I asked a Nola native for her suggestions to bring you this local’s guide to New Orleans, so you can wine, dine, and commute with the best of them.
December 2020. Thomas, West Virginia.
Bundled in bulky down jackets, Dylan and I embraced firmly. Then, he packed his last bag into the back of a Toyota Tacoma and drove into a winter storm advisory with his dad. It was the snow-streaked middle of the night, so I returned, groggy with sadness and sleepiness, to the warm yellow room.
My host’s sheepdog offered me emotional support. (There is something about sheepdogs. They just know when we need them.) I nestled into the warmth of Nico’s black and white fur and attempted to suspend all worries of icy mountain roads until morning.
Dylan was Florida bound, and luckily, made the long, 15-hour drive safely. It was the start of a round of Physician Assistant school rotations in Panama City and the start of our long-distance relationship. Fortunately, I was able to head south a few times, including visits for both of our birthdays.
We spent my January birthday basking in the sunshine and tropical plants of his mom’s new home, but for Dylan’s birthday, I had another thought. I’d been nurturing a seed of an idea for a while – a trip to loud, colorful New Orleans.
March 2021. New Orleans, Louisiana.
The last and only time I had been to Nola was as an undergrad for an architecture conference that happened to fall on New Year’s Eve. I remember an eerie haze over Bourbon Street, the lewd behavior of a kid on a balcony, “show me your titties” (did he even know what “titties” were at that age?!?), and long walks by myself. I’ve changed so much since that trip, as has the city, so I was curious to return.
So we went! We ate our weight in powdered sugar, washed it down with cocktails and coffee, walked for miles, and craned our necks looking at all the wonders of old balconies.
This guide is from Valencia, a Nola native and a close friend of Dylan’s family. While we didn’t cross off everything, we did hit quite a few targets, which I’ll share in more detail in subsequent posts.
Valencia has since purchased a beautiful home in the Garden District, so I’m looking forward to touring New Orleans with her in person someday. For now, I’m sharing her insights with you.
A Local’s Guide to New Orleans: Restaurants
Ruby Slipper Cafe (a great place for breakfast- only open till early afternoon) – several locations around the city
Café Beignet (good for breakfast, several locations around the city, Royal St. is my favorite) – 334 Royal St.
Commander’s Palace (25 cent martinis) – 1403 Washington Ave
Mother’s Restaurant – 401 Poydras St.
Dooky Chase Restaurant (Creole restaurant) – 2301 Orleans Ave
Acme Oyster House – 724 Iberville St.
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar (Acme is more popular but I like Felix’s) – 739 Iberville St.
Pascal’s Manale – 1838 Napoleon Ave
Café Maspero – 601 Decatur St.
Frankie and Johnny’s Restaurant – 321 Arabella St.
The Court of 2 Sisters (nice courtyard) – 613 Royal St.
A Local’s Guide to New Orleans: Coffee Houses
Rue de la Course – 1140 S. Carrollton Ave
Treme Coffeehouse – 1501 St. Philip St.
Café Du Monde (beignets) – original spot is the best 800 Decatur St.
*I would add Mojo Coffee House – it was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had this year!
A Local’s Guide to New Orleans: Bars/Music:
Pat O’Brien’s for adult beverages – 718 St. Peter St.
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (great for Jazz music) – 626 Frenchmen St.
Port of Call – 838 Esplanade Ave
The Carousel Bar and Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone – 214 Royal St.
Tipitina’s (late hour music) – 501 Napoleon Ave
Preservation Hall (traditional New Orleans jazz music) – 726 St. Peter St.
A Local’s Guide to New Orleans: Local Areas to Visit
City Park (very pretty area)
Audubon Park (right on the streetcar route)
Love walking along Magazine St. – lots of boutiques and restaurants/bars/coffee shops
Riverwalk – a nice area right off of the French Quarter
Streetcar ride along St Charles Ave – the Garden District is beautiful
Jackson Square in the French Quarter
St. Louis Cemetery Tour (book a tour group for safety reasons)
Calendar of Festivals in New Orleans