Last month we headed to New Orleans for the first time to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. It’s no secret that the food scene in New Orleans is amazing, and thanks to a lot of you for sending me so many great recommendations! Even the thunderstorms and insane crowds because of the Sugar Bowl did little to dampen our spirits. New Orleans is a great place to visit because it’s such a walkable city, there is such rich history and culture, food and drink are delicious and unique, and the prices were such a welcome change from NYC and SF.
Here are some of the highlights from the trip (let me warn you, this is mostly food. Ok fine it’s almost all food):
Parkway Tavern Bakery: best poor boys in town! We waited around 40 minutes to place our order and another 15 minutes for the food. We visited on the day of the Sugar Bowl so it was packed to the max with people grubbing before the big game. M and I shared a regular sized fried shrimp po boy with a side of sweet potato fries (one order of fries was enough for 5 people to share). TBH the mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles reminded me of a McDonald’s hamburger, but the fried shrimp was really crunchy and fresh. We didn’t see the hot sauce bottle until AFTER we ate the sandwich, so that could have added a kick.
Cochon: this was a must-visit restaurant by celebrity chef Donald Link, who has been cooking in Lousiana since he was 15! We tried a bunch of stuff to share, including the wood fired oysters (must get), fried alligator with chili mayonnaise (tastes like fried chicken but tougher), blue crab fried rice (must get), pork cheeks, Louisiana cochon, and rabbit and dumplings. Everything was perfectly executed and well presented, and they gave us complimentary birthday pineapple upside down cake which was to die for. Seriously go here, and make reservations a few weeks in advance.
Delachaise: dressed up dive bar with pretty good bar food. We came for drinks and snacks before dinner and I had some of my friend’s strip steak bruschetta and goose fat fries with peanut sauce and garlic aioli. The fries were so good. Probably because of all the goose fat but still…went really well with our beers and cocktails. I would go here for a drink if you’re in the area (Garden District) but nothing to go out of your way for.
Cafe Amelie: This is one of my favorite meals of the entire trip, and it is a welcome little quiet haven located on a side street in the rowdy French Quarter. Everything about this restaurant was adorable, from the beautiful courtyard out front with the string lights to the homey intimate feel inside. The food was simple, not oversauced or heavily fried, but just really well done. We had a beet and goat cheese salad, the gumbo, and the shrimp and grits. Best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had in my life. Make reservations for this spot in advance because it fills up quickly!
Luke: Brunch is delicious here with huge portions and rich food. Loved the vanilla brown butter waffles, the brussels sprouts, and the baked oysters appetizer. We also tried the croque madam and the shrimp and grits which were both had a really thick creamy sauce that was too rich for me. Ended the meal with their famous bread pudding which is heavy but pretty damn good.
Acme: Come here for the oyster platters, fresh and breaded/fried! The seafood etouffee is also delicious. The line usually winds down the block so get here on the earlier side, like 11:30 AM, so that you don’t have to wait too long.
Superior Seafood: This place was a more standard seafood restaurant that weirdly was out of everything when we visited (blame the Sugar Bowl). They ran out of 6 or 7 dishes and even ran out of salad. Despite that, this place has really delicious frozen alcoholic beverages, like a frozen pomegranate mojito and frozen French 75. We ordered an assortment of oysters (humongous ones. I’ve never seen such large oysters), blackened catfish with etouffee, and shrimp kebabs. IMO the catfish was the best dish with a creamy delicious corn sauce.
Cafe du Monde: You have to come here for the classic beignets! We went to the original location by the water. Yes there can be a long line to sit but if you go during off-peak hours you can walk right in. There’s also a counter on the far right of the restaurant where you can go and order take out without waiting in line. This place is open 24 hours a day so when you have late night food cravings after an evening of drinks…you know where to go.
Commander’s Palace: This is a real gem for lunch because of its 25 cent martinis! Limit 3 per customer. We came for a birthday so they have these cute balloons that they place on your table so everyone knows it’s your special day. I tried the soup trio with roasted corn chowder, turtle soup, and gumbo and had a salad for lunch (I finally caved and needed to order something NOT deep fried/breaded/creamy).
Domenica Restaurant inside the Roosevelt Hotel: If you ever get tired of Cajun food, check out Domenica Restaurant for some really good Italian. We shared the Calabrese pizza and the honey and sea salt burrata. Since this is in the same hotel as the Sazerac bar, you can also order drinks from the bar!
Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone: There is an actual carousel in the bar! The carousel spins around slowly so you don’t feel nauseated but it’s pretty cool to sit at an actual carousel while sipping your artisan handcrafted cocktails. The hotel lobby is also gorgeous.
The Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel: THE bar where the original sazerac was invented. If you like Sazeracs you have to come here right? My personal favorite from this bar was the Ramos Gin Fizz, which contains gin, lemon juice, fluffy beaten egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water, and soda water. It tastes like a dreamy dessert and I liked it so much I came here twice.
Pat O Brien’s: We stopped by here to grab a drink before heading to Preservation Hall next door for a jazz concert. This is a fun divey bar with humongous and cheap hurricanes if you’re into that!
THINGS TO DO
Jazz, jazz, and more jazz! I wish I had spent every night on Frenchmen Street wandering in and out of the jazz bars. I’m not even a huge jazz fan but I loved the energy and creativity brimming in those jam sessions. We also caught a concert at Preservation Hall, one of the oldest jazz performance halls in the city. It’s more like a performance room with wooden bench seating. Nothing glamorous but it’s intimate, the musicians are engaging, and the music is fantastic.
Shopping: I didn’t expect to do much shopping but there was one street, Magazine Street, which had many cute boutiques in the Garden District. I remember one clothing and furniture boutique called Peony Nola which reminded me of a girly Anthropologie store. Next door to that was another really cute store with women’s clothing, Sugarfina gummies, and lots of delicate gold and silver jewelry that was all 70% off. If you’re in the Garden District and are in the mood to browse, check out some of the shops on this street!
We were also interested in doing a plantation tour and a swamp tour, but the weather was not cooperating that week. It would be great to come back when it’s not raining to do a few more outdoor sightseeing.
Writing this blogpost made me incredibly hungry but also nostalgic for Nola. I hope I can go back and visit again soon!