New Orleans, LA

What I recommend in NOLA
BY Taylor Davidson | May 5th, 2013
Big Fun, New Orleans, LA, 2013

From 2010 to 2011, Sloane, Carl and I ran a weekly newsletter about New Orleans called NOLAlicious. A labor of love, NOLAlicious kept us actively looking for new things to experience in New Orleans. While we shut the project down after a year, I learned a lot about New Orleans in the process. Here’s what I recommend doing in New Orleans, whether it’s 36 hours, 36 days, or 36 years. This isn’t meant to be a best-of or an exhaustive list, but a starting point to share with friends headed to New Orleans that want to know what to do, eat, and see.

Also see this list on Foursquare.

Experiences

  • Ride the Streetcar. $1.25 a ride (day and multi-day passes are available, map and details), either up St. Charles Avenue to Uptown or Canal St. to Mid-City and City Park.
  • Explore beyond Bourbon St. New Orleans is far more than the French Quarter, and the Quarter is far more than Boubon St. Walk deeper into the non-tourist areas, peek through gates into the hidden courtyards, look up at the balconies hanging over the streets, and look at the signs of history.
  • Walking tours of the Quarter. The historical and night ghost tours are particularly good.
  • Cemetary Tour. Start with St. Louis Cemetary #1 outside the Quarter.
  • Rent a bicycle and bike through the Mid-City, Uptown, Marigny, and Bywater neighborhoods. While the street conditions will require you to keep an alert eye, it’s a great way to explore the city.
  • Enjoy a Festival. It’s not just about Mardi Gras. During festival season, New Orleans abounds with festivals big and small, giving you plenty of chances to enjoy live music, eat great food, and see how New Orleans lives. Calendar here.
  • Walk down Magazine Street, for shopping at boutiques, local restaurants, and wandering through Uptown.
  • Take a run or walk in City Park and Audubon Park. Great places to wander under the trees.
  • Join a Second Line. Check out WWOZ for a schedule, but they are great ways to enjoy a bit of the neighborhood culture of New Orleans. Find, watch, dance, and join in.
  • Plantations. If you have a car and the time, drive out to the plantations up river. Houmas House, Nottoway, and Oak Alley are great, beautiful destinations.

Food

As you probably already know, food in New Orleans is an important thing. Make sure to enjoy a couple classic New Orleans restaurants and dishes while you’re in town. It’s hard to go wrong, but here’s a starting point on places I like.

Breakfast

  • Elizabeth’s, Bywater
  • Surrey’s, Lower Garden
  • Ruby Slipper, CBD and Mid-City
  • Cake Cafe and Bakery, Marigny
  • Stanley’s, Quarter
  • Cafe du Monde, Quarter, the classic beignets and chicory coffee
  • Satsuma, Bywater, for coffee, a healthy breakfast and lunch

Coffee

  • Addiction Coffee, Quarter
  • Arrow Cafe, Quarter
  • Spitfire Coffee, Quarter
  • Morning Call, Mid-City (City Park), for classic beignets and chicory coffee
  • Merchant, CBD
  • Fair Grinds Coffe House, Mid-City
  • Croissant d’Or, Quarter, for croissants and coffee

Bars

  • Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, Quarter, for a sazerac. Get a seat at the rotating bar.
  • Napolean House, Quarter, for Pimm’s Cup.
  • Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel. It’s the classic NOLA cocktail.
  • Mimi’s in the Marigny, Marigny, for the downstairs bar, the good food, and the music, DJs, and dancing upstairs.
  • Latitude 29, started by a tiki legend.
  • The Columns Hotel, Uptown. Sit on the porch and watch St. Charles Avenue roll by.
  • French 75, Quarter. Part of Arnaud’s, it’s a good bar to start off a classy evening.
  • Cure, Freret. Quality cocktails.
  • Maple Leaf, Oak St. Rebirth Brass Band on Tuesday nights is a special night, but always good.
  • Lafitte’s Blacksmith House, Quarter. Listen to the piano, drink in the dark, and spill over into the streets.
  • Capdeville, CBD, for meeting local tech entrepreneurs in the IP Building.
  • Cane and Table, Quarter.
  • Barrel Proof, Lower Garden
  • Fulton Alley, in CBD, for bowling in an upscale bar.
  • Carrollton Station, to get a drink and wander over to where the streetcars sleep nearby.
  • Neighborhood bars. So many tucked away in various neighborhoods (i.e. Rusty Nail, Love Lost Lounge, Bar Tonique, Audubon Pub, Balcony Bar, Milan Lounge, The Saint). Go find them, they are great.

