Small plates topped with delicious NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) cuisine, paired with a vibrant ambiance and live music, makes for an eventful family-night-out in our beloved foodi-friendly city. Located on NE 28th— restaurant row in the Kerns neighborhood—Tapalaya has been dishing up its creamy baked mac and cheese and nightly seafood boil for years, courtesy of New Orleans-born chef Anh Luu. It is the city’s first, and only, restaurant to serve up New Orleans cuisine tapas-style, hence that catchy name! Read on to find out what makes Tapalaya a “must-add” to your list of family dining spots.

tapa-outside-2

photo: Sheena Portrait

Family-Friendly Ambience
Upon walking in, ask the kids to spy as many alligators as possible since there are a lot of them decorating the restaurant— some are hidden in plain sight! Images of George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog series plaster the walls, while Mardi Gras beads and Cafe Du Monde cans sit on the window sill and tables. Your family will be instantly excited about this unique place and curious about what comes next!

Insider tip: make sure to ask for colorings sheets of Mardi Gras masks and the blue dog if you have little hands that need to keep busy.

Yummy Eats!
Stacks of large green plates sit on tables because as a tapas restaurant, where sharing is encouraged, dishes come out as soon as they are ready—so no sitting around with hungry children waiting for all of your meals to be delivered together. Kids will love having popcorn shrimp or cornbread muffins topped with a heaping mound of warm butter. In fact, they’ll be gone as soon as they hit the table!

girls

photo: Sheena Portrait

Good-For-You-Food
Parents will be pleased to know their littles are getting quality ingredients as Tapalaya uses antibiotic-free meats, cage-free eggs and sourced local produce whenever possible. And let’s not forget the drinks! An impressive drink list is available with beer (rotating seasonal drafts and ciders), wine and specialty NOLA inspired cocktails from the full bar. Make sure to order the Kiddiecane, a virgin cocktail for the under-agers at the table, made with fresh-squeezed lemonade, ginger and mint.

Insider tip: A family-friendly happy hour is offered daily from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. with cocktails and small plates ranging from $3-$6. Look for the recently added Asian dishes on the dinner menu that Chef Anh Luu has created, inspired by her Vietnamese heritage.

chicken

photos: Sheena Portrait

The Entertainment
Live bands jam Cajun/Creole music every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. -2 p.m. Expect to groove to Blues and Folk music while devouring some fried chicken and beignets drizzled in bourbon syrup, because…yeah! Tapalaya serves lunch on the weekends too!  You may even spot children shaking a tambourine with the band as guests old and young are invited to dance and sing along which fosters a perfectly balanced casual and entertaining dining experience for everyone!

Insider tip: Tapalaya takes reservations on OpenTable and can accommodate large parties of up to 12.

band

photos: Sheena Portrait

Next time you feel the hankering for authentic eats, served up by a friendly staff while your family is moving n’ shaking to some live Blues tunes, roll on down to the Kerns hood to Tapalaya!

28 NE 28th Ave.
503-232-6652
online: tapalaya.com

Did you already know about Tapalaya and all its greatness? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

—Sheena Portrait