The deadly collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site has riveted New Orleans. Right now, what also needs more attention are the businesses contending with the slow-motion disaster still unfolding around it.
With one of the city’s key intersections blocked and the wreckage of this tragic bungle still to be addressed, they face a struggle.
I’m specifically addressing the food and drink spots, because, well, welcome to my beat. Plus, we owe them one.
This area, the intersection of the French Quarter and the CBD, was desperately in need of new life before the Hard Rock Hotel idea materialized.
On the map, it looks central. But neglect and dubious development decisions had left it grungy and blank.
But slowly, new businesses started staking claims along these blocks and enlivening them, one by one. Not surprisingly, independent New Orleans restaurants have been part of the story. These are the same places bearing the brunt of the now-broken grid and iffy timelines still flowing from the Hard Rock Hotel fiasco.
That’s a shame because together they show a diverse range of styles and flavors helping invigorate these blocks. I’m talking about Palm & Pine, one of the most exciting new restaurants to open this year, Killer Po-boys and Mahony’s po-boys, for two very different reads on the sandwich, Deanie’s Seafood, Cleo’s Mediterranean Cuisine, for night-saving 24-hour Middle Eastern flavors, Backatown Coffee Parlour for a vital cup and the Upper Quarter bar for a late night drink.
All remain open. One key piece here is forced to remain closed: the Ruby Slipper Café on a cordoned off block of Canal Street, but you can find its dishes, and this restaurant’s staff, at other Ruby Slipper locations.
Our restaurants do a lot more than feed us in New Orleans. Sometimes we need do a little more for them too.
Palm & Pine
308 N. Rampart St., 504-814-6200
Ruby Slipper Café
1005 Canal St., temporarily closed, see 200 Magazine St. and 204 Decatur St.
219 Dauphine St., 504-462-2731
Mahony’s Original Po-Boys
901 Iberville St., 504-717-2422
841 Bienville St., 504-581-1316
Backatown Coffee Parlour
301 Basin St., 504-372-4442
Cleo’s Mediterranean Cuisine
940 Canal St. 504-522-4504
Upper Quarter Bar
1000 Bienville St.