On my first encounter with Central Grocery's celebrated muffuletta (half, $6.95; also whole, $12.95), late one afternoon several years ago, even the terrific pungent olive salad didn't compensate for a sandwich that somehow seemed tired after a long day under wraps. On a late morning return visit, just ahead of the lunchtime rush, the seeded loaf was springier (the olive salad hadn't been soaking in all day long), and the Italian meats and cheese had more zip. At the stools in back of the grocery, near the droning television, folks from all over settle in with their sandwiches; I shared a few words with the Mandarin-speaking tradesmen at the adjoining counter.
923 Decatur St. (St. Philip-Dumaine Sts.), New Orleans