Around the Riverbend
Thanks to its riverfront location six miles northwest of the French Quarter, the neighborhood feels refreshingly local.
More than most, New Orleans is a city of neighborhoods. Prideful and distinctive, their borders—and proper names, for that matter—are ironically fickle and fluid. Once an independent town and the seat of Jefferson Parish, Carrollton became a part of the city when it was annexed in 1874. Thanks to its riverfront location some six miles northwest of the French Quarter, the neighborhood feels (and is) refreshingly local. At its center is Oak Street (Main Street back when Carrollton was a city), a stretch that’s home to independent businesses and some of NOLA’s best eateries.
EAT AND DRINK
Brunch and live music go hand in hand at Live Oak Cafe (formerly Oak Street Cafe), a neighborhood fixture that serves filling plates at reasonable prices. Order one of the eggs benedict riffs, say over sweet potato medallions with marinated tomatoes and herb hollandaise, and enjoy the tunes. Or, amble along Oak Street and you’ll find Z’otz with locally roasted, fair-trade coffee. Cajun smokehouse Bourrée at Boucherie brings smoked and cured meats, boudin, and cracklins along with a little funk in the form of daiquiris and chicken wings of all stripes. Time for a pre-dinner drink? You’ve got a couple options: Order a glass from Oak wine bar and watch passersby, or head next door to its beer-based spinoff, Ale on Oak, for a local brew.
At DTB, short for Down the Bayou, coastal Cajun flavor imbues everything from the decor to the plates. Start with a shared order of blue crab gumbo (served with potato salad, a Louisiana tradition) or mushroom boudin balls crowned with smoked mayo and pickled collards. When it comes to the mains—“beaucoup plates” around these parts—the rice bowl brimming with blue crab, shrimp, pork belly, mirliton, and tasso XO sauce is the move. With its painted pickup-turned-table-for-two parked out front, Jacques-Imo’s is hard to miss. And while it may be a stop on the tourist trail, there’s something to be said for an order of fried grits smothered in crawfish-tasso sauce. Fine Creole is on the menu at Brigtsen’s Restaurant. It’s the namesake of chef Frank Brigtsen, who trained under the legendary Paul Prudhomme at Commander’s Palace. And at the intimate Carrollton Market, Jason Goodenough crafts impeccable plates anchored by regional traditions. Opt for the Oysters Goodenough (flash fried and topped with béarnaise and Benton’s bacon) and whatever’s on offer as the whole roasted fish.
Coutelier NOLA is the Japanese knife dreamland of food and beverage veterans Jacqueline Blanchard and Brandt Cox. The chefs tap their experiences in professional kitchens as they source the shop’s wares. It also carries barware, pasta-making tools, and other artisanal cooking implements. A block away is Blue Cypress Books, where shelves are lined with used books, including plenty of cookbooks and reads about New Orleans. Save time to peruse Simone’s Market just down the street, stocked with regional products along with beer, wine, and spirits. Grab some local beers, Poirier’s cane syrup, and maybe a jar of chutney from Magazine Street hotspot Saffron to tuck into your suitcase and you’ll be able to savor the flavors of the Crescent City from miles away.
Palmer Park hosts a market with eighty-plus regional artists on the last Saturday of each month. And while live music is never hard to come by in New Orleans, in this neck of the woods Maple Leaf Bar reigns supreme. Catch a Tuesday Rebirth Brass Band show for an essential NOLA experience.