built in 1956 / reimagined 2017
Thanks to its retro “motel” sign out front, this unassuming low-rise seems at first glance like a forgotten 1950s anachronism. But look past the period-piece signage and The Drifter reveals itself as an exercise in modernized nostalgia, both in terms of design and concept. With a name inspired by the iconoclastic Beat Generation of postwar America, the property is a playful respite from New Orleans’ expected offerings, shining a light on a newly hip side of the city by acting as a melting pot for the local and global “drifters” who end up there. In addition to a café serving up specialty coffee from La Colombe and baked goodies, the culinary program sees a rotation of chic food trucks and on-property pop ups that offer a host of ever-changing tastes, from Mexico City to Haiti, Colombia, and beyond. Add in the artwork of local creatives and a busy events calendar—best enjoyed with fresh frozen cocktails, Japanese beers and sakes, or the local wines on offer—and it’s clear why this Tulane Avenue property is making waves on the New Orleans scene.