At the corner of Oak Street and Carrollton Avenue is one of my favorite local coffee shops in all of New Orleans, Rue de la Course. For years, I subsisted mostly on their delicious and frothy espresso-based iced mochas for fuel. This location also holds a special place for me, as a long time WTUL DJ on Tulane's FM radio station, we broadcast out of the mezzanine inside the shop as we returned to the airwaves after Hurricane Katrina until our permanent studio could re-open. Air breaks were especially entertaining with the sound of the espresso machine and coffee shop ambience in the background.
In the Riverbend section of the Carrollton neighborhood, step off a green St. Charles Avenue streetcar on Carrollton Avenue and explore Oak Street, one of the most unique and diverse eight-block stretches in all of New Orleans. On the surface, Oak Street still resembles an old-fashioned Main Street from an era gone by, with a mix of low-slung, glass-fronted storefronts and restaurants, ubiquitous New Orleans shotgun homes, and easy walkability — so much so that Oak Street often stands in for Main Street, USA in the movies and television shows shot in New Orleans when Hollywood South comes calling.
Dig deeper into the restaurants and shops on Oak Street, though, and you’ll quickly learn that it is made up of independent and funky retail, dining, and neighborhood-friendly services that can only exist on Oak Street … and only in New Orleans.
Oak Street is also home to the must-taste event of the fall, the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival. Thousands of locals and tourists will mingle in one of the largest, free outdoor street festivals around, strolling down the street and enjoying traditional, old-fashioned and new-fangled twists on po-boys, the sandwich invented and made famous in New Orleans. It’s your chance to get more than a taste of our abundant seafood, slow-cooked meats, and sample sandwich creations for sale from dozens of local restaurants all in one spot. And it wouldn’t be a New Orleans festival without live music and a second line parade down the street: the Oak Street Po-Boy Fest boasts several live music stages throughout its eight blocks, perfect to dance off all the po-boys you’ll be eating.
Let’s take a stroll down Oak Street during a typical day and discover what makes this strip so special…