on Mon 06 June 2011
My sister asked for some New Orleans advice so I thought I'd share.
Uptown / Garden district:
Jacque-Imo's - One of my
favorite restaurants anywhere.
Right next door is the Maple Leaf, a great
live music bar. I have no idea what time the music starts but you can
check while you're waiting for a table at Jacque-Imo's. If at all
possible, go to both on a Tuesday night, as the Rebirth Brass Band that
plays every week is amazing. This combo possibly the most fun a person
can have in a single night.
Make sure you drink an Abita Purple
least once. I prefer the Amber but the PH is more interesting, as it is
nonsweet raspberry wheat beer.
Camellia Grill - Above average diner
with feisty cooks. Great for breakfast.
All this stuff is in what's called "uptown", which can be easily reached
by car (or more funly) by the cablecar that runs all the way down St.
Charles. This is a good way to see a lot of stuff outside the French
Quarter because you can just look out the window as it goes by.
Both good reads:
St. Charles Streetcar Line
St. Charles Avenue
A good daytime thing is to start in the garden district and walk around
for a while, then down Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-A-TWO-LUS) & Magazine streets
during the day; there are tons of interesting bars & shops. If you like
a lot of walking, you can make a big U out of it. One thing I love about
New Orleans is getting lost in all kinds of weird funky neighborhoods,
especially around there.
Walk around the French Quarter for half a day, there are lots of fun
discoveries in the little side streets. It's really touristy though.
I found the walking tours to be quite good; you see things you wouldn't
normally notice and the tour guides are usually professional-level
Cafe du Monde is probably the most famous
place in NOLA. It is cool but sometimes so crowded you won't want to sit
down. They serve 3 things, hot coffee, cold coffee, and beignets.
Beignets are fresh donuts that are good but they taste like donuts so
don't stand in line or anything. :) I like them better without the
mountain of powdered sugar on top.
There are lots of kewl street performers and grifters around that area
(Jackson Square). Standard rules for pickpockets and be-wary-of-scams
apply. If you stop and talk to anyone, keep in mind they are going to
want a tip at the end (which is perfectly fine and I don't mind, just
know they will ask, they're not just being friendly for no reason.) If
you're like me it just takes a few days to recalibrate to the avoiding
eye contact and saying no a lot. :)
Walk down Bourbon street for an hour at night to get the flavor, then
search for actual fun elsewhere. The crazy frozen drinks they sell
everywhere are full of sugar & shitty alcohol; don't buy them unless you
enjoy hangovers. If you want a daquiri or whatever, find a nice bar
somewhere where you pay the same price and get a decent drink.
This is an interesting place: Lafitte's Blacksmith
supposedly the oldest bar in the country and is a bit of a tourist trap,
but Anne & I had a *great* quiet evening there once where it was
fairly empty and this old surly french guy just played piano the whole
night. It's at the northeast end of Bourbon street.
If you keep walking northeast on Bourbon past Lafitte's you'll get to
Esplanade St and and area called Faubourg Marigny. That is a great area
to wander around at night because it has some of the energy, music, and
food but not the Bourbon street kiddie madness.
Misc & Food:
Please stop to eat and drink frequently. New Orleans is all about that.
:) Try weird stuff.
It is perfectly legal to walk around with booze as long as it's in a
plastic container. Most bars have a stack of cups at the door; if you
don't want to finish your drink before you leave, take it with you.
The Rock N Bowl is supposed to be super fun
but I have never been there. It is likely a bowling alley with live
BBQ shrimp is not shrimp with bbq sauce on it; it's more like a hearty
stew with giant shrimp in it. Very good.
Gumbo: super yay
Muffaletta: I've never had one worth getting excited about
Oysters: There are various oysters bars in the french quarter. Note that
the general wisdom is not to eat oysters in months without an 'R' in
them but I would probably do it anyway because I like them. Oyster bars
with lots of traffic and they should be OK.
Crawfish: I love them, but the steamed ones that you have to crack open
can be more trouble than they're worth. Better to let the chef open them
and use them in some dish.
I made a Google
with some of the stuff on it. The blue line is the St. Charles