By Lauren Saizan
New Orleans is known for many things, including its unique streets. There’s Magazine Street, St. Charles Avenue, Canal Street – the list goes on and on. What many people don’t know is that there was one road that led to all of this, to the city of New Orleans itself.
Bayou Road was formed 300 years ago as a pathway to bridge the gap between Bayou St. John and the Mississippi River where trade took place. It laid the groundwork for where New Orleans would later be founded, and where many of the landmarks which we associate with the city were birthed. Today, it is a road that connects several neighborhoods in the city, stretching from the Esplanade Ridge to the French Quarter. It all started with Bayou Road, where a corridor of thriving and unique Black-owned businesses can be found today.
As New Orleans celebrates its Tricentennial, new life has been found in even the oldest places. Visiting Bayou Road, one will find a warm, fresh energy permeating the air. A variety of shops align the road as locals and tourists alike stop to say hello to shopkeepers and check out their wares. Pink paint coats the exterior of one of the buildings, but nothing feels inauthentic here. The shops are a vibrant representation of the neighborhood that they are situated within. Many locals, indigenous to the seventh ward neighborhood, rule this hidden gem of New Orleans.
See Bayou Road for yourself – you never know what you’ll find until you go.
A GUIDE TO BAYOU ROAD
Community Book Center
2523 Bayou Road
More than just a bookstore, Community Book Center is a hub for African-American culture. Within the shop you’ll find African-centered clothes, jewelry, books, paintings, photography, and more. The space serves as a community gathering place as well, hosting storytelling and performance events. Surrounded by literature, you’ll quickly find yourself engrossed in the warm and welcoming environment Community Book Center offers.
The Half Shell on the Bayou
2517 Bayou Road
Open from Wednesday to Sunday, the Half Shell on the Bayou features Creole seafood and raw oysters in a neighborhood setting with an inviting patio for outdoor dining. You’ll feel as if you’re in the company of family when entering this restaurant. Stop in for good food in a great atmosphere on your visit to Bayou Road.
2521 Bayou Road
Material Life is a one-of-a-kind shop filled with unique items, ranging from vintage clothing to greeting cards to the handmade soaps and decor unique to the shop itself. The store highlights African and African American culture, offering visitors a world of beauty in material things attractive to collectors. Stopping at this shop is an absolute must when visiting Bayou Road.
2515 Bayou Road
Open Tuesday through Friday, CoCo Hut brings all the flavors of the West Indies to New Orleans. They offer a range of dishes from Jerk Chicken to Mango/Coconut Shrimp and their specialty Cane Juice made fresh daily. Vegetarian options are also available. Coco Hut’s charming decor, welcoming staff, and cooling atmosphere provides customers a true Caribbean dining experience.
2443 Bayou Road
For authentic reggae music, dance hall sounds and live performances, come dance the night away at Club Caribbean. Fridays are Soca Ladies night and Saturdays are the Dancehall Explosion. Club Caribbean also offers a buffet and food vendor for late night cravings.
2511 Bayou Road
For all things sweet, stop at Cupcake Fairies. There, you’ll find an assortment of delectable pastries including the cupcakes they’re known for. The shop’s double-layer cupcakes, filled with rich frosting in a variety of flavors, will have you craving more.
Whiskey & Sticks
2513 Bayou Road
Whiskey and Sticks is a high-end spot that features a wide selection of whiskeys, including some very rare brands. A limited beer and wine selection is also available. There are three humidors which hold 50 to 60 different types of cigars that customers can enjoy on Whiskey & Sticks’ spacious back patio.
Egos Gentlemen’s Spa
2509 Bayou Road
Who says men can’t enjoy a good facial? The newly-opened Egos Gentlemen’s Spa sets out to provide men with spa services in a comfortable atmosphere. Beyond the traditional haircuts, the spa offers massages, acupuncture, hair removal services, facials, and even a MANicure on the menu. Stop by and prepare to be pampered at this shop on Bayou Road. Although the name says otherwise, Egos shop owner, Akil, will gladly tell you that women are welcome too.
Keys of Beauty Hair Studio
2518 Bayou Road
Keys of Beauty gives a unique twist to hairstyling in New Orleans with their use of only organic and natural hair products. The stylists here offer total hair care while specializing in African American natural hair. Their services range from extension installs, loc maintenance services, coloring and styles for children. Other services they provide are hair cuts, chemical treatments, and bridal consultations.
This article was originally published on gonola.com and reprinted with permission with updates by Welcome staff.