Under the live oaks … The family-friendly restaurant Acorn, created by Dickie Brennan & Co., opened recently inside the brand new Louisiana Children's Museum at New Orleans City Park. Overlooking Little Lake, the kid-friendly (and adult-approved) café is more than just a beautiful spot to grab a bite. Along with grilled cheese and Mississippi Mud Pie, the restaurant features a kid's culinary lab (i.e. play kitchen) where kids can be kids while they wait for lunch to arrive. Acorn also encourages sustainability by using herbs from the Louisiana Children's Museum's own edible garden and offering busing stations where kids can separate their disposables into compost, recyclables, or trash. Don't worry Mom and Dad, there's lots for you, too. Enjoy kale Caesar salad, grilled elote, or a shrimp roll with a hot cup of French Truck Coffee. Or you can opt for some beer or wine if caffeine just ain't enough. Acorn is open daily, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 15 Henry Thomas Drive, (504) 218-5413, acornnola.com
Talk about service! … The luxury Central Business District hotel NOPSI recently launched Henry's Gin Bar-said to be the first and only gin bar in New Orleans. Located in the front lobby, the bar pays homage to Henry C. Ramos, the famed New Orleans bartender and creator of the Ramos Gin Fizz in 1888. The new saloon offers over 50 different gins from all over the world and signature gin cocktails like the NOPSI Gin Fizz and Paperback Writer, plus a selection of small plates created by Executive Chef Neal Swidler. Henry's Gin Bar hosts Happy Hour specials from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and live performances from local musicians Amanda Ducorbier as well as Shawan and the Wonton. The bar is open daily from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. 317 Baronne Street, (844) 439-1463, nopsihotel.com/dining/henrys
Brunch is going swimmingly! … The Central Business District restaurant Seaworthy has launched a new brunch service. Located inside a 187-year-old Creole cottage at the Ace Hotel, the oyster bar and sustainable seafood spot is highlighting Executive Chef Justin Koslowsky's Southern-inspired brunch menu, featuring dishes such as smoked trout with avocado and cucumbers, a type of BBQ Shrimp crostini with heirloom tomatoes and fresh burrata, and chile relleno. The new brunch also offers a killer cocktail menu with creations like Good Vibrations (made with tequila, aloe, and watermelon) and Look Mum, No Hands (made with coconut, chai, rum, and Bailey's). Any great brunch wouldn't be complete without bottomless cocktails, and Seaworthy offers three: mimosas, sangrias, and Pimm's Cups. 630 Carondelet Street, (504) 930-3071, seaworthynola.com
All the way from the capital … The Baton Rouge-based restaurateurs Nick Hufft and Lon Marchand are opening Junior's on Harrison early this fall. Currently operating Curbside Burgers, the Overpass Merchant, and Gail's Fine Ice Cream in the capital city, the duo are excited to bring their concept back to their hometown since they're both New Orleanians, born and bred. Dubbed "a strangely familiar neighborhood joint," the restaurant seeks to be fit for all occasions and features dishes like Wisconsin's best cheese curds with buttermilk ranch, blue crab and corn fritters with roasted hatch chilis, an elevated version of chicken fried steak, and a dry aged burger featuring a house blend of chuck, brisket, and short rib. The cocktail program is being designed by Hufft and Marchand themselves. "We like creative cocktail programs that lean towards being progressive without being over-complicated and pretentious, and that's our goal here," Marchand said. "We'll have fun cocktails, good wines and bubbly, and a nice tap list that stays up-to-date with American beer culture." 789 Harrison Avenue, juniorsonharrison.com
