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“The Walking City”

Freret Street: It’s fresh, hip and bursting with new restaurants. It has a local, chilled-out vibe that attracts businesses by the dozens without creating Magazine Street’s weekend madness. The area has New Orleans style pizza, a fresh juice bar, couture cocktails, comic books, gourmet hotdogs, art galleries, yoga studios and even a monthly street fair. It has a comedy club, boutiques, a chic beauty salon – almost anything a college student could want. If you thought it couldn’t get any better, you’ve forgotten Freret’s most redeeming quality: its location. Just a short walk from campus, the area’s ever-growing family of businesses is the perfect place to explore on a lazy afternoon or empty Saturday.

Freret wasn’t always this cool. For decades, the area existed as the abandoned remnants of a once-prosperous community that lived and worked in the Uptown area. The neighborhood was home to a comfortable mix of black and white people for years before it crumbled to the disastrous effects of urban White Flight in the 1950s. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the area was plagued by street violence, lack of infrastructure and no assistance from the city government. It wasn’t until Katrina dumped five feet of water on the area that things began to change.

A few years after the storm, cocktail guru Neal Bodenheimer looked at an old appliance repair shop on the corner of Upperline and Freret streets and saw the kind of potential that was invisible to most people. He transformed the space into Cure, an upscale, hipster-meets-sexy law student bar that specializes in intricately crafted cocktails and decadent small plates. When it opened its doors in February of 2009, Cure was the only establishment of its kind on Freret Street; most of the neighboring storefronts were still boarded up or occupied by less-than-successful businesses. The bar turned the area around and emerged as the vibrant pioneer of good things to come.

All around New Orleans, restaurant and business owners were taking note of Cure’s remarkable success. Many entrepreneurs looking to open new locations in the city had become frustrated with the zoning restrictions in other neighborhoods that made it difficult to open a new establishment. Freret’s community leaders in the Freret Business and Property Owner Asociation worked tirelessly to free the area of the bureaucratic hoops that would prevent an influx of commercial development. After a few years of relentless commitment to the project, their efforts paid off.

In June 2009, Dylan Williams opened Beaucoup Juice, a Latin American juice bar that offered a twist on a New Orleans favorite: all natural snoballs made with fresh, exotic juices from Brazil and beyond. Williams said he looked to the example set by Cure as inspiration for Beaucoup – his first business venture – which he brought to Freret based on speculation that the area would soon explode with commercial enterprises.

“I like the connection that everyone has together, the camaraderie, the teamwork,” Williams said. “Everybody around here really wants to make [Freret] happen, make it a better and safer neighborhood so people can come together.”

He encourages Tulane and Loyola students to walk farther down Freret to explore all of the new things the area has to offer, and he has faith that as more businesses open up, student foot traffic will increase.

“My favorite thing about Freret Street is the way people take care of each other. They’re looking out. Everybody’s looking out,” Williams said.

Farther uptown at 5031 Freret St., the boys at now-famous Dat Dog share a similar outlook on the blossoming economy of their neighborhood. General manager Michael Krajicek credits the area’s business owners for creating a supportive community that celebrates the success of its members.

“There isn’t a new business here that’s not doing well,” said Krajicek.

He hopes that Freret will begin to attract more than just restaurants – a bookstore, perhaps. Krajicek’s coworker, Colin Provensal, grew up in New Orleans and moved to Freret a little more than a year ago, before Dat Dog opened in February. In that time, Provensal said he has, “witnessed the explosion of businesses on the street,” and he describes the neighborhood as having a distinct family feel.

“It’s nice to see,” Provensal said. “It definitely wasn’t like this when I was growing up.”

Steve Watson and Ben Sherman, the masterminds behind The King Pin Bar on Lyons Street, own Midway Pizza, a Chicago-meets-New Orleans-style deep-dish pie joint located at 4725 Freret St. After opening its doors Sept. 2, the restaurant has garnered considerable attention – and rightly so. When shopping for his new location, Watson said he was drawn to the buzz surrounding Freret and figured it would be a good time to try something different and take advantage of the excitement. Like Williams, he drew inspiration from the success of Cure and sought to create a Freret landmark of his own. He seems to be settling into his new home quite well.

