New Orleans

Nola, New Orleans, The Big Easy, N’awlins. The food. The drinks. The general craziness. I’m going to talk about what I did on my first trip and also give some general take-aways and other food and drink recommendations I didn’t get to.

General Takeaways

  • Wear closed toe shoes when going out; those streets are gross, you don’t want any fluids getting on your feet
  • Make reservations for any restaurant you HAVE to go to at least a week out during Mardi Gras season. Many places didn’t have any availability
  • Don’t bother with a car. New Orleans is a very walkable city and valet at the hotels was expensive!
  • Most of what you’re doing here is eating and drinking, so be sure to budget around $100-150 a day

Other than a scheduled ghost tour, city tour, and a Mardi Gras parade our time was spent eating, drinking, and exploring. On our first day we were planning on going to Brennan’s, but there was no availability. Instead, we ended up going to Nola which is an Emeril Lagasse restaurant. It did not disappoint. Between all of us we got Bloody Mary’s, stuffed chicken wings, BBQ shrimp, shrimp and grits, and pork crackling “nachos.” See the deliciousness below:

Shrimp and Grits, Nachos in the back right, Bloody Mary’s in the back left
“Nachos” on the left, Stuffed Chicken Wings on the right

From there we went to the famous Pat O’Briens. This place was awesome….it had indoor bars, outdoor bars, and a piano bar. What an experience being there. They’re also famous for their Hurricanes. So we hung there for awhile. We got Hurricanes, Rainbows, and Cyclones:

Rainbow Specialty Drink in the center, Hurricanes on both sides

After Pat’s we went over to Tickler’s piano bar for a few more drinks and a good time. After drinking all afternoon we needed some food before our ghost tour. We went to Corner Oyster Bar and had fried gator and a breakfast sandwich. We went out of location convenience and the food was just ok. After dinner we had a booked tour with Free Tours By Foot. We were separated by guides and I think we got the wrong guide. Our guy was not the greatest story teller. And the fact that there were tons of other ghost tours and drunk people on bikes screaming it was not as creepy as expected.

The next day we started off with brunch at Cafe Beignet (I know there is a lot of hype with Cafe Du Monde but we actually ended up liking these more and it was less of a line). We got an order or beignets (obviously) and I got an Andouille omelette, which is a French style omelette with spicy, Cajun sausage & white cheddar, grits, French bread. Omelette was ok, the beignet was awesome!

After brunch we walked around and went to the French Market to see local shops, in a flea market style. Then we went to canal street to get to our tour we booked with Adventures in New Orleans. I booked through Groupon and paid almost half the asking price. Our tour guide, Richard, was awesome. He was funny, knowledgeable, and entertaining. Through this tour we saw more of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cemetery, Lake Pontchartrain, St. Charles Avenue, Loyola University, Tulane University, Audubon Park, Lafayette Square, and learned about levees and saw Hurricane Katrina damage.

Esplanade Ave
St. Louis Cemetery
Lake Pontchartrain
Lighthouse (that had to be rebuilt after Katrina) on Lake Ponchartrain
St. Charles Ave-House used as the Coven House in American Horror Story
Streetcar on St. Charles Ave
St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

It was an awesome tour! We got dropped off back at Canal street and figured we should grab food before the Mardi Gras parade. Once again, out of convenience we grabbed some food at Willie’s, a chain in New Orleans. The only things I’d recommend there are the biscuits, fries, and special sauce. Now it was time to go to the parade; first the Krewe du Vieux followed by the krewedelusion. We were stationed towards the end of the parade route so we had a lot of waiting to do. This gave us ample time to drink and mingle, and we did that. We sure did that.

Bourbon Street, the calm before the storm
The Grenades that did us in

We were all hurting the next day, but there was still brunch to be had. Ruby’s Slipper was a big recommendation and I sure know why. Just a tip-put your name on the list ahead of time from your hotel room (through yelp) to save you some waiting time. Ruby’s is known for their Egg’s Benedict and boy were they good. I got the peacemakers which means you can pick two signature benedicts. I got Eggs Cochon which was a slow-cooked, apple-braised pork debris served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, finished with hollandaise and a Chicken St. Charles which was fried chicken breast served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, finished with a pork tasso cream sauce. Wow, just wow! I have to say that the Eggs Cochon was a front runner though.

A much needed nap was taken after this brunch. Then it was back to Bourbon for some entertaining people watching. Can’t beat it! Then it was time to enjoy a Po’boy at Napolean’s House. While there we also got jambalaya and King’s cake.

King’s Cake (tastes better than it looks!)

After dinner we wanted to finally experience the local art and music on Frenchmen Street. It was pretty awesome, the music was great! We ended up going into The Cat’s Meow and Vaso for awesome music and good vibes. Definitely a different world from Bourbon Street:

On our last day it was cold and rainy so after beignets (had to) we wanted to be inside. We visited the Museum of Death. It was really interesting…although some of the displays were too morbid for me. I loved reading letters and psych reports from the serial killers, it was so interesting, but you probably can only spend two hours tops there:

After the museum, we wondered around and ended up back on Frenchmen street for some more music and food. We went into Bamboulas to relax, grab an appetizer and some drinks, and get out of the rain. It was a perfect end to a great trip. Other than the Lucky Dog hotdog at the airport 🙂

In four days we weren’t able to cover all of the recommendations so I’ll list more here:

Restaurants

  • The Commander’s Palace
  • Brennen’s
  • Mother’s
  • Court of Two Sisters
  • Acme Oyster
  • Johnny’s PoBoys
  • Mr. B’s
  • Cafe Amelie

Bars

  • Carousel
  • Lafittes Blacksmith
  • Blue Nile (Frenchmen’s)
  • House of Blue’s

Others

  • World War II Museum
  • Swamp Tour
  • Street Car Ride
  • Voodoo Shops
  • Plantation Tour