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The NOLA Email

My New Orleans Tips

(Last Updated: 8/16)

By: Christin L (X1)

Transportation:

The Streetcars: A cheap way to travel. It’s $1.25, or you can purchases an all-day pass for $3. There is a 3-day and 5-day Visitor’s Pass available, too, and that’s good on both the bus and the streetcars, unlimited use. See your hotel concierge to find out where to attain one (usually a Walgreen’s/CVS/Rite Aid will have them). Streetcars are Exact Change Required. One streetcar line runs Uptown/Garden District on St. Charles Avenue (starting at Canal), and the other main line runs along Canal, which is the border between the CBD (Central Business District, aka “Downtown”) and the French Quarter. There is a smaller line that runs along the River, starting near Harrah’s/The Riverwalk and running the length of the French Quarter. There is a new one that runs along Carrollton, and an even newer one (that may or may not be finished by the time you read this) on Rampart, between the Quarter and the Treme’. Oh, and it’s ALWAYS the streetcar – never, ever, ever EVER “trolley”.

Cabs: Are easy to find and pretty cheap. There is a gasoline surcharge, though – usually a dollar or two, and they charge another dollar for extra passengers. United Cab or Coleman Cabs are the best and most reliable. A tip is expected, as well.

Cabs to and from the airport are set at (at this time) $34, plus the surcharge and extra if you have more than 2 passengers or lots of luggage. The cabbies will not “trick you” by taking you on a circuitous route, as the fare to and from the airport is regulated and posted in each cab. The cab stand is directly outside the baggage claim area.

Uber/Lyft: After many fights, lawsuits, etc., Uber and Lyft are now available throughout the city and surrounding suburbs.

Pedi-cabs: These are bike (trike, really) open-air carriages made for one or two people. They are all around the Quarter, and they charge by the block/per person. Again, a tip is expected.

The airport, MSY – Louis Armstrong International - is in Kenner, which is about 30 minutes (depending on traffic) from New Orleans. If the hotel you’re staying at has a direct shuttle from the airport to the hotel, take that. If you take an airport shuttle that makes the rounds to all the hotels downtown, it’s cheap (or free), but it may take up to 2 hours before it reaches your particular hotel. Do not stay at a hotel in Kenner, Metairie, or The West Bank (Gretna, Slidell), unless you have a rental car or lots of money for cabs – they are NOT near the French Quarter, and cab fare will be expensive to get there and back.

Parking in the French Quarter is difficult and expensive, as well. If a hotel has parking, it’s often about $35 PER DAY to park. Unless you’re planning on traveling a lot outside the city, it’s really best not to rent a car, or rent one only on the day(s) you need it.

Make sure your hotel lists one of the following places for an address (and not “near” but actual address): French Quarter, Vieux Carre’ (voo ca-ray – French for “Old Square”, the French Quarter), Uptown, Garden District, CBD, Business District, Central Business District, Warehouse District, Lower Garden District. Lots of places will say “near the French Quarter” or “New Orleans”…but they’re not. Look on a map to be sure.

Food/Entertainment/Shopping:

The cheapest place to eat, but one of the best, and a must-do, is Café du Monde at Jackson Square on Decatur St. in the French Quarter. Get an iced or hot coffee, hot chocolate, or Café au Lait and a plate of Beignets (bin-yays), and you have a great meal/snack for about 5 dollars. Great place for people-watching. It’s open 24/7. They have indoor seating if it’s cold and/or rainy. Just walk to whatever table is open and take a seat (you may have to (probably will) wait in line). Pay the waitstaff when they deliver the food and coffee, not after you’re finished eating. You can leave the tip on the table, though. Warning: Beignets are messy!! That’s part of the fun. They’re basically donuts with mountains of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Bring a package of wet wipes – you’ll need them, and be careful wearing black. Also, don’t inhale right before taking a bite – you’ll choke on powdered sugar. For a unique souvenir (and/or to please the kids), you can purchase a paper Café du Monde hat for fifteen cents.

Most restaurants have their menus posted on the windows and/or beside the entrance, so if you don’t know where to go, just walk up and down and read the menus, and decide from there. Many restaurants and bars (especially on Bourbon) have “barkers” – people standing at the doors, trying to get you to come in. Don’t be intimidated by them. If you don’t want to go in, don’t go in.

Lots of bars are open 24/7/365. However, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Ain’t nothin’ nice happening after midnight – no reason to be wandering out and about and making yourself a target (see Safety Tips).

You can walk around on the street with your drink, as long as it’s in a plastic cup (called a “go-cup”). If you’re at one bar, and have a glass bottle of beer or a drink in a glass, and want to leave, ask the bartender for a go-cup, and they will oblige. If you walk into another bar or a restaurant or the hotel with a drink in your hand, nobody cares (with the understanding that you’ll be buying another drink). Some cabs and the streetcars do not allow beverages or food (although you can get away with a sealed/capped soda or water bottle, and packaged leftovers).

Try a Po’boy (sub/hoagie sandwich) from Mother’s (401 Poydras) or a Muffaletta (Italian meat and cheese sandwich with olive oil and green olive garnish) from Central Grocery (923 Decatur). A HUGE amount of food for very little cost. If you have a fridge at your hotel, it’s good for two meals, or one sandwich can be split between two people.

Tujaque’s (“two-jacks”) (823 Decatur) is THE place to go for Beef Brisket with horseradish, Shrimp Remoulade, and have a coffee – deep, dark and rich and served in a shot glass. It’s also a nice place to stop in and just have a drink. One of the oldest restaurants in Louisiana, Tujaque’s was established in 1856.

Coop’s (1109 Decatur) is a great place to eat, an absolutely must-go-to place. They are not fancy. They are famous for the Rabbit Jambalaya, and their fried chicken is very, very good. Get a Sampler Plate if you can’t make up your mind. There is often a line to get in, so get there early, or go eat at an “off-time”. This is a favorite of locals and tourists.

The Abbey (1123 Decatur), a few doors down from Coop’s, is a weird little hole in the wall dive bar to stop into for a cocktail.  Locals say it is a “vortex of power”. Whatever that means.

Next to Coop’s is Molly’s on the Market (1107 Decatur), and it’s a great place to get a cocktail, especially Hot Buttered Rum. If you’re police, fire department, ambulance, or rescue squad, bring an extra patch and it will be hung up on the walls with all the others. It’s fun to sit at the bar and see the patches from everywhere.

Up the street, on the corner, is a cool store called Wicked Orleans (1201 Decatur). Look up and notice the gargoyles looking back down at you. It’s full of dark, gothic clothing and accessories, and offers interesting alternative New Orleans t-shirts and other clothing you wouldn’t find elsewhere. Claudia’s child-size coffin prop from the movie “Interview With a Vampire” is kept here, too.

If you see something called a “Sno-ball” (or snow ball) – GET ONE!! They are so, so good. NOT a snow cone or Hawaiian Shaved Ice, although it’s similar. If you like Raspberry or Strawberry, get a “stuffed Strawberry with condensed milk”. What this means is that they stuff ice cream in the middle, and drizzle condensed milk on top. So very good. My favorite is Orchid Vanilla Cream, stuffed, with condensed milk. It’s incredibly, decadently delicious. A brilliant violet color, too. Don’t worry about staining your tongue – it’s badge of honor and will inspire jealousy. They have unusual, tasty flavors, like chocolate, mango, lemon, spearmint, almond, cotton candy, bubble gum, tangerine, banana, blueberry, wedding cake, lime, Tiger’s Blood, Papaya, passion fruit, coconut, etc. They have sugar free flavors and “clear” flavors, too (if you’re really that worried about staining your mouth). You can also add “sour” to any flavor (works best with tropical fruit flavors).  You usually do not see Snoballs offered in the Autumn or Winter, although sometimes a stand in the French Market is open.