“The neighborhood is really supportive,” Watson said. “We knew coming off the bat that we’d have a lot of friends coming in and trying our product, trying the bar, but I’ve been surprised by how many people from the neighborhood come through. They’re very supportive of new restaurants.”

That’s exactly the kind of comment true New Orleanians like to hear.

-Adele McConnell


Midway Pizza

Tropical Storm Lee couldn’t wash away Midway Pizza’s grand opening. Owners Steve Watson and Ben Sherman opened their doors Sept. 2 on the corner of Upperline and Freret streets. These partners also own the King Pin Bar, the popular Elvis-themed dive bar on Prytania and Lyons streets. If you’re a fan of the King Pin staff and cocktails, you’ll recognize some friendly faces and labels behind the counter here.

Midway has mastered the neighborhood hangout vibe, with a unique de?cor, comfortable seating and a custom-built wooden bar. You’ll find Jon Langford paintings, large-scale old wrestling photos and other vintage items on the walls. Midway also offers reliable and free Wi-Fi Internet, so bring your laptop and stay a while.

The new restaurant boasts its own New Orleans-style deep-dish pizza with a slow-rise dough recipe from Watson’s father. The ingredients are fresh and the dough is hearty, served up by Chef David “Fine Dining” Wright. Signature pizzas start at $11.95: My favorite was the “Don Flamenco,” topped with sundried tomatoes, prosciutto and Gorgonzola cheese. You can try your hand at building your own pizza using any of the 28 available toppings, starting at $9.

If you’re really hungry, stop by for the Freret Jet Lunch Buffet, which offers a salad and unlimited pizza slices for $8.95. The buffet is named in honor of the Freret Jet, the affectionate nickname of the Number 15 Freret Street bus. Those personal touches are all over Midway, including a pizza called No. 18, the hockey jersey number of Watson’s dad.

Midway has an active Facebook page with frequent updates, photos and tons of customer comments. Be sure to “Like” this pizzeria to stay in the Midway loop. You don’t want to miss special offers like it’s Saints Game Day pizza giveaway at Sept. 1 at the King Pin. -Amy Garner

Village Coffee and Tea Company

Village Coffee and Tea Company, located at the corner of Freret Street and Jefferson Avenue, is a cozy little coffee shop with a mellow atmosphere and a wide array of coffees, teas, frappes, pastries and even a few light lunch options. While the menu offers items similar to those found at PJ’s or Starbucks, the atmosphere is what sets it apart. Village Coffee isn’t your average massive chain shop, with only one location, a fact that is palpable in the place’s atmosphere. The baristas are friendly and engaged, the drinks are well-prepared, the pastries are fresh and reasonably priced, and the tea selection is fantastic.

The atmosphere isn’t for someone who likes to sit in Starbucks and feel intellectual and trendy. It’s just a chill place to grab breakfast and enjoy the morning with friends or one of the many newspapers the shop provides, whether on the open patio, at one of the tables or at the counter. On a hot day, be sure to try one of it’s fresh fruit smoothies for the swel- tering walk back to campus.

Only open since August 2009, Village Coffee and Tea Company is a relatively recent addition to the Freret Street revival and certainly has a bright future. -Benton Oliver

Dat Dog

Since its arrival on the shores of our fair nation sometime in the 19th century, the hot dog has been an American institution. From California to the New York islands, hot dogs are sold in a mind-boggling variety of styles. Despite its reputation as a gormandizers’ paradise, New Orleans has been lacking in a legitimate hot dog eatery. Enter Dat Dog.

If you haven’t been to Dat Dog yet then you’ve made a huge mistake. Located on the corner of Freret and Roberts streets, Dat Dog dishes out some of the finest franks money can buy. Opened last year by former federal prosecutor Constantine Georges and his hot dog enthusiast friend, Skip Murray, Dat Dog has quickly made a name for itself in the highly competitive New Orleans food scene.

