Carmo (New Orleans, LA)

An important note: Fit had been here before and was excited to return because of their amazing vegetarian selection. After our meal, she did say that it was much (much) better the last time she went, and that they probably had somewhat of an off-night. Taking her word, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.

All that hype, unfortunately, raised my expectations and I was looking forward to something magnificent. Carmo was an interesting find in the beignet & crawfish capital of the country: a vegan-friendly but still meat-serving funky joint serving meals from around the world. I was immediately skeptical when I looked at the menu. How could someone prepare and serve dishes from cuisines across the entire globe? I love the CONCEPT of traveling around the world during dinner, but could the kitchen execute?

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They did well, but not well enough. First of all, the service was good in some ways and bad in others. Our waitress (and the host) was extremely friendly and high-energy, but were very slow as well. We didn’t see them for a while, on multiple occasions, our water was often empty and it took us a long time to pay. With that being said, they didn’t mess up any of our orders.

As for the food… a big menu can mean some difficult decisions. Instead of getting something I had before at another place, I decided to get a dish that I loved, but a version from another country. If their representation of Panamanian ceviche is accurate, I’ll never order that dish again… anywhere. There was barely any seafood/protein in it, and the VAST majority of the dish was very roughly chopped onions, and other vegetables. (Check my pictures if you doubt it.) I honestly think they forgot to put something in the dish that night.
Fit enjoyed her Esmerelda salad. It had lots of ‘oomph.’ Plenty of pepitas, cotija cheese, corn, black beans, quinoa…yeah this was right up her alley. It filled her up and was very satisfying. What she was unsatisfied with, though, was the hot sauce. The hot sauce is what brought her back to Carmo in the first place. She said, and I quote, “Carmo has the best hot sauce I’ve ever had.” And for some reason, it simply did not deliver this time. She was sad.
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The little bread balls (Pão de Queijo) that we ordered were delicious, but extremely dry. They needed to be served with a dipping sauce to compliment their nutty, salty flavor.
Finally, my fish collar (I think their fish special that night was red snapper across the board, but don’t quote me on that) was absolutely, positively divine. Well-cooked and seasoned, with a tangy and spicy dipping sauce on the side. My only issue with that plate was the very unnecessary bed of greens that it was served on. It didn’t make the dish look any better, and they ended up wilting, in the worst way possible.
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I think, at the end of the day, they make delicious food but need to focus. Take your best dishes and edit them to really stand out. This place has a great heart and amazing potential if they focus on details. If you’re in New Orleans, try it out and let us know what you think. And as always, stay hungry and fit!

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