Johnny Sanchez-Food that hits close to the heart!

After another full day of eating, drinking and shopping in and around the French Quarter, it was time for dinner. If you are on a diet and decide to go to New Orleans, do yourself a favor, and leave the diet at home. We watch the Food Network quite a bit at home and had to go to one of our favorite chef’s restaurants. His name is Aaron Sanchez and his restaurant is Johnny Sanchez.

Johnny Sanchez is a fantastic upscale Mexican restaurant located in the business district of New Orleans. It’s modern, but very inviting and lively. The staff were incredibly friendly and enjoyed our passion for food. The decor was stunning. The chandeliers were funky and beautiful. There was a large mural on one wall that was just breathtaking. It was truly a beautiful restaurant and yes, you need to put this on your to-do list when you visit New Orleans. We were so excited about having dinner here. The only downside was that Chef Sanchez wasn’t present this evening. We really wanted to meet him. You owe us a visit Chef Sanchez next time we visit!

We started with their wonderful plantain and nacho chips with salsa. It was delicious, and they did not skimp on the chips. The salsa was perfect. It had a wonderful smoky flavor that you almost wanted to eat by itself. And of course for our drinks, we ordered a pitcher of margaritas. It was probably the largest pitcher of margaritas we’ve ever seen, and it was so good. We tried our best to finish it but couldn’t.

For our appetizer, we ordered the Yellowtail Ceviche. It was served with cucumber, tomato, avocado, habanero-passion fruit, and crispy hominy. It was wonderful. For our entrees, I ordered the arroz con pollo. It’s grilled chicken, crispy rice, cotija, avocado and serrano. It was so good! The level of flavors and the crispy rice were to die for. They served such a large portion that I count finish it. But luckily, I took it back to our hotel and had it for a snack later. Eric ordered two different tacos. He got the carne asada, which is wood-grilled skirt steak, pickled jalapeño, guacamole, and pico de gallo. His other taco was the Albondigas which was Chef Sanchez’s grandmothers’ meatballs, chipotle, queso fresco, and pickled onion. Both of these tacos were absolutely fantastic. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly layered flavors, these were without question, the best tacos we have ever eaten.

We almost passed on dessert until we found out that one item on the menu was flan. Eric was born in Puerto Rico and when there is flan on the menu, we have to try it and compare it to how his grandmother and mother made it. It’s a tall challenge and most of the time, the restaurant’s flan fall short. They are either too sweet or it doesn’t have enough flavor. How would Johnny Sanchez’s flan measure up? A quick lesson on flan for those who never heard of it before. Flan is a caramel or custard dessert with a layer of clear caramel sauce. It’s a staple in Latin and Caribbean cuisine.

So, back to our dessert. The flan was served to us with toasted coconut and milk chocolate. The flan itself was, in Eric’s words, perfect. He asked our server if his mother was back in the kitchen making it. It was that good. Food is an emotion and conjures up the past. It’s a part of who we are and where we are from. It defines our culture and heritage. Eric was actually tearing up while eating it. He talked about visiting Puerto Rico as a child and staying with his grandparents. He remininced about the food and flavors of the island, and how good his grandmother and mother were cooking delicous foods for their family. Our server was so touched by the emotions that the dessert evoked in us, she brought out the chef and we got to meet him. Eric gave him a great big hug! It was beautiful. I almost started crying.

I want to say to Chef Aaron Sanchez and the entire staff at Johnny Sanchez, thank you. Thank you so much for not just serving us a wonderful dinner, but giving us an experience like no other. Watching Chef Sanchez on the Food Networks’s hit show, “Chopped”, we see how passionate he is when it comes to food and cooking. That passion was passed down this evening on us. A good meal should make you happy. It should make you remember of who you are, those that came before you, and what they sacrificed to put food on the table for their families. It should make you proud of your heritage. Johnny Sanchez did all that and more. Gracias por una cena maravillosa!

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