A Mid-City restaurant that’s been a leading local example of how the pop up trend can fuel restaurant development is closing down and going back to pop up status.

Milkfish, a two-year-old restaurant serving Filipino food, will close later March 14, its owners announced. They plan to continue Milkfish in other temporary locations as a pop up, and they said they plan to reopen again as a full-fledged restaurant in a different location sometime in the future.

Milkfish got its start in 2012 when Cristina Quackenbush, then a chef at the Latin seafood restaurant RioMar, started a pop up to serve flavors from her native Philippines. It was named for a staple fish from Filipino cuisine and a specialty in her kitchen which served downhome dishes like chicken adobo, lumpia eggrolls and hearty fried rice plates prepared with a contemporary style (see my earlier review here).

It was a new cuisine for many New Orleanians, and Milkfish developed along a different path from traditional restaurants.

From periodic pop up events, it eventually found a semi permanent home under the same roof as the Marigny coffee shop Who Dat Café. By 2014, she and her husband Dean Lambert and their family opened their own location, converting a former pizza franchise at 125 N. Carrollton Ave. into a colorful, casual neighborhood eatery.

Others have navigated a similar course, like Pizza Delicious in the Bywater, the Japanese street food spot Noodle & Pie and McClure’s BBQ, which all began as unconventional eateries.

Milkfish’ own pop up-to-permanent story had a unique twist for the trend. As a full time restaurant, Milkfish nurtured other pop ups, regularly turning over its kitchen and dining room to budding culinary entrepreneurs testing out their own concepts.

Earlier this year, Milkfish and the Burmese food pop up Lahpet struck a deal to share the space, with Lahpet serving lunch and Milkfish serving dinner.

That arrangement will continue until Milkfish closes later in March. Milkfish is cash only until then.

Milkfish plans to post details on future pop ups at milkfishnola.com.


125 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-267-4199

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.