New Orleans has no shortage of standout places to eat and drink, and newcomer Porgy’s has managed to carve out a unique space in the city’s restaurant scene. The retail space and restaurant opened its doors last month, with veterans of NOLA’s hospitality community at the helm: Marcus Jacobs and Caitlin Carney (Marjie’s Grill, Seafood Sally’s), and Dana Honn and Christina do Carmo Honn (Carmo). Together, these longtime advocates of Lousiana’s fishing community have created a seafood market showcasing the diversity and abundance of the Gulf Coast while simultaneously creating a platform for their fishing partners.
“Over the past several years, the idea for a fish market that featured Gulf seafood with a mission of supporting independent family fishers was one that I think both Marcus and I were interested in making a reality, albeit separately,” Honn said. “We became acquainted due to jointly sourcing some of our seafood from local fishers. When the opportunity to take over this space arose, Marcus and Caitlin approached Christina and me to see if we might be interested. It didn’t take long for us to respond with an enthusiastic yes!”
Porgy’s Seafood Market is a retail space and restaurant, so you’ll find prepared foods and raw ingredients to make delicious meals at home. There’s an emphasis on sustainable, wild-caught seafood from the neighboring Gulf of Mexico, including lesser-known species (known as bycatch) that are frequently discarded by commercial fishermen because of a lack of market demand. “Sustainability is really about relationships,” Honn said. “What’s our relationship with our coastal ecosystems, with the people who live there, and with our customers who are looking for high-quality, healthy, delicious and affordable seafood? What do we do to ensure we aren’t simply extracting natural resources that aren’t being renewed? How do we balance management and ensure equitable access to those shared resources? Those relationships must continue to be considered sustainable, it’s all vitally connected.”
On the restaurant side of things, you’ll find sandwiches, salads, boiled seafood and crudo that regularly change depending on what the local fishermen bring in, plus New Orleans mainstays like seafood gumbo and freshly shucked oysters on the halfshell. One of their signature items, the Muffulettu, is an updated take on a muffuletta with Gulf tuna conserva in place of Italian cold cuts. To drink, there’s from-scratch, fresh fruit frozen daiquiris, low-ABV drinks, beer and wine.
The market has shrimp, oysters and crabs, plus fresh-cut filets and whole fish from prolific but lesser-known species. Seasonal delicacies like crawfish are also available. Everything from the counter can be purchased to take home, or prepared in the kitchen for dine-in. The latter is particularly helpful for learning how to prepare and enjoy lesser-known fish species. For customers taking their fresh catch home, Porgy’s offers proprietary spice blends and other grab-and-go items to help round out the meal.
The market’s sustainable seafood offerings make it a unique concept within NOLA’s food scene. Honn notes that few, if any, local seafood markets focus exclusively on wild Gulf catch. “Even fewer feature some of the lesser-known, underutilized, yet bountiful and incredibly delicious, species which vary from the handful of fish that show up on most menus,” he said. Carney added that whether customers are dining in or taking some fresh-caught fish home cook it themselves, “each guest can experience the bounty of the fish case, discuss all the different species or off-cuts with the staff, get cooking tips, or watch as the staff grabs the fresh fish or shrimp of their choosing and pass it to the kitchen to be cooked. It’s just really special and also really simple in a lot of ways.”