The fragrant, pleasingly cluttered Central Grocery is a holdover from an era when Italian-run groceries occupied storefronts throughout the city. This timeworn shop across from the French Market still boasts an old-world charm, filled with tall shelves crowded with imported goods and various whatnots, mostly Italian. But that’s not why you’ll see lines out the doors. The crowds are clamoring for muffulettas, classic New Orleans sandwiches that originated here about a century ago. (Slogan: “Imitated by many, but never duplicated.”) A muffuletta comes on a type of round, flattish loaf (not unlike a focaccia) that originated in Sicily. The details may vary, but it typically includes cured meats (capicola, salami) and cheese (provolone). What distinguishes it from a hubcap-shaped hoagie is the topping—a tangy marinated-olive salad. Know this: You don’t need to order a whole one; a quarter-sandwich is still plenty filling for one person.

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Muffulettas at Central Grocery

Tales of the Cocktail, a.k.a. day-time drinking, is all about pacing yourself. Pit stop no. 2: Central Grocery for muffulettas--salami, ham, provolone, olives, anchovies, and garlic on soft Italian bread. It’s a New Orleans institution for a reason.

The Big Easy's Iconic Sandwiches

New Orleans is a sandwich town. Po’ boys stuffed with everything from alligator sausage to fried oysters, and muffulettas, Sicilian-style subs with mortadella, salami, ham, mozzarella, provolone, and olive salad, get most of the attention. And a trip to the Big Easy isn’t complete without a roast beef po’ boy, “dressed” (with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles) on flaky French bread from Parkway Bakery & Tavern and Central Grocery’s monumental muffuletta, served on a round sesame loaf, quartered, and wrapped in deli paper. Newer sandwich shops, like Donald Link’s Cochon Butcher, where nearly everything is made in house, and Killer Po’ Boys, a pop-up run by two chefs with a fine dining pedigree, are worth checking out as well.

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