New Orleans’ St. Roch Market has been a booming success bringing locally sourced international flavor to the Southern food hall scene. As a leader in the food hall renaissance sweeping the country, we couldn’t help but stop in to experience the iconic community gathering place for ourselves.

{ History of St. Roch Market }

New Orleans is a town that believes in its saints, even when they fall. In 1867, while the city was in the grips of a yellow fever epidemic, Reverend Peter Leonard Thevis was assigned to the parish surrounding the New Marigny neighborhood. The Reverend prayed to St. Roch, the patron saint of health and plagues, to protect New Marigny from disease. During that year, no member of the parish died from yellow fever. The neighborhood was renamed in honor of St. Roch as a result.

An open-air market had existed in the newly renamed neighborhood, in some form, since 1838. Supported primarily by the state, the market left an impression on the community, giving the New Marigny neighborhood a centerpiece around where feelings of security could anchor. In the 1930s, nearly one-hundred years later, having fallen into disuse during the Great Depression, FDR’s Works Progress Administration saved the St. Roch Market by renovating the indoor market space.

After World War II, the building was re-purposed, becoming Lama’s Supermarket. Doing well initially, the building faltered again. By the late 1990s, Lama’s closed followed by an unsteady series of restaurants and shops. Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans in 2005, significantly damaging the historic St. Roch Market property. Yet, the building remained, full of opportunity to rebuild and strengthen a community. It took the better part of a decade but by 2014 the renovation was well underway with the city having dedicated itself to the ambitious restoration.

Local entrepreneurs Will Donaldson and Barre Tanguis formed a company, Bayou Secret, that leased the space from the city in 2014. Now a food hall, the building holds twelve unique vendors, each of which offer fresh and locally-sourced items, making St. Roch Market a haven for local artisans. With a stunning renovation which includes soaring ceilings and restored original cast iron support columns, St. Roch Market is receiving more attention than ever, thanks to positive reviews from some of the nation’s most widely-read publications.

Good Bird

Opened by Chef Leo Sloan in 2016, Good Bird is a rotisserie chicken sandwich and salad shop, which uses only the freshest of locally-sourced ingredients. The Good Bird, their most popular gourmet sandwich, is made complete with salsa verde, aioli, romaine, all on an authentic French-style baguette fresh from New Orleans’ own Breads On Oak bakery.

Coast Roast

Kevin Pedeaux and Shawn Montella run Coast Roast Coffee company, helping to supply local restaurants and cafes with high-quality beans. Their St. Roch location sells freshly roasted coffee, alongside a separate coffee shop near the Gulf in Mississippi.

The Daily Beet

The Daily Beet is a health-conscious alternative, catering to the Big Easy’s trendiest health enthusiasts. Run by Dylan Maisel, the vendor prepares salads and granola bowls, and salmon adds a protein choice to the menu.

Elysian Seafood / Elysian Oyster Bar

Jennifer Sherrod and Chef Brandon Blackwell opened their Elysian Seafood vendor in 2015, becoming one of the founding members of the St. Roch Market food hall. The vendor focuses on bayou and Creole classics including a Louisiana Crab Cake featuring soft cooked egg, Creole potato hash, sweet corn, charred scallion cream. Local seafood is the leading ingredient in most dishes and the Market Ceviche is no different. The flavor of New Orleans shines in this seafood classic that combines citrus, tomato, jalapeño, cilantro, all served with house-made flatbread. Elysian Oyster Bar keeps locals coming back for the freshest locally harvested oysters and elevated takes on classic cocktails. The charcuterie board here, a selection of meat, seafood, or vegetables with toasted baguette, seasonal fruit mustard, pickled vegetables, is also a favorite.

Fete au Fete

Under award-winning Chef Micah Martello, who is renowned across the country for his unique culinary vision, Fete au Fete serves staples of the traditional bayou cuisine that’s kept tourists flowing toward the Gulf for generations.

Fritai

Fritai brings a taste of Haiti to St. Roch Market. The vendor was started by Charly Pierre and Eva Chereches, who recently relocated from Boston and, followed their hearts to New Orleans. The Haitian menu uses local ingredients and lots of rice and beans, pork, and freshly boiled greens.

La Mezcla

Yvonne Molina is a native of California, a largely Hispanic state that’s very naturally steeped with well-run Mexican restaurants. Moving to New Orleans, Molina found opportunity in a community with an underserved demand for authentic Mexican food. La Mezcla is Molina’s and Cat Smith’s attempt to cover some ground between New Orleans’ and California’s Mexican clout.

Torshi

The St. Roch Market food hall aims to represent more international tastes, while New Orleans increasingly becomes a multicultural epicenter, and the Torshi vendor operates as their clearest effort in achieving this goal. Growing up in Egypt, Rafik Abohattab came to New Orleans with a clear vision of what he wanted to build and the work ethic to make the vision a reality. As a teenager, he owned and operated his own food cart in the streets of Cairo. Torshi brings an exotic menu to St. Roch Market with recipes ranging from the Mediterranean to the Middle East, but in particular, a Northern African influence.

T2 Streetfood

The bold, bright flavors of Vietnam help T2 Streetfood set St. Roch Market apart from other Southern food halls. Tung Nguyen opened T2 Streetfood after years of working with his family in the kitchen of Thahn Thahn, a long established favorite Old Gretna restaurant. Offerings include bahn mi, bao and pho.

The newest incarnation of St. Roch Market, as is the tradition in New Orleans, is a place built on a foundation from the past. It seems there is no plague or disaster that can take the life from this city. This bright, modern food hall is a testament to a people who have unwavering belief in revival. There is a certainty that even though saints may not win every time, if you keep the faith, there’s always a comeback right around the corner. As you turn the corner at St. Claude Avenue in the St. Roch neighborhood, you’ll see a new market in an old place that brings the local produce, international flavor, and history of this unstoppable city together.

St. Roch Market New Orleans is located at 2381 St. Claude Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday thru Sunday. For further information, call (504) 609-3813 or visit the website at strochmarket.com.

>> Love the food hall scene? This story is the 2nd in a series profiling Southern food halls. Our first story visits Mae’s Food Hall in Cullman, Alabama. Read that story here.

by Christy Williams Graham, Managing Editor