Hunting down dinner last Friday, I knew I was on the right track when I turned a corner in Faubourg St. John to find a profusion of bikes locked up by the sidewalk and clusters of people clutching foil-wrapped burritos with both hands.
I unlatched the front gate leading to a home in the middle of the block and entered an attractive side-yard grotto. There was a food trailer parked up front, picnic tables under a tent in the back and a makeshift bar under a copse of banana trees, while DJ sounds pulsed throughout and young kids turned cartwheels on the grass.
This was the Burrito Juke Joint, a party and unconventional food find that goes down each Friday night (find details here).
The weekly happening is led by local chefs Aiji Daste and Juba Kali. Daste had previously run the now-closed Café Bamboo vegetarian restaurant in the Marigny, and Kali was recently a contestant on the cable show “The Next Food Network Star.”
Knowing this helps explain why, in addition to chicken tacos or a shrimp quesadilla, you can get tofu in your tortilla or specials that seem to come out of left field for a burrito night menu — like last week’s Thai-style coconut noodles. The shrimp burrito I dispatched was fat, fresh and filling, and served with a fortune cookie on the side.
They’ve been hosting this party most Fridays since April and Daste says they plan to continue it through the end of October. He says their goal is to open a restaurant down the line.
For now, they’ve put together quite a fun event - part pop-up, part party. Sometimes there’s a DJ — DJ Soul Sister has made an appearance here — and other times a movie might be playing on a projection screen outside. There’s easy mixing and mingling as people sip drinks and wait for their hand-cut nachos, fried plantains or fish burritos to come out of the trailer. The atmosphere is diverse, family-friendly and freewheeling — just the right vibe to cap off a long week.