While the menu is limited and simple – you can only get a dog or insanely delicious fries – the dogs themselves are true works of art. With 11 different sausages and countless numbers of toppings, ranging from standards such as ketchup, mustard, chili, onion, etc. to the outlandish including andouille sauce and guacamole. You could go there hundreds of times and never eat the same dog twice. Dat Dog is not trying to reinvent the hot dog; it is merely giving this beloved food a New Orleani- an twist. The staff is quite friendly and very knowledgeable, so if you’re having a hard time deciding what to get or just feeling adventurous, you should do chef ‘s choice, where they top your sausage for you. This method yields some wacky, but always scrumptious, combos. If you consider yourself to be an encased meats enthusiast, then you need to get your buns down to Dat Dog and see what all the fuss is about. -Hud Coley

Beaucoup Juice

Beaucoup Juice is a colorful little shop tucked near the intersection of Freret and Valence streets, roughly 10 blocks from campus – the perfect distance for a relaxing evening stroll. Though it’s ordinary to opt for convenience and head to the Lavin-Bernick Center or the Reily Center for your smoothie fix, these concoctions are well worth the walk. The selection is fantastic, written on the chalkboard wall in a swirling collage of trippy graffiti script. Both acai and regular smoothies, fruit and veggie juices, frozen and regular lemonade, and snowballs are all offered in the most creative combinations of flavors. Take, for example, the ingredients of the Bayou Berry smoothie: acai, strawberry, orange, pineapple, banana, blueberry, honey and soy. Think of a fruit you like, and it’s most likely been incorporated into one of Beaucoup’s delectable blends.

As the presence of acai implies, the creations are both delicious and healthy. They’re made from fresh produce and exotic, freshly-squeezed juices. The shop draws in a diverse crowd of the health-conscious and the simply thirsty: Tulane students, families and various other locals alike.

The idiosyncratic nature of Beaucoup’s menu is matched by the de?cor. Upon walking in the door, I was greeted by an explosion of vibrant color bursting from every inch of the room. Embellished bras hang on a rack next to the wall, and a sign sits on the counter that reads, “Be nice or leave.” The vibe is casual and fun.

Beaucoup’s creative, tasty and healthy drinks are a glorious distraction from work on a hot day. And if that’s not enough of an incentive, Tulane students get a 50-cent discount. -Rae Abbott

Ancora Pizza

Flour, water and sea salt. For Ancora Pizzeria on Freret Street, the dough is that simple.

“We make pizza the way they have been doing it in Naples, Italy for hun- dreds of years,” restaurant manager John Slavich said.

This authentic Neapolitan pizzeria offers hand-crafted pizzas of the fin- est ingredients, which are either imported straight from Naples or brought in fresh from New Orleans’ finest markets.

“My favorite is the Bianca pizza,” Slavich said. “It’s a fairly unique pizza that appeals to both vegetarians as well as non-veg-heads.”

The Bianca pizza, Ancora’s most popular dish, is a white pizza made with fior de latte, basil, olives, garlic and sweet chili peppers. While Ancora offers a variety of pizzas like Diavola, with spicy salumi, fior di latte, chili and tomato, the menu goes above and beyond it’s unique pizzas. It features Anti Pizza like the Affetatti Mitsi, a cured meat plate, and a classic tomato bruschetta.

Ancora even has its own salumist who uses heritage breed pigs to prepare fresh meats in Ancora’s very own curing room. Brace yourself, before starting a meal by taking a look at Ancora’s extensive wine list and cocktail menu with bottles imported straight from Italy. For those under 21 years old, Ancora also offers homemade Italian sodas.

The menu is a bit pricey, with personal pizzas starting at $12, but on weeknights after 9 p.m., a college ID and purchase of a wine or cocktail will take 50 percent off your pizza price. Ancora is a great place to celebrate any special occasion with friends, as its interior gives off a modern-industrial vibe with el- egant, warm lighting. This restaurant’s delicious menu, hip atmosphere and welcoming staff make this Neapolitan pizzeria a Freret Street staple you won’t want to miss. -Jamie Norwood

Bloomin’ Deals

Located only a few blocks from Tulane, this thrift shop at 4645 Freret St. is run by the Junior League of New Orleans. It’s a great place to snag a funky get-up or even decorate your living room. Neatly ordered racks span most of the store, laden with everything from men’s suits to children’s T-shirts. The dress rack is well-stocked with outra- geous vintage numbers, from 1980s prom dresses to more wearable, everyday styles. Sift through the T-shirts for the perfect ironic slogan.

