Foodie's guide to New Orleans
Discover the Big Easy through its recipes, cocktails and restaurants.
Walk down the streets of New Orleans on any given day and you'll seriously be transported not only to a different time in history (one where we strolled on streets), but a completely different culinary world than what you're used to (if you don't live in the South).
The sweet, sugary smells that will lure you into praline-making shops, and the satisfying smell of chicken being fried to a crisp. The happy sounds of musicians playing to their hearts' content on Frenchmen Street will put a smile on your face and make you want to dance. And let's not forget about the sights and colorful art all around you. In short, New Orleans will delight all your senses and leave you wanting more.
Where to stay
It's funny how New York is the city that never sleeps when New Orleans is actually always awake as well. So deciding on where to stay depends on how much sleep you want to get at night. Although some prominent hotels are smack on Bourbon Street, I'd suggest walking a few extra blocks and finding a hotel in the surrounding area, assuring you that your sleep won't be disturbed.
The Dauphine Orleans, a boutique French Quarter hotel located on Dauphine Street, is a great option. Not only is it right across from one of our favorite restaurants, Bayona, but the rates are reasonable and the service is outstanding. Extra amenity we appreciated: the free water bottles. In New Orleans you'll do lots of walking in warm weather, so stay hydrated!
What to see
Packed with plenty of adventures to go on, New Orleans is a city that will leave you wanting more. You'll discover new culinary trends, indulge in delicious recipes, learn about historical events and even ride on a steamboat like they used to do back in the day.
The National WWII Museum holds an impressive collection of wartime memorabilia, retelling the events in an approachable way. Want to learn more about the state you're in? The Louisiana State Museum is a great place to dive into the world of all things New Orleans. And for those in love with all things vintage, a stop by the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is a must. It's located inside the first licensed apothecary shop and holds cures to anything that might ail you.
Love learning about cocktails? New Orleans is the place to be! Take a cocktail tour with Elizabeth Pearce of Drink and Learn and you won't be disappointed (you also won't be sober). She'll guide you around the locations that made the drinks popular and will astound you with her knowledge of rum, rebellion, whiskey and prohibition.
Where to eat and drink
Fair warning: You'll never go hungry in New Orleans! A city filled to the brim with restaurants, local cafeterias, bars and bakeries, there is bound to be something you'll fall in love with on your trip.
The Court of Two Sisters, a superb spot for brunch, is a great way to start your day in the Big Easy. The daily jazz brunch is packed with Southern staples as well as New Orleans' traditional dishes, including turtle soup, gumbo, corn salad and even king cake.
If you're in the mood for just a quick pick-me-up before you start your day, nothing says energy like café au lait and beignets from Café Du Monde. The chicory coffee is unlike any other you've tasted. Slightly bitter but the perfect pairing to piping hot and fluffy beignets that are covered in powdered sugar. Word from the wise: Don't wear black to Café Du Monde.
On our trip we tweeted Chef Emeril Lagasse, and he recommended Dooky Chase's Restaurant for the best fried chicken in NOLA. For about $17 a person, the lunch buffet is the way to go. You'll try a little bit of each of Mrs. Chase's specialties, including as much fried chicken as you'd like. Want to meet the legend herself? Ask if she's cooking in the kitchen that day — she normally is and loves chatting it up with patrons!
Criollo Restaurant in the Hotel Monteleone is one of the best spots to get a Sazerac, the quintessential drink of New Orleans. Just be prepared — it's not a drink for the weak. Oh, and the turtle soup was one of the best we had on our trip.
Borgne, a collaboration between chefs Brian Landry and John Besh, is the place to go for amazing local seafood prepared in exciting ways. Celebrating coastal Louisiana ingredients by crafting them into creative menu items, Borgne is sure to impress. Not too hungry? Order a variety of the starters. They're just as amazing as any of the entrées.