La Cocinita, the old New Orleans food truck and arepas favorite, is opening a restaurant
One of New Orleans’ longest-running food trucks favored for arepas, tacos and puri tacos is opening its first restaurant in Uptown. Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate. La Cocinita, the 12-year-old Venezuelan food truck and catering company from Benoit and Rachel Angulo, will add a restaurant at 4920 Prytania Street in spring 2024.
The restaurant will significantly expand on its existing food truck offerings, Rachel tells Eater. Weekend brunch will include breakfast empanadas, breakfast arepas, breakfast tacos, and breakfast bowls, as well as tropical mimosas and agua frescas. Cachapas, Venezuelan sweet corn fritters, will either be on the menu or served as an occasional special. She says there will be a wider variety of arepas on the menu, which are mostly gluten-free, and will have “abundant” vegetarian options. The restaurant, which will be counter service, will feature a full bar serving South American wines, beer, margaritas, mojitos and “a handful of other tropical cocktails, as well as rum and tequila selections.”
It’s an exciting and long-awaited move for the Angolos, who met while working at the Commander’s Palace. Benoit is a native of Caracas, Venezuela, and Rachel is from Chicago — the couple also operated the La Cocinita food truck in Evanston, Illinois, for years and opened a restaurant there in 2016. They split their time between Wilmette, Illinois, and New Orleans, and will have a partner in New Orleans for Uptown Restaurant. Rachel says Joseph Stortz, who worked at the company for ten years as an employee and then manager, will join them as owner in the new venture.
La Cocinita happily follows in the footsteps of many of its fellow former vendors at Pythian Market, the now-closed downtown food hall where it resided for several years. This food hall, which opened in 2018, was vacated in November 2022, and closed permanently in December 2022. Since closing, a number of its former tenants have settled into their own spaces, including bubble tea shop Moon Garden and Indian restaurant LUFU NOLA . Fortunately, La Cocinita has continued to operate its food trucks and event catering business while in Pythian, and has continued to pop up in locations like the Shops at Canal Place, the Fly, and at markets and festivals since the hall closed. It has had a strong private event catering business for years, which will likely continue when the new restaurant opens next year.
The prospective restaurant is located next door to Creole Creamery, and Rachel says they hope they can collaborate with the beloved local pastry shop for Latin American sweets in La Cocinita. The address was most recently home to a third outpost of Parran’s Po-Boys, which closed in March 2023 after five years in space; Before that, it was a Kyoto Japanese restaurant. The Angulos hope to open La Cocinita in May 2024.