Lest we take the near constant flow of new restaurants in New Orleans for granted, the diversity of flavors they bring and the locations they find in the increasingly-crowded market are keeping things interesting.
Consider three very recent additions: a vegan café inside a yoga studio built into a former library, a contemporary Chinese restaurant in a one-time Bywater neighborhood store, and a CBD small plates lounge that’s moving a once strangely-mismatched restaurant space toward its fuller potential.
Good Karma Café (2940 Canal St., 504-401-4698) was developed inside Swan River Yoga, which occupies the stately, century-old structure originally built as the Canal Street Carnegie Library. Sughosh Berg, whose family runs vegetarian restaurants in Ocean Springs and Gulfport, Mississippi, serves a fully vegan menu here. Many dishes draw from Indian flavors, including curries and upma — a mellow, savory, semolina-based staple served at both breakfast and lunch — while falafel wraps, scrambled tofu, soups, fresh juices and smoothies are on the menu, too. Good Karma Café is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Ten Eleven (1011 Common St., 504-267-3405; 1011nola.com) opened last week as part of a wave of new CBD restaurants. It takes over the former Wine Bistro, which was neither a bistro nor a wine bar but instead a counterservice joint for good Creole soul food. Beautifully redone in an art nouveau motif, the space is configured for social dining with many large tables and a wraparound bar. Chef Michael Pedranti’s menu follows suit with snacks — duck meatballs, pork belly sliders — and small plates — mirliton fries, lamb ribs, curried crab tacos. A large adjacent room will eventually be developed as a nightclub. For now, Ten Eleven serves lunch on weekdays and dinner Monday through Saturday.
And Red’s Chinese (3048 St. Claude Ave., 504-304-6031; redschinese.com) also opened last week following the lengthy renovation of a low-slung Bywater storefront. Chef Tobias Womack has a modern and multi-cultural approach to Chinese cooking, with lots of spicy and fermented flavors mixed with some local staples. Look for mapo Dauphine (braised pork, tofu, black eyed peas, black cardamom), General Lee’s chicken (fried, with smoked peanuts, cilantro and bourbon soy) and catfish and Chinese sausage rice. Red’s Chinese serves dinner Wednesday through Monday. It’s BYOB for now, though a bar is in the works.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.