Bloomin’ Deals is perfect for Mardi Gras and Halloween as well. Old cheerleading uniforms, miscellaneous costumes and sparkly, tassled boots are interspersed around the store. If you’re looking for more mundane options, the inventory has a heavy Tulane influence, though not as much as Buffalo Exchange. You can find clean, new-looking jeans, skirts and sweaters for unbeatable prices.

Along with an extraordinary clothing selection, the store has a section for furniture, kitchenware and books. A step up from garage sale quality, these items are suited perfectly for student houses and apartments. Turnover is high, and there is usually a good selection of chairs, cups, paperbacks and shot glasses.

The store is open Tuesday through Sunday and accepts donations the first Saturday of every month. Stop by on your way to the Freret Street Market or come by for its famous garbage bag days, when you cram a garbage bag full of whatever you want for only $10. There are great finds to be had, but be sure you get there early. A line snakes around the parking lot well before business hours. -Sophie Unterman

The Bike Shop

As far as bike shops around campus go, The Bike Shop, located at 4711 Freret St., is a good middle ground. The other two bike shops popular among Tulane students are Nob’s on Oak Street, which exclusively sells a constantly changing selection of used bikes, and GNO on Carrollton Avenue, which sells higher-end bikes that aren’t exactly friendly for the average college student’s budget. The Bike Shop, formerly at 5115 Magazine St., sells new and used bikes, and offers repairs and bike servicing. If you don’t want to change your own flat, they can do it for you – though at $10 a pop, you’d better be careful riding on New Orleans roads. The Bike Shop’s parts selection is reasonably priced, and if they don’t have what you’re looking for, come back in a few days. It’s a small, two-room shop with used parts in a separate room, new bikes in the front and repairs in the back. Take bikes on a ride down Freret before you buy them. This newcomer to Freret Street looks to be a bike shop convenient- ly close to campus that can help students find new and used bikes within their price range. -Nicole Nolan

Freret Street Market

Spanning almost an entire city block, the affair hosts booths featuring local restaurants, arts and crafts venders from around the city, local produce and even a tent for live music. If you’re looking for something specific, it’s not hard to find. There are three aisles: one designated for food, one for arts and crafts and one flea market.

The Freret Street Market, started in 2007, is trying other interesting things as well. If you don’t want to use cash, you can purchase Freret Market Money, which takes the form of customized poker chips – fun for the novelty, if nothing else. There’s a great sense of community in the air as students, families, children and business owners mingle. The next market will take place Oct. 1 and will feature the Moonshiners, the Lagniappe Brass Band and a special Pet Adoption tent. Freret Street Market occurs the first Saturday of every month from noon to 5p.m. on the corner of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue.

-Nicole Nolan

Crescent City Comics

Warning: This will not be the last time I write about comic books.

So there’s this stereotype about comic book nerds. I’m sure the character from “The Simpsons” has a lot to do with it, but the general image is of a sloppy jerk – rude, misogynistic, argumentative and obsessed with minutiae. That couldn’t be further from the case with Crescent City Comics, located at 4916 Freret St. The employees are not only incredibly friendly and willing to offer recommendations, but you can tell that they have lives outside the shop. Leo McGovern, the manager, is the editor-in-chief of Antigravity Magazine, New Orleans’ awesome monthly music and culture alternative. This means that they’re just as happy to discuss concerts, movies and New Orleans itself as they are to talk about the finer points of Alan Moore’s legendary run on “Swamp Thing.”

