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Two of the Summer’s Most Anticipated Restaurants Are Opening This Weekend

LUFU NOLA and Francolini’s are both making their highly-anticipated debuts

LUFU NOLA dishes from when it was at Pythian Market.
Randy Schmidt/Pythian Market

A pair of New Orleans’s most anticipated 2023 restaurants are opening their doors this weekend, both tried-and-true pop-up hits bringing fresh, exciting food to permanent homes in the city.

LUFU NOLA — LUFU stands for “Let Us Feed U” — from chefs Sarthak Samantray and Aman Kota, is opening in the CBD at 301 St. Charles Avenue on the evening of Thursday, July 13. The duo, who were both trained at culinary schools in India, met while working in big-name hotel kitchens in New Orleans. They started LUFU as a regional Indian pop-up a few years back, which progressed to a food stall in Pythian Market. When that downtown food hall closed in late 2022, the pair began their hunt for a permanent location.

They’ve created a gorgeous, artsy atmosphere at the narrow, light-filled St. Charles Avenue space, where they will serve a menu of chaat, biryani, curry, and more. There are a handful of appetizers including dahi ke kebab, a Mughlai specialty of fried yogurt dumplings; mirchi bhajji, a South Indian street food of stuffed banana peppers; and chicken samosas. There are tandoori lamb chops, chicken, and paneer; Mumbai-style biryani; vegetarian and meat curries; and Indian scotch eggs. The restaurant features a small bar and cocktail menu of concoctions like a curry colada and masala martini, and desserts include Indian-style bread pudding, rasmalai, and malpua. It’s open 5 to 10 p.m. daily except Wednesday.

Another pop-up-turned-restaurant, Francolini’s, is debuting Saturday, July 15. Tara Francolini’s Italian-style deli sandwiches will now be found at a counter-service shop at 3987 Tchoupitoulas Street. The menu has grown significantly from its days as a pop-up at Rabbit’s Foot, and will now include a whopping 18 hot and cold sandwiches, all made on sesame-topped subs by Ayu Bakehouse. Those sandwiches include chicken, eggplant, and meatball parms; a classic Italian overflowing with prosciutto, mortadella, salami, capicola, and provolone; roast beef and fontina; sausage and broccoli rabe; and a number of vegetarian options. Francolini, who hails from New Jersey but previously worked in New Orleans at Blue Oak BBQ and Longway Tavern, has partnered with Cesar Nunez on the shop.

To start, Francolini’s will be open for walkup orders only 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday, except for on Sunday when it will be open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with plans to expand hours sometime next month.

Francolini’s

3987 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70115 Visit Website