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Irwin Street gem collection 

Mixed-use Old Fourth Ward market

Many exotic and favorite familiar things meet under the roof of the newly opened, mixed-use, urban Irwin Street Market in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward. The Parisian-style collection of specialty stalls is an especially wonderful getaway on a weekday afternoon. If you can afford an extended lunch break, make sure to stop at the ever-faithful anchor Jake's for lunch sustenance at low cost.

Although the deservedly heralded ice cream company is best-known for imaginative frozen fun stuff, Jake's is also quite the soup, sandwich and salad place.

The Key lime tuna salad, at $5.95, is a sure bet as either a salad or sandwich. Try the Thanksgiving Turkey with all the fixings or an old-fashioned ham-and-cheese melt. The chicken salad is a great combo of Granny Smith apples, pecans, honey and chunky breast meat all bound with a light nonfat yogurt, which leaves more room for, yes, ice cream.

We all scream for ... The red-velvet ice cream is to die for and offers a whole lotta wallop in a $2.95 single scoop. Also be sure to try Jake's signature flavors. There's Brown Shugah Vanilla, an excellent twist on the classic created by accident more than a decade ago when Jake's was just a small catering company and white sugar was nowhere to be found. The No. 1 seller is the sinful Chocolate Slap Yo Mama, also known at some stores as Chocolate Slap Happy. The legend goes it won't just make you slap yo mama but cuss yo preacher, too. Try one or many flavors or make your own sundae and begin to browse Irwin Street Market's many retail cubbyholes.

Cook's cloud nine: Foodies will want to check out Chef's Garden, a miniature grocery store still under development, Picnic for gourmet picnic baskets and Just Add Honey for exotic dried tea blends and honeyed condiments. Dough Bar and Four Hands feature cookies and Italian dessert confections.

Another favorite retailer is Flower Bar, a florist shop specializing in cocktail-themed floral arrangements. Dream n' Play has fantasy wooden beds for children and La Peche Rose features hand-painted lingerie. Last, but not least, make sure to stop by Sally B's for "skin yummies." Try sampling the lemon-sage or lavender-mint hand butters.

From lunch to brunch: On weekends, Jake's shared kitchen hosts a brunch, which features affordable delectables such as apple pie pancakes ($7), classic egg dishes and a made-to-order omelet station.

It's about time someone put intimate apparel and ice cream under the same roof. Irwin Street Market is another example of how the quirky Old Fourth Ward has more personality in one block than many small cities can muster.

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