For excellent pralines, salt water taffy, and other chocolates and sweets, go to Southern Candymakers (334 Decatur and 1010 Decatur). For Creole (spicy) pralines, bacon brittle, and other decadent confections, check out Leah’s Pralines (714 St. Louis).

Also on Decatur, go to a shop called The Artists Market & Bead Shop (1228 Decatur). It’s full of interesting locally-made jewelry and art (including the beloved local Dr. Bob, of “Be Nice or Leave” fame), as well as boasting a huge selection of beads and polished stones.

Sterling Silvia (41 French Market Place) is for you if you love jewelry. They usually have a pretty good sale going on, too. Men’s and women’s jewelry, plus ornaments and other baubles. Silvia designs a lot of the jewelry herself, and it’s usually with a local theme.

Magazine Street (Uptown) is great for window shopping – antiques, art, re-sale shops, and funky clothing stores. Great restaurants, too. It would be easy to spend an entire day walking up and down Magazine Street, shopping and eating and drinking.

Royal Street (Rue Royale), in the French Quarter, is another great street for shopping – famous for antique shops and art galleries.

Music is free at a lot of places, but they collect tips for the band. See who’s playing at Checkpoint Charlie (501 Esplanade). Across from Checkpoint is The Balcony Music Club (BMC) (1331 Decatur). Read their window for band listings. House of Blues (225 Decatur) is overpriced, but if it’s a band you like, go for it. (HOB’s smaller venue, The Parish, is right next door.) The food at HOB is not worth the price, in my opinion. Eat elsewhere, at a non-chain place, then go see the show. Pick up an Offbeat Magazine to see all the show listings for the month.

Chickie-Wah-Wah (2828 Canal St) is an excellent place to see live, local music.

Stop in to Tipitina’s (233 N. Peter, or Uptown 501 Napoleon, in the Garden District) for great live music acts – lots of local performers. There is usually a cover charge.

Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter) is the place to go to see Jazz and Blues. There is always a line to get in. It’s an all-ages, non-air conditioned venue.

For interesting bands, check the schedule for The Circle Bar (1032 St. Charles Ave) on Lee Circle, Uptown. Usually eclectic bands you won’t see elsewhere. It’s on the St. Charles streetcar line, too.

Uptown in the Lower Garden District, stop in to local neighborhood bar Lucky’s at 1625 St. Charles Ave. (Streetcar Stop #10, at Euterpe [you-terp] Street). Drinks are cheap, the place is fun, and they have karaoke, trivia, and/or live music most nights. Also, free Wi-Fi. Great porch to sit and relax and watch the streetcar and people go by. Both Checkpoint Charlie and Lucky’s (and Buddha Belly on Magazine Street and Igor’s further up St. Charles) also have pub food and are laundromats and game rooms, so you can wash your clothes, play the jukebox, play pool, get online, charge your device, and order drinks and food – all at the same time. At 3 am, if you want - they’re all open 24/7/365. Oh, and if Jonathon is around, you can get your hair cut at Lucky’s, too.

Down the street from Lucky’s is Slice (1513 St. Charles), which is a great pizza, salad, and pasta place, and next to it is Voodoo BBQ (1501 St. Charles), which is a local chain, but has decent food, especially the smoked sausage and Jerk chicken. Also, their brownies are full of crack, because they’re addicting.

The St. Charles Tavern (1433 St. Charles Ave) is across the street from Voodoo BBQ. It’s open 24/7/365, and serves whatever meal you feel like having – even French toast and beer at 5 AM. It’s an excellent place to people watch – lots of locals go here.

Across from the St. Charles Tavern is The Irish House (1432 St. Charles), which has, of course, Irish food and drinks. The Irish breakfast on weekends is just terrific. The chef here was a winner of the TV show, “Chopped”.

The Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles), a block up and across the Avenue from Lucky’s, seems like just another divey local bar, but it’s not. Excellent, excellent beer selection, especially local brews that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. A nice balcony and great food, too. It’s been voted a top beer bar in the USA several times by several publications. They have a decent liquor selection, as well.

The Blind Pelican (1628 St. Charles), across from Lucky’s, has two tiers of outdoor seating right on St. Charles Avenue. Seasonally, they’ve been known to have 25-cent raw Oysters during Happy Hour, and their Chargrilled Oysters are different from Drago’s, the standard by which everything else follows, but are good in their own way. They also have Happy Hour Crawfish Boils, in season.

Next to the Blind Pelican is Tacos & Beer. Guess what they serve? But it’s all extra-tasty when you’re enjoying it on the balcony overlooking St. Charles Ave.

Poseidon Oyster Sushi Bar (2100 St. Charles Ave) has really excellent Japanese food.

CURE – 4905 Freret- is Uptown. Take a cab to get there, or the streetcar and walk the rest of the way. The craft cocktails here are wonderful and innovative. It takes several minutes to put each cocktail together, so don’t be in a hurry. Indoor and courtyard seating, plus small plates for nibbling makes this a cozy, hip place to spend a couple hours.

Also Uptown is Gautreau’s (1728 Soniat), in the middle of a residential area. The food here is outstanding, and it’s mostly locals. It’s tiny, so reservations are required. There is no bar to sit at while waiting for a table, nor is there really any standing room, so get there on time, but not too early, because you’ll be standing outside to wait. There’s a tiny bench, and that’s it.

Frenchmen Street, just past Esplanade, in what is termed “The Marigny” (or Faubourg Marigny, which means “the Faubourg neighborhood”, and is pronounced “fo-berg mar-in-ee”), is a great place to go for food and, most especially, music. Snug Harbor, 13, The Spotted Cat, The Apple barrel, Vaso, Café Negril (a Lenny Kravitz favorite hangout), Bamboula’s, The Maison, Three Muses, and d.b.a. are all local hangouts and very fun and relaxed. Most of these places have music every night, and some do charge a cover. Three Muses, in particular, has excellent food as well as music.

Buffa’s (1001 Esplanade) is also a good place to catch a live show and eat a decent meal, including breakfast. Please be aware that Buffa’s is surrounded by mostly residential housing, so if it’s late at night, please be courteous of the neighbors and keep your voices down.

On Chartres Street, go to the Pharmacy Museum (514 Chartres). It’s $5, and a very creepy and cool look at medical practices from the 1800s and early 1900s.

Further down the street is Napoleon House (500 Chartres). Get a Pimm’s Cup (a classic New Orleans cocktail made with Pimm’s and served with a cucumber slice) to drink, and a Muffuletta to eat. They serve it hot, which is unusual, but very tasty.

Also in that section of Chartres are the following stores: Shoe-Be-Do, a most awesome shoe store with fabulous exotic shoes; Mama Mia, a cute children’s clothing store; Dashka Roth, a purveyor of fine jewelry (this is one of my favorite jewelry shops) and Judaica items, and Earth Odyssey, a wonderful store filled with polished stones, gemstones, beads, fossils, and jewelry made from those items. They also offer mini massage sessions and lots of books on healing stones, chakras, and other New Age type stuff.

