Amid the colony of national chain restaurants to emerge in the Mid-City Market, one eatery in this new development stands apart — Felipe's Taqueria (Mid-City Market, 411 N. Carrollton Ave., phone n.a.; www.felipestaqueria.com), a Mexican concept that was hatched in New England but spread its wings in New Orleans.
This latest Felipe's joins new locations of Pizza Hut, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Panera Bread and Pinkberry, as well as a soon-to-open Five Guys Burgers & Fries in the retail development. Felipe's is by far the smallest player among all those restaurant brands, but it has big plans and has built significant local cachet over the past few years with a quick, inexpensive format and a bar program that breaks with the typical fast-casual restaurant template.
"It's the same Felipe's people already know from our other locations, with the big difference here being outdoor seating," says Justin Crooks, vice president of operations for Felipe's.
The outdoor seating area has table service, and Crooks says this is a new angle the company is pursuing. The restaurant fronts a small pedestrian mall, and Crooks says they plan to install a projection screen in this outdoor space for big games during football season.
Felipe's founder Tom Brush and namesake Felipe Herrera opened their first restaurant in 2004 in Cambridge, Mass. Brush later partnered with New Orleanians Robert Stumm and Elio Todaro to start Felipe's Louisiana LLC (Todaro died earlier this year). The Felipe's Uptown opened late in 2006, followed by a French Quarter edition in 2009. This spring they added Tiki Tolteca, a tiki bar and small plates restaurant above the French Quarter Felipe's.
Crooks says there are no specific plans on the drawing board for a fourth location, but additional Felipe's restaurants are a possibility.
"Will it be in Lafayette? Baton Rouge? I don't know, but it will be in Louisiana," he says. "We think this is a concept that has plenty of room to grow."
The Mid-City Felipe's serves lunch and dinner daily.