Located in a former gas station blocks from Audubon Park, Cafe Freret (7329 Freret St., 504-861-7890; www.cafefreret.com) is a popular neighborhood hangout. "The feel of eating in a 100-year old building in the middle of residential Uptown is different," says owner and chef Carl Guidroz. "It's not that hustle and bustle of restaurants further down Freret. It's more laid back here."
The 2,500-square-foot cafe offers outdoor seating, all-day breakfast and free Wi-Fi, attracting neighbors who want to unwind over brunch and students looking for espresso-fueled study sessions. "Business is about half locals, half students," Guidroz says. "People come to sit in the big outside area and enjoy being outside."
Pets are welcome, too. Freshly baked, veterinarian-approved selections including homemade dog biscuits and "snickerpooches" are available on the cafe's A La Collar Menu, and water bowls are provided for dogs.
"Today everyone sees their dogs as their family," says Guidroz, who opened the restaurant in June 2005. "This is a place for you to bring them and eat together, and our regulars appreciate that."
As for the human menu, Guidroz says family recipes inspire his dishes. "It's mostly family stuff, but we're very eclectic," he says. The all-day breakfast menu features omelets, pancakes, steak and eggs, and French toast.
"Outside of breakfast and brunch, the Steakbomb and Voodoo Burger are popular," Guidroz says.
The Steakbomb consists of shaved steak, Swiss cheese, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers served on toasted French bread with Creole mayonnaise. The Voodoo Burger is topped with bacon, sauteed onions and mushrooms, tomato, lettuce, pickles and provolone, served on a ciabatta bun.
Weekend brunch brings in regulars who dine with their dogs under the awning, while drinking house mimosas and watching the New Orleans Saints play. The cafe screens movies at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.
"We're going to do the Star Wars trilogy for November, since the new movie is out next month," Guidroz says. "We're not showing those terrible new ones, though. The three originals."