New Orleans Creole Cafe
Celebrating One Year Anniversary
By Dean Glass
SOHO members who have ventured to Old Town lately to take advantage of free admission to the Whaley House Museum or their 10% discount on books and merchandise at the SOHO Museum Shop have probably noticed some recent changes our friends at the New Orleans Creole Cafe have made.
Both of the 1870s-era false-front store buildings that are believed to have originally stood on pilings in San Diego's harbor and which have occupied their current location on the Whaley House grounds since the 1960s, are now home to the New Orleans Creole Cafe Owners Humberto Villegas and Mark Bihm recently took over the former Drug Store Museum, the easternmost of the two structures, in order to add an indoor dining room to their restaurant operation. Originally, the café occupied only one of the buildings, which they use as their kitchen and walk-up service.
Another noticeable addition is the new fence, an exact replica of a fence that surrounded the Whaley property a century ago, which has been added around the perimeter of the outdoor dining area, as required by California law, to enable the café to serve beer and wine to its outdoor diners. The café was only recently permitted to begin selling beer and wine, and already it has made a positive difference in business. Among the southern-themed beers available are Abita Amber, Turbo Dog, and Purple Haze, while O'Douls is available for the less-adventurous imbiber. For the wine connoisseur, there is a selection of Napa Valley wines, as well as the house wines, which include Pascual Toso Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina and Montes Chardonnay and Merlot from Chile. There is also Louisiana-style sweet tea for those who prefer a traditional non-alcoholic beverage.
Whether you prefer dining al fresco under gas lights and pepper trees or in the quaint, rustic indoor dining room, you'll find the menu, which Frank Sabatini, Jr., food critic for the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times calls "abnormally inexpensive," has a nice variety of spicy recipes straight out of the Big Easy. Mark was raised in Louisiana, where he learned to prepare everything Cajun from jambalaya to alligator sausage po-boys. For dessert, there is red velvet cake, pecan pie, or bread pudding, and vanilla lattes.
The Creole Cafe celebrates its one-year anniversary this October, so be sure to stop by and wish Mark and Humberto continued success and take advantage of the 10% discount they extend to all SOHO members. If you are in the mood for a bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo followed by a sublime crawfish etouffeé, you don't need to look any further than Thomas and Anna Whaley's backyard.
The New Orleans Creole Cafe is open 7 days a week from 11:30am-9pm.
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