From the door of Barracuda on Tchoupitoulas Street, Brett Jones sees drivers coursing down this busy Uptown stretch all day long. He’s certain many of them would like a taco.
Maybe it’s a quick breakfast taco and a coffee, or a couple tacos for lunch or a dozen or so ready to take away for dinner at home or a few successive orders as the next margarita pitcher arrives.
Barracuda is preparing to open soon at 3984 Tchoupitoulas St. (note: this story has been edited to reflect a change in the scheduled opening date).
Its menu is short, its setting is mostly outdoors and the aim is something Jones can sum up as quick and simple as a taco itself.
“It’s the backyard taco party,” he said. “We want to be the neighborhood taco stand and margarita garden.”
It’s not hard to find a restaurant slinging tacos around New Orleans these days. But Jones sees the niche for Barracuda in a format that’s more focused than a full-fledged Mexican restaurant, more accommodating than a stop at the taco truck.
It’s a counter service operation, with a covered patio and a larger yard of long benches under string lights. That’s the “margarita garden.”
He sees take-away orders for home and casual gatherings in the yard as the key here.
Barracuda’s opening menu covers a half-dozen tacos, adds a bowl option, and has chips, chicharrones and a few sides. Meats are cooked over charcoal outside, and tortillas are made in house. On the opening menu, most tacos are $3, with the steak and fried des Allemands catfish going for $4.
“Tortillas are the whole deal, that’s the foundation of everything we do,” said Jones. “Really great tortillas and salsas and good things to go in them? If we can do that, that’s already a lot.”
A specialty of the bar is margaritas on tap – not frozen, but on the rocks, with salted rims.
From the street, Barracuda looks like little more than a shed, and it was hard to spot along this stretch of shotguns and workshops before the renovation got underway. The address was once a bar called Moley’s Tavern, and that name is stilled stenciled on a window, above a promise of “direct draw” beer and “mixed drinks.“
Ad hoc taco parties have been part of Jones’ own downtime and social life since his school days, though he started developing Barracuda after racking up a unique blend of culinary experience. He was a manager for the Ruby Slipper Café back at its original location and later as it grew regionally. He was also a chef for Dinner Lab, the New Orleans-based food event company that grew rapidly before its 2016 demise. Outdoor cooking, scratch teams of chefs and on-the-fly logistics were part of that world.
"I love the project part of it all," he said. "I love getting a squad together and pulling it off."
Jones is married to Ashlee Jones. The work of her design and illustration brand Small Chalk shows up all over the local restaurant scene, and it will soon adorn Barracuda’s exterior too.
Design savvy isn’t the only resource Barracuda can draw from close to home. Mojo Roasters, based on the same block, supplies the coffee; the beer selection will have an alternating mix from the circuit of craft breweries off Tchoupitoulas Street.
“Tchoupitoulas Street is growing into this real corridor,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of potential here and we’re excited to join it.”
3984 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-266-2961
Opening date to be determined
Opening hours Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Future schedule will include Mondays and morning hours
Note: this story has been edited to reflect a change in the scheduled opening date.
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Note: Try This Dish is a periodic series on interesting dishes around the New Orleans area and the stories, restaurants and people around them.