Ask and you shall receive! I went to New Orleans for a work retreat a couple of weeks back and had the best time. We had a great itinerary, thanks to both my boss and a few locals who made suggestions, so I thought I’d share the highlights from our four days there.
NOLA Restaurant – This is Emeril Lagasse’s (remember him? bam!) restaurant in the French Quarter. I was pretty young during Emeril’s heyday on TV, but I do recall my dad using a lot of his Cajun spices, so he must be some kind of New Orleans food expert, right? After eating here, I can confidently say YES to that. This was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The seafood was impeccable and the pasta was made fresh to melt right in your dang mouth. (I should review food more often, right?) Get the mac n’ cheese. Just do it.
Butcher – From their website: “It’s a butcher shop, a sandwich counter, and a wine bar.” All of those things are true, and they’re all delicious. Everything from the sides to the cocktails to the meat-focused sandwiches were excellent. Honestly one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had and I want to go back right now.
St. James Cheese Company – If you visit a city and don’t go to a cheese shop, did you even go there? We stopped here on our way to lunch (what else do you do before eat besides eat?) and asked the nice guy behind the counter for a round of mimosas and to surprise us with some cheese and meats. They did a great job choosing — everything was delicious. It’s also real cute in there and has great light for Instagrams. The important things.
Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar & Lounge – One of the things I really hoped we had a chance to do was go to the carousel bar in the French Quarter. It totally lived up to my expectations of being equal parts adorable vintage aesthetic and fancy-pants crowd. I ordered something outrageous with milk in it — yes, a milk cocktail. Worth it. Yes, by the way, the carousel totally (slowly) spins.
Irish Coffee Milkshakes at Molly’s At The Market – If you’ve been walking around the French Quarter for a few hours and find yourself with low blood sugar, head over to Decatur Street for Irish coffee milkshakes. Ours came in little plastic cups and I probably could have had five of them. Which is great because they’re only like $2 a piece.
Lord Chaz’s Ghost and Vampire Tour – The absolute highlight of our trip was our ghost and vampire tour with The One, The Only…Lord Chaz. If you’ve ever been on a ghost tour in New Orleans, your guide was probably once mentored by Lord Chaz, who has been in the biz for nearly 30 years. The tour isn’t creepy or scary so much as it is highly entertaining. He’s extremely into his aesthetic of a living vampire (three-inch stiletto nails; long, stringy black hair; exaggerated platform boots) and is a true performer when it comes to telling the ancient tales of New Orleans oddities. Enjoy the ride and grab a drink with him after the tour for the full experience!
Bottom of the Cup – This is the place to get your palm, tarot, or tea leaves read — since 1929! If you’re able to request a reader, definitely ask for Otis Biggs. He did my reading (it was FANTASTIC) and he’s been with Bottom of the Cup since 1971. Such a great experience, I even bought a tarot deck of my own!
KREWE / Cubs the Poet – KREWE is an aesthetically gorgeous glasses shop on Royal Street — white walls, lots of plants, and, of course, beautiful frames. It’s definitely worth a stop in for an Instagram of the space and a selfie with some of their cute sunnies. And, while you’re at KREWE, you may be lucky enough to meet one of the city’s greatest artists, Cubs the Poet. From my understanding, Cubs sets up outside of KREWE pretty regularly, but you may be able to find him elsewhere as well. You give him a topic and he will write you a poem, right there on his typewriter on the street. You may have seen a traveling typewriter poet before, but you’ve never had a poem from Cubs. His work is wonderful and I love that I have one of his poems written just for me.
St. Charles Street Car – This was suggested to us as a hangover activity, but I recommend it in general! Taking the street car through the Garden District was a great way to see the city outside of The Square. Next time I visit, I want to take a tour of Loyola University (which you get a peek of from the street car) and spend more time walking the streets in the Garden District.
So that’s it! That’s my mini New Orleans travel guide. Have you been before? What were the highlights of your trip?