I just spent 5 full, glorious days in New Orleans…and it was not enough! I’ll be honest though, no matter how many hours, days, or weeks I spend in NOLA, it never seems to be enough time. There’s always one more meal to eat; one more bar to linger in; one more shop to duck into; one more street to meander down; one more experience to have. New Orleans always has more. Have you noticed lately how so many people’s social media posts recapping a trip or vacation always say “<name of destination> doesn’t owe me a thing” as a way of saying how good of a time was had? Well my trip was so spectacular that I left owing something to NOLA.
I consider myself an experiential traveler, so I tend to shun almost all of the touristy stuff like the plague and opt instead for going deeper into the heart, spirit, and essence of a destination. If you’re the kind of person that relegates your activities in New Orleans to Bourbon Street, then you need to up your travel game. Yep, I said it. There is so much more to this city and I, for one, don’t like to miss out. My friends and family all know that I have special affinity for discovering and finding the best spots to enjoy all the goodness a city has to offer, and my trip to NOLA was no exception. Curious and want a recap peek at what I got into? Why I’m happy to oblige, my dear. Read on!
If it’s delicious Creole cuisine you’re looking for, Mr. B’s Bistro, owned and operated by the renown Brennan family and located in the French Quarter, has what you need. Members of the wait staff (many who have been working there for 20-plus years) are treated like family, and once you step through the antique wood and glass revolving front door, you’ll be treated like family, too. One of my favorite dishes at Mr. B’s is a New Orleans classic: Barbequed Shrimp. The dish is comprised of plump, fresh, juicy Louisiana shrimp covered in a velvety, peppery, Worcestershire-spiked butter sauce and is served with French bread so that not a single drop of the sauce gets left behind. Trust me, you will be “kissing” your fingertips to get all that delicious flavor. A few of my other favorite dishes include duck spring rolls (amazing); the garlic truffle fries (truffle and garlic–hello!); and the bacon wrapped shrimp and grits (mmm…bacon).
Deanie’s Seafood is a local favorite, and is a solid spot to get your fried seafood fix. There are 3 locations: 1 in the French Quarter; 1 in Metairie; and 1 on Hayne Blvd in New Orleans. Order the Combo dinner with fish, shrimp, and oysters or, if you’re a really food loving high roller (and there are at least 2 of you), go for the Giant Seafood Platter which has more of everything the Combo has plus stuffed crabs and crawfish croquettes. If you’re feeling really randy you can substitute the stuffed crabs for whole fried soft shell crabs for an extra charge. Please be advised that you will need a wheelbarrow to carry you out.
Let’s set the record straight: finding a great drink in NOLA isn’t difficult AT. ALL. Figuring out exactly where to go when there are so many options though can be a bit more daunting. Being the, uhm, overachiever that I am, I visited 10 different bars while in the city this last time. If you know even a little about me, you know that I am always on a quest to have a fantastic cocktail sipping experience, and my bar hopping did not leave me disappointed.
Two of my suggested booze-infused pit stops include The Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel, and Cure. First up is The Sazerac, a landmark bar with a storied history.
Once you walk through the door, settle into one of the plush chairs, and take a look around The Sazerac Bar you’re immediately transported to the glory days and splendor of decades past. The hand-painted murals and much of the woodwork are original to the bar, which gives it a comfy, authentic vintage feel. I also love the thoughtful touches that go along with having a drink in this classy establishment, like the delicious complimentary snacks that are delivered to your table without you so much as having to ask.
A newer craft cocktail destination is the hip, yet completely unpretentious, Cure Bar. Why go to Cure? Over the last 5 years the bar has been recognized as one of the best cocktail bars in both New Orleans and the country by Esquire magazine; Food and Wine magazine; Travel & Leisure; Eater National; Southern Living; and The New York Times, just to name a few. Most importantly, however, it’s #BubbleistaApproved. Okay, it’s most important to me at least.
This is the kind of place that you can saddle up to the bar, order a couple of snacks and just sip all evening long. One of my favorite drinks was the “Howitzer” made with Bourbon. lemon, peach bitters, and sparkling wine–absolutely divine. And did I mention that they have Happy Hour every day of the week? BOOM. If you go, tell them The Bubbleista sent ya.
If you’re interested in an even deeper cocktail activity in New Orleans, check out my article from earlier this week about the “Custom Drinks Fittings” at Apolline Restaurant in New Orleans. If love cocktails, you will L-O-V-E having a Fitting!
It should be no secret that New Orleans is infused with culture, so naturally museums, books, history, art, and music is everywhere. If you’re out and about in the French Quarter there’s a good chance you’ll be graced with a brass band playing on the street corner like we were our 1st night in the city. If you’re looking for some scheduled acts, try Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. With live jazz playing 7 nights a week, your music fix can be satisfied.
After having traveled to New Orleans for years, I have become convinced that it’s not just a city, she is a living, breathing organism. As such, it’s my duty to get to know her as much as possible. After all, even with all of the grit, grime, imperfections, and murky past, NOLA is a lady and deserves to be treated as such. So, whether your “good times” are les bons temps rouler, manger, écouter, cafe au lait, or anything else you can think of–New Orleans is always there to give you just what you need. Hats off to lady NOLA.
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