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New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans has been on my list of places to visit for a long while now. So, when the BF had a conference down there this January I decided I just had to go with him. We packed up our car and drove the 10hrs (9-9.5 if you’re lucky) down to the South! If you aren’t sure if you’d be able to make that long of a car ride, we suggest books on tape. On the way down we listened to Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime”, which I seriously can’t get over how good this book was. Also, having the author actually read it is always like 100x better. We also stopped in Jackson, Mississippi on the way down for lunch and Memphis on the way home for dinner. Definitely necessary stops to recharge, use the bathroom, and stretch.

 

We really felt like we were prepped for this trip. Months before we researched Airbnb’s and found the cutest one located right next to the French Quarter. It was a huge space and definitely a great rent for the price. The neighbors were a little loud, but earplugs fix that in my case. Tyler decides not to ever wear them and just complain about noises that make it hard to sleep (insert eye roll). But really, we love doing Airbnb because it makes us feel a little more local and we usually get a better rate and get a homier vibe. You can also rent entire houses and that’s great when you have a big group.

 

Before going I did a LOT of research for the best restaurants and things to do (I had quite a bit of solo adventure time when Tyler had to be at his conference).  A lot of wonderful friends sent us lists of must see and must eats. Those lists made it so much easier to choose restaurants. Basically for each trip I create a google doc and make lists: breakfast/brunch, lunch, dinner, desserts, what to do, etc. Then from each of those I write a tiny description, the neighborhood they are in, and I rank them…Yeah, I know it’s a little nutty, but it works for us. When we are on the trip I use it as a reference. If we are in a certain neighborhood and are super hungry, I can refer to the list and choose the one in that area. Really, I’m sure it sounds like a lot of work, but it helps me to make sure I don’t miss anything I was really looking forward too.

 

Okay, so now that you know all my weird prep plans, let’s talk about all the amazing places you have to go to eat and things you must see while in NOLA. We went to more places than this, these are just my favorites!

 

Food


Bfast/Brunch

  • Salon by Sucre: French Quarter [fav food- chicken and waffles]

    • This place is picture perfect for brunch. If the weather is nice, ask to sit on the patio. Seating is selective and I definitely recommend a reservation. And it’s on top of one of their Sucre patisserie shops, so be sure to check out all the goodies.

  • District Donuts: Garden District [fav food-oatmeal pie donut, Ty loved the cold brew]

    • They were super crowded on a Sunday morning, but moving quickly. Definitely recommend eating donuts and trying one of their specialty coffee drinks.

  • St. Roch Market: St. Roch [fav food- avocado toast and smoothie at Juice Nola]

    • We LOVED this place. We didn’t hit it up until we were headed out of town, which is probably for the best since we may have just eaten here every day. It’s set up like a cafeteria/farmers market with 10+ vendors so you can pick up whatever sounds good at that moment.
       

Lunch

  • Willa Jean: Warehouse District [fav food- cookies and milk]

    • So we actually ended up here because of a miscommunication. I thought this was supposed to be a place that like 4 people recommended, but I put in the wrong place on google maps. However, turns out this is the best lunch place in the city. They are a biscuit heaven and you need to try their fried chicken on a biscuit. And to finish out your meal try their cookies and milk that comes with a whisk with cookie dough…there is no way you can pass that up.
       

Dinner

  • Brennan’s: French Quarter [fav food- tuna]

    • Okay, so this place definitely one of the most memorable spots we went to. The outside is pink, the inside is pink…needless to say, I adored it. The décor inside was just as impeccable as the incredible food. Also, if you come here, you have to try the bananas foster; they stake their fame on it. Definitely a great dinner, brunch, or even just drinks/dessert spot. For dinner, you may want to make a reservation.

  • Kingfish: French Quarter [fav food-alligator and catch of the day]

    • So, this was the restaurant we went to with a couple of friends and I was super nervous being the one who had to choose the restaurant. Luckily the food was incredible. Mostly everyone just ordered a few small plates because they are the most unique and who doesn’t want to try more food? Our wait here was about 20 mins on a Friday evening.

  • 14 Parishes: Central City [fav food-jerk chicken]

    • This place was NOT on our list. However, the restaurant next door was. But they had a long wait, so we thought we would give this Jamaican restaurant a try. And we were so happy we did. The food and service were amazing. We were also pleasantly surprised by the spoken word performance that evening.
       

Desserts/Snacks

  • Drip Affogato Bar: Warehouse District [fav food-cookie monster affogato]

    • This place was recommended to me by a few people and we almost didn’t go because my stomach wasn’t feeling too hot after lunch…notice no lunches are listed above…But if you know anything about me, ice cream is usually bound to make me feel better. And man, this place did not disappoint. If you have enough folks, definitely do a flight of affogato.

