Most visitors to New Orleans gravitate towards the French Quarter and Canal Street and whilst there are of course some great places to check out around there, if you make the effort to venture just 5-10mins away by taxi or Street Car, you can get a NOLA experience the locals get to live everyday. Here are my New Orleans top tips.
New Orleans has plenty of shopping options to satisfy all tastes, whether you’re after your standard American brands from the malls or funky souvenirs from the abundant tourist shops in the French Quarter. However, if you’re after something a bit different, head down to Magazine Street where you’ll find a small but eclectic parade of boutique shops selling anything from hand made crafts to bohemian fashions and second hand records. If you’re looking for some unique gifts, I’d defiantly recommend popping into Miette. The owner also has the friendliest dog in town!
From Magazine Street, head towards downtown and grab a cold drink en-route at Fat Boy Pantry (with it’s graffitied truck out front, you can’t miss it) before continuing to the National WW2 Museum. In true American style, it’s big, bold and brash (you’d be forgiven for thinking that the conflict in Europe was won just by the Americans) but the two main exhibitions give an excellent walk through experience, immersing you in the journeys of soldiers as they, and the conflicts, made their way towards Berlin and Japan. The Nazi propaganda exhibition is also very thought provoking, especially if you’ve been to the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.
When it comes to classic Louisiana food, it doesn’t get much more authentic than a 6lb dish of boiled crawfish. Avoid the tourist traps downtown and head to Bevi Seafood on North Carrollton and Bienville for a great selection of seafood Po’boys, soft shell crab and the house specialty, spicy boiled crawfish. They key to good crawfish eating is not to be shy. Grab your crawfish, twist off the head and suck out the tasty juice. Then, using your thumb, slide the plump torso up out of the shell to finish it off. Repeat, repeat and repeat until all that’s left is a bowl of empty shells and a pile of well juice stained kitchen roll. If you can’t quite bring yourself to get your hands this dirty, the shrimp and fried green tomato po’boy will satisfy most hunger pangs.
Probably what New Orleans is most famous for – its nightlife. Whether it’s jazz, blues, swing, ragtime or zydeco, there’s a place for you. The best way to experience a night in town is to just wander and let your ears lead you but to start you off, here are a few suggestions… Start the night with a cocktail and a portion of the avo hummus on the rooftop bar of the Catahoula Hotel on Union Street. It’s super chill and a great place to take in the last of the suns rays before the city gives way to its wild hours of darkness. From here, head down to RFs on Dauphine Street for some chill jazz and great martinis and then onto the cozy Bombay Club for a delicious New Orleans BBQ shrimp with creole meunière garlic sauce on ciabatta.
This takes you nicely into the chaos that is Bourbon Street. Now, some turn their noses up at Bourbon these days as it has turned into a tacky, classless tourist trap (much like it’s history, eh critics?) however there are still a few gems to be found, in particular Fritzel’s European Jazz pub. There are few, if any, places on Bourbon where people actually sit and listen intently to the music. This is one of them. You may have to queue to get a seat, but you won’t be disappointed.
When you’ve had a lively night in the French quarter, the thought of heading back there for breakfast probably won’t be too appealing. Fear not. Hop in a cab to midtown and grab a seat outside at Biscuits and Buns on Bank. Owned and run by Yvonne and Gary since 2013, it’s fast becoming a firm favourite of the locals who live in its chilled out neighborhood – so don’t be surprised if there’s a queue, particular at weekends. Once you’ve got a seat, I recommend the fried chicken and waffles – sounds insane and tastes insane!