I’ll do several separate posts (most of which aren’t done yet) about the various adventures we had in New Orleans recently (September 2012, a week after Isaac rumbled through town). Those posts will have more information about the neighborhoods, the service in restaurants, my tips about planning for cab fare and generally lots of other little things you might not normally think about. But for those who just want a quick whirlwind hit and some links to good stuff about New Orleans, buckle up, here we go…
We flew in on a Friday night, and though at home we would rarely hit the streets at 10:00pm to start our night, we were in Nola, dammit, and hell bent on doing our civic duty to “support the local economy” with as much of our disposable income as possible! Yep, we’re givers like that. Hahahaha. This post is limited to a round up of restaurants, watering holes, and attractions. There are links for the more detailed stuff below (which isn’t yet posted).
Places to Eat
Coop’s Place – Service was quirky and spotty (apparently she was tied up with some drama). Drank lots of Abita, the food was better than typical bar food and it was open late, so we did it. Full review here. Craft Beer is $3.50, food is about $7-12 a plate.
Mother’s – Worth the long line you’ll have to wait. Seriously, loved this place. And it was cheap. And filling. Get a biscuit. Full review here. The service was a little rough around the edges, but not bad for eastern U.S.
Liuzza’s by the Track – I’ve only had New Orleans style BBQ shrimp once–here. It was a week ago and I can still taste it. Yes, that good. Also inexpensive (i.e. $10-ish).
Parkway Po’ Boys – Yes, this is where the Pres went on his trip. Yes the Po’ Boy was good. Yes I double-checked with locals and my tastebuds and both agreed about the deliciousness. As the name suggests, it’s inexpensive (see above
Bourbon House – It’s an expensive place with decent local seafood, but it’s in the French Quarter and super crowded. I had a tasty bourbon flight for $15 (3 2-oz pours I think). Full review here. Not a bad place, but doesn’t make top tier for us. Wretched front of house experience didn’t help–and I am VERY forgiving of service quirks.
Elizabeth’s in Bywater – Chef Brian Peck was on Chopped a week before our trip, and even though he was 1st eliminated, we liked that he took time with his food. Wife’s Eggs Sardou and prailine bacon were quite good. It was pricy for breakfast (i.e. $12-15 I think), full review here. Cab ride from warehouse district added $25 round trip, FYI.
Borgne – Hotel restaurants often get the slogan wrong by over-promising and under-delivering, this gem in the Hyatt crushed the stereotype. Our bike tour guide said the chef was amazing (and easy on the eyes)…so we gave it a go. Full review here, get the jalapeño duck confit poppers and thank me later.
The Old Coffee Pot – Cute place, unexceptional food (no photo and no review), and more expensive than Mother’s for breakfast.
Cochon – Out-freakin-standing. Pig-loving heaven. Full review here. We spent $118, so not super cheap, but we also eat and drink like a table of four, so take the price with a grain of bacon-flavored salt. It’s in the Warehouse District, so pretty convenient, too.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen – Got this rec from my friend Keith Jones over at Ace Parking. I knew I liked that guy. Full review here. Best meal and dining experience–hands down–on our trip. Chef Mike even came out to say hello. Liked it so much we bought two of the back of house guys beer to say thanks. Whole meal was $228 with tip, so not for the frugal. But dammit, can you put a price tag on greatness?!?
Carousel in Hotel Monteleone – It was a bar with not cheap drinks–but the bar actually made the room spin for you (it rotates), so worth a single drink for the novelty. No review, but thankful to Steve Myers for the introduction.
Bulldog in Uptown – Being lovers of craft beer, we had to find the best one in town. Full review here. For those in San Diego, it’s what Hamilton’s and Station would look like if they had a baby. Very dive-esque. Not a fan of the indoor smoking, but I can’t blame that on the bar. Nice outdoor space.
Tommy’s Wine Bar – In the Warehouse District, a charming place made slightly less so by an obnoxiously loud party at the bar. In their defense, it was a Saturday night and who am I to blast their fun, but dang, I just wanted to oggle my wife, drink a nice Malbec and get my ‘hey girl’ groove on with the live piano playing.
Stanley’s – This little gem turned out to be a pretty tasty breakfast spot. The breaux bridge benedict was a mash up of New Orleans style boudin and eggs benedict. Full review here, but was moderately priced at $12-ish for the plate.
Herbsaint in the Central Business District – Same chef as Cochon, so that’ll say something about the food. Not quite as good as Cochon, in my opinion, similarly priced, but we ate enough to do a full review here.
Cafe du Monde – $10 for two coffees and three of the most delicious doughnut-like puffs of powdered sugary heaven you could imagine. The review is here. It’s one of those New Orleans experiences that is worth it for the post-meal sweets and the people watching.
Stuff to do
Second Line – Imagine being able to randomly jump in a parade and dance down the street with a beer in hand. Oh, and with live music the whole way. Its free (except any beer you buy from the almost certainly unauthorized dudes with coolers on wagons also in the parade). Read my expanded take here, but suffice it to say this event was a melting pot of ages, races, dancing abilities and any other difference that is supposed to make us argue with each other. Here’s a story about the one we participated in. If you like adventure even a little bit, you should try this. But get a local to go with you if possible or find someone who looks friendly to befriend.
Confederacy of Cruisers bike tour – If interesting neighborhoods are your thing, do this instead of just about anything else. They do several, but I reviewed ours here. It’s $40 (or $85 with food, which I recommend highly), plus a tip to the tour guide. It’s four or so hours that tell a New Orleans story you just won’t get hanging around the French Quarter.
Preservation Hall in the French Quarter – You do not have to be a lover of jazz to enjoy one of these shows. It’s $15 and you can stay for up to all three shows if you want. My full review (including bootleg audio clip from before he told us not to do it) here.
Stroll through Garden District – The houses in this part of New Orleans seem different from any we’ve ever seen. It’s not a big time suck and the history you’ll see is worth it. Full review, including good streets to stroll, here. Bonus, it’s kind of on the way to Bulldog, so you can reward yourself for enduring the tour if houses aren’t your thing with a nice beer after.
Effects of Katrina – This is a hard one to put as “stuff to do” but I think understanding the context of what Katrina has meant to New Orleans and the good and bad stories it offers makes the number of ways to understand Katrina worth investigating. There is a 9th ward rebirth bike tour, a regular bus tour, a hurricane museum and probably several other options. I chose to write about our day with Karen Gadbois, a truly lovely human being who cares about her adopted city. Read that here. She co-founded and writes for The Lens Nola, which I really recommend reading as a way to get your bearings about the town.
Horse and Buggy Ride through the French Quarter – It is not as cheesy as it sounds, actually. It was quite informative and delightful. It cost $15 plus $5 tip, and was a 30-minute tour of the Quarter including history and insights from a charming guy named Max, a Nola native.
Cab drivers – This isn’t stuff to do as such, but a lot of the drivers are lifelong New Orleanians, so strike up a conversation because you’ll definitely get some good perspective if you do.
Thats the whirlwind wrap up. I’d recommend following GoNola or Karen Gadbois on twitter, visiting Trip Advisor, and maybe even Chow Hound. I’m not a big fan of traditional review sites because you have no way to standardize the review (e.g. How do I know the reviewer isn’t a Denny’s = fine dining type). Anyway, hope you enjoyed this and would love any sharing you care to do during or after your trip. Heck, if you want to blog about your trip, if I can I’ll post it here, too.