  • Café du Monde: French Quarter [fav food-beignets, duh]

    • Okay, I know this is on like everyone’s list, but really you have to go. Here are my secret tips for you so you don’t have to wait in that craaaazy long line. 1) Go early in the morning. They are open 24/7, so really go in before 9am, that’s when the lines get going. 2) People are usually out drinking at night, so post-dinner is also a great time to go, we went right after dinner around 9pm and had no trouble finding a table. 3) Just get them to go. You wait in line for a table…don’t wait for a table and go right up to the window under the tent and get your beignets. 4) BRING CASH…cuz that’s what they take there.

  • French Market: French Quarter [fav food-smoothies at Organic Banana stand]

    • The market is a must stop. It’s organized like a farmers market with quite a few different vendors. I also got a snocone here one day…very important to my diet. There are oysters, crawfish, po’boys, desserts, daiquiris, and alligator jerky. Funny enough I remembered the alligator jerky stand from when I was a kid. Apparently that’s where I first had gator!

 

Exploring

  • Walking…really we did so much walking and looking. Bring a camera, wear good shoes, and have a good sense of direction. That’s what I think I bring most to our relationship…a sense of direction. Or at least it’s what I value most. Okay, the places you need to wander:

    • French Quarter

      • Bourbon Street: It’s mayhem here in the evenings, but it’s kind of a must stop, to at least see what it’s all about.

      • Jackson Square: It’s right near Café du Monde and during the day it’s the perfect place to sit on a bench, eat some beignets and let your feet rest. The cathedral and two museums are on the other side of the square. A must see there though is on the side streets around the square are artists. There are musicians, painters, tarot card readers and more. We liked going during the day, but the scene changed at night and our favorite musician, the water glass player, only plays at night. So, be sure to visit him.

      • Walk Royal St, Decatur…walk the quarter: This was probably my favorite thing to do there. I walked the streets alone in the day (wouldn’t do that after dark, lots of goofy wasted visitors). I got to explore, see old buildings, take photos of my favorite houses, peek into shops.

    • Magazine Street: This is another area we really enjoyed walking. It has tons of shops, little restaurants and bakeries. It’s a long street, but we went a few blocks off the street car and really enjoyed ourselves.

    • Frenchman Street: walking here at night is super fun. Each bar/restaurant has music pouring out into the streets. There are also little outdoor art markets that stay open late into the evening. We didn’t eat on this street, but the music scene is great.

    • Riverwalk: Walk along the river! It’s fun and musicians are up there basically all day to serenade your walk. Helpful tip: Don’t accept a shoe shine from anyone…

 

  • Take the Street Car! Go online and get a jazzy pass, they come in daily, 3-day, etc. for all day access on the street car. We hopped on the St. Charles line and rode its entire length just looking at the houses. This was by far one of my favorite things on my trip. I sat in a window seat with the window down and watched as we passed amazing homes and trees. This was by far one of Tyler’s least favorite things. Ha. We don’t always see eye to eye on what we like to do on trips, but we do a little of everything to make each other happy. We hopped off at Lafayette to go to a cemetery (another thing Ty was confused about). Unfortunately they almost always close early. So, although they said they were open until 4pm, they closed on us about 5 minutes in at 3:30…so be sure to go early.

 

Helpful Tips

  • Bring cash. Not a lot, but enough to tip musicians on the street, get beignets, buy something from a street vendor, etc.

  • Uber. Uber was the best thing for us. Some nights we didn’t feel safe walking home, or had to get to a place in town that was too far to walk, but didn’t want to drive since we weren’t sure about parking. And one day we took it because Tyler hated the street car so much and his feet were killing him. I was willing to walk, so this is something to write about folks…a day to remember when Tyler is lazier than Amanda…history books will write about this.

  • Bring good walking shoes. I wore sandals one day, horrible mistake. The following days I wore short booties with good insoles and was way happier.

  • Bring a light jacket. The wind comes up over the river in the evening or the heavy fog comes in the morning. So layers are best.

  • Read about attires for restaurants. We almost always dress on the more dressy casual side, so we didn’t have issues anywhere, but there are definitely some white cloth restaurants here that would be a little odd to go to in jeans.

  • Prep before you go! I know I’m maybe a bit extreme, but I prepped enough that we didn’t actually have our days planned, but knew of things we could do depending on our mood, location, etc. it helped us so much!

  • Enjoy yourself. If that means staying in one night to give your body a break, go for it. If you don’t want to go somewhere, but think you have to because everyone says you have to, don’t do it! Make your trip something wonderful and memorable for you!