The Warehouse District has been a magnet for new restaurants and bars in recent years, and one new project is now introducing a whole clutch of them together.
Auction House Market, now open at 801 Magazine St., is a multi-vendor food hall, with a mix of new chefs and a few familiar local names serving food and drink under one roof.
The flavors here range from raw oysters to Indian dosa, from crawfish sushi rolls to Middle Eastern gyro wraps. There are deli sandwiches and salads, quick breakfast dishes and empanadas with a local twist. There's a coffee roaster in the mix, and a full bar (see more on the vendors below).
Auction House Market shares some DNA with the St. Roch Market, the food hall that opened on St. Claude Avenue in 2015. Will Donaldson and Barre Tanguis, operators of St. Roch Market, are also behind Auction House Market.
Donaldson said the two markets were designed with the same kind of "customer experience" in mind - visitors browse among diverse flavors in a casual environment - and they share some back-of-the-house logistics, like a shared kitchen space. The new market has a larger kitchen, and here vendors also have a few seats at their own counters, in addition to the common dining areas around the hall.
But while the concepts are similar, their settings and contexts are strikingly different.
St. Roch Market is in a historic, city-owned building that was once part of New Orleans' network of food markets, an old world vestige that slowly died away. That market building had long sat empty, and when the food hall opened it was simultaneously cheered as an example of revitalization and ballyhooed as an emblem of gentrification.
Auction House Market, meanwhile, lands in a part of town where large-scale redevelopment has been the narrative for decades, and where lately its pace has accelerated as more industrial buildings and parking lots are recast as hotels, condos and apartment complexes.
The new food hall's address is a sturdy-looking Victorian-era brick building that was previously New Orleans Auction Galleries. The local firm Felicity Property Co. has redeveloped the property with apartments on its upper level and the food hall on the ground floor.
It sits along what had been a quiet corner for many years, but now its doors are within blocks of multiple new developments underway or recently completed. Pêche Seafood Grill is directly across the street. The museums anchoring the upriver end of the Warehouse District are nearby, and the convention center is six blocks away.
In its new incarnation, the old building's interior is a bright, open space lined by windows and staked by a framework of iron and cypress columns. Vendor stands line the perimeter, with a square bar in the center and a towering skylight rises above. There's a separate event space adjacent to the main hall.
Food halls like Auction House Market align with a trend now raging in other cities. There are longstanding templates for the model, like Grand Central Market in Los Angeles and Pike Place Market in Seattle. Newer examples, like San Francisco’s Ferry Building, have quickly become major attractions.
Just last week, the company behind the St. Roch Market and Auction House Market opened another new food hall in Miami. This Florida edition is also called St. Roch Market, though it has a more contemporary design than its New Orleans namesake.
Here's the line up for vendors at Auction House Market:
Aloha Lei: This walk-up sushi bar has a tropical and not-so-traditional focus, inspired by the trips proprietors Tracey Davenport and Dave Kirtland made to Hawaii. Aloha Lei specializes in rolls and poke bowls, and adds some Louisiana influence with rolls made from redfish and spicy crawfish rolls or grilled shrimp and crab.
Alpha: Chris and Sandy Minias are from Egypt, and their menu at Alpha covers a range of Middle Eastern flavors, starting with the traditional and adding some modern touches. Look for baba ganoush and baklava, salads and also sandwiches combining gyros and fries in the same wrap.
Coast Roast: This micro coffee roaster got its start in Gulfport and Long Beach, Mississippi. Kevin Pedeaux expanded the brand to Louisiana with his own locations in the St. Roch Market and Ponchatoula. He swears by vintage coffee roasting machines, which he says are key to his beans' flavor. Pedeaux also hosts a well-caffeinated web talk show at his coffee stand, Coffee with Kevin, with guests ranging from local politicians to musicians.
Elysian Seafood: One of the original St. Roch Market vendors, Elysian Seafood opens its second seafood counter here as Brandon Blackwell and Jennifer Sherrod expand their concept. Look for chilled and hot seafood dishes (crab cakes, seafood gumbo) and a raw bar for a range of local oysters.
Empanola: The empanada is a staple around South America, and Empanola founders Patricio Garcia and Jimena Urrutia give them a dose of local flavor. Their savory baked pastries become handheld delivery systems for crawfish etouffee, gumbo and shrimp and cheese, to name a few. Empanola relocated to Auction House Market from St. Roch Market.
HAPPYJAXX: This is a new concept for quick, health-conscious meals based around salads and toasts with various toppings. It was created by Patrick Kearney, who started his culinary career at Peristyle, the much-acclaimed restaurant his sister Anne Kearney’s once ran in the French Quarter. Its menu will also include “breakfast salads” and tea drinks.
Mac & Moon: Vegan baking is catching on in some areas, though it's hard to find in New Orleans. That's the niche for Mac & Moon. The "mac" is for macaroons (the French kind) and this stand also has rolled ice cream and other desserts.
SOLA Deli: stand works like a countertop deli, with sandwiches and salads, prepared meals to go, small batch sauces and pantry staples. SOLA Deli, developed by Camdon Richardson, combines international and Louisiana flavors in this deli format.
Tava: Indian dosa resemble crepes, and they can cradle all kinds of flavors. At Tava, Manish Patel fills them with lamb and mango relish, shrimp with toasted coconut and a vegetarian version with chickpeas and chutney.
The Auction House Market’s bar is called the Mayhaw, just like the bar at the St. Roch Market. It serves cocktails, wine and beer, with a specialty in bottled cocktails.
801 Magazine St.
Sun.-Thu. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
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