The name La Casita has always fit this Warehouse District eatery well. “The little house” is in the ground floor of one of the Julia Row townhouses, and it is tiny, with just a bar, a handful of tables, a small courtyard and a correspondingly small menu.
Now, La Casita is expanding Uptown with a much larger second location in the works at 8400 Oak St.
“It’s essentially five times the size,” of the original, said proprietor John Michael Wade. “The doors are wide open now for what we can do here.”
The address was previously Squeal Bar-B-Q, which closed last year. This new La Casita is slated to open in mid-February, not long after Mardi Gras. No changes are planned at the original downtown location.
The kitchen will start with staples from downtown’s menu, which is not strictly traditional. It’s built around large, well-composed tacos, like brisket under a cap of broiled Monterey Jack cheese, or shrimp with pickled cabbage and thick cuts of avocado. From here the new menu will add more grilled meats, seasonal specialties (like squash blossom quesadillas) and more hand-made touches, including tortillas made from scratch.
A renovation to the former Squeal has enlarged the bar and opened up the main dining room. There’s a second room, designed to look like a house within a house, that can be used for private events. Seating extends to a covered patio and a wrap-around porch.
Wade opened La Casita in 2013. That was just before a slew of new Mexican restaurants joined the New Orleans dining scene, with a particular concentration downtown. La Casita has quietly built its own following nonetheless, with a cantina feel around the confines of its brick-lined interior and a generous happy hour to lure the downtown after-work crowd.
The new location will join a growing restaurant row on Oak Street, and a neighborhood that has a few Mexican restaurants already, including Panchita’s Mexican Criolla Cuisine (1334 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-281-4127) and the newer La Mansion (724 Dublin St., 504-249-5830), which opened over the summer.
The precise hours for the Uptown location of La Casita are not yet set, though it will likely serve lunch and dinner and add brunch on Sundays. It will have a happy hour similar to the downtown location, which is 3-7 p.m. daily. See details at eatlacasita.com.
634 Julia St., 504-218-8043
8400 Oak St., phone n.a. (slated to open mid-February)
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.