A couple of weekends ago I took a trip to New Orleans for my Birthday weekend. It was my first time in the Big Easy and when people say…’there’s no place like New Orleans,’ they’re right.
I love the south. From the architecture to the people I can’t get enough – I even love the heat! Nothing is better than a 100+ degree day just sitting on a porch drinking sweet tea. So exploring NOLA highlighted so many of the things I love about the south and more.
What I didn’t expect from New Orleans was how much there was to see. I kinda expected the entire city to be an extension of Bourbon St, and while you can drink almost anywhere at anytime there was so much more beyond the French Quarter. We stayed at the French Market Inn right on Decatur. Very nice, perfect location, and reasonably priced. The Inn had an adorable courtyard where guests were always enjoying the mini pool or having cocktails before dinner.
New Orleans was full of surprises – one being that they celebrate Birthday’s in a unique way. When I told an employee at the Inn that we were in New Orleans for my bday they told me I needed to pin a $1 bill on my jacket and my drinks would be paid for for the day. Apparently its tradition and once you have a dollar pinned to you people give you money to celebrate! Hell yeah…why don’t we have this bday tradition everywhere? Needless to say, I didn’t score a lot of cash…I ended up with a total of $2, a free praline, and a bottle of water, but I think that was pretty good!?
I could go on but here are some highlights from my trip…
NOLA is a food mecca – so many great spots! About a month before my trip I posted on social media requesting any recommendations and I was inundated with them from you. Between your suggestions and an article from Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema on New Orleans food scene, here’s what we tried.
Le Petit Grocery – This adorable restaurant use to be a grocery store…hence where it earned its name. Southern cooking at its finest and reasonably priced. This was my FAVORITE dinner spot hands down. From the appetizers to desserts, everything here was 5 star. The shrimp & grits were to die for, and the French 75 cocktail went down way to smoothly. This place was a Tom Sietsema recommendation and he was spot on. Book a reservation here for you next trip and write me; guarantee you’ll love it.
Shaya – If you want a break from southern cuisine consider trying this Israeli restaurant, located on the outskirts of the Garden District. Everything on the menu is a 10 but highlights for us were the curried fried cauliflower hummus, lamb kabob, red snapper, and two glasses of Yarden Chardonney.
Peche – Is located on Magazine street and is a short walk from the French Quarter. Mostly seafood this place was another delicious stop. The oysters, hushpuppies, shrimp with bacon and shell beans were all stand outs. Great cocktails here as well, and you must have dessert the salted peanut pie was insane. Anyone who knows me knows I order three desserts at dinner and take a couple of bites of each then leave the rest, I finished this one 🙂
Cafe du Monde – Worth all the hype! Thank you for this recommendation – We ended up going here daily for beignets and cafe au lait. So amazing and like everyone said the line moves very quickly. Getting the powdered sugar out of my black jeans was another story.
Mother’s – A New Orleans staple. I loved the feel of this greasy spoon diner. Everyone from Beyonce to Dolly Parton has eaten there. Just what you’d expect from a diner – nothing fancy but worth the stop for breakfast or lunch.
We had lots of drinks in NOLA and thanks to my friend Mel’s recommendation even tracked down the famous shark attack drink at The Funky Pirate. My favorite drink spot though was Napoleon House. Locals and tourists meet at this establishment that has been open since 1914. The Pimm’s Cup is a must order.
WWII Museum – What!? Never even realized NOLA had such a massive WWII museum…this was amazing and emotional. You need at least four hours to see everything and be sure to pay extra to see the Tom Hank’s narrated movie.
Steamboat Natchez – Loved this tour – I’d never been on the Mississippi, but seeing how much shipping and just how massive the river was was really cool. The two-hour trip was super relaxing and very informative.
Bus tour of NOLA and Hurricane Katrina – There’s a bus tour on every corner so you don’t need to make a reservation in advance. This tour was also worth doing. About three hours – the time flies as you’re always getting on and off the bus. From the French Quarter; to the areas worst hit by Katrina; to the Garden District it was a day well spent. We even did a drive by of Sandra Bullock’s house which of course I loved because she’s my idol.
Voodoo Museum – LOVED it. I had no idea that true voodoo was only used for good. I wanted to buy a couple of those voodoo dollies for my 500+ doll collection I keep at my mom’s house in Maine but I kept my addiction in check. The most interesting part was how Catholicism and the Voodoo religion co-existed and thrived together in New Orleans for hundreds of years, the odd couple for sure.
New Orleans was fabulous…just like everyone said. The best thing for me about the trip, was the people. I love characters, and I think that’s one thing really missing from the DC area. Sometimes everyone here is so serious and worried about their reputations that we miss out on all the fun.
I appreciate a town where a grown ass man can be dressed as a wizard at 11:30am trying to sell potions on Bourbon St!? We need that flavor here in DC.
So there’s my New Orleans take. Again, thank you for your recommendations and I would love to hear your NOLA favs. I can’t wait to get back down there and do a longer boat tour of the Mississippi, the bayou’s, and the plantations. Until next time New Orleans…
Love and beignets, Frase
PS – Leave your comments below…