Hove’ Parfumeur (434 Chartres) is an excellent place to find a new scent for yourself. Lots of samples to smell.

If you go to a Voodoo Museum (there are a few – one is on Dumaine), make sure you leave a coin or two at the altar “for Marie LaVeau”. It’s good luck. If you want real, not touristy, Voodoo and magic charms, potions, dolls, etc., go to Erzulie’s Voodoo at 807 Rue Royale. Just be sure not to actually touch things on the altars, and try not to touch the items on the shelves, either. There is a small table in the middle of the room with samples to touch and smell. You can also stop in to Voodoo Authentica (612 Dumaine).

If you like vampire-related things, you will love Boutique du Vampyre (709 St. Ann).

The French Market/flea market is a fun place to go. You can haggle on prices, and they have some good stuff mixed in with the cheap and sleazy crap. Make sure you stop by Oscar’s booth – he makes colorful pins and pendants and other art out of welded brightly colored plastic pieces, usually with a New Orleans theme. He’s great to talk to. The Market is fun to just walk around and look at everything for sale. Great place to pick up some CDs (and even cassettes and albums) of local music.

Speaking of music – Louisiana Music Factory at 421 Frenchmen Street is an awesome place to pick up local music. They often have bands playing as well. www.lousianamusicfactory.com

Two other places for music are Basin Street Records (5500 Prytania #1) www.basinstreetrecords.com and Peaches Records (4318 Magazine St).

Decatur Street is actually one of the more fun streets. Very touristy, but it has all the fun of Bourbon without the obnoxiousness (excepting Gutter Punks), and it’s pretty to look at. Climb on top of the levee and take a gander at the Mississippi River going by, and watch the ships and boats and barges. See Jackson Square, maybe get your palm read or listen to some street musicians. Palm/Tarot readings are “free”, technically, but a $20 “donation” is average (and expected). Watch the kids tapdancing for change and throw a few coins in the hat. If you see any Statue People, you can get your pic taken with them, or take a pic of them, but you must pay them for the privilege. About $3-$5 is fine.

There are street musicians everywhere. If you stop to listen, throw a few coins in the hat. They may even be selling CDs of their music – always an interesting keepsake. There are also (especially on Bourbon Street) street performers – these are people dressed in outrageous costumes and/or performing tricks, dancing, music, or gymnastics. These people are fun, and are having fun, and want you to have fun, but they are performers, and they appreciate being slipped a dollar or two if you take their picture or stop to watch and be entertained. A couple of bucks might mean nothing to you, but it’s the difference between eating and not eating for some of these people. Please show your love and appreciation for our eclectic citizenry by helping them continue to entertain us all.

If you want to splurge, or have plenty of people in your group, see the city by mule-drawn carriage. Pick it up at Jackson Square. It’s fascinating, and your host will be able to tell you a good tale or two. Whether they’re true or not is another matter altogether.

Bourbon French Parfums (805 Royal), is excellent for finding a new scent. Stop in to smell a bit of history, in the form of Kus Kus perfume. Created by August Doussan (the first full-time parfumeur in New Orleans) in 1843, this perfume was used extensively by both men and women. It’s a light powdery/spicy scent that works well on many people.

La Divina Gelateria (621 St. Peter, 3005 Magazine in the Garden District, and 300 LaSalle in the Upper Garden District near Audubon Park) is a great little place to cool off with some gelato, or a wonderful light meal of Panini, salad, or homemade soup. Menu changes daily.

Meltdown (4011 St. Claude in the Bywater neighborhood) is the most awesome place ever to get a Popsicle. Made daily, on-site, and with fresh in-season fruits, vegetables, citrus, herbs, spices, coconut milk, coffee, fresh squeezed juices, pure Louisiana cane sugar, and whatever else they can think up, this place is tiny but amazing. With wonderful inventive flavors, like ginger peach, lavender coconut, Vietnamese coffee, salted caramel, and spicy lime mango, you’ll want to come back every day to see what’s new. If there’s a festival going on, look around to see if you can spot their almost comically tiny food truck. A treat on a hot day, each pop is about $3, and well worth it.

Also in the Bywater is Elizabeth’s (601 Gallier St.), a local joint famous for the local artwork on the walls, as well as their praline candied bacon. What more could you ask for?

Drago’s (2 Poydras, in the Hilton Riverside Hotel, and the original in Metairie in the Fat City neighborhood – 3232 N. Arnoult Ave) – is known for their Chargrilled Oysters, as well as a huge menu of seafood, steak and duck dishes. But it’s the Oysters you want. These set the standard in a city that’s pretty judgmental about food.

G.W. Fin’s (808 Bienville) seems like just another tourist trap, but the food is top notch, and the biscuits they serve instead of a bread basket are absolutely addicting. If you ask, they’ll give you the recipe for them.

Stop in for a drink at the famous Carousel Bar, located inside the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal Street). It actually does rotate slowly, so if you get up to use the restroom, you’ll come back and your spot will be in a different place at the bar! Also inside the Hotel Monteleone is Criollo, a fine-dining restaurant that’s open for lunch and dinner.

For breakfast, another must-go-to is The Old Coffee Pot (714 Saint Peter). This place serves “plantation breakfasts”, including something called “Callas”…they are sort of like a ball of fried rice pudding. The service and the waitstaff are awesome. They also serve lunch and dinner, including pretty good Gumbo.

Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville) can be fun. They’ll teach you to eat Crawfish, if needed, and their Oysters are some of the best. All their food is good. It is a tourist trap, but it’s a damn fun one. Same with Landry’s on Decatur, only it’s more expensive than Acme.

Kids:

There really are things for kids to do in and around New Orleans. A visit to Audubon Park (including the Cool Zoo, a water park located inside) is a nice way to spend the afternoon. There’s also the Insectarium (technically called The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, at 423 Canal St.), a Paddlewheel cruise on the Mississippi, streetcar rides, the Aquarium of the Americas (1 Canal St.), The Audubon Zoo, a Swamp Tour, the National D-Day Museum, the Ogden Museum, NOMA (the New Orleans Museum of Art), and even a visit to a real alligator farm, The Insta-Gator Farm, which is about 70 minutes from NOLA (23440 Lowe Davis Rd, in Covington). There are the street musicians and performers, too. Several tours leave daily from hotels. Check with your concierge. If you do have a car, besides the alligator farm, a visit to Cajun country is also fascinating, as well as seeing numerous plantation houses (most of which are along River Road). Visit the Tabasco factory in New Iberia, or the Myrtles Plantation (allegedly one of the most haunted places in the U.S.) just outside the charming town of St. Francisville. Be aware that, unlike some states, underage children are not allowed in bars and gambling establishments, nor is the parent or guardian allowed to buy their underage child an alcoholic beverage.

Smoking/Vaping:

New Orleans recently passed a No Smoking/Vaping ordinance, so neither is allowed inside any establishment, including bars. Certain vape shops, tobacco shops, and cigar factories have been grandfathered in, but mostly, you’ll have to go outside to smoke.

