Color and Cocktails: New Orleans

Get prepared for a LOT of posts about New Orleans. We went for a visit with the Boy’s brother and sister-in-law at the end of February, and it was amazing. SO MUCH EATING AND DRINKING. (If you want the real drinking lowdown, check out the Boy’s blog). But before I go off into a maze of posts about the many places we ate and drank and explored, I wanted to give you a bit of an overall look at our trip, along with some random pictures that won’t make it into their own solo posts.

Mardi Gras Beads

We were lucky enough to be there for a beautiful few days at the end of February – it was in the 60s and 70s, and the sun was shining pretty much the whole time. We went after Mardi Gras (cheaper + less crazy  = win) and upon our arrival to the Garden District, where we were staying, we were greeted with trees and fences glistening with Mardi Gras beads.

The Garden District is a gorgeous neighborhood, its streets lined with exactly the houses you’d expect of NOLA (including the one featured in American Horror Story: Coven).  Our B&B was about a 40-minute walk (or a quick Uber – we also took the bus but found the schedule rather undependable) from the French Quarter, but quite close to Magazine Street, which has its own wonderful shops and restaurants. While we did venture into the Quarter most days, we also enjoyed exploring and eating in our pretty neighborhood.

New Orleans has a TON of stuff to do, and I’m ashamed to say that (beyond that whole eating and drinking thing) we probably missed most of it (case in point: the six-block long WWII museum which we were totally intimidated by). The trip, however, ended up being perfect – just relaxing enough, just busy enough – and we’ve probably got plenty left to explore for many more trips to the city.

We did manage a trip to Audubon Park (it may or may not have been on the way to a restaurant we were aiming for), took a tour of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (cemetery tour = good, our particular choice of cemetery tour and cemetery = mistake: we accidentally picked the only one open to the public without a guide), and explored the unique and bizarre Pharmacy Museum (did you know cocktails were basically born to get people to drink their medicine, often in the form of bitters? I didn’t).

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

New Orleans is an Instagrammer’s dream – the colors, even of simple homes, are just incredible. Pink, blue, yellow, orange, purple – you name it, it’s there. Even the famous Commander’s Palace (famous for the 75-cent 25-cent martini lunch, which we happily took part in) is a cheery bright turquoise!

We ate pralines and muffalettas and gumbo, we saw wrought iron balconies and cornhusk fences, we wandered into spontaneous big band street parade after street parade, and we took in the China Lights festival at City Park. New Orleans is one of those cities that is just so much like the movie-version you’ve imagined (Paris also has this quality for me). If you haven’t been, go. I’ll join you.


Chinese Lantern Festival

I’ll go a bit more in-depth about some of these in future posts – links to come once those go up! And of course, The Boozy Newsie has the lowdown on drinks. Most of the meal prices include a drink, and are per person unless noted otherwise.

STAY

  • Garden District Bed & Breakfast (from $110/night) – This lovely little B&B was the perfect home base for our trip – affordable and in a quiet & beautiful neighborhood, with a very nice room (in fact more of a suite). We shared a balcony with the Boy’s brother and his wife, which was fun, and the proprietress Raynell was ever so warm and lovely. Caveats? Our (private) bathroom was actually a separate room outside our room, and the “continental breakfast” was pretty weak – we ended up going out most days.

EAT

  • District ($3 for a donut) – This donut place (they also have other stuff) changes their menu of flavors every. Single. Day.
  • Three Muses ($40 for dinner) – Our first dinner in New Orleans, Three Muses featured yummy cocktails, sharable tapas, and live music. Warm, friendly, and delicious.
  • Galatoire’s ($25 for light lunch) – One of your classically formal NOLA restaurants, oddly located on Bourbon Street. You feel VERY New Orleans, plus the food and cocktails are pretty tasty! (Note that at dinner, jackets are required.)
  • Commander’s Palace ($45 for lunch) – THE classic and formal (dress up! jackets required!) New Orleans restaurant. Also right by Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 if you want to take a wander before lunch. The food is good but pricey, but you get up to three 75-cent 25-cent martinis (or cosmos or weird bright blue concoctions – thanks to the Boy for having a better drunken memory than me re: price) with an entrée during the week…so go during the week.
  • Jacques-Imo’s ($35 for dinner) – WAY out of the way, and doesn’t take reservations…but pretty darn tasty. Is it totally worth the excursion with all the other great food in the city? Maybe, maybe not…but if you do go, hit up Audubon Park on the way.
  • Cochon Butcher ($25 for dinner) – Meat-centric (surprise surprise) and mostly sandwiches (though I got a charcuterie plate), with a full bar on offer as well.  Quality ingredients and a trendy but friendly (tee hee) atmosphere.
  • Bacchanal ($64 for drinks & cheese plate for two) – EVERYONE told us to go here, another out-of-the-way spot close to Crescent Park (worth a stroll along the river if you end up in the area). Basically, it’s a wine and beer shop where you pick out your wine or beer and some cheese and head out to the big backyard. Live music plays and your cheese arrives on a gorgeous cheese plate with jam and nuts and bread. They also have more substantial food on order, though we were good to go after our beer and cheese. Gets very crowded, so go early if you want a  table, but the atmosphere on a nice day is glorious.
  • NOLA Brewing Company ($12 for a beer tasting) – The Boy has the breakdown on this, but this brewery has fun, ever-changing flavors and is a nice place to linger over a tasting or two (plus they have a killer BBQ window).

DO

  • Garden District (free) – Gorgeous for walking around and checking out some incredible homes. Don’t miss the enormous and said-to-be-haunted American Horror Story: Coven house.
  • Magazine Street (free) – Adorable street full of shopping and some restaurants in the Garden District. The Boy’s sister-in-law especially loves local clothing company Trashy Diva.
  • French Quarter (free) – I mean, classic New Orleans. We did a walking tour out of our Lonely Planet guidebook, which was a nice way to get a quick overview and check out some of the spots, but there is so much to do and see here. Plus, it’s all super walkable within the Quarter.
  • Cemetery Tour (around $15/person, price varies) – So, you should definitely see a cemetery. BUT you should not take a tour of Lafayette No. 1 – it’s the only one you can get into without a guide. Instead, find the one that has Nicholas Cage’s future tomb (sad to miss that!) and maybe don’t use Save Our Cemeteries (our guide was only so-so, though other guides with the organization might be better).
  • Pharmacy Museum ($5 admission) – This is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s pretty cool. New Orleans is pretty much the home of the pharmacy, and GOD did they not know anything about medicine back in the day.
  • China Lights Festival ($18 admission) – This attraction, temporarily making its home in City Park, is an incredible installation of tons of Chinese lanterns in a variety of forms – people, birds, pavilions, you name it. Great for families as well – tons of kids were running around loving it.
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