Lunch & Dinner

  • NOLA, Quarter. An Emeril Lagasse restaurant, make a reservation and go.
  • Domenica, CBD, for upscale Italian
  • Herbsaint, CBD
  • Cochon Butcher, CBD. Around the corner from Cochon, this sandwich shop offshoot is delicious.
  • Galatoire’s, Quarter. Give the "Galatoire’s double" a shot.
  • Arnaud’s, Quarter, for a classic New Orleans experience. Shirt, tie and jacket. Ask to see the museum upstairs.
  • Sylvain, Quarter
  • GW Fins, Quarter, for seafood
  • Green Goddess, Quarter
  • Cafe Amelie, Quarter (for ambiance and courtyard)
  • Doris Metropolitan, Quarter, for a NYC-style steakhouse experience
  • Irene’s, Quarter
  • Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Quarter, for chargrilled oysters (skip the Acme line if it’s long)
  • Acme Oyster House, Quarter, for chargrilled oysters
  • Louisiana Bistro, Quarter, for the "Feed Me" custom course option.
  • K-Pauls Louisiana Kitchen, Quarter, for classic New Orleans dishes
  • Coop’s Place, Quarter, a dive bar with rabbit jambalaya.
  • Port of Call, Quarter, for a burger and a baked potato.
  • Domilise’s Po-Boys, Uptown. Awesome poboys.
  • Parkway, Mid-City, for poboys
  • Mother’s, CBD, for poboys
  • Johnny’s Po-Boys, Quarter, for poboys.
  • Cafe Atchafalaya, Garden District
  • Commander’s Palace, Garden District, for a boozy, classic lunch and experience
  • Pascal’s Manale Restaurant, Uptown. Get a drink at the bar and get oysters at the oyster bar.
  • Mandina’s, Mid-City
  • Ralph’s on the Park, Mid-City, for an upscale meal by City Park.
  • Liuzza’s By The Track, Mid-City, BBQ Shrimp poboy
  • Upperline, Uptown
  • Clancy’s, Uptown
  • Jacques-Imo’s, Carrollton. Brave the wait, put your name in, and get a drink at Maple Leaf down the street. A bit ways out from the Quarter, but worth it.
  • Boucherie, Carrollton.
  • Dante’s Kitchen, Riverbend. Converted house, great food.
  • Brigtsen’s, Riverbend. Great seafood.
  • Bacchanal, Bywater. Large outdoor patio, go on a warm Sunday night.
  • Maurepas Foods, Bywater
  • The Joint, Bywater, new location, less of a dive, still great BBQ
  • Pho Tau Bay, West Bank, for pho
  • Pho Orchid, West Bank, for pho
  • St Roch Market, food hall in St. Roch featuring a selection of local chefs, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Snoballs and Dessert

If you’re in New Orleans during snoball season (warm months), make sure to try one. And even if you don’t love snoballs, you have other options for dessert.

  • Plum Street Snoballs. Get two flavors mixed in a cup or a pail, make up your mind before you order, and sit outside on the grass to relax and enjoy.
  • Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, Snoballs.
  • Pandora’s SnoBalls and Softserve, Mid-City. Snoballs.
  • Angelo Brocato’s, Mid-City
  • Creole Creamery, Uptown
  • Meltdown Popsicles, Quarter, for great, inventive, locally-made popsicles. Stawberry Basil and Salted Caramel are personal favorites, but you can’t go wrong.

Music

  • Spotted Cat, Frenchman St. Small, but great jazz bands and good swing dancers.
  • d.b.a., Frenchman St.
  • Blue Nile, Frenchman St.
  • Three Muses, Frenchman St., a great bar and place to listen to live music
  • Preservation Hall, Quarter
  • Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse, Royal Sonesta. Sit down and enjoy great jazz in a classy spot in the Quarter.
  • Le Bon Temps Roule, Uptown, for a packed, sweaty good time. Thursday nights for Soul Rebels is popular.
  • Vaughan’s, Bywater, on a Thursday night, for Kermit Ruffins and red beans and rice in the Bywater

Hotels

  • For a quality, non-chain hotel just outside the Quarter, International House Hotel in Central Business District (CBD) is a great choice.
  • The Quarter is full of Airbnbs, B&Bs, and boutique hotels. If you’re planning on renting a car (not necessary), just remember that parking in the Quarter can sometimes be troublesome and expensive. But it’s a great place to stay and use as a base to explore the neighborhood.

Shopping

  • Goorin Bros Hat Shop, Magazine St., Uptown, because you’re going to want a hat to beat the heat and the sun. Get in the style.
  • Defend New Orleans, Magazine St., and Fleurty Girl, Magazine St. and Oak St., for local t-shirts and accessories.
  • Boutiques all down Royal St. and Chartres St in the Quarter, and down Magazine St. in Uptown.

Work

  • Launch Pad, for co-working and meeting local startups.

Museums

* * *

Originally written in May 2013, last updated April 2015.