Gambling:

Harrah’s at 228 Poydras, and the Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner are the two nearest casinos. There are video poker machines that pay out in almost every bar/restaurant. Please be aware that if the poker machines are out in the open (not behind doors/corrals), minors are not allowed in the establishment, even if they are with their parents. There is also the Fairgrounds Race Course & Slots (1751 Gentilly Rd) which has horse racing and slot machines.

Tours:

There are several tours to choose from – History, Haunted History, Ghost, Cemetery, Riverboat, Swamp, Katrina, Garden District, Vampire, Irish in New Orleans, mule-drawn buggy, drinking, food, etc. Your hotel should have the information, and it’s cheaper if you join a group, rather than do it on your own, unless you do the personal walking tours. Don’t go on a Swamp Tour during the late Fall, Winter, or early Spring – the gators hibernate when it’s cold, and you won’t see much.

I recommend the New Orleans Magical Musical Mystery History tour, which takes about two hours. It’s a walking tour that meets at Muriel’s restaurant on Jackson Square. It’s $25/person and reservations are highly recommended. Best way to book is chrisrose504@gmail.com. No deposits needed, just send him a head count and a cell number for weather/emergencies, etc.

The Absenthe Museum of America – 823 Royal Street

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art – 925 Camp Street

NOMA – The New Orleans Museum of Art is in City Park, at 1 Collin Diboll Circle.

For history buffs: The Paddlewheel cruise ship Creole Queen (www.creolequeen.com) has a cruise down river to the Chalmette battlefield, where you are met at the dock by a park ranger who gives a narrative history of the Battle of New Orleans as you tour the grounds.

For cemetery tours, no finer group than Save Our Cemeteries (S.O.C.) www.saveourcemeteries.org . An additional note about cemetery tours: laws have recently been passed that cemetery admittance is only with a tour guide – so no self-guided or just wandering around the cemeteries by yourself anymore. You must be let in with a licensed guide.

Blain Kern’s Mardi Gras World warehouse tour is on the river near the cruise ship terminal. www.MardiGrasWorld.com

The National WW II Museum (D-Day Museum) is at 945 Magazine St – technically. In reality, it takes up blocks. It’s huge.  HIGHLY recommend it. The collection keeps growing every year. There are restaurants located inside, as well as a small movie theater and the Stage Door Canteen, which has entertainment shows in the tradition of the era, including the lovely singing group The Victory Belles, and the Victory Swing Orchestra.

Grayline Tours (www.graylineneworleans.com) offers a walking tour called Tales of the Cocktail, and a dining tour called Crescent City Nights.

Other Restaurants:

Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas) and The Butcher (it’s sandwich-shop counterpart) are great places to eat. Mid-level pricing, great atmosphere. IMO, The Butcher is better than Cochon for casual dining and prices, but Cochon is a must-eat place. You can get Butcher’s food to-go.

Casamento’s (4330 Magazine) has been around since 1919. Open seasonally (so check ahead), it serves up oysters, crab, fish, gumbo, and other treats.

Camellia Grill is a must-do. Take the streetcar all the way Uptown (you should, anyway, for the view of the Uptown mansions and live-Oak-lined St. Charles Avenue). Get off at the Riverbend (626 S. Carrollton) and you’ll see a white building across the way – that’s Camellia Grill. It is a New Orleans institution, and a great way to start the day – very hearty breakfasts - or lunch or dinner in a diner-type setting, but watch and listen to the servers and cooks – it’s a show in itself. They’ll often greet you with a fist-bump. There is another Camellia Grill in the Quarter (540 Chartres), but it might have a different name, like The Grill, for legal arguments. It’s still the Camellia Grill, though.

Across from the Camellia Grill (the Uptown one) is Cooter Brown’s (508 S. Carrollton). They have 17 TVs, over 400 beers, a great Oyster bar, and a laid-back atmosphere. Very local, very fun, and it can get very crowded during sporting events. A favorite of locals and the university kids.

Beloved New Orleans Chef John Besh has several restaurants, including Restaurant August, La Provence, Luke, Domenica, Pizza Domenica, Borgne, Besh Steak, and Johnny Sanchez. He also has a hand in Shaya, Willa Jean, the Caribbean Room, The Silver Whistle Café, The Bayou Bar, and Hot Tin.

Parkway Bakery & Tavern (558 Hagen) is in Mid-City. They are known for their po’boys, especially the “roast beef, dressed, with debris”. Very reasonable prices.

Irene’s Cuisine (539 St. Philip) is really good. A white-tablecloth place. Everything is impeccable. That being said, also try Tommy’s Cuisine (756 Tchoupitoulas). Tommy opened his place after he and Irene divorced. He let Irene keep some menu items, but took the rest with him, and expanded on that menu. Tommy’s is how Irene’s used to be, before the divorce. Again, however, both are excellent restaurants.

There are the classics – Arnaud’s, Court of Two Sisters, Brennan’s, Emeril’s, Galatoire’s, Commanders’ Palace, Antoine’s, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, and The Palace Café’. Go to these places for lunch if they’re open – it’s cheaper than dinner and the food is the same. Also, most of these places require some sort of dress code, as well as reservations. If you do have the attire and the need for a formal dinner, however, you can’t beat these places. Again – call for reservations. Some of these places have been around for more than 150 years. They must be doing something right.

Bayona (430 Dauphine) is a Susan Spicer restaurant and very good. Reservations requires, and there is a dress code.

NOLA (534 St. Louis) is an Emeril restaurant, and also quite good. Service is excellent. Reservations required.

BBQ – The Joint (701 Mazant, in the Bywater); Voodoo BBQ (a chain – several locations); McClure’s BBQ (3001 Tchoupitoulas); Blue Oak BBQ (900 N. Carrollton); Black Label Icehouse (3000 Dryades). There are probably more, because the BBQ scene in NOLA is exploding right now, but these are the ones that I know of as this writing.

If you can spot it, there is a fun fusion taco truck called Taceaux Loceaux. Usually found Uptown.

Hop into a cab and head to Willie Mae’s Scotch House (2401 St. Anne) for lunch. Her fried chicken has been featured on several travel and food shows. If you don’t feel like waiting in the inevitable line to get in, though, she has a new location Uptown, right on the St. Charles Streetcar line (7457 St. Charles).

Even better, though, is Leah Chase’s restaurant, Dooky Chase’s. (2301 Orleans Avenue) for fried chicken (especially), fried catfish, gumbo, jambalaya, and other Creole and Soul dishes. She has a great lunch buffet, and you will be waiting to get in. It’s food that’s slap yo’ mama good. Warning: Take a cab to both Dooky and the original Willie Mae’s and back again. They’re both in very iffy neighborhoods. Go only at lunchtime.

Crescent City Brewhouse (527 Decatur) – They brew their own beer, and they have an excellent Oyster bar. The rest of their food is good, too, but really filling. No skimpy portions, here! Courtyard and nightly Jazz, too.

Peche (800 Magazine St) – One of my favorite restaurants, in a city of favorites. Seafood grill. Mid-to-upper tier pricing. Multiple James Beard nominations and wins. Reservations recommended, unless you just sit at the bar, but at peak times, even that is three deep.

Compere Lapin (535 Tchoupitoulas) – located inside the Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery. Fantastic. Superb bar menu and fantastic bartenders, wonderful small plates. I’ve never had a bad thing here. Reservations recommended, but I like sitting at the bar and having a drink, then eat a little, then another drink, and something else to eat, etc. For two or three hours. It’s that kind of place.

