Small Business Street Art

A mural is seen at The Community Book Store in New Orleans, La., on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. (Cheryl Gerber/AP Images for American Express)

The short strip veering off Esplanade Avenue and crossing N. Broad Street before turning into Gentilly Boulevard has flourished in recent years, now filling several blocks with a cluster of restaurants, a bookstore, a used record store and more. Since Hurricane Katrina, it’s also become home to a couple of arts institutions. The Joan Mitchell Center is a satellite program of the New York-based foundation, and its small campus at N. Rocheblave Street hosts artist residencies primarily for mid-career painters. Southern Rep Theatre opened its new home in September 2018 in the former St. Rose de Lima Church, part of a development housing other nonprofit organizations. The renovated church building has allowed Southern Rep to increase programming with a small cabaret space, classes and more.

Who you’ll see: Artists, neighbors.

Where to drink: Pirogues is a casual neighborhood hybrid, with regulars drinking cheap beer, Jell-O shots, frozen daiquiris or original cocktails — and snacking on a quixotic selection including loaded potato tots and happy hour sushi specials.

Where to eat: Among the oases of Caribbean culture in New Orleans is Coco Hut, a laid-back restaurant just off N. Broad Street that serves jerk chicken or shrimp, mango and coconut fish specials and other Jamaican dishes.

Where to caffeinate: Pagoda Café is the strip’s coffee hub, with a menu including baked goods, vegetarian sandwiches and a sausage roll with Italian sausage from nearby Terranova Brothers sausages. The kitschy building is from a Chinese-themed laundry service from the 1920s and 30s.

YOU OUGHTA KNOW

New Orleans hosted a World’s Fair focused on the cotton industry in 1884, and though a state official absconded with much of its budget, the event was a success. The fair took place in Uptown New Orleans, but a commemorative monument was moved to a tiny triangle at N. Tonti St., where Bayou Road forks off Esplanade Avenue.