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Of the many diverse and interesting neighborhoods in New Orleans, Lakeview enjoys a special pride of place among New Orleanians. Developed in the middle of the 20th century, this charming neighborhood, bounded by City Park, Bayou St. John, Lakeshore Drive along Lake Ponchartrain and 17th Street Canal, is a quiet, suburban-like neighborhood with classic mid-century and new modern architecture. Its proximity to an array of outdoor activities along Lake Ponchartrain and in City Park and along Bayou St. John make it worth exploring for locals and tourists alike.
Lakeview was affected greatly by Hurricane Katrina and the breach of the 17th Street Canal in 2005, but its swift return and renewal shows little signs of the damage and destruction wrought, instead showcasing the resilience and hard work and determination of New Orleanians to make this great neighborhood whole once again. Now it’s back and seemingly better than ever.
Along Lake Ponchartrain
North of Robert E. Lee Boulevard, which is the northern border of City Park, are the Lake Vista/Lake Terrace and West End subdivisions, which make up part of the larger Lakeview neighborhood. In the West End along the marina, Louisiana seafood is king. The Blue Crab and Station 6 are two restaurants near the lake that specialize in New Orleans style seafood dishes — fried shrimp poboys, soft-shell crab, oysters on the half shell, and NOLA-Italian classics like pastas and veal parmesan. Open for lunch and dinner, they are the perfect starting point to explore Lake Ponchartrain, a breathtakingly beautiful diversion from the bustle of the city.
Strolling Harrison Avenue
Lakeview’s main thoroughfare is Harrison Avenue, an east/west running street that goes from Bayou St. John, through the middle of City Park in a majestic mature live oak-lined passageway, and turns into a charming and bustling commercial hub that makes for a great afternoon stroll, or an amazing dinner or happy hour destination.
Harrison Avenue’s commercial hub features ample on-street parking shaded by majestic pine trees and surrounded by lush landscaping. Its main hub is walkable, and although more modern in appearance than other New Orleans neighborhoods, offers plenty to do and see — it’s a real locals’ spot with down home charm, and lots of choices when it comes to dining.
Along Harrison Avenue, there are many options for eating and drinking: there’s the fast casual Italian pizza and sandwich chain Reginelli’s (and their $2 pitchers of Abita Amber on Mondays and Tuesdays) and classic Lakeview stalwarts The Steak Knife and neighborhood sports bar Parlay’s.
One of the most popular spots on Harrison is The Velvet Cactus. One look at its covered patio and funky decor and a sip or two of a margarita or a nibble of the expansive casual Mexican food menu, and you’ll understand why happy hour and beyond, this place is packed and a whole lotta fun.
For those with a sweet tooth, Creole Creamery churns up fresh, classic ice cream flavors as well as their own wild flavors in their Lakeview outpost just off Harrison Avenue. Looking for a snoball fix? NOLA Snow Snoballs is nearby for your shaved ice needs (They close for the winter season Oct. 30.)
NOLA Beans is the local coffee shop on Harrison, also serving hot breakfast and casual lunch (sandwiches, salads and pastries.) Next door to NOLA Beans is one of my favorite shops in the city for a quick gift: Little Miss Muffin, which has a large and interesting assortment of New Orleans-themed gifts and home decor, plus a large children’s section with interesting toys and clothing you won’t find in many places. It’s an easy place to turn to for wedding, shower, house warming and birthday gifts, or maybe something special just for you.
And lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t end with the pinnacle of old-school Lakeview: Tony Angello’s — also known as Red Sauce Italian Heaven. Tucked away off Harrison near the 17th Street Canal, they’ve been around a long time, and they do the classics very well. It’s probably best to go with a group: just say “Feed me, please,” and let Tony’s do the heavy lifting while y’all chow down on plate after plate, sampling classic New Orleans Italian cuisine and original dishes — think stuffed artichokes, eggplant with marinara, angel hair pasta with garlicky crawfish sauce — until you can’t possibly eat any more. Then order dessert and after-dinner drinks, and be serenaded by the staff as you gently fall into a food coma.
Photos by Paul Broussard