Stanley (547 St. Anne/Jackson Square) – Great place for breakfast. Get here early, or wait in line. Eggs Stanley with a side of bacon. Yes!

Meals From The Heart Café’ (located inside the French Market) – Vegan, gluten-free available; healthy options. Really excellent food.

The Please-U (1751 St. Charles Avenue) – this is diner type food at it’s best. Huge portions, fried everything, messy sandwiches, excellent (served hot) Muffaletta, great po’boys. Family-owned and operated for over 60 years. Daily specials. They deliver, too!

District.Donuts.Slider.Brew (2209 Magazine) – exotic donuts, and sandwiches made with donuts. Fabulous. Dine in or carry out.

The Velvet Cactus (6300 Argonne Ave) – this is a local chain, and it’s a hike if you don’t have transportation, but it’s good Mexican and a fun place. Great art on the walls. Decent Tequila selection.

MoPho (514 City Park Ave in MidCity) – Vietnamese food with a Creole twist. Chilled Grilled Peach Soup. ‘Nuff said. For dessert, if you still have room, there is a Sno-Ball stand in the same parking lot strip mall where MoPho is located, called Ike’s Snowballs (520 City Park Ave).

Angeline (1032 Chartres) – high-end dining. Southern and Caribbean influenced food. Very good.

Mandina’s (3800 Canal) – A classic Creole and Italian restaurant. Over 80 years old.

Pascal’s Manale (1838 Napoleon) – Serving Italian and seafood since 1913. If you come here, you HAVE TO have the New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp. They set the standard throughout New Orleans. You get to wear a bib. Eat at the Oyster bar, too.

Middendorf’s (30160 US-51, Akers – Manchac) – This is only do-able if you have a car. It’s a good 40 minute drive from New Orleans. Specialty is the thin-fried Catfish. It’s great scenery on the drive and in the restaurant. Worth the drive.

Shaya (4213 Magazine) – Israeli food with a local flair. James Beard award winning everything. The homemade Pita bread with the fresh olive oil is fantastic, as is the grilled Halloumi cheese with peas. Reservations required – and make them months in advance.

Rebellion (748 Camp St) – serving up Asian and Latin and Creole and whatever else he can come up with, Chef Chris DeBarr helms the kitchen and creates wonderfully inventive fare.

Carmo – (527 Julia St.) – Healthy food. Extremely tasty. Lots of vegan/vegetarian options.

For more food/restaurant information: www.nomenu.com

Bourbon Street:

If you’ve never been to NOLA, it’s a must-see. The Cat’s Meow (701 Bourbon) is a karaoke place that’s pretty fun. The later it gets, the wilder Bourbon Street gets. Wear shoes you won’t mind throwing away, and do NOT wear open-toed shoes (sandals). High heels are a pain, too. Beware of Hurricanes and Hand Grenades. Try one or the other, not both (in the same night), and don’t drink more than one. Even the most experienced drinker will vomit (hence the need for crappy shoes and non-open-toe). Pat O’Brien’s (718 Saint Peter) is “the” place for Hurricanes. Sit in the courtyard and enjoy your drink, or lounge in the piano bar for a dueling piano show. You can buy a souvenir Hurricane glass, too. They come with a strand of beads, but don’t wear them.

Avoid “Big-Ass Beers” (yes, they’re really called that), for the simple fact that, although cheap, the beer is barely cold, and by the time you get about halfway through the glass, it’s warm and pretty gross.

If you are gay, there is a whole bar scene/section of the Quarter just for you. Oz is the (“world famous”) place for clubbing (no pictures allowed), and Good Friends is a must-visit. Good Friends is at 740 Dauphine, and Oz is at 800 Bourbon. That section, right around the 700-800 blocks of Bourbon/Dauphine, is where most of the gay bars are. Beware: Be very, very careful of transvestites trying to pick up drunk straight men, only to lure them into an alley and rob them. You think you’ll be able to spot them, but in a lot of cases, you won’t. This is seriously a real problem and it happens all the time. Otherwise, New Orleans (unlike a lot of the South) is very gay-friendly. There is even what is called “The Gay Mardi Gras”, Decadence Fest, every Labor Day weekend (www.southerndecadence.com).

If you want to eat really cheap food, and are of literary mind (“A Confederacy of Dunces” – if you haven’t read it, please do), you can try a famous Lucky Dog from one of the hot dog-shaped carts. At your own risk, of course.

Do not touch the really, really big NOPD police horses, unless the cop gives you permission. Just…don’t.

A great cheap place to eat on Bourbon is Remoulade (309 Bourbon). Excellent Gumbo and decent Oyster bar. It’s part of one of the most famous restaurants in the city, Arnaud’s (“are-no’s”), which is just around the corner (813 Bienville).

Next to Remoulade is Musical Legends Park (311 Bourbon), which hosts daily live bands and has statues of famous New Orleans musicians.

Across from Remoulade and the Park is the Hotel Royal Sonesta. Inside the hotel is Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, which has music nightly at 8 PM, often free of charge. The Sonesta also is host to The Desire Oyster Bar (which is good), the horribly-named Le Booze Bar, and the extremely excellent Restaurant R’evolution and Bar. The food here is top-notch, as are the bartenders and the inventive drinks they mix. That being said, R’evolution is rather hard on the pocketbook, so be forewarned.

Channing Tatum (actor: “Magic Mike”) has a club called Saints & Sinners (627 Bourbon). It’s actually a decently nice place to stop into for a drink and a look around, just to say you’ve been there. Lots of velvet.

Larry Flynt (of Penthouse Magazine) owns several strip clubs on Bourbon, if that’s your thing. There is a locally-famous place run by Chris Owens Club (500 Bourbon), which is pretty fun, and Rick’s Cabaret (315 Bourbon) is probably one of the “nicer” strip club establishments on Bourbon. Stop in to Stiletto’s and say “Hi” to Charlie, the shortest strip club bouncer on Bourbon (325 Bourbon).

If you see Big Sexy 504 (usually around Bourbon & Toulouse), stop and get a picture taken with him for a couple bucks. You can’t miss him – he’s the big “blonde” guy in a cowboy hat, 5 o’clock shadow, silver-studded bra, short skirt, fishnet stockings, boots, and not much else. He’s very fun to talk to, and also appreciates a drink at his nearby off-Bourbon local’s hangout, Molly’s on Toulouse (732 Toulouse).

Keep an eye out for random Second Line parades, where you can be a spectator, or jump right in and parade around with them.

The Tequila House (417 Bourbon) – is one of the few certified Tequila Houses in the U.S. They also serve decent Tex-Mex food and have a courtyard and dance floor in the back. They have LOTS of Tequila to sample. It’s pretty awesome.

Crime:

Watch yourself. Do not stray off the beaten path, especially in the French Quarter and/or on Bourbon, or far Uptown (University area). Do not go down any alleys or empty streets. Take a cab if you are unsure of the area. Don’t go wandering in the Treme’ neighborhood. I know you loved the HBO series, but just don’t go there. If there’s a certain place you want to go, like Kermit Ruffin’s Mother-in-Law Lounge (1500 N. Claiborne), or the Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar (1931 Orleans Ave.), take a cab there and back.

