If a restaurant can feel like it’s on the fringe and right in the thick of things at the same time, it's Fharmacy.
This is a bar and grill on Banks Street in Mid-City. It’s in a narrow shotgun house that looks like you could load the whole thing onto a flatbed and deliver it somewhere. It feels a bit like a clubhouse with a diner counter and it serves some international ideas for comfort food.
There’s boudin balls and deli sandwiches and Vietnamese style lemongrass chicken sliced from the rotisserie and on to tacos. Order the mussels and the Fharmacy crew pours Belgian ale direct from the beer taps over a bowl of shiny black shells before cooking it all down and piling on the fries.
The name is a little odd – Fharmacy in this case is spelled with an “f” – but it makes sense at this address. The restaurant is a block away from the massive new hospital complex between Canal Street and Tulane Avenue, a complex so big it now forms its own sort of medical/industrial faubourg.
Fharmacy is here because the hospitals are here, even though they are so new they have only just begun to show their potential. Everyone who has set up shop here lately is banking on more business eventually, and that’s why restaurants like Fharmacy have the feel of being early adopters of something big and also, still, on the edge.
At least it’s not alone. In fact, the huge hospitals have brought a tide of tiny eateries.
Just across the street, there’s another new bar and grill called Melt for grilled cheese, cheese fries and long, melty strands of fried cheese. This is in fact the second grilled cheese restaurant to set up shop here. Two blocks away there’s the Big Cheezy. The latest addition is Marjie’s Grill, an eclectic, Asian-influenced but not traditional Asian eatery. Around the corner on Tulane Avenue, there’s hummus and shwarma and such at the new Jerusalem Café, right next to the old school diner classic Anita’s Grill.
The newcomers are joining a cluster of restaurant that has been slowly growing for years around the hospital sites and the nearby courthouse. Avery’s Po-boys isn’t very old but it has the character of a vintage joint, and the roast beef to back it up. And we can’t forget Mr. Everything Café, which after all has a pretty unforgettable name, and some unusual specialties like yellow rice with cheese and mixed vegetables and sliced lamb.
There’s even a new bar called Sidebar, which sits by the side of the courthouse. Wouldn’t you just expect a New Orleans courthouse to have a bar nearby? This one looks the part, with the décor of a judge’s chamber and a bartender with the off-the-record discretion required of this kind of address.
There are some well-known brands moving into this turf now. Canal Street has a Waffle House, and there’s a new CC’s coffee shop across the street, complete with drive through.
Mostly though, what the gigantic new hospital complexes have drawn are small joints with the hands-on feel and personality of independent eateries. And in a part of town where the future still feels up for grabs, that’s a pretty solid first ingredient.
2540 Banks St., 504-324-6090
Bar and grill for a wide array of comfort food, from burgers to mussels to boudin balls.
2549 Banks St., 504-821-0102
Bar and grill with a specialty in melted cheese – grilled sandwiches, fired cheese curds, cheese fries, etc.
422 S. Broad St., 504-302-2598
A grilled cheese specialist with sandwiches and soups.
320 S. Broad St., 504-603-2234
Asian-inspired but not traditional Asian grill with meats, seafood and fresh salads.
2132 Tulane Ave., 504-509-7729
Middle Eastern cuisine, with sandwiches, platters, salads and snacks.
2510 Tulane Ave., 504-821-4110
A traditional po-boy shop with plate lunches, gumbo and distinctive house specialties (try the Buffalo shrimp po-boy).
400 S. Broad St., 504-218-4990
A diner with a specialty in rice and vegetable stir-fries with sliced meats.
611 S. White St., 504-324-3838
A bar beside the criminal courthouse with a short menu of sandwiches and snacks and a cozy feel.
2500 Canal St., 504-827-5960
Outpost of the national diner chain.
2323 Canal St., 504-218-4644
Louisiana-based coffee shop chain, here with a drive through.