The 3200 block of Burgundy St. in the Bywater is looking more and more like Magazine Street uptown. Now that’s not necessarily a good thing if you’re an artist who moved to the Bywater in the first place because it was affordable, but if you’re in town looking for an unusual and emerging area, it’s a good thing. First, check out Christopher Porche-West’s photography gallery on the corner, A Studio on Desire, at 3201 Burgundy. Christopher is best known for his early portraits of New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians, but his gallery is another thing altogether. His constructions and assemblages incorporate his photographs celebrating New Orleans life (as well as that found in Africa and Haiti), with architectural found objects. Shrines, really, some of them are, and extremely moving works. Porche-West observes cultures and people, and portrays them honestly. He’s the real deal-he’s been there on that corner from way back when. Here’s a piece on NPR describing his work about the Indians. But today you can walk across the street from his gallery and enter one of the coolest new restaurants in town, Maurepas Foods. At 3200 Burgundy St., Maurepas Foods has been getting lots of press-The New Orleans Times-Picayune food critic recently gave it a glowing three-bean review. It’s “New American” food, with vegetables getting the center of attention, but besides a wonderful plate of roasted beets, you can get goat tacos, or grilled shrimp with herbs, all in a former corner store with a hipster vibe. It’s loud, with all those ancient walls, and it’s buzzing, and it’s very Bywater. Probably won’t find it uptown on Magazine St., but the food is worthy of anywhere.
There’s a fetching little shop, Bon Castor, at 3207 Burgundy. It just opened in February, and it’s absolutely adorable, showing off desirable handmade objects all sourced from local Bywater artists. The owner moved to town and thought, why can’t I buy a birthday present in this great neighborhood? Amy Knoll, who also is a part-owner of Lost Love Lounge, another Marigny establishment, opened the shop, and it’s really taking off. Everything’s sold on consignment; it’s Etsy come to life! And if you don’t feel up to the hubbub of Maurepas Foods, there’s another cool restaurant next door to Bon Castor, called Suis Generis. (Yes, that’s how it’s spelled). It’s smaller than Maurepas Foods, with about 40 seats and a DIY-decorated ambiance, but with equally distinctive small-plate fare, and somewhat larger plates if you’re really hungry. There’s a great wine and cocktail list, and the menu really does change with the seasons. It’s a seriously local joint, both in conception and execution. It’s open for brunch on weekends too.
Like the whole block, it’s a Bywater thing.