The Victorian coffeehouse on Nashville and Magazine Street predates the nearby chains by over twenty-five years. Café Luna is more than a neighborhood hangout; it’s become an Uptown fixture. Well known for its hip vibe, superior coffee, and Eastlake corner porch, it’s also a restaurant. Laidback owner Greg Hill, resident coffee connoisseur and barista, took over the business in 2013. Hill’s changes include breakfast and lunch menus offered daily.
“Eating a good creole tomato is just like eating a strawberry.” – Uber Driver
They’re here: back-road vegetable stand tables and farmer’s markets laden with baskets of huge red homegrown tomatoes. Some might say that the Creole Tomato is a season unto itself in Louisiana. I guess we can add it to parade season, crawfish season, and football season. But, then again, New Orleans has always had its own way of telling time.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday for some may involve church, bonnets, and chocolate bunnies, but in Louisiana it also usually includes a good old-fashioned Crawfish Boil. Hams and pork loins will be studded, glazed, and stuffed, awaiting Uptown ovens. Bundt cakes baked, brownies cut, and eggs dyed. Someone’s great-aunt will lobby to bring the macaroni and cheese, while another tries to control the dinner menu (this is why they invented wine). To-Do lists already read “Make Deviled Eggs” and “Prep Bloody Mary Mix”.
Mid-City’s successful Gracious Bakery has opened a second full-service location, Gracious on the Avenue. Pastry Chef Megan Forman has brought her pastries, brunch, and luncheon selections Uptown—the Garden District to be exact. Uptown is always ready for a new breakfast spot. And Forman, formerly of Sucré and Bayona, speaks of “seeing a neighborhood need,” and of a place “wanting the food to be warm and welcoming.” The vibe at Gracious is casual and easy and Forman accomplished her goal of “creating an experience where people feel comfortable and easy when they come in.” Breakfast and luncheon items are a draw, but that doesn’t discount the pastries, breads, and cakes.
Bar Frances and its sleek, modern building has replaced what was once the location of Frank’s Steakhouse. The Freret of our parents’ day—Long’s Bakery, Israel Delicatessen, and Canal Villere—has given way to the new Freret Street Corridor. We have Stacy Head to thank for the Freret renaissance. What was once a dilapidated abandoned street is now a thriving neighborhood and an established restaurant row of sorts. Bar Frances is the latest addition to the growing area.
The Germans settled the German Coast of Louisiana or Bayou Des Allemands, as it became known in the 1730s. The majority of New Orleans’ German immigrants arrived en masse in the early to mid-1800s. Those Germans settled in the City of Lafayette, now part of the lower garden district. St. Mary’s Assumption Catholic Church, built right across the street from St.
One of the go-to Magazine breakfast spots continues to serve fresh, unique, and healthy choices. Surrey’s is one of those rare places where the health-conscious can order vegan tofu, black beans, and fresh squeezed juices, while their other half enjoys a Montana breakfast platter of Eggs, Ham, Bacon, Sausage, Country Gravy, and butter-laden Biscuits. There is more than enough variety to indulge one’s sweet tooth while friends concentrate on the savory side of the menu. Sadly, the house juice-blend of grapefruit, orange with fresh ginger has been MIA from the menu for over six months. Favorites include the Costa Rican breakfast of Eggs, Beans, and Avocado over Brown Rice – ask for diced red onions and peppers on the side; huge Breakfast Burritos, a traditional Huevos Rancheros of Eggs, Corn Tortillas, Black Beans layered with a savory Mole’ Sauce and topped with melted Cheddar.
The renewed post-Katrina CBD is a hotbed of new restaurant concepts. One of the most popular is Willa Jean, located in the heart of the new South Market area. If you haven’t been, it’s time. Frankly, if you haven’t ventured out of Uptown, it’s time to explore the CBD restaurant scene. The days of wandering Poydras in search of a meal, any meal, are long gone.
Italian cuisine has arrived in the Lower Garden District, albeit tucked beneath an unlikely package. The Italian-American Trattoria is housed on the first floor of the historic Harris-Maginnis House, the antebellum boutique hotel currently known as the Magnolia Mansion. The location is an irresistible combination of soaring Corinthian columns, ancient oaks towering over equally ancient iron gates, craft cocktails, a piano bar, “Mack the Knife” wafting through the air, and the perfect Osso Bucco. The signature appetizer is Spiedini Mozzarella, served with authentic Rat Pack origins. Chef Sonny DeCrescenzi or “Sonny D”, as he was known, was the originator of the dish. Chef “Sonny D” was Chef at The Archer, Sinatra’s favorite Jersey haunt in Fort Lee.
Charlie’s Steak House is many things. There’s the menu, or lack thereof; the history; and then, there’re the anecdotes. It’s an old school New Orleans restaurant of the neighborhood variety. It’s a tad “Goodfellas,” in the best way. Its Italian origins are everywhere.