On the corner … The neighborhood restaurant Thalia opened recently in the Lower Garden District. This is the second restaurant from dynamic culinary team Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, who have been regularly pleasing patrons at their Garden District spot Coquette. Thalia's core aims are "comfort, affordability, consistency, and practicality." In other words, it's an ideal neighborhood place where nearby residents can return to again and again. Although the menu is likely going to be changing constantly, recent dishes include chicken sausage rigatoni with eggplant and pickled peppers, blackened catfish a la veracruz, burrata with muscadine and pistou, and BBQ shrimp with Coca-Cola, rosemary, and peanuts.Thalia is open Tuesday through Saturday 5-10 p.m. | 1245 Constance Street, (504) 655-1338, thalianola.com
Locking it up! … Jim Yonkus and Joanne Close just launched the Independent Caveau NOLA, a wine bar (and eventually a wine store) just off South Broad Street. Serving mostly European independent winemakers (hence the name), the "vault" will also offer small bites in the form of cheese and charcuterie boards served with Bellegarde Bakery breads. The Independent Caveau is open evenings Thursday through Saturday and afternoons on Sunday. 1226 S. White Street, (504) 275-4611, facebook.com/theindependentnola
Gangnam-style … Taking over the space recently vacated by Gin Korean BBQ, Gangnam Korean BBQ recently opened in Metairie under new owners: Hung Kim, Chu Lee, and their children Hanna Park and Youngmin Kim. Youngmin Kim is a recent graduate of the Louisiana Culinary Institute who hails from a long line of cooks on his mother's side. Open daily, Gangnam Korean BBQ offers an all-you-can-eat menu for lunch and dinner, with dishes such as marinated pork belly, beef bulgogi, and thinly-sliced brisket. 3012 N. Arnoult Road #A, (504) 309-7007, gangnamkoreanbbqla.com
Good morning North Shore! … The much-beloved New Orleans coffee shop Morning Call has opened a new location at Streetside Market (a contemporary food hall) in Hammond, according to a report by The New Orleans Advocate. After closing its longtime Metairie location in 2018 and then losing a bidding war to Cafe du Monde over the City Park Casino Building this past July, devoted customers and fans were a bit worried about the historic café's future. Though the Hammond food hall will be a different type of atmosphere for Morning Call, both owners and the neighborhood are excited they'll be a part of Streetside Market. Cafe co-owner Bob Hennessey also reported that plans are in the works for a New Orleans location at Canal Boulevard and City Park Avenue. 201 W. Thomas Street, Hammond, facebook.com/streetsidemrkt
New digs … Bao & Noodle, a killer Chinese food restaurant owned and operated by chef Doug Crowell, has moved from its original spot on Chartres Street to a more highly trafficked spot on St. Claude Avenue. Taking over the space recently vacated by Spanish wine bar Estano, Bao & Noodle now has much more space in both the dining room and the kitchen. The menu at the new location remains the same with scallion pancakes, steam fried bao, beef soup with rice noodles, cumin-braised lamb, and tea-smoked duck. Bao & Noodle is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. 2266 St. Claude Avenue, (504) 272-0004, baoandnoodle.com
Too true … The health food restaurant chain True Food Kitchen opened inside The Julia on September 25, 2019. The Oprah Winfrey-backed eatery is "inspired by the philosophy that food should make you feel better, not worse" and features sustainable, seasonal cuisine with lots of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options that align with the (oft-disputed) anti-inflammatory diet. True Food Kitchen is open daily. 801 St. Charles Avenue, (504) 558-3900, truefoodkitchen.com
So sorry to see you go ….
As is inevitable, when new places open up, other spots close down. Recently, Susan Spicer's Lakeview restaurant Mondo shuttered after a decade of business. Spicer decided to close as the end of her lease on Harrison Avenue drew near, choosing to focus on Bayona and Rosedale. Mondo-lovers need not despair, as it is expected to be a part of the new MSY terminal.
In other news, Central City grocery store Dryades Public Market breathed its last in the dog days of summer after only three years in operation. Formerly a school, the Myrtle Banks Building was renovated with high (possibly too high) hopes of being a key grocery store bringing local, seasonal produce, meat and fish, and other Louisiana products to an underserved neighborhood. Perhaps another will be able to take up