HL Does NOLA from A to Z: O is for O.C. HALEY BOULEVARDPosted: April 18, 2016
O is for Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, a prime example of the neighborhood renaissance that has occurred and continues to occur throughout New Orleans. Just blocks away from the more famous St. Charles Avenue, this retail strip in the Central City neighborhood was once home to thriving businesses run mostly by African-American and Jewish merchants. The area fell into decline following the 1970s, and that’s when civic activists went into action. The main thoroughfare, once called Dryades Street, was renamed in 1989 to honor beloved civil rights activist Oretha Castle Haley. Today, the street is more commonly called O.C. Haley Boulevard.
The newest jewel in the O.C. Haley Boulevard crown is the Dryades Public Market, which celebrated its grand opening this past weekend. The market is housed in a former school building that opened in 1910 and continued to operate as a school until 2002, when it closed due to declining enrollment. A fire gutted the building in 2008 and it sat empty until the efforts to create the market began. Dryades Public Market offers a hot food bar, meat department, seafood case, pasta bar, and more. There’s a coffee bar and a sandwich shop and some of my human daddy’s favorite raw oysters from Curious Oyster Co. Wow, I’m licking my lips just thinking about all the yummy food.
And speaking of food, the Southern Food & Beverage Museum (also known as SoFAB) is just across the street from the new market. (You can click here to read more about SoFAB.) Inside the SoFAB building, you’ll also find The Museum of the American Cocktail and Purloo Restaurant, showcasing Southern cuisine. Then there’s the People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market, a performing arts venue and jazz community center with a cocktail bar, open daily, that presents live music Thursday through Saturday. And don’t forget Friday Night Fights Gym, a combination training center/entertainment extravaganza. What can I say . . . only in New Orleans.
If you’re still a little hungry while strolling along O.C. Haley Boulevard, let me recommend a few additional dining options. Cafe Reconcile is a nonprofit restaurant that serves as a training ground for students gaining skills in the food service area. Since opening in 2000, it has trained more than 1,000 young people (ages 16 to 22) for work in the industry. The restaurant turns out soul-filled lunches Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Primitivo garnered New Orleans Magazine‘s Best of Dining 2015 Concept of the Year award. The restaurant offers dishes cooked on an open hearth and, as one reviewer described it, “almost everything tastes like it was kissed by fire.” Casa Borrega features street food and specialties from Mexico City in a green, historical renovation of a 1891 Greek Revival home. A trip to Casa Borrego is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the taste buds.
There’s certainly a lot happening on O.C. Haley Boulevard. While progress has been a little slow, the rebirth of this vital street is taking hold . . . and locals and tourists alike are discovering all that this exciting area of the Crescent City has to offer.
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Please click here for a link to the challenge homepage and a list of the bloggers who are participating.