The lounge and gallery space Trèo (3835 Tulane Ave., 504-304-4878; treonola.com) opened in February as a vote of confidence in a turnaround for Tulane Avenue, with its owners hoping to lure new interest in the woebegone commercial stretch with cocktails and contemporary art.
Last week, they beefed up the appeal with food.
Pauline and Stephen Patterson, who also run the nearby Finn McCool’s Irish Pub, brought on chef James Cullen to develop a menu, and now he’s serving a selection of small plates ($8-$12) that hews closely to traditional Spanish tapas.
There’s still room for some Louisiana flavor (fried oysters with aioli, bits of andouille in the steamed clams’ butter sauce) and a few dashes of Irish pub grub (“Scotch eggs” are boiled, wrapped in Irish sausage and fried). Trèo serves from 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Noshes for night owls
Dante’s Kitchen (736 Dante St., 504-861-3121; danteskitchen.com) has built a track record of turning pop-up dining concepts into full-time eateries, as noted in our feature this week on the trend around New Orleans. That encouraged restaurant manager Craig Seaman and bartender Jordan Deis to start Sarsaparilla, a pop-up that turns the Dante’s Kitchen dining room, bar and patio into a late-night lounge aimed at night owls and fellow service industry pros.
On Tuesday nights, when the Riverbend restaurant is normally closed, they swap in colored light bulbs, spin a groovy soundtrack and array some playful props (finger puppets, a 6-foot-tall inflatable birthday cake) to change up the setting.
From the bar, Seaman pours inexpensive craft cocktails and wines while Deis turns the kitchen doorway into a walk-up stand for small plates. A recent menu had arancini, grilled corn custard, lamb-topped masa cakes and even outsized hand-made pretzels for $6 each, plus a generous cheese plate for $13.
Seaman says they may develop Sarsaparilla into a stand-alone business, though for now they are refining the concept. Sarsaparilla opens at 7 p.m. and continues to a changeable closing time that is always past midnight and usually goes much later.
Pupusas of the past
Pupuseria Divino Corazon, a onetime West Bank fixture for Central American cooking, closed recently and has been replaced by a new Mexican restaurant called La Providencia (2300 Belle Chasse Highway, Gretna, 368-5724).
In business since the 1980s, Pupuseria Divino Corazon evolved from what had been a fruit stand into a family-run restaurant with a homey appeal and a memorable name.
Before the proliferation of new Latin American restaurants that followed Hurricane Katrina, it was one of the few places to find traditional Central American flavors in town, while also serving some Mexican dishes.
That balance is flipped at La Providencia, where the inexpensive menu still makes room for some of the Central American favorites, especially pupusas, while focusing mostly on more familiar cantina fare. For instance, proprietors Rodolfo and Rosalie Pina serve tacos of the hard shell American variety alongside the soft, corn tortilla Mexican type, and on Tuesdays, they go for $2 each as part of an all-day special. La Providencia serves lunch and dinner daily.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.