Mandina’s Restaurant was first opened as a grocery store at 3800 Canal Street by Sebastian Mandina in 1898. With the addition of his sons in the 1900s it became a pool hall that sold sandwiches to the many Italian immigrants and others living in the mid-city area. By 1932 the sons turned it into Mandina’s Restaurant, with the family living upstairs. It is now in the hands of fourth generation family members and has benefitted from its proximity to the Canal St. streetcar. Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters caused damage to the place and they had to close for 18 months to make repairs and now are trying to bring it back to the way it was in 1930. Today the large pink house on a corner, has 2 huge dining room and a long bar with a footrail but no stools. Windows to the street bring in even more light to the high ceiling room. No music was in the background, posters are on the walls and some TVs run but are muted.
We were enjoying an Abita beer when they brought out a plate of buttered toast. The really airy bread was nicely toasted to give the thin crust a crackly crunch around the soft inside. It was tasty.
Fried onion rings come in a huge order. The large rings were filled with thick onion slices that may have caused some to not be a crisp as you’d expect, or maybe it was because they were not fresh from the fryer hot. The slightly spicy coating was good when crisp and the onion really sweet and juicy. Something made a lot of the coating fall off the onions that would cause me to rate them just okay.
An oyster 1/2 loaf (MK=$21.95) is plenty of sandwich for two. This one used really large oysters with tons of lovely oyster flavor. We ordered it “dressed” which means it comes with lettuce, tomato and mayo. They brought a side dish of tartar sauce but it was too strong and covered up the oyster’s flavor. The coating on these oysters was just the right amount – not too little or too much. They were good to pick out and eat alone. A number of dill pickle slices came on the side.