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Alex McCoy is on a streak of opening restaurants that are deeply personal. He’ll soon replace Alfie’s, a spot inspired by his world travels, with a restaurant that reminds him of home. Tchoup’s (say ‘chops’) Market, coming the first week of August, is named after Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans, which runs through the neighborhood where his family lives.
“What we don’t want to do is a cheesy Mardi Gras restaurant,” McCoy says. “It’s not like every spot there is covered in beads and purple and king cakes. It’s a working class city full of life and people with different backgrounds from all over the world.”
He’ll pay homage to what he calls “a top food city” with a menu of po’boys, blue-plate specials, buckets of beer, and cocktails birthed in NoLa such as the Sazerac. Prototype po’boys like fried oyster and fried catfish will be available, but McCoy says po’boy shops in New Orleans are really just sub shops. “Anything you put inside a Creole, French loaf is a po’boy,” he says.
That’s why diners can expect to see everything from pastrami and hamburgers to fries and gravy stuffed into a roll. He aims to source locally as much as possible, with one major exception: He’s flying in famed Leidenheimer bread straight from New Orleans.
In addition to sandwiches, Tchoup’s Market will highlight the lesser-known aspects of New Orleans cuisine. McCoy says tourists don’t often peel back the layers beyond the French, Creole, and Cajun dishes. “There’s a massive Vietnamese community and Italian community,” McCoy says. “We want to show people not just the classics, but we’ll have blue-plate specials every day that could be anything from Mandina’s-style trout Almandine to a Vietnamese Creole dish called ya-ka-mein.” The latter is a beef noodle soup that originated with Chinese railway workers, according to McCoy.
McCoy is drawing inspiration from a New Orleans mainstay, Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar. The eatery feels like an extension of owner Dorothy Domilise‘s home, thanks to the family photos that enliven the walls. McCoy has been sourcing photos from his mom and grandmother to achieve the same look. But he’s borrowing even more. McCoy explains that his grandfather was a pilot in WW II living in Mississippi. On weekends, he’d fly to New Orleans to dine at Brennan’s Restaurant or Antoine’s Restaurant.
“He made friends with the owners and eventually, they said ‘Bob you’re flying down here every weekend, let me give you the recipes so you can cook them at home,’” McCoy says, as the new owner of these recipes. “This concept is close to my heart because a lot of family dishes are involved.”
McCoy and his business partner Hunter Campbell have their hands full finding a permanent home for Alfie’s downtown and deciding what to open in their Petworth location, so Ramin Coles will run the kitchen at Tchoup’s Market. Coles previously cooked at Black Market Bistro. Beverage Director Fabian Malone will be responsible for the drinks.
Tchoup’s Market will be located at 3301 Georgia Ave. NW.
Photo by Laura Hayes