With monster, mega-grocery stores becoming the norm, many people miss out on the intimate, specialized care one can only receive at a corner, family-owned market. Thankfully, in the French Quarter, no such super-supermarkets like Walmart can exist because the whole area is a preserved historical landmark and, frankly, I believe the locals just might riot. Although the quaint, neighborhood grocery and convenient stores are a perfect place to pick up some milk or a bottle of aspirin, they are also great places to grab a bite to eat that won't warp your wallet.
On the corner of Governor Nicholls and Royal streets, there is a popular little shop called Verti Marte. Consisting of two, tiny aisles of goods, most folks like to stop in for a bite to eat from their deli in the back that serves up both breakfast and lunch at prices that will make your eyes pop. For example, you can get three eggs cooked "your way," a choice of ham, bacon or sausage with hash browns and toast or a biscuit for only $4.10!
Recently, I squeezed down one aisle to the back and ordered a couple of "Verti Marte Original" sandwiches. My friend chose the "Mushroom Mountain" with fresh, grilled mushrooms topped with gooey, melted provolone that was only $6.10. I went big with a "Royal Feast" featuring grilled roast beef, turkey and ham topped with pepper jack cheese, black olives, grilled mushrooms and their "WOW" sauce for $10.00. Both delicious sandwiches were served on fresh, seeded Leidenheimer bread and were so large, that my friend and I could only finish half! One of the best features of Verti Marte aside from their wonderful food and low prices? They deliver!
Only a few blocks away on Decatur Street lies one of the most famous stores in the French Quarter, Central Grocery. Founded in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, Central Grocery is one of those New Orleans legends everyone has raved about and for good reason, because Central is where the muffuletta was born. If you've never experienced the glory of the one and only muffuletta, know that it is a gargantuan sandwich served on a large, flattened loaf of firm, seeded bread that is piled high with capicola, salami, pepperoni, Swiss (or traditionally emmentaler), ham and provolone. Then, the stack of meat and cheese is covered with a tangy olive salad that brings the whole sandwich together. Know that one muffuletta at the current price of $14, could easily feed a family of four!
This "old-world" shop is not only a sandwich counter, as you'll notice as soon as you step inside it's delectable-scented interior. It's like an Italian specialty-food store where you can find all kinds of pastas, olive oils, canned tomatoes, olives, jams, jellies, coffees, teas and that key muffuletta ingredient, large jars of giardiniera. They also have a deli case with all kinds of meats and cheeses and a nice array of desserts.
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