Chef Melissa Araujo pays homage to her Honduran roots—and her grandmother’s kitchen—at her welcoming Bywater cafe where brunch is a specialty. She channels culinary influences from the homey dishes of her childhood along with specialties of the Garifuna, descendants of an Afro-indigenous population from the Caribbean who were exiled to the Honduran coast in the eighteenth century. Alma, which means soul in Spanish, was five years in the making, with Araujo popping up in various kitchens while she was running a catering business.
It was wildly popular with locals from day one. As time went by and more visitors started coming back to New Orleans, tourists discovered Araujo’s from-scratch menu. The Alma brunch is a best seller—two eggs with refried beans, sweet plantains, avocado, queso fresco, and homemade crema— and plant-based dishes are a feature at every meal. Guests can dine inside and out in the sparse, elegant space, which is decorated with her grandparents’ wedding photo and a tile mural of the Mayan moon goddess Ixchel, a deity of female power and fertility.