The gauntlet was laid down in a NOLA.com article quoting the editor of a national food magazine: Cochon Butcher serves up New Orleans’ best muffuletta.
Well, Central Grocery gets the publicity and deserves the title based on longevity alone, so I had to find out for myself who was the best — or at least the best between the several I’ve tasted.
Between Cochon Butcher and Central Grocery, there is no comparison: Cochon Butcher wins hands down.
The sandwich was a manageable size. Some versions are so huge that they can be split two, three or even four ways. I managed to eat CB’s sandwich myself, but some of my companions split their’s.
CB’s bread has a delicate crust to it, and a light and buttery flavor inside. The green olive oil spread was tasty and light, not a drippy, overpowering mess.
And the meats — pastrami, salami, ham and house meats — were what you would expect from an authentic butcher shop: tasty and plentiful. Some muffulettas will come with more meat, but none will come with better tasting meat.
I paired mine with Cajun potato salad, which was wonderful. It was like a German potato salad, but featured Creole mustard. My friends ordered coleslaw — also good — and the Pancetta mac and cheese, which was worthy of the trip by itself. If you have to, split the mac and cheese with a friend or take the leftovers with you.
Cochon Butcher also offers a full bar — this is New Orleans, after all — with plenty of wine and local brews. The sandwich, side and Abita beer cost me less then $20.
If you’re a New Orleans tourist, Central Grocery, located along Decatur street at one edge of the French Quarter, will be easier to find.
Cochon Butcher is located two blocks from the World War II museum, which is about a mile from Canal Street. The museum is easily reached via the St. Charles streetcar and then a short walk. The museum is another attraction that should not be missed and worthy of most of a day.
Cochon Butcher’s address is listed as 930 Tchouplitoulas St., although that is actually the address for the companion restaurant, Cochon Restaurant. To reach Cochon Butcher, keep going down Higgins Drive for one more door.
It has just a few indoor tables and bar seating, along with a few more sidewalk tables. We arrived just after noon one weekday, and we grabbed a table, but the place filled up fast.
The muffuletta, a unique New Orleans sandwich, can be found at many restaurants around town, but I doubt you’ll find one that’s better than the one at Cochon Butcher.