I have been blessed with several opportunities to return to the city in recent years…
First for the Alumnae Global Services Initiatives trip with Alpha Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity.
Then I was able to meet the Mister, in the city for a short weekend get away, as he ventured to NOLA for a fraternity brothers wedding, and I flew in to meet him after to spend sometime in the city….
Then, I went back to New Orleans to volunteer for the Katrina10 initiative. I organized a group of Gap Inc Volunteers to contribute time and talents at a local charter school. It was wonderful to give back to a city that holds a piece of my heart surrounded by co-workers. (more on that in another post)
And then of course for our annual Mardi Gras Pilgrimage, as I ride on Krewe of Iris– more on that in another post..
Why do I mention all of the above? Well, I often get asked my “must do” list for the city by family and friends. I am going to break this down into multiple posts.. I am going to start in the French Quarter with some of my favorite locations.. becuase there is more to the Quarter than daiquiri’s at Fat Tuesday’s, having a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s (I prefer the Bloody Mary above) or a hand grenade at Tropical Isle. Those these are all quintessential tourist stops.
So what are my favorites….
If you follow my on Intsagram, some of these will not be a surprise as I post about then nearly every trip. #SimplySouthernGirlTakesNOLA
1. Cafe Pantalba– ok this one is special for a few reasons. History. Location. Food. Sentimental.
History- The building was designed by the Baroness Pontalba in the 1800s. They were originally built as row houses, & later turned into luxury apartments. the Pontalba Buildings
are known as the oldest apartment buildings in the United States. (fun
fact the current Mayor and his family live above the restaurant) Cafe
Pontalba pays homage to both the history of the buildings and to the food NOLA is known for.
Location- historic Jackson Square, 546 St. Peter. Grab a seat, and enjoy the large open windows/doors. I could people watch for hours from this location. You can see the locals, tourists, and artists in the square and if you are lucky will enjoy some local music.
Food- They specialize in Creole dishes like Shrimp Creole, crawfish etouffee, and Creole Red Beans and Rice. The restaurant also has great salads, pasta and PoBoys. I usually find myself having etouffee or jambalaya.
Sentimental- My mom worked at the restaurant in the 70’s (before I was in the picture) Back then the only worked for tips, and it was well worth it according to her.
2. Jackson Square/St. Louis Cathedral– night or day this is one of the most picturesque places in the quarter. Technically , Jackson Square in a historic park. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in
1960. In 2012 the American Planning Association designated Jackson
Square as one of America’s Great Public Spaces. But to me it is more than a park, it where tourists, locals and artists come together to showcase some of the things that set New Orleans apart. On any given day you can enjoy great food, amazing art, the sounds of local musicians all while taking in a historical landmark.During daylight savings time it’s open from 8am to 7pm. During winter, it’s open from 8am to 6pm.
St. Louis Cathedral – The history of the Cathedral dates back to the 1720’s, you can learn more about it here. It is truly beautiful, if you have the time take the self guided tour for a minimum donation of $1, or if you can plan ahead attend mass!
3. Johnny PoBoys– If you ask anyone from New Orleans everyone will tell you their “favorite” or the “best” PoBoy spot.. And while yes some are better than others, most preferences are based on a memory or an experience. For me Johnnys PoBoys is my go to, and I visit EVERY time I am in the city. The reason why is simple, my first trip back to Nola as an “adult” was in January of ’00 and I called my dad and asked for a list of places to go (he might not remember that conversation, but I still have the scrap of paper I scribbled down notes on being sure to take in every detail) I was excited to be sharing my hometown with sorority sisters and friends as we ventured back for the FSU National Championship game. Not only do I always visit Johnnys, I always order the same thing. A Dixie Beer, Blacked Chicken PoBoy and Zapps BBQ Chips. Johnnys is located at 511 St Louis St. They only take cash, and there is often a line to the end of the street but it is well worth it. You can learn more about Johnnys by visiting their website. I gasp to share another PoBoy spot, but I would be remiss, if I didn’t share Mothers PoBoys. I have only been once. It is located in the Warehouse District, 401 Poydras. but it is a favorite for tourists…
4. Frechmans Art Market– located at 619 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116. The market is open Thursday – Saturday 7pm-1am. Here is the link to the page, be sure to check hours before you make the trip. It is the only nighttime art market in Nola. It has local artists, musicians, and jewelry and some of my other favorites…..
5. Café Du Monde: For beignets and coffee. Yes this is a quintessential Nola stop, but well worth it, and since it is open 24/7 (only closes for Christmas and major Hurricanes) you have no excuse not to visit. 813 Decatur St. right by Jackson Square. Grab a table and wait for service. Order up beingets (Beignets are square French -style
doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar.) and a coffee. Note the coffee is dark roasted with chicory and is served Black or Au Lait. Au Lait means that it is mixed
half and half with hot milk. Truly one must visit and experience- after all the Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market… so it must be good if it is still open today!!
6. Central Grocery: Famous Muffuletta sandwiches, 923 Decatur St.
7. Port of Call: STRONG drinks. Great burgers, on the outskirts of the French Quarter, 838 Esplanade Ave (can be a bit dicey of a neighborhood)
8. WW II Museum– it is on 945 Magazine Street. You can buy tickets online or at the museum. It is an incredible museum. Of course I am bias b/c my dad installed the lights, sound, videos, interactive displays etc. But all bias aside check it out- you won’t regret it.
9. Emeril’s New Orleans: If you want to do an Emeril’s restaurant, Warehouse District, 800 Tchoupitoulas St. (pronounced: Chop-i-too-lus)
10. Deanie’s seafood: 841 Iberville St check out the menu here
11. Antoine’s 713 St. Louis Street. They have a great Oyster Rockefeller and an amazing Sunday Brunch
12. Drago’s they have great charboiled oysters. Check out there menu here
More of my New Orleans Favorites in the next post.. Until then check out #SimplySouthernGirlTakesNOLA on Instagram for more photos.
I will warn you you might end up hungry and/or planning your next trip if you check it out