Next door to Magasin Kitchen is Willa Jean...you can't miss its retro neon blade sign hugging the corner and its walls of windows full of diners eagerly eating desserts and savory foods from Chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White, both of the Besh Restaurant Group. Willa Jean is the spot for downtown breakfast or brunch, with an abundance of pastry and coffee. But more than delicious carbs, Willa Jean shines on the savory foods too...toasts and spreads, fried chicken on a biscuit, and a delicious and hearty Southern-inspired lunch and dinner menu that somehow manages to hold its own against the jaw-dropping desserts.
A once-sleepy corner of the neighborhood that was for years mostly surface parking lots used during sporting events and Mardi Gras is now a major destination in the Crescent City: meet South Market District. The South Market District, affectionately coined “SOMA,” incorporates new construction of live/work/play buildings with luxury loft apartments and the best in New Orleans retail and dining all in one place, just steps from the Julia Street art scene, a few blocks from St. Charles Avenue and the Warehouse District.
Read all about SOMA and its local business and restaurants, one of which is offering an exclusive Happy Tuesday deal: Print this Willa Jean coupon for half off dessert with the purchase of an entree on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. until close.
The neighborhood surrounding SOMA is also experiencing its own renaissance, with a soon-to-open Ace Hotel, the recently restored Civic Theater, dining and bars on nearby Poydras Street, the spiffy downtown Rouse’s grocery on Baronne, and retail such as Fraques men’s store, Buff Beauty Bar, Hiro Coffee, and a soon-to-be-renovated circus theatre that was once home to the Scottish Rite Temple.
Most of the current businesses are situated in the recently built red brick Paramount building on Girod Street, between Rampart and O’Keefe streets. Nearing completion is the charcoal brick Beacon, which will help formalize the vision of this unique neighborhood. Scroll through the photos (and their helpful captions) to get a feel for SOMA.