Catherine Markel recently opened the small but impressively stocked wine shop Faubourg Wines (2805 St. Claude Ave., 504-342-2217) not far from her Marigny home and close to the Press Street railroad crossing, a stretch better known for fast food and used furniture stores than fine wines and artisanal cheeses.

  "People come in and are like, 'I was just on St. Claude Avenue, so where I am now?'" Markel says, laughing.

  St. Claude Avenue has attracted a more eclectic mix of small businesses lately, and Faubourg Wines has become an early hit with Markel's neighbors, who not only shop for wine here but also sip glasses of it and compare notes. The shop specializes in small producers and inexpensive wines.

  "I always try to have 100 wines under $16," Markel says. "In my experience, most people are looking for wines at that price point, so why not give them a lot of choices instead of having to keep going back to the same bottles?"

  From a copper-topped wine bar, she serves selections at $5 per glass. Faubourg Wines also sells cheese and gourmet snacks, which Markel will assemble into cheese plates.

  The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday (and until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays). A series of free tastings resumes on Jan. 9, after a holiday hiatus, and continues on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.