Many shops run into problems when they have an overabundant focus on comic-related accessories, be they action figures or apparel. Crescent City solves this problem by keeping this stuff on the very top shelves, leaving more room for what we came for: the comics themselves. Rather than solely stock- ing top-selling Marvel and DC superhero comics – though you’ll find any title you could possibly want if this is your cup of tea – the store also contains a section devoted to self-published cartoons and zines from both local and national sources. Additionally, the shop boasts a bevy of titles from independent publishers that run the gamut from horror to historical to autobiographical, as well as an incredible selection of trade paperbacks, if single issues aren’t to your tastes. As an added bonus, the store is both clean and well-organized, making lazy browsing enjoyable rather than a hassle.

Crescent City Comics stays involved in the community by throwing monthly parties at the shop with special sales, live art auctions and, most importantly, free beer. Saturday’s guests include Louisiana natives Rob Guillory, artist of the Eisner Award-winning “Chew,” and Kody Chamberlain, creator of the New Orleans-based detective comic “Sweets.”

DC Comics – home of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc – has relaunched it’s entire line with No. 1 issues, so if you’ve ever been vaguely inter- ested in comics, now’s a good time to start. Swing by Saturday night. It’s walking distance from campus, and the party starts early enough that you can still go out for the night. Maybe you’ll get sucked into the medium. Worst-case scenario is you get to drink some free beer and listen to good music. -Zach Yanowitz

High Hat Caf?©

High Hat Caf?©, on the corner of Freret and Jena streets, is a relatively new Southern-style diner that offers a mix of traditional Louisiana and Cajun cuisine daily for lunch and dinner. The restaurant has the vintage look of a 1950s diner, complete with broad windows, a large bar, frosted light fixtures and nine ceiling fans to battle the summer heat. High Hat is popular among families and older locals but gives off an energetic, vibrant ambiance that attracts college students. The service is always accommodating and friendly.

High Hat’s menu echoes its d?©cor: minimal but with many great options. The appetizer selection offers the broadest array of dishes on the menu and includes many seafood choices. The Crab and Corn Bisque was full of flavor and was the perfect amount for an appetizer. The High Hat’s specialty lies in its fresh catfish baskets, which are served with fries, coleslaw and hush puppies. The catfish is one of the diner’s highlights for good reason, as it is covered in cornmeal batter that produces a mild, crunchy taste. Other dishes include a variety of po’boys and burgers, all served with mounds of french fries. One notable dessert offered at High Hat is the Banana and Chocolate Bread Pudding, a traditional favorite. Another interesting menu item is the watermelon lemonade, an unusual but refreshing blend that can complement any meal. The food was reasonably priced, ranging from $10 burgers to $15 slivers of catfish. -Lucy Stratton

The Company Burger

Adam Biderman opened The Company Burger at 4600 Freret St. to pay respect to an American classic: the hamburger. Luckily for New Orleans, Biderman brought us the famous burger he developed while he was chef at Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta.

The simple, streamlined restaurant offers few visual frills, located in the build- ing that once housed Wagner’s Meats. Customers place and pick up orders from the counter and help themselves to the condiment bar stocked with baconnaise, basil mayo, farm mayo, garlic mayo, Creole honey mustard, chipotle and Marie Rose – a.k.a. fancy sauce.

The signature Company Burger will make any burger lover rejoice. The meat is freshly ground and free of both antibiotics and hormones. The two thin, juicy pat- ties are topped with American cheese, thinly sliced red onions, homemade bread and butter pickles. Sandwiched between a bun freshly baked on the Northshore, the burger is served on a quarter sheet pan. After a long night, add a fried egg and bacon for the breakfast of champions.

The Company Burger offers a variety of sides, including french fries, sweet pota- to fries and tater tots, as well as some more unusual sides like pickle chips, pimen- to cheese and Turnbull melba, and its twist on onion rings. These rings are made of thinly sliced red onion with minimal batter, making for a unique and flavorful treat.

If burgers aren’t your thing, try the signature hot dog called The Company Link, the pork belly corn dog called Corn Hog, a turkey burger served with tomato jam, or a lamb burger served with feta and chili mint glaze. Either way, you’ll leave full, happy and a little inspired. -Amy Garner


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