The Big Easy.
October 10, 2010 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to New Orleans for a long weekend in November. I know I can search Yelp and the rest of the internet for recommendations (I've found plenty) but I want to know from you, MeFites...

Where is YOUR favorite place to go in New Orleans?

It can be a restaurant, bar, shop, neighborhood, or just a tiny secret street that you think is special. Anything. Just tell me what your favorite place is and why.
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (14 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I highly recommend Luke for a burger, fries (fried in duck fat!) and an out of the ordinary cocktail. So, so good!
posted by bizzyb at 12:13 PM on October 10, 2010

If I were going to New Orleans, I'd want to visit ColdChef.

And I bet he'd know the best places to eat, too.
posted by misha at 12:29 PM on October 10, 2010

Pork-based meals: Cochon
Trendy cocktails in a not-too pretentious bar: Bar Tonique
Trendy cocktails in a very pretentious bar: Cure
Old-school cocktails in an old venue: Carousel Bar at Monteleone
Old-school cocktails in an old but newly renovated venue: Roosevelt Hotel
Museum: WWII Museum
Burritos: Juan's Flying Burrito
Street to hang out on on a Friday or Saturday night: Frenchmen Street
Good beer on tap: the Avenue Pub
Po-Boy: Parasol's Roast Beef (though I heard they've just been bought. Whatever you do, please avoid Mother's. So overrated), or Domilise's
Old-school Ice cream/Gelato: Brocato's
New school gelato: La Divinia
Park: Audubon Park
Cheap thrill: Tie between the St Charles Streetcar ($1.25) or the Algiers Ferry (free)
Brass band: Tie between Rebirth Brass Band anywhere, Soul Rebels at Le Bon Temps Roule, and the Treme Brass Band at Candlelight Lounge
Wine: Bacchanal, but only if you sit outside
Brunch: Elizabeth's or Satsuma Cafe
Scary dive that isn't that scary: Ms. Mae's
Scary dive that is actually kinda weird but worth it: Snake and Jake's
Bar that everyone tells you to go that's actually worth going to: Mimi's in the Marigny
Burgers: Yo Mama's (I've steered clear of Port of Call after a bouncer at a local club told me about a truly gross event there)
Beignets: Grab some in a bag from the Cafe Beignet on Royal and walk over to the Riverwalk or Jackson Square to eat some
Music venue that you must go to at least once: Tipitina's
Music venue to go to once before you realize there are better jazz clubs: Preservation Hall
Fun shop in the Quarter: Kitchen Witch (cookbook store)
Best bar on Decatur Street: Molly's in the Market
Thing you must purchase at least once in New Orleans: a Hubig's Pie
posted by mostly vowels at 12:50 PM on October 10, 2010 [24 favorites]

If you're interested in books, check out Arcadian Books on Orleans St., which stands out among the several great used bookshops in the Quarter for being fantastically tiny and packed to the rafters with fun stuff. And don't forget to visit my workplace, The Historic New Orleans Collection! Take a tour of a beautiful French Quarter home and courtyards or explore four centuries of South Louisiana history in our museum. Feel free to memail me if you have more questions about restaurants or anything.
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:32 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

The one thing you must go see are the cemeteries. My favorite cemetery is Saint Roch's.
posted by bukvich at 2:05 PM on October 10, 2010

The one thing you must go see are the cemeteries. My favorite cemetery is Saint Roch's.

Oh goodness, how could I forget this? I'm particularly fond of Old Metairie cemetery, especially Josie Arlington's original tomb and the pyramid tomb.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:06 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

My perfect day in New Orleans looks like this:

1. Walk from my brother's apartment Uptown to Cafe Rue de la Course.

2. Get on the St. Charles streetcar and head towards the quarter (I'm only in New Orleans a couple times of year, I have to maximize my time in the French Quarter).

3. Stroll around, window shop, go into galleries and weird looking buildings. Last time I was there I discovered this apothecary museum.

4. A visit to Faulkner House.

5. Napoleon House for lunch. Hopefully someone wants to share and I'll get a muffuletta.

6. From here it depends who I'm here to see. If I'm hanging out with my dad, we will either go somewhere to drink wine or geek out about history. If I'm with my brothers, the drinking will probably start here. In that case, Napoleon House serves a hell of a Pimm's Cup.

If my perfect day is a Sunday, it will end with a visit to the back yard at Bacchanal. If it's a Thursday, I'd rather be at Vaughan's.
posted by Sara C. at 3:29 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dinner at upperline.
posted by sanko at 3:50 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wander around the French Quarter aimlessly for an afternoon/night/early morning, and Frenchmen St on a weekend evening. The seafood is safe and you should eat it. The insect museum is actually pretty awesome, as is the WWII museum, but if you're only going to be in town a few days, skip them. Go see cheap music: there's always a brass band somewhere, and even the less well-known ones are usually pretty good. See the New Orleans Bingo Show if you can, and Mardi Gras Indians if at all possible (not likely in November). Ride the St Charles streetcar.

I'm personally fondest of: Bacchanal (wine bar/restaurant with live music most weeknights and a constantly changing but always good menu), the Banksy at North Rampart and Kerlerec, the Carousel Bar (old-school New Orleans cocktails and usually classy), Tonique (interesting cocktails in a laid-back, not-too obnoxious setting), almost all of the venues that advertise as both laundromats and bars (New Orleans has the world's best dive bars and I spend too much time in them), Parkway Tavern (best roast-beef po-boy you'll ever have), the Country Club (mostly-gay bar/restaurant with clothing-optional swimming, hence YMMV), Willie Mae's (fried chicken like out of someone's mama's kitchen), and Gautreau's (fine dining hidden away without a sign uptown).

Also, it might sound kind of dumb, but if you're in town for a Saints game, try to spend it in a neighborhood bar. It's an experience, and my out-of-town friends absolutely loved it. Just don't cheer for the other guys.

Oh, and people go nuts over the cemeteries. Go take a look.
posted by honeydew at 3:51 PM on October 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

1. Absolutely Green Goddess. They are amazing. We ate there three times the last time we were in town in September.

2. Go to Lower Decatur and stop by Aunt Tiki's. It is a great dive bar and then over to Angeli for the Virtuous Angel pizza.

3. Catch Fluer de Tease Burlesque at One Eyed Jacks on Toulouse Street.

4. Central Grocery for a muffuletta. God, I miss being a carnivore sometimes.

5. St. Louis No.1 (just over Rampart at St. Peter's St) and Lafayette (Garden District) Cemeteries.

6. Commander's Palace for 25 cent martini lunches on weekdays.

7. Wander Magazine Street

No matter what you do, it is really hard not to have a great time in NOLA.
posted by extraheavymarcellus at 4:46 PM on October 10, 2010

I went to New Orleans this past spring and while nearly every restaurant and bar and shop etc I went to was great, by far the coolest thing I went to was the Hi Ho Lounge on their weekly bluegrass jam night. Unbelievable. Heres a link that talks about it (not written by me):

Seriously, this was something I will never forget. All night, people just walked in, sat down, and started jamming with every kind of instrument you could think of. And they were