I was talking to Nellie the other day. She works for the Lafitte Greenway, which is a linear park behind La Belle Esplanade, about eight blocks behind our house. I forget exactly what we were talking about. Probably some shop that I haven’t been to because she told me about something that is in “Little Metarie.” Where is Little Metarie, you ask? Read on.
I said to Nellie, “I love it when people say Little Metarie.”
Nellie smiled and said, “I knew you would.”
Nellie and I didn’t talk about Frey Smoked Meat Company in the Little Metarie section of North Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans. Nellie is all business all the time, unlike your humble narrator who is known to be a raconteur extraordinaire, always happy to spin a stem-winder of a tale. I like Nellie, though. It is always nice to see her. She’s like a ray of sunshine, even if she is all business.
The sun is all about its own business, too, and the sun always makes me happy.
Nellie and I didn’t have time to talk restaurants, so I’m going to tell you about it instead, now that I have the chance. Lucky you.
WHY IS IT CALLED LITTLE METARIE????
I don’t want to get too much involved and off-track describing Louisiana geography and municipal districts. Let’s keep this short. Louisiana doesn’t have counties. Louisiana has parishes. New Orleans is located in Orleans Parish. Across the upriver side of Orleans Parish is Jefferson Parish. The largest unincorporated town (if you can call an unincorporated place a town) is Metarie. It’s the suburbs. It was mostly built up in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, up until today. It’s the suburbs. I rarely go to Metarie. It all looks the same to me. There are no landmarks to speak of, unless you count malls, strip malls, shopping centers, and chain stores landmarks. I rarely have a reason to go to Target or Best Buy or Bed Bath & Beyond, so I rarely have a reason to visit Metarie.
New Orleans is the opposite of corporate chain store America. Most things in New Orleans are home grown, small scale, quirky, and woven inseparably into the fabric of culture that makes New Orleans unique. That said, there is a stretch of North Carrollton Avenue that, since Hurricane Katrina, has been built up into a sort of shopping center Mecca. Where is Little Metaire? It is between Canal Street and Orleans Avenue, a stretch of about seven blocks, on North Carrollton Avenue.
It’s about a mile and a half from our small boutique hotel. You can walk to the end of our street and take the streetcar to get there. Once there, you can eat at Panera, or Five Guys Hamburgers. You can shop at Office Depot or Marshalls or Petco. You can get your hair cut at Supercuts. There are also more local businesses mixed in with the chains.
The oldest ice cream parlor in New Orleans is in Little Metarie. It was there before Winn Dixie or Pizza Hut moved in. There is also Venezia, a pizzeria that is like walking into 1955. When Frau Schmitt (who is the better half of this operation) and I go to Venezia, I’m always reminded of the movie ‘Big Night.’
Not for the movie’s plot, but because the food is so good. The recipes at Venezia are old school Italian, the best way. Louis Prima was from New Orleans, if you didn’t know that already.
Let’s talk about Frey Smoked Meat Co., though.
WHERE IS LITTLE METARIE?
Little Metarie is where you find it. You can’t miss it if you happen to stumble into it.
Frey Smoked Meat Co. is in a strip shopping center behind the main shopping center on N. Carrollton. I think their official address is on Bienville Street, which crosses N. Carrollton. Things can be confusing in New Orleans and Frey Smoked Meats is a pleasant conundrum wrapped in a riddle. When you smile in New Orleans, the whole world smiles with you.
Frey Smoked Meat Co. is a local shop, cut whole and tailored from New Orleans cloth. We had originally hesitated from going because of it’s location, next to the Orange Theory Fitness gym and a dental clinic. Yo u know how strip malls are. It’s located in a new, long, low slung, brick building: store front, store front, store front, store front, as bland as any streetscape in the real Metarie.
When we did have lunch there the other day, we had ourselves a pleasant surprise. Walking in the front door, the interior is not like an Appleby’s or a Texas Roadhouse. A well-stocked handmade bar greets the customer just as one would expect in New Orleans. This place has style.
The dining room was full of local characters talking across tables, the New Orleans way. The food was excellent. I don’t remember what we had but it was very, very good and we’ll be back. I’m not a big fan of smoked meat, but Frey made an impression. Order extra side dishes. Having low expectations may have increased my enjoyment but I know what I like and I like Frey Smoked Meat Company.
They’ve won a number of awards at Hogs for the Cause. Hogs for the Cause is a local barbecue festival held every year in New Orleans that raises money to support pediatric brain cancer outreach. That’s quite the cause. Every year, New Orleans best and brightest BBQ pit masters go head to head to discover who has the best barbecue in the city. Here’s a look at the wall at Frey:
So, if you are looking for good barbecue in a strip mall, I have just the place for you. It’s real New Orleans, even if it looks from the outside like Metarie. Where is Little Metarie? It’s where you’ll find Frey Smoked Meat Co.
Frau Schmitt and I go everywhere in New Orleans in order to keep ourselves attuned to the pulse of what’s happening in this amazing and diverse city we call home. Your concierge at a corporate chain hotel can’t tell you half the stuff we’ll tell you in our first half hour over breakfast. You’ll never be bored in New Orleans.
No one ever says their visit to New Orleans is too long. It is always too short. There is so much to discover here off the usual tourist radar that it’s easy to get lost in a New Orleans state of mind. Welcome to our world. Stay for as long as you can. You won’t regret a single minute of you trip. Good memories are made on our street.
Have a great New Orleans day today, wherever you may happen to be. When you are ready to visit New Orleans, you know where to find us. You are on the right website. We only have five suites so not everyone can stay here. Plan ahead and book early.
-La Belle Esplanade
Monday, July 23, 2018: Wanna know where we had lunch today? It was great but that’s a story for another day. À votre santé.
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