Canal St Bistro: An Experience to be Had!

By Kathleen DeMajo

Canal St Bistro is located at 3903 Canal St in Mid-City. Records exist of this building dating back to the 1960s. The building’s history reflects the neighborhood’s changing trends. Originally a residence, the building was split in the 1970s, and the other half became commercial. Some of the business that occupied that building in the past are: ABC Credit Plan, Courtesy Finance, Arrow Loan Co, Algiers Finance, The Mid-City secretarial service, The Mid-City Legal Group, and several doctors, although I am unsure if they we’re residents of the building.

Addresses of the buildings surrounding 3903 Canal appear and disappear frequently suggesting abandoned buildings, possible economic difficulties, or symptoms of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. However, through the years, we can see a steady source of revenue flow through 3903 Canal, which makes it an object of interest to those interested in the changing neighborhood.

Then and Now: Canal St


1950s and 2012




Carrollton and Canal Intersection 1950s and 2012 Image

The setting: The neighborhood has a colorful mixture of buildings and architecture as well as things which have come to be known as typical New Orleans. Conveniently, Monica’s hotel, The Canal St Inn, is located a block away, making it the perfect distance for a leisurely stroll  to the restaurant for any meal of the day.  The streets are lined with palm trees and oak trees. The funeral home next door, something that would normally be considered unappetizing, is bright orange and so lovely that it becomes a landmark for people unfamiliar to the neighborhood as well as  neutralizes  death among life and food as part of our everyday lives.


Then and Now: 1950s and 2012 The Neighbors 


 The Building

3909 Canal is large and pink with an element of playfulness, sophistication, and social awareness. There is pleasant outdoor seating which gives the option of being a participant of the neighborhood as you watch people walk by. The decor of the building is clean and fresh feeling. There is a sense of class and relevance among the white walls lined with local art, and the comfortably cushioned wood and wicker chairs. There is music so soft that it is a whisper. The margarita, the Bistro’s signature drink, is made from the fresh locally grown ingredients. These drinks are so fresh and perfectly balanced with top shelf alcohol.

When entering the restaurant I was welcomed warmly by the owner, Monica Ramsey. Image

She is very involved with her restaurant and personally greets and seats her customers. She creates relationships with the neighborhood and going to her restaurant is like going to a friend’s house. To read more about Monica’s accomplishments in environmentally progressive business practices, check out this blog, from where I borrowed the picture above.


Food: Although well above my price range (the poor college student), I actually considered going into debt to be able eat at Canal St Bistro on a regular basis. When trying to think of a word to describe this restaurant, several come to mind: clean, pure, fresh, whole, balanced, savory, creative, and lets not forget delicious. Executive Chef Guirllermo Peters, specializes in mesoamerican cuisine. he is a charismatic and wise man who has an intense passion for food. He enjoys being in an environment where he gets to design each dish from start to finish. Chef creates each dish purely for the art of the food itself. He has specific recipes of his own that he uses and customers do not ask for substitutions in their foods because they are there for what chef wants to make for them, not what they want chef to make. Such great respect comes from knowing that out of everyone, chef has the highest expectations for the foods. He proudly explains to us that when trucks of fish or produce come to deliver at the restaurant, if the items do not meet Chef’s standards, he will send them away. The quality of the food is always his number one priority.

I would like to give a special thanks to Seth Gray (Front of House Manager) who was an exceptional help in providing information about the resteraunt and the neighborhood.






Mid-City: How It Works


I am Kathleen, and I have teamed up with Austen to research Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza and Canal St Bistro as part of the Restaurant Row Project.

From this research we hope to create a better understanding of the qualities and elements that make Mid-City unique, and relate them to the restaurants that thrive there.

            As we know, there are dozens of delicious locally owned restaurants in the Canal Carrolton area. I find that breaking the restaurants up as pre and post Katrina is most helpful, because often historical places i.e. Mandina’s and Brocato’s, are used as reference points when giving driving directions to near-by restaurants. This adds an element of authenticity and draws people to the neighborhood. At the same time, we mustn’t over look the importance of the newbie’s to the block. In this complex ecosystem each successful restaurant brings something to the table that the restaurants around it may not.

            Since both of our restaurants can be considered new kids on the block; we decided to focus on what makes them successful in a neighborhood filled with tradition. From our interviews with representatives from both restaurants, we found that the most important thing in this area is to be seen as a staple in the community. For example, Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza, prides itself on being, well… neighborhood oriented. Theo’s has created a strong repeat customer clientele. There are many regulars who spend hours there every Tuesday for 1$ draft day. As Austen and I watched dozens of people come, order, eat, and leave, we noticed that a particular group of Tuesday regulars are as much of a part of  Tuesdays at Theo’s as 1$ draft beer is. Regulars like this make New Orleans special because they create the authentic and personal element that is often missing in restaurants of all kinds. When you go to Theo’s, it is a social event. You expect to see familiar people there, and you aren’t surprised when a random person strikes up a conversation with you.   

            Canal St Bistro is similar in that they have many regulars and work to create a strong presence in the neighborhood. They offer the restaurant for community events like The Mid-City Neighborhood Organization meetings, advertise only through local media outlets, and buy as much of their ingredients from local growers as possible. They also buy earth friendly materials such as napkins and sauce cups made out of corn and cane sugar. General Manager Seth Gray explained to us that when the owner began to conceptualize the restaurant, she was not trying to recreate the Mid-City that was, pre-Katrina, but instead a Mid-City of the future. She believes that this area now has the opportunity to live up to its potential and create something that people can relate to as they can to Oak St., but larger and more diverse.

            Well, that’s all for today! Next, I will focus on the most important part, THE FOOD!