If a good hearty breakfast is the cure for what ails you, the former home of a neighborhood pharmacy in Faubourg St. John may still do the trick as a new cafe with seafood omelets, chicken and waffles and sweet potato pancakes.
Bayou Breakfast opened over the weekend at 3111 Esplanade Ave., in the building that was long home to De Blanc Pharmacy. That neighborhood standby closed in 2013, and the building later had a short stint as a frozen yogurt franchise.
Proprietors Idolka and Derek Villavaso have run a number of other businesses around town, and they saw a need for more breakfast service.
“That’s one thing everyone seems to want and we don’t have enough of,” said Derek Villavaso, who is also a partner in the Frenchmen Street restaurant and music venue Vaso.
Inside Bayou Breakfast, there’s a diner counter, a collection of tables and booths and a décor mixing cartoon images of alligators and bayou scenes with stylized photos of the Villavasos’ own children. They plan to add outdoor seating as well. The menu (see link below) is an extensive roster of mostly breakfast and brunch dishes, plus a few po-boys. Creole flavors are prominent, with beignets drizzled with chocolate sauce, catfish and grits and BBQ shrimp among the options. There are conventional breakfast plates, and also vegan versions with scrambled tofu, and the kitchen serves a selection of lighter starts. For instance, the chia pudding is a coconut milk pudding studded with chia seeds for a tapioca-like texture, topped with fruit and honey.
The menu also has a few Latin American breakfast items, a nod to the heritage of Idolka Villavaso. A native of Nicaragua, she ran her homespun restaurant La Cocinita Escondida on Freret Street long before that area bloomed into a restaurant row, and before the city had many traditional Latin American restaurants. Her family now operates Sarita’s Grill from the same location.
Bayou Breakfast does not serve alcohol, though the owners said they plan to apply for a liquor license to do so in the future.
The Villavasos have a second, separate venture in the works in the Warehouse District, where they’re developing a juice bar called Joose Heaven at 841 Fulton St. The café will serve cold press juice, salads, smoothies and other light fare, and is expected to open in the next few weeks.
3111 Grand Route St. John, 504-252-9129
Breakfast and lunch daily
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.