Festers walking into the Fair Grounds from the Sauvage Entrance have a number of options for grabbing a quick bite, whether that be a slice from Nonna Mia or a cup of gumbo from Liuzza’s by the Track. Those heading in from the Gentilly side, however, are at a dearth of provisions—or at least they were until a second location of Toast opened up next to the Jockey Pub. This year’s Jazz Fest will be the first for Cara and Evan Benson’s new outpost of their wildly successful Uptown breakfast/lunch spot, and the kitchen is gearing up for what surely will be a busy two weeks.
While fans of the original Uptown café will be pleased to recognize many of the same menu items, Toast Fairgrounds has one clear advantage in the sibling rivalry: a liquor license. The tiny bar inside the Gentilly location cranks out mimosas, bloody marys and brandy milk punches from opening to close, and the added luxury of alcohol service makes waiting for a table infinitely more tolerable. In addition to the standard eye openers, the drink list includes a handful of local beers on tap and a refreshing Aperol spritz.
The namesake dish is served in a variety of iterations, one of which features spring vegetables and tomatoes cooked down into a deliciously acidic ratatouille that is then spooned over freshly baked multigrain toast smeared with fresh ricotta and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Expertly executed omelettes are delicious in their simplicity, as are the flaky biscuits and the rotating selections of muffins and scones freshly baked each morning. No breakfast is complete without an order of aebelskivers—those light and airy pancake globes dipped in Nutella or housemade jam. Morning sweet cravings can be satisfied with any number of crepes, such as a s’mores combination of chocolate, fresh marshmallow cream and crushed graham cracker.
Waffles are a new addition to the menu and not to be missed. Dress them with cayenne butter and maple syrup alongside fried chicken, or cure the worst hangover with a waffle sandwich stuffed with pimento cheese, ham, avocado and fried eggs.
Perhaps the most underrated dish on the menu is the burger—a proportionately thick patty of ground brisket griddled to perfection and served alongside fresh-cut fries.
Long lines are a given on the weekend. Patrons congregate on the sidewalk and just like at Jazz Fest, bringing your own chair and packing sunscreen are highly encouraged.