Never feel stupid taking a cab, even if it’s only a few blocks. The state of the neighborhoods change quickly from one block to the next. Walk in groups. Beware of pickpockets. Keep your money/wallet in your front pocket or in a buttoned pants/shorts pocket. Chain or clip your wallet to your pants, if possible. Do not get so drunk that you are incoherent (hence my warning about the seemingly-innocuous Hand Grenades and Hurricanes). If you’re with (or are) a female – do not let her swing/dangle her purse by one hand. Do not clutch the purse tightly, either, as it makes it seem like you have lots of money/valuables, and hence, more attractive. Try not to have a huge purse, either. Just carry the necessities. Wear a purse with a long strap that you can drape around the body, and carry the purse part in front of the body, not behind or to the side. Do not wear fanny packs, as they are extremely easy for the experienced pickpocket. You “think” you’ll know/feel it if someone is pickpocketing you, but you won’t. Purses are a good mark that you’re a tourist, so if you don’t have to carry one at all, don’t.

Stay aware. Stay aware. STAY AWARE.

Keep your head up and look around and meet people’s eyes. Beware of people coming up behind you on bikes (a favorite M.O. of purse-snatchers). Keep an eye on your cellphone. Have cash in different places on your body, so you don’t flash all your money at once. Put your change away quickly, and don’t bring out a wad of cash to pay for your goods or food or beverages – especially in the French Market and on Bourbon. Watch out for people bumping up against you (again, especially in the French Market and on Bourbon) – they may look like a tourist (complete with beads!) or just a drunk person bumping you, but they are thieves.

Don’t ever leave your drink unattended.

Don’t talk to Gutter Punks or beggars. You don’t have to be rude, just walk on by. Avoid them completely if possible. Gutter Punks often have dogs with them. Don’t pet them.

Beads are for tourists, and tourists are easy marks. Don’t wear beads (unless it’s during Carnival).

Other tidbits:

You can bargain with the people in the French Market/Flea Market. Try it. “Oh, I like this, but there’s no way I can afford $XX”. They’ll probably come back with a deal. This doesn’t work if you have a ton of bags from places, though – unless you spin it “I really like this, but I spent most of my money already – I can’t afford $XX for this”, or, “If I buy both of these, will you give me a deal?” (Safety side note: Try not to walk around the Quarter with an armload of shopping bags from places. Bring a reusable shopping bag from a local grocery store, or a bag from Walgreen’s or CVS, and put your purchases in there.)

NOLA is the abbreviation for New Orleans, Louisiana

Sit on the riverbank with a Muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery on Decatur, and eat and watch the river and the ships and the people go by. It’s very relaxing.

Only tourists wear beads when it’s not Carnival season. Buy them, if you want, but don’t wear ‘em.

If someone bets you a dollah they can tell you where you got your shoes, respond with a disgusted look or rolled eyes, and say, “I got my shoes right here on the sidewalk in New Orleans”, then keep walking on by.

The latest thing is a guy walking around the Quarter with strings of cheap beads. He stops people and tries to put the beads on them “for Bourbon Street later” or “for the pretty lady”, and then he expects a dollar or so. He’s very, very pushy. Just tell him “not interested” and keep on walking, then ignore him.

It gonna be humid, no matter what the temperature is.

Rue is French for “street”, so Rue Royale and Rue Dumaine and Rue Decatur, etc., are simply the French way of designating those streets.

If you bought too many souvenirs or something large, and are panicking trying to figure out how to get them home, no worries! Go to the French Quarter Postal Emporium at 1000 Bourbon Street. They will package and ship your items for you via the U.S. Postal Service. They also have a nice little selection of local/locally-made gifts. Very friendly people.

Fleurty Girl is a small local chain of shops that sell t-shirts, jewelry, kitchenware, and other items with a local appeal. Many of the t-shirt sayings are local in-jokes, but her boots, scarves, glassware, and bags are worth a look. In the French Quarter, 632 St. Peter. Uptown, 3117 Magazine Street, and a showroom on St. Charles Avenue, directly next to Lucky’s. There are other locations in the surrounding suburbs, as well.

Mignon Faget has many locations for her jewelry stores all around the city. Her pieces are stunning, unusual, locally-inspired, and beautiful.

Starbucks? FORGET IT! Drink local! French Market, Café’ du Monde, CDM, Community Coffee (“CC’s”), PJ’s, Café’ Envie, or (the best, IMO) Mello Joy. Also, be aware that at some places, most notably at the Café du Monde, the coffee is made with Chicory added. It imparts a slight bitter flavor that some people don’t like/can’t get used to.

PBR, Miller, Absolut, or Captain Morgan’s? Forget that, too! Drink local! Old New Orleans Rum, NOLA Brewing, Parish Brewery, Abita Beer, Biersch, Voodoo Distillery, Crescent City Brewhouse, Atelier Vie, Rougaroux Rum, Bayou Rum, Seersucker Vodka, Heiner Brau, Covington Brewhouse, Chafunkta Brewing, Tin Roof, and many more. Drink something you can’t get anywhere else.

If you like cute Asian things – from anime’ characters to Hello Kitty everything, stop into Kawaii NOLA (3512 Magazine).

Pronunciations:

Tujague’s – two-jacks

Esplanade – es-plan-ADE, not es-plan-ODD

Tchoupitoulas – chop-it-too-lass

Pitot – rhymes with teapot

New Orleans – N’Orlinz or New Or-lee-ans. Never, never NEVER, Noo Or-leenz

Praline – prah-leen, not pray-leen

Pecan – pee-cahn or p’cahn

Lagniappe – lan-yap. It means “a little something extra”

Metairie – Met-a-ree (also used: The Metrys” or “Metry” [met-trees/met-tree])

Burgundy (the street, not the drink) – bur-GUN-dee, not BUR-gun-dee. The drink is BUR-gun-dee.

Chalmette – shall-met. People from Chalmette are referred to as “Chalmatians”, rhymes with “Dalmatians”)

Food Explanations:

Andouille – AHN-do-ee – A type of Cajun pork sausage. It’s not usually hot (unless marked as such), but it is full of spicy flavor. Gumbos and Jambalayas often feature Andouille.

Boudin – boo-DAHN – A type of Cajun sausage that is made with spices, rice, and pork forcemeat. If you like pate’, you’ll probably like Boudin. You don’t eat the casing. Instead, you cut away the top of the sausage and squeeze the contents into your mouth – almost like a meat push-up pop. If you see Boudin Balls on a menu, they are pretty much the same, except you can eat the whole thing. There is white (blanco) Boudin and red (rouge) Boudin. The red is made with blood, and is illegal to sell, so you’ll probably be eating white.

Cracklins  – fried pork skins

Crawfish – Pinch the tails and suck the heads! They’ll teach you how to eat these little crustaceans if you don’t know how. And it’s Crawfish, not Crayfish. Also acceptable: Mudbugs. Usually only available in-season, which is about January until June.

Oysters – Eat ‘em any way you can get ‘em – fried, raw, charbroiled, baked, in a pie, Rockefeller, wrapped in bacon (“en brochette”), in a gumbo… I am a purist and subscribe to never eating raw Oysters in a month without an “R” in it (the summer months). You can, but they’re just not that good, in my opinion.

