I was lucky enough to ring in my 29th year of life in the Big Easy. This was my second time going to New Orleans, but the first time was such a whirldwind that I barely left Bourbon St (do not recommend doing this). This time I got to enjoy some of the city’s best food and sights. I even got my tarot cards read for the first time ever! Read on for my favorite food/sight picks.
THINGS TO EAT AND DRINK:
Like my last travel post about Seattle, I’m going to roughly rank these in my order from fave to less fave. But again, the food, and especially the seafood in New Orleans is so finger lickin’ good you really can’t go wrong.
Peche: This was sort of sleeper hit for me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I had heard they had some of the best raw oysters in the city and were a James Beard winner, but I just wasn’t that committed to going here. So so glad we did though. The ambiance is so warm and inviting, but not uptight. Every. single. bite I put in my mouth was perfection. Like so perfect I didn’t even take a picture of anything, doh. But if you go please get a bottle of rosé, a dozen raw oysters, fried bread (pretzel-y, sweet, dreamy), the baked drum w ginger coconut broth, cauliflower rice, and the caramel cake. You may explode from how full you are but it will be worth it!!
Shaya: OK, admittedly this place is about as far from cajun/creole food as you can get—It’s Isreali and it’s delicious. One of my best dining experiences ever was at Zahav in Philadelphia and all it took was one mention online comparing Shaya to Zahav and I had to go. Again, the ambiance is charming and in a quaint/cool part of the garden district. Service is kind and quick and each dish explodes with flavor. The biggest plus? The fluffy, perfect pita bread is never-ending. Get as many salatim and hummus as you can to share with your table and the chocolate babka. Also the cool lavender drink–the Orchid moon! Also, definitely make a reservation as far ahead as possible.
Commander’s Palace: Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans mainstay. It has that old-school, white table cloth feel. To get a feel of what I mean, the lady in front of us to be seated was trying to coat check her massive fur coat *eye roll*. The somewhat-stuffy-nature aside, Commander’s has delicious seafood and the ambiance transports you back in time. It’s also a great place to celebrate. I spent my bday dinner here and they had balloons on the table, a celebration chef’s hat and a candle in my dessert. All in all a really fun, memorable experience, and the service was some of the best I’ve had in my life. Unfortunately, we went for dinner, but during lunch they have 25 cent martinis! YES 25 CENTS.
Turkey and the Wolf: Bon Appetit named Turkey and the Wolf its best new restaurant of 2017, so obviously it has quite a bit of hype surrounding it. The line was down to the street when we arrived, but its effiecient and moves surprising fast. Honestly, the Bon Appetit article describes this place better than I can, but that collard green sandwich is really that good.
Drago’s/Acme for Chargrilled Oysters: There’s an ongoing debate (even within my family) over which place has the better chargrilled oysters. I’m team Drago’s for taste. There are two locations and we went to the way more touristy one by the river in the Hilton hotel. Acme also has multiple locations, and we went to the one on Iberville. If you are averse to lines and like a salty, cheesy chargrilled oyster, do Drago’s. If you want better atmosphere and don’t mind waiting in a line, do Acme.
Willa Jean: Bumping breakfast spot. We just got some pastry and hot drinks to-go. If you want the most decadent drink of your life get the peanut butter hot chocolate. For something a little lighter try an Iced Milk Money latte. You can’t go wrong with their breads and pastry.
Maypop: Located right next to Willa Jean, I would describe Maypop as sort of asian-creole inspired fusion. It’s mindblowingly inventive and although some of the things did not blow me away taste-wise, I was blown away by the creative use of ingredients and cool atmosphere.
Alto Rooftop Bar at the Ace Hotel: Such a relaxing spot to watch the sunset. The pool area is gorgeous and the bar area is heated so you can even go here in the winter.
Arnaud’s French 75: Come here for a fancy cocktail, in another old-school environment. I recommend the French 75 or a hot toddy.
District Donuts: Honestly, these donuts were a little overwhelming for me–dense, huge, powerful flavors. But I appreciate the variety of flavors, the multiple locations, and creativity behind each donut.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern: If you are into po’ boys come here. Real talk, I’m not that into po’ boys so I won’t elaborate too much but they put shit tons of fried shrimp on their sandwiches, I’ll tell ya that.
Bonus eats: Also it goes without saying, but duh, also get beignets! I mean does this even need explanation? Try them from a few different places! Compare! They’re all good, I swear. These particular ones were from Cafe Beignet.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO:
Glass Magick: I had my very first tarot carding here with Miss Patty. It’s in the French Quarter and you should make a reservation beforehand. They also do bone readings, which I definitely want to do one day. I didn’t really know what to expect but Dawn at the front, and Miss Patty had such kind energies that I was put at ease. Also sort of creepy fun fact? She said I was represented by the Queen of Cups and then the very next day, my cup at Alto said Queen of Cups! I believe in signs, and I definitely took that as one.
Besthoff Sculpture Garden: Located in City Park and very close to the New Orleans Museum of Art. It has some sick sculptures and is worth walking around.
Peaches Records (Magazine Street Location): If you eat at Shaya, this place is right across the street and super fun. There are tons of records and quirky gifts, like little pins and coffee mugs. They even have band t-shirts. Also cool historical fact, it was the spot of one of the sit-ins and so the old diner is still set up inside as respect to that time period.
Buckner Mansion: OK, this one is purely for my American Horror Story Coven Fans, but do a drive-by look at this mansion because it was the filming location of Miss Robichaux’s Academy!
Frenchman Street: Bourbon’s street’s eclectic, cooler brother. Stop in the witchy crystal shops and pop in to a bar for live jazz.
[if at xmas time] Roosevelt Hotel: The light display inside the hotel is one of the most festive I’ve ever seen and even if it’s not Christmastime, grab a gin fizz from the Sazerac bar–so well done.
THINGS I HAVE TO DO NEXT TIME:
Friday Lunch at Galatoire’s: Apparently sitting downstairs for Friday lunch is the the thing to do in the French Quarter. Honestly, I mainly want to go to Galatoire’s because it’s Stassi from Vanderpump Rules favorite place. Also, she was in NOLA the same time as me and I tragically never saw her. Maybe, next time.
Ghost Tour: I just love some spooky, weird sh*t. And our uber driver told us some true ghost stories, that got me so excited for doing an actual tour next time I’m on town.