Apr 12, 2023 - Food and Drink

80s-themed restaurant Hungry Eyes now open in Uptown

Hungry Eyes' gold logo can be seen on the front window of the green painted restaurant.

Hungry Eyes opened for service April 10. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

Fans of Mason Hereford's playful, detail-driven dining concepts can now eat in one of his restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Driving the news: Hungry Eyes, a 1980s-themed restaurant promising "luxury drinking food without pretense," is now open. It's the third and latest concept from Hereford's team.

Don't stop believin': Like every concept Hereford sinks his teeth into, the restaurant name came first. But that was a few years ago, before the pandemic.

  • Temporarily sidelined by world events, Hereford and his Hungry Eyes partners, Lauren Agudo and chef Phil Cenac, had time to hone in on the experience. In that span, Hereford also applied lessons about industry equity learned over the pandemic to the business plan, extending a slice of ownership to Cenac.
  • "In retrospect, I think we were rushing into it because we had so much talent and we wanted to give people new opportunities," Hereford tells Axios. "But now ... we're more collectively growing together."

Vibe: Hungry Eyes' glossy, forest green front faces a busy stretch of Magazine Street across from Shaya.

  • Inside, the eggshell blue walls are dotted with vintage posters, neon lights in primary color, cut glass light fixtures, mirrored decor and an acrylic host stand.
  • "We owe a ton of design credit to [Chicago's] Paul Octavious," Hereford says. "He designed our logo, went on picking trips and helped us decide what we should get."
Chef Mason Hereford shrugs while on the set of "Late Night with Seth Meyers," holding a piece of toast in his left hand.
Chef Mason Hereford, appearing here during a "Late Night with Seth Meyers" segment, opened Hungry Eyes in New Orleans this week. Photo by Lloyd Bishop/NBC via Getty Images

Flashback: When Hereford opened Turkey and the Wolf, the much-lauded sandwich joint that made the chef an industry darling, his team’s goal was to make the skills and attention to detail they learned within fine dining more approachable.

  • They did it all over again with Molly's Rise and Shine, serving up breakfast and brunch food.

On the menu: But it was time to turn the tables again by returning to a higher price point.

  • "We can cook all the ingredients we miss, like veal sweetbreads or raw fish or beef tartare," Hereford says. "Let's make a dish that costs $20 rather than $10. We miss doing that, and we miss that style of cooking, so why not take that playfulness and do it that way?"
  • That means Cenac's menu focuses on "flavors that are really loud and punchy," Hereford says.
  • At the bar, Hungry Eyes offers a wine program from Lahzie Takada and a martini-focused cocktail menu from Carlos Cuinonez. Think vesper, espresso and apple martinis.

Of note: Like Hereford's other two restaurants, Hungry Eyes doesn't accept reservations, so stop by early and expect a wait.

Details: Hungry Eyes is located at 4206 Magazine St. It's open 4-10pm daily, closed Tuesdays.

Related Axios story: New Vietnamese bakery Dough Nguyener's now open in Gretna

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