Po-boys – Another name for a submarine or hoagie sandwich. However, they have very different ingredients in the offering. French Fry & Debris with Cheese? Yep. Fried Oyster? Yep. Fried Shrimp? Uh-huh. Half fried Oyster and half fried Shrimp? Sure, why not? Roast Beef, dressed, with debris and cheese? Oh, yes. (“dressed” – tomato, lettuce, mayo, sometimes pickles; “debris” – pan drippings from the roast beef, aka, “brown gravy”)

Red Gravy – tomato sauce/marinara sauce

BBQ Shrimp – it’s not actual BBQ. I don’t know why they call it BBQ Shrimp. It’s huge Shrimp/prawns drowning in a butter/garlic/Worcestershire/lemon/Creole seasoning mix, and usually with the shells and heads attached, so you have to peel them and get messy and it’s awesome.

Remoulade – An aioli or mayonnaise based sauce, sometimes flavored with curry or Creole spices

For information on music/bands, events, and local news and weather, go to:

www.nola.com

www.neworleansonline.com

www.louisianatravel.com

www.tripadvisor.com

www.neworleanscvfb.com

www.offbeat.com

www.UptownMessenger.com

www.BestOfNewOrleans.com

www.wwoz.org

 

The following is a list an ex-local sent me, of his own favorite places, after he read mine. Some things repeat/echo my list, but hey – confirmation is a good thing:

Food and Drink:

Finn McCool’s – MidCity – Cheap Irish sports (domestic & foreign) pub; events every night of the week; trivia night on Mondays @ 8 PM (go earlier) is awesome.

R Bar – near Frenchmen Street – laid-back, cool décor, 75 cent pool, and you can get a haircut, too!

Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge (Uptown near Tulane) – the ultimate dive, don’t go before 3 AM

Mimi’s in the Marigny (Marigny) – great tapas, good live music, good crowd

Half Moon (Lower Garden District) – lots of table games, cheap drinks, local crowd, trivia. Great neighborhood bar

The Saint (Lower Garden District) – late night dive, mostly 20-somethings, photo booth

DBA/Blue Nile/Café Negril/La Maison – Frenchmen St – there are a number of bars on Frenchmen. All worth checking out; great for live music. This is the local’s version of Bourbon St.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – Bourbon St – oldest running bar in the country; piano bar, drinks aren’t very cheap, though

Pat O’Brien’s - Bourbon – A tourist staple that’s enjoyed by locals as well; dueling-pianos is fantastic fun, courtyard is nice when it’s not super crowded; home of the Hurricane

Balcony Bar – Magazine St – Two story bar on Magazine, good local hangout Uptown, food is alright for drunk stuff

The Columns – Uptown – slightly expensive but beautiful bar with amazing porch that overlooks St. Charles Avenue, and they occasionally have live music. Really relaxing and posh.

Mick’s Irish Pub – MidCity – Cheap drinks, lots of games, good staff, good neighborhood bar

Cooter Brown’s Tavern – Riverbend – Great sports bar; good food (oysters)

Coop’s Place – French Quarter – Best example of cheap and good food in the Quarter

China Rose – Metairie – If you’re craving it, this is the bet Chinese food, but it’s a drive

Cochon & Cochon Butcher – Warehouse District – Upscale Cajun but not too expensive; Butcher version is cheap and great for lunch

Domilise’s – Uptown – Po’boys

Parkway Bakery & Tavern – MidCity – Po’boys. Roast beef!

Boucherie – Carrollton Uptown – Nice meal, won’t set you back much

Le Crepe Nanou – Uptown – all crepes, all affordable, and a neat bar to boot

Dante’s Kitchen – Carrrolton – Nice Place, focus on in-season and local ingredients

Jacque-Imo’s – Uptown, Carrollton – great service, tasty food, unpretentious atmosphere. Touristy though, so go early/make reservations. Stick around at the Maple Leaf next door for great music before or after your meal.

Restaurant August – CBD - $$$ expensive, but considered by many to be the best restaurant in town. John Besh (Chef) is one of the best in the country. Worth the money for special occasions

Mat & Naddie’s – Uptown, Carrollton - $$$ expensive but worth it as well; smaller, but less well known than August; you’ll likely still have to make reservations a little bit in advance

Mother’s –CBD – Southern Soul cooking at it’s best; be prepared for a long wait, though. Worth it.

Casamento’s – Uptown – Arguably the best oysters in town; only open when oysters are in season (months that have an “R” in them – good rule of thumb)

Deanie’s Seafood – French Quarter – much less touristy than Acme and some other places in the Quarter, but has fantastic seafood for good prices. Lots of fried everything.

EAT – French Quarter – recommended: Eggs Dauphine

Camellia Grill – Carrollton – fun diner Uptown but lots of tourists

Slim Goodies Diner – Uptown, Magazine – diner food; good

Dante’s Kitchen – Carrollton – Upscale brunch

Commander’s Palace – Uptown – great upscale Jazz brunch, make sure you wear a coat/tie. 25 cent martini Happy Hour

Elizabeth’s – Bywater – hipster staple, but food is good

Cake Café’ & Bakery – Bywater – pastries, etc.

La Boulangerie – French Quarter – coffee, pastries, sandwiches

Atchafalaya – Uptown – great brunch, not too expensive but a nice place. Great place for dinner, too. Fabulous food and drinks.

Coulis – Uptown – cheap place; great food

Live music:

Le Bon Temps Roule – Uptown – Thrusday nights at 11pm is Soul Rebels Brass Band

Tipitina’s – Uptown – a live music institution; check out Rebirth Brass Band

Howling Wolf – Warehouse District – great variety of bands

Frenchmen Street – Marigny – it’s impossible to miss live music here

One Eyed Jack’s – French Quarter – local punk/indie bands

Snug Harbor – Frenchmen – Actual shows where rather than just a bar; tickets are roughly $30, but you get to see some of the very best Jazz musicians in the city for a couple hours. Well worth it.

During the spring (Tuesdays) and fall (Thursdays) there are free concerts in Lafayette Square (CBD) starting around 5 PM with some great acts typically. Check online though because the days can switch. There are around 20 food vendors set up as well and beer/liquor.

Maple Leaf – Carrollton – Rebirth Brass Band on Tuesday nights

Festivals :

Mardi Gras (everywhere) – I’m going to make this as simple as possible. Carnival season starts January 6th (Three Kings Night), and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. There are parades that roll all over town over the course of Carnival, however, the most popular ones typically roll Uptown and are during the last 2 weeks of the season, primarily during the weekends. The crazy party that all tourists envision basically begins on the last Thursday of the season and runs through Tuesday (Mardi Gras day). If you want to celebrate with locals, watch the parades Uptown on St. Charles Ave (from Napoleon Ave all the way down), catch beads and drink heavily, but be mindful that Mardi Gras for locals is as much about families and community as it is about getting plastered. Also, be careful of kids on ladders and don’t get run over by any tractors/trucks pulling floats.

Jazz Festival – Fairgrounds – Huge Jazz/music festival that happens over a couple weekends in April/May. Locals are typically split on which they prefer more between Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras. There are as many tourists in town for the two weekends that the festival runs, but they aren’t the drunken frat boy types. Although there’s always tons of live music, there seems to be even more amazing shows during this festival.

