One cannot live by trout meunière alone. Most visitors to New Orleans come for the food, the traditional Creole sauces, seafood-rich gumbo and buttery nods to classic French cuisine. Then there’s the fried side of the menu: fried pickles, fried oyster po’boys, fried catfish. It’s all well and good, until all those calories and fat catch up with your skinny jeans.
Salu Bistro & Bar is a delicious, healthier destination to add to your must-eat list. The Irish Channel eatery is owned by 3 of a Kind, the company behind the growing number of Byblos Lebanese restaurants, including the original on Metairie Road and locations in food courts at the Tulane University student center.
Salu Bistro offers outside seating along Magazine Street in New Orleans — Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
See, it’s always good to have options. Although the French Quarter doesn’t offer much in the way of ethnic alternatives to traditional New Orleans fare (beyond Italian), travel to other nearby neighborhoods and the horizons widen.
Whether they favor Vietnamese or Middle Eastern or sushi, out-of-towners and locals alike appreciate variety and the chance to tuck into healthful alternatives to high-calorie eats. Enter Salu.
Salu Bistro puts the focus on small plates of inventive Mediterranean fare. Powered by the creative imagination of Chef Dustin Brien – a Boston native and award-winning chef married to a local New Orleanian – Salu’s menu offers family-style French, Italian and Spanish cuisine.
Mussels and flatbreads are a house specialty, along with sharing plates of paella, housemade charcuterie and flavor-forward dishes like wild mushroom empanadas and albondegas, Spanish beef and pork meatballs topped with a zesty tomato sauce. The small plates are ideal for sharing, priced in the $6 to $13 range.
Chef Brien sources locally where possible. Note the Two Run Farms skirt steak with crispy onions and wild mushroom cream; Two Runs is a Mississippi-based artisanal meat producer that raises animals on fresh, open pastures year-round.
Gulf seafood is also front and center, and you can even get those oysters fried with housemade bacon if you need a fix.
Live Spanish guitar music is featured on Thursdays at Salu, the same night that an order of seafood-spiked paella includes a bottle of house red or white wine.
The restaurant dishes a grown-up vibe that suggests date night or a night on the town with girlfriends.
Happy hour is another great time to check out this sunny bistro, with weekday drinks, mussels and flatbreads offered at half price from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The extensive Medi-focused wine list is a credit to General Manager Greg Thomas, formerly a sommelier at Nola in the French Quarter. Thomas also oversees a line of house-infused vodkas, flavored by the likes of cucumber and mixed melon.
With its outdoor seating along busy Magazine Street, Salu Bistro is a tasty option for lunch, dinner or cocktailing. The name, a reference to salute in Italian or salud in Spanish, is a fitting raising of the glass for health’s sake in a restaurant that’s downright good for the soul.