Top 5-04: best coffee shops to work from in New Orleans East

Some say the East doesn't have much, but those people must not know where to look. Here are five coffee shops where you can break out of the home office and get those creative juices going.

by Samantha Sunne
August 13, 2021

This story was written for Very Local by Samantha Sunne. Click here to follow her and read more.

Some say the East doesn’t have much, but those people must not know where to look. Here are five coffee shops where you can break out of the home office and get those creative juices going.

PJ’s Coffee

A local favorite is PJ’s Coffee on Read Boulevard. This PJ’s stands out from other locales around the city thanks to its thoughtful interior design and homey feel.

Stephanie Chambliss, a board member at the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, told Very Local in 2018 that she opened the shop to bring more coffee shops to the East.

Most PJ’s franchises tend take on the chain’s distinctive Mardi Gras color scheme, but this one offers comfy black couches, chandeliers, outdoor seating and a drive-through in its location in a former bank. Plus, of course, free wifi.

As an added advantage, it’s just a few short blocks away from the East New Orleans Regional Library, so you can get your read on on Read Blvd.

☕️ 5733 Read Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70127
🕛 Open every day, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Pho Bang

Pho Bang has no less than five locations in the New Orleans area, each run by a different part of the family, but the one in the East is the first.

They don’t have have wifi, but they do have Vietnamese Iced Coffee, made with sweetened condensed milk and a lot of caffeine. It’s also a good place to try boba tea, or, of course, the cafe’s titular pho.

As a bonus, it’s just down the street from the famous Dong Phuong Bakery, which gets overrun with king cake enthusiasts every Mardi Gras. Outside of king cake season, you can stock up on baguettes, cinnamon rolls, bao, and other bakery delights all year round.

☕️ 14367 Chef Menteur Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70129
🕛 Open every day except Wednesday , 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Messina’s Runway Cafe

The Runway Cafe is probably one of the lesser known coffee spots in this list. It’s a restaurant inside the old New Orleans Lakefront Airport, a gorgeous, authentic Art 

Deco building located at the junction of the canal and the lake.

The airport opened in 1934 and still hosts small aircraft, which means you watch planes take off and land while you eat.

The cafe closes at 3 p.m. and offers brunch as well as lunch and dinner. That includes unlimited wifi and bottomless CC’s coffee, making it a unique place to get some work done.

☕️ 6001 Stars and Stripes Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70126
🕛 Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Saturday & Sunday 8 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Southshore Donuts

A little ways down the street from Messina’s is Southshore Donuts & Restaurant, a small, welcoming space with breakfast sandwiches, a wide variety of donuts, and large cups of coffee.

The cafe doesn’t offer free wifi, but it is one of the few 24-hour hangouts in New Orleans that isn’t a bar, making it a good place to go for that late-night deadline. Or, take the chance to procrastinate and chat with locals at the shop’s wraparound bar.

☕️ 7929 Downman Rd, New Orleans, LA 70126
🕛 Open 24 hours

Smileys Grill

If there were a picture of a prototypical American greasy spoon diner, Smileys Grill would be it. The grill offers your typical diner fare, including Louisiana staples like shrimp poboys, charbroiled oysters and grits.

The cafe is just off I-10, over the highrise that brings you into the East, and opens at 8 a.m., making it not quite the crack-of-dawn diner hours. They also offer free Wifi, sports channels, CC’s coffee and daiquiris, if that gets your productive juices flowing. This is New Orleans after all!

☕️ 3716 Downman Rd, New Orleans, LA 70126
🕛 Monday & Tuesday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Wednesday – Sunday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Want to know more about New Orleans East?

Sweet Silence: Audubon Nature Center is a quiet retreat in N.O. East

For authentic and affordable Latin flavors, head East!

A neighborhood guide on where to get pho in New Orleans


Coby Odate contributed reporting to this story. Cover Photo via Getty Images.

Samantha Sunne is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the recipient of three national grants and several awards for investigative reporting, with work published in NPR, the Washington Post, and other outlets. She speaks at conferences, universities and newsrooms around the world, including for Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Lede Program at Columbia University and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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