Aiiiieee! My family’s most memorable trip to NOLA has to be the weekend our vehicle was stolen while we shopped in the French Market (we can laugh about it now). The seductive City That Care Forgot with its beignets, bounce music and bon temps beckons like a long-lost love every time I visit and like the tourism ad promises, I’m just different there. If you’re in the Crescent City for the mother of all rematches between Alabama and LSU today, hopefully you have accessorized your team apparel with beads, a go cup, and a second line parasol. To maximize your fun, here are some of my favorite places to eat, shop, stay and play in the Big Easy.
EAT: New Orleans is a foodie’s gastronomic paradise. Stop by Central Grocery for its lipsmacking-good, authentic muffulettas. Deanie’s is known for its generous, mouth-watering servings of Gulf seafood goodness. Dooky Chase – the New Orleans bastion of Creole food run by Queen of Creole Cuisine Leah Chase – is a must-do. For pricier fare, try Commander’s Palace or Mr. B’s Bistro. Visit legendary Cafe du Monde and bite into a delicious, piping hot Creole doughnut covered in powdered sugar…chase it with a swallow of cafe au lait (go on, make a mess!). Want a burger? Head over to Port of Call. And it’s King Cake season, so head over to Manny Randazzo’s for one (plain or filled with a variety of tasty fillings). Eschew dry grocery store brands and have a real slice of heaven! Versions from Gambino’s will do just as well.
SHOP: Although Fleurty Girl is definitely biased toward purple and gold, the shop has cute apparel, accessories and home decor for Southern belles and Saints fans alike. Be sure to check out Hazelnut, an eclectic gift and home decor boutique owned by NOLA native Bryan Batt, of Mad Men fame.
STAY: Surely you didn’t come to New Orleans to sleep! But hands down, I recommend the W (French Quarter or Poydras locations). Period.
PLAY: NOMA is closed on Monday, but drop by Tuesday in Tide or Tigers regalia and receive 1/2 off admission. Or catch the St. Charles streetcar and ride it to the very end to view the lovely Garden District. After hours, the W Hotel’s super-chic Whiskey Blue bar (on Poydras) is THE place to post up and people watch. Or make your way to The Howlin’ Wolf to catch Rebirth Brass Band on January 9th. No trip is complete without a New Orleans Original Daiquiri (CRAWGATOR. Enough said.). The more adventurous imbibers should sample a sazerac at The Roosevelt or dash into the Old Absinthe House for a cocktail.
A final word of advice? Don’t pet the nutrias…or the honey badgers!
Images via Google and The Knot