French Quarter Fest – French Quarter – Long weekend in the beginning of April; lots of outdoor live music on the Riverwalk/French Market area. A little bit of Mardi Gras feel to it, but mostly locals. All free

Po’Boy Fest – Carrollton – One day festival in November. Many of the city’s best restaurants/vendors line Oak Street and show off their best Po’boy recipes. Drool. Also lots of live music. It is growing hugely popular, though, so get there early.

Voodoo Festival – City Park – Huge 3-day music festival during Halloween weekend. Great variety of music from small local acts to the biggest names out there.

Tales of the Cocktail – Citywide – Late July festival celebrating all things related to the cocktail. Tons of classes and events where you’ll be able to try some of the best drinks around; classes and events vary in price. It’s basically DrinkCon.

Museum/Parks:

Audubon Park – Uptown – Beautiful park, zoo, and golf course near Tulane University

City Park – Lakefront – HUGE park. Home to the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), one of the best public tennis centers in the country, stadiums, paddleboats, sculpture garden, etc.

Jean Lafitte National Park – 40 minutes SW of NOLA – Bayou!

WWII Museum – Warehouse District – The National WWII Museum is huge and extremely well done. Also screens a 40 minute long “4D” movie about D-day that is pretty cool and interesting, starring Tom Hanks.

Contemporary Arts Center – Warehouse District – Interesting stuff, especially if you like contemporary art. Check to see what special events they’re hosting too, because they can be really fun.

Climate:

June – September is hellishly hot. Roughly 90-95 degrees every day with high humidity, so much so that you will be drenched after only 10 minutes out in the sun. The rest of the year we have pretty fantastic weather though. To give a rough approximation:

Late Sept – Late Nov – 80 during the day, 65 at night; very comfortable weather

Dec – Feb – 60 during the day, 45 at night; it can get colder and the cold feels more bitter due to the humidity, but most days you don’t need much more than a light jacket.

March – May – 80 during the day, 65 at night. Similar to fall; fantastic time of year

These are rough, but you get the general idea. You can survive here during the summer because everywhere has A/C, but you can’t do much outside for extended periods of time. It just means you do everything slowly (four hour lunches!) and make sure to drink lots of water.

Where is safe/dangerous:

New Orleans has a reputation as being a very dangerous city, which is true – kind of. Much of the violent crime that happens here is related to drugs/revenge/gangs, so don’t get involved in that stuff and you won’t have to worry about getting shot in a drive-by.

However, what you, a tourist, need to worry about is being mugged

During the day, you can walk around the Quarter no worries. At night, though, especially if you’ve been drinking, you need to be careful. You should not go “above” Bourbon Street really, so from the River to Bourbon you’re alright. Don’t go down side streets that aren’t well lit. Don’t walk alone. If you‘re drunk, keep your shit together so you don’t look like a target. And remember, if you run into problems, 99% of the time they just want your money – just give it to them, it’s not worth it.

Now, the other areas that are dangerous:

Treme’ – just above the French Quarter – Many saw Treme’ on HBO and are intrigued by this neighborhood. Don’t. Go. Here. It is dangerous. These are projects with rampant crime.

9th Ward – You’ll be alright during the day (driving), but stay away at night

New Orleans East – There’s not much out there that’s going to be appealing to a tourist anyways, but stay way at night. Really, there’s just no reason to go there.

Uptown above St. Charles until Louisiana Ave – During the day it’s alright in a car or on a bike, preferably, but you should avoid walking around too much at night. It’s not too bad, but it’s pretty rough.

St. Roch/St. Claude – North the Marigny. Stay away pretty much at all times, but especially at night

Like every city, the best way to stay safe is to use your head. No, you shouldn’t walk down that dark street at night alone. If the neighborhood/street looks dangerous, it probably is. Don’t flash your money around. Etc.

Stay safe!

What NOT to do:

Bourbon Street – One night is fine and can definitely be fun (but expensive), but don’t make a habit of it. Bourbon Street is for tourists who lack imagination and think that we’re always celebrating Mardi Gras here.

Wear beads when it’s not Carnival – I know it’s tempting, but you just look like an idiot. During Mardi Gras it’s great. Pile them on. But when the season ends, there is no bigger way to look like a silly tourist than to wear them around all the time.

Pee/flash in public – you will be arrested. Flashing on Bourbon during Mardi Gras is probably going to be okay (as long as you’re female and it’s your top), but outside of that, the cops won’t be lenient and will happily throw you in OPP (Orleans Parish Prison)

Mess with cops – some of them are great, some of them are corrupt dicks. Don’t give them an excuse to arrest you unless you really like soggy bologna sandwiches.

Carry around glass bottles in the Quarter – we allow open container here and you can take drinks to go (which is amazing), just don’t carry around glass you wouldn’t want to step on broken bottles.

Talk shit about the Saints or Katrina. Just don’t.

Get drunk 24/7. New Orleans is one of the best towns to drink in, but if you’re drunk all the time (or hungover the rest of the time), you’ll miss out on the tons of other amazing things this city has to offer.

And finally –

For every place named here, there are three more places of equal quality probably. There are just so many great dining, drinking, and music options here that It’s actually difficult to screw up too bad. Bottom line is, get your hands dirty and get around all over town – you won’t be disappointed.

MY OWN LIST:

“But Christin. There’s SO MUCH here. You like EVERYTHING. Don’t you have any favorites?”

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

My favorite places, in no particular order, except #1:

Lucky’s. This is my home-away-from-home, my living room, my home base. I’ve been going to Lucky’s for over 15 years, and although some of the names and faces change, some do not. It’s where I meet up with my friends, it’s where I go when it’s a rainy afternoon, and it’s where I feel most comfortable. I like being there by myself, and I like being there with a group of friends. I like sitting inside, playing the jukebox, and sitting on the porch, watching the world go by. I like going there in the morning and getting a Bloody Mary and ordering breakfast delivered from The Please-U. I like watching Saints games here. I like the red beans and rice on Mondays, and the fried chicken during football games, and the Crawfish boils on the porch. It’s a great place to be during Carnival, too. Sure, it’s a dive, but it’s my dive.

Dooky Chase’s. Outside of Lucky’s, this is the place I’ve been to the most. I love the food. I love Chef Leah Chase. I love the fried chicken. I love the Catfish. I love the art on the walls. I hate that the neighborhood is dangerous. I hate that Miz Leah is 93 years old, so every visit is precious to me, because we won’t have this treasure around for many more years.

Peche Seafood. I’ve been here so many times, as well. I’ve spent four hours at the bar, drinking and eating and drinking and eating a little more. I’ve sat at their tables and people-watched and ducked in from the rain. I’ve seen celebrities, political personages, and musicians.

Compere Lapin. This is a new addition to the list, and I love it. I look forward to going here again and again.

Tequila House. I love Tequila, and I love the selection of Tequila here. I do not like the too-loud music, but I can live with it.

Fleurty Girl. I like her stores for fun gifts.

Leah’s Pralines. The Creole pralines are awesome, and so is her bacon brittle.

The Art Market. I stop in here every visit to see what’s new and always walk out with some piece of art or jewelry.

Checkpoint Charlie. If I’m not at Lucky’s, I’m sorta at Lucky’s when I’m at Checkpoint. It feels homey because it’s the same owner (Igor) as Lucky’s.

Restaurant R’evolution. This is my high-end go-to place. I love the drinks. I love the food.

Remoulade. Excellent Oyster bar and other eats.

 

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