This weekend’s Freret Fest was created to spotlight the redeveloping corridor along Freret Street. Now, a dozen restaurants line the eight busy blocks between Napoleon and Jefferson avenues, along with coffee shops and bars.
Flooding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina could have been the death blow for Freret Street, a fading commercial corridor 10 years ago.
Instead, after the flood, an innovative entertainment district was approved to encourage business investment in the area, within walking distance of Tulane and Loyola universities. Empty storefronts were cleaned out and re-leased.
Populated today with a bustling mix of restaurants, businesses, music venues and chic cocktail establishments, Freret Street has become a destination for foodies of all ages and walks of life, as well as nearby collegiate types, tourists and those seeking the essence of New Orleans neighborhood flavor.
The Freret Business and Property Owner Association launched the Freret Market, now held at the intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue on the first Saturday of each month from September to June. The food, art and flea market also hosts local restaurants serving up unique cuisine, live music and a kids’ area.
And one day every spring, the street is closed to traffic and celebrates with a festival, produced by the Freret Market, that spotlights the area’s recovery. Here’s a chance to enjoy a spring day, hear live music and experience one of the many new dining options along Freret.
The eatery offers wood-fired pizzas, house-cured meats, fresh market vegetables, seasonal cocktails and local beer. Wines from Campania complement the Italian menu, and Ancora also has a full-service bar. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. (504) 324-1636. www.ancorapizza.com.
Antibiotic-free, hormone-free beef patties are served on buttery, locally baked, toasted hamburger buns, with vegetable dressings from a local farmers market, house-made bread and butter pickle slices and American cheese. A unique twist is the house-made fresh mayonnaise bar with choices like basil and jalapeno. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday to Monday. (504) 267-0320. www.thecompanyburger.com.
An elegantly restored interior showcases the cocktails and other libations at Cure. Drinks reflect a craft cocktail aesthetic, and seasonal small plates, from cheeses to greens to more substantial fare, are available from the kitchen. There’s a landscaped patio for al fresco evenings. Opens 5 p.m. daily; kitchen 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. (504) 302-2357. www.curenola.com.
In a colorful beer garden atmosphere, Dat Dog offers a wide variety of franks and sausages including hot, smoked, alligator and crawfish, to name just a few. Toppings are equally varied, and it’s all served up on picnic tables on a cheerful outdoor patio. A full bar offers mix-and-match pairings, and don’t forget fries and beer. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. (504) 899-6883 datdognola.com.
Freret Street Poboys
With indoor and outdoor cafe seating, this Freret Street spot for breakfast and lunch serves home-cooked plate meals. At lunch, the menu transitions to po-boys stuffed with classic New Orleans fixings such as seafood, roast beef, smoked turkey, hot sausage and french fries with gravy. The venue also specializes in fresh-baked donuts and pastries. Indoor and outdoor café style seating. 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. (504) 872-9676. www.freretstreetpoboys.com.
High Hat Cafe
“The bayou meets the Delta,” is how Chef Adolfo Garcia described the High Hat restaurant. Between a kids’ menu and the full-service bar, there’s something for everyone in the family. The cafe offers catfish, tamales, po-boys, gumbo, pimento cheese; sides include black-eyed peas and hush puppies. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (504) 754-1336. www.highhatcafe.com.
This neighborhood bagel cafe and deli offers authentic kettle-boiled bagels and quick lunches. The bagels are so popular, the spot notes it often sells out before the end of business. 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to Sunday. (504) 355-3535. www.humblebagel.com.
With the idea of bringing proper Philly Cheesesteaks to New Orleans, this locally owned business uses locally sourced ingredients with a Philadelphia sensibility for a “Philly grown, Nola home” experience. The owners opted for Freret Street “to be part of the resurgence of this Uptown neighborhood. We felt an obligation to continue the momentum.” 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Sunday. (504) 875-4447. www.libertycheesesteaks.com.
Specializing in house-made deep-dish pizza, Midway also offers large salads, desserts and a draft selection that rivals many taverns in New Orleans. Unique pizza toppings include meatballs, chicken, bacon and Green Goddess dressing. Or try the FD Squared, a Latin-insired number with chorizo, chiles and cojita cheese. 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. (504) 322-2815. www.midwaypizzanola.com.
Mint Modern Bistro
The flavors and popularity of Vietnamese cuisine can be found at Mint, with a menu of innovative and creative culinary choices. There are also cocktail offerings with a Vietnamese accent. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (504) 218-5534. www.mintmodernbistro.com.
Featuring the duo of Master New Orleans sushi Chefs Mitsuko Tanner and Thuan Vu, Origami is a feast for the senses. With specialty cocktails, unique rolls, sushi and sashimi platters, the chefs translate Japanese flavors and fuse them for the New Orleans palate. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. (504) 899-6532. www.sushinola.com.
Latin American fusion cuisine featuring pupusas, salads, bowls, burritos, tacos, entrees and flan are on the menu at this eatery. Also on tap: fresh local ingredients, family friendly and a full service bar. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday. (504) 324-3562.
The Rook Cafe
The Rook is a full-service coffee shop serving coffee roasted locally from the New Orleans Coffee Exchange. Besides caffeinated beverages, the Rook offers a menu featuring homemade soups and pastries including vegan options. The homey atmosphere embraces customers with board games, Star Wars trivia and other diversions. 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. top 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. (618) 520-9843.
Village Coffee House
Coffee, sandwiches, pastries, music, art and friends are the ingredients at this java spot. Also look for oven-baked paninis, soup, fresh salads and healthy breakfast choices. Sandwiches and salads are made fresh on site. 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Kitchen 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. (504) 861-1909. www.villagecoffeenola.com.
House-made jams, spreads and mustards dress the sandwich offerings at Wayfare, which boasts “handcrafted food and spirits.” Marshmallow sweet potatoes, quinoa and house-made chips are among the unique side items on the menu. There are also seasonal soups salads, along with a selection of Charcuterie board items and cheese plates. 11 a.m. until Monday to Sunday. (504) 309-0069. www.wayfarenola.com.