The mid-century modern café on the Freret restaurant corridor looks like it would be more at home in Palm Springs. But Vals’ retro California vibe extends further than the décor. What’s drawing attention now is its weekend brunch. The Latin-inspired menu pays homage to the deeper roots of chef Alfredo Nogueira. Self-taught in the culinary arts, Nogueira points to his childhood family table as inspiration.
On Saturday (March 26), the Freret Street Festival will take over the popular restaurant and entertainment corridor. The six-block street party features 18 bands music on three stages (see the lineup below). The headliners include Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Squirrel Queen, Erica Falls and Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers. Alongside the 46 brick-and-mortar restaurants, bars and shops on Freret, the free festival includes a food court featuring top local chefs and more than 200 arts and crafts vendors. Plus there’s a children’s area with inflatables, a petting zoo, alligator meet and greets, arts and crafts, clowns and stilt walkers.
Mr. Tequila on Freret Street is a Mexican restaurant that has tasty food and cocktails to satisfy your craving.s Brothers Johnny, Leonel, and Raul Gonzalez hope to add a bit of Mexican flavor to a street that already has plenty of dining options. Originally from Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico, Johnny Gonzalez began working in the restaurant industry in Mississippi when he was 16. Eleven years ago, he and his brothers, Leonel and Raul, moved to New Orleans and began working at Carreta’s Grill in Metairie. “We spent eight years working at Carreta’s Grill,” Johnny Gonzalez said. “We gained experience, learned about the restaurant industry, and learned about tequila.”
After their time at Carreta’s Grill, the brothers decided to open their own restaurant.
Empanola, the spot that serves up traditional and New Orleans-inspired empanadas, is opening a new location at 3109 Magazine St. on Aug. 1. The site is the former location of novelty and gift shop Bootsy’s Fun Rock’n, which closed last summer. The Empanola location at 7321 Freret St., a neighborhood favorite since 2019, will remain Empanola’s main store, where all of the empanadas are baked.
Rouses Markets new store on Freret Street has officially opened its doors. Add another foodie destination to Freret’s restaurant row between Napoleon and Jefferson avenues in Uptown New Orleans. The new Rouses Market at 4645 Freret
Street features an unrivaled selection of prepared foods, from chopped salads made to order to Rouse-In-House prepared entrees and sides, to sushi, poke, stir-fries and ramen made right before your eyes. The market also houses the company’s first full-scale restaurant. Freret Faire is open for breakfast and lunch.
D.P. Dough, a build-your-own calzone chain that boasts late-night delivery, is set to open next month at 5010 Freret St. Since 2015, the building had been home to Sailor’s Cross Tattoo & Gallery, which recently closed at this location. The New Orleans franchise, the first in Louisiana, will be run by Akshaykumar Solanki. D.P. Dough was founded in 1987 in Massachusetts and boasts 45 locations nationwide. The restaurant caters to a college crowd, as it stays open for dine in and delivery until 4 a.m.
D.P. Dough also follows the popular “do it yourself” approach to fast food that places like Chipotle and Blaze Pizza made famous.
Last summer, in the midst of the pandemic, the team behind Cure opened a restaurant in a building many New Orleanians remember as a gas station and as the Freret Service Station. Vals, at Freret and Valence streets, serves Latin American food with a focus on Mexican flavors. It is the latest member of the CureCo family, which includes the nearby Cure and Cane & Table in the Quarter. Vals didn’t just come together over night. Owned by partners Neal Bodenheimer, Turk Dietrich, Matthew Kohnke and chef Alfredo Nogueira, the project was five years in the making.
Signs for the Freret Street Festival have hung over the Freret business corridor for weeks. It’s the trademark spring event of the popular strip that runs from Tulane and Loyola universities to Napoleon Avenue. The 2020 festival, originally scheduled for April 4, has gone the way of Jazz Fest and other events — postponed to a date yet to be determined. “It was a big boost,” Mojo Coffee House owner Angela Estevez said of the festival. “A lot of businesses, I think, that helps them get through the summer.”
In the years after Hurricane Katrina, Freret Street saw an influx of investment, with shuttered banks and gas stations transformed into restaurants, bars and coffee shops bringing new business to the area.
A new addition will soon join the mix of restaurants along Freret Street. This one will offer all-natural handmade pies, both sweet and savory. Windowsill Pies, an 8-year-old catering and wholesale bakery, is planning a cafe with artisan pies and tarts. The goal is to be open by Thanksgiving, said Nicole Eiden, who co-owns Windowsill with Marielle Dupré. “It will be a European-style cafe — multi-generational,” Eiden said.
A Freret Street restaurant was held up at gunpoint early Saturday, after it had closed, the New Orleans Police Department reported. An 18-year-old employee was taking out the trash in the 5000 block of Freret Street at 2:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, when he was approached from behind by a man with a gun, the police report stated. The gunman demanded that the employee open the restaurant door, but he refused and was struck in the head with the weapon. The gunman knocked on the door, and the manager opened it. Pointing the gun at both victims as they proceeded back inside the restaurant, the gunman went to the cash register and demanded money.