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When you pull up a stool at Petite Loulou, Chef Stefano Frigerio wants you to feel like you’re in Paris circa 1930. He’ll serve three French comfort food classics—coq au vin, duck a l’Orange, and beef bourguignon—plus crepes, croissants, croque monsieur sandwiches, and quiche at the 150-square-foot stall opening in Union Market on July 27.
The casual crêperie and café designed by David Chenault is a spinoff of Frigerio’s Petite Loulou Creperie + Bar à Vins in Purcellville, Virginia, which opened in 2017. Both are named after a term of endearment Frigerio and his wife Dusty Lockhart use for their daughter.
After moving out of the District, the former Fiola executive chef yearned to cook in D.C. again. “I miss the food community,” he says. “What’s going on in D.C. right now is fascinating. Union Market is a great gathering place. To us that was very appealing.”
Many of the dishes have a twist, like the “Steak and Eggs Croque” that replaces the traditional filling of ham with seared steak. “It’s like a steak and cheese with béchamel sauce and a fried egg on top,” Frigerio says. “Okay, I’m in love. It was as simple as that.”
Crêpes fillings run the gamut from savory salmon rillettes to sweet Nutella and banana. Gluten-free and plant-based batters are also available. Croissant options include triple cream cheese and apricot; merguez sausage and egg; and whipped egg with truffle.
To drink, there will be a beverage menu of frosé, frozen passionfruit mimosas, and three variations of a Lillet spritz. Petite Loulou marries the French wine-based aperitif with fresh fruit or cordials and sparkling mineral water for highly quaffable cocktails that compliment the cheesy, rich cuisine.
Come July 27, the cafe will be open Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Frigerio is keeping mum about whether he is using Union Market as a testing ground for a larger, permanent cafe in the District. “For now we’re focused on this one and we’ll see how the city responds to us,” he says.
Petite Loulou, 1309 5th St. NE; lapetiteloulou.com