuse-based concoction, and my friend got the Hotel Nacional, citrus-y house cocktail of the famous hotel in Havana by the same name. More friends arrived and we moved upstairs to the loft.
With everyone in tow we ordered another round of cocktails for the table (I’ll have the Bywater again, thanks), and then it was time for food. I had the black bean soup with crema and plantain chips, and a cheese arepa. Both were delightful and made for a meal that was just enough to sustain me through the next few hours of day drinking. The soup was hearty but not heavy, perfect for dipping the crispy plantains into. The cheese arepa was about the size of a crab cake, and though it was simple, it was superb. My friends got the olives and pickles, crispy chickpeas, and tortilla espanola, stuffed with potato, onion, and olive salad. I sampled them all and was not disappointed. To end the meal we all shared the sweetest flan ever. We left satisfied but not stuffed.
Manolito was a great place to start off our day of drinking. It’s charming and small, with great cocktails and delicious Cuban treats. It’s now officially been added to the list of regular dining/drinking spots for me and my pals. Definitely go check it out.