If you ask any Tulane student what their favorite restaurant, study spot, or coffee shop is, there’s a good chance it’ll be somewhere on Freret Street. While Freret Street is about 3 miles long, an eight-block portion of it is filled with noteworthy restaurants, workout studios, bars, boutiques, pet stores, and coffee shops that fulfill every college students’ needs. And lucky for us, it’s only a 25 minute walk from campus! Freret Street wasn’t always this popular, though. In the past 10 years, the street has evolved and flourished into the culture hotspot it is today.
This commercial section of Freret Street is situated on the former site of two plantations. In the 1920s and 1930s, Jewish and Italian merchants opened businesses and the neighborhood, which led to a diversification of the area. In 1952, a population shift occurred when Merrick Elementary School transitioned from an all-white school to an all-black school. This, along with the FHA low-interest loans for whites moving to the suburbs, and larger retailers opening around other parts of town, influenced residents to move out of the neighborhood. Consequently, Freret Street lost many businesses by the early 1970s. Decades later however, small businesses began to rediscover and relocate to this corridor of Freret Street; in 2001, the City of New Orleans granted $300,000 to help bring the area back to life and now, 19 years later, it is as lively as ever!
One of the first businesses to open on Freret was Zeus’ Place, a pet boarding and grooming shop that opened in 2006. Cure was next to open in February of 2009, transforming a building that had been a fire station into a classy bar that serves well-made drinks and small plates. From the outside, Cure is a mysterious building with no sign and dark features, but this cocktail lounge is super popular among local young adults and is quite the upgrade from your typical Boot night!
After Cure came Sarita’s Grill, Beaucoup Juice, and Village Coffee & Tea at the Jefferson Avenue end of the strip. Village Coffee & Tea is now a spacious Starbucks that serves as an awesome study spot because of the lounge area on the second level. In 2011, Freret Street gained some of its most popular businesses including Dat Dog, High Hat Cafe, Ancora Pizzeria, The Company Burger, Midway Pizza, Publiq House, and Origami.
Since 2011, so many businesses have opened on the commercial corridor of Freret Street that attract all types of people. Some of my top restaurants/coffee shops are Mint Modern Vietnamese, Good Bird, City Greens, Humble Bagel, Mojo Coffee House, Piccola Gelateria and Bar Frances, but it’s impossible to pick a favorite! To see live music, check out fun bar Gasa Gasa, which will be hard to miss with its building-size mural. And to get your workout in, head over to Body Shoppe (my personal go-to spot on Freret) or KICK Kickboxing Studio.
There are so many more hidden gems on Freret Street that are within walking distance of campus! There are also awesome murals and street art painted on many of the buildings, which are great to look at as you’re strolling along. It’s crazy how such a quiet neighborhood transformed into a hotspot filled with businesses of all types. Next time you’re looking for something to do, walk down McAlister, take a left on Freret, and walk straight for about 25 minutes: you’ll be surrounded by a plethora of things to do, eat, or see!
Cover Photo: The Culture Trip