You know the feeling — when all you want is some Southern comfort, Cajun spice, barbecue, and good old fashioned home cooking. There’s very few places around that can give you that level of authenticity that is commonly found in the streets of NOLA. But, there is a place…
Mara’s Homemade is tucked away in a little plaza off Jericho Turnpike. Upon entry, you are greeted by a comfortable and casual atmosphere with Mardi Gras, classic NOLA decor. Without a doubt, you’ll be greeted a warm welcome.
Perhaps the place doesn’t look wildly impressive at first glance, but just wait until you get to the food. It really did not disappoint. The menu is full of classic Cajun dishes and BBQ options. Of course, they offer crawfish dishes as well. We came on a Wednesday, which happened to be “Women’s Night,” where they have a menu especially for the ladies. (Likewise, they have a “Mans Night” on Monday).
To start, we got the “Crab Fingers,” which is little bits of crab served in garlic butter, and we got the “Deviled Oysters,” which was fried oyster on top of a classic deviled egg.
Both dishes were great, and well-seasoned. The crab fingers were relatively simple, but proved to be an addicting snack. They were just good enough for me to imagine eating a huge tub of them. The Deviled Oysters were also very tasty — simple in design, but a classic dish with a tasty topping.
Then, for the mains — we had blackened shrimp, creole catfish, and a combination platter with crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, and red beans with rice. The blackened shrimp had a great sauce and seasoning. They were easy to peel and loaded with flavor, and came with a side of bread. The catfish was super light, flavorful, and satisfying. I ended up eating the entire dish. It came topped with tomatoes and it was served over a bed of spinach. Lastly, the combination platter was definitely comfort food for the soul. It was a huge dish (bigger than any of the others), and had a ton of seasoning, flavor, and character. Overall, as you could tell — flavor is not lacking in any of these dishes. On a rainy and sad day, the combination platter will definitely fill your heart (and stomach) with all it needs.
For dessert, we got their cobbler and bread pudding. Both dishes were rich and tasty. The cobbler was unlike any cobbler I’ve had before, since it was a bit more of a cake. It was soft and satisfying. The bread pudding was very dense, served in a thick mug. Overall, these desserts were good, but definitely not something you’d want to eat everyday unless you want to guarantee weight-gain. They are also rather heavy and dense, so one dessert to share will surely do the trick.
All in all, Mara’s Homemade is a quintessential gem in the neighborhood for some New Orleans cooking. There is a very comfortable and home-y atmosphere, and the food is authentic and the real deal. The presentation is decent and nothing remarkable, but I guess you truly do go there to just hang out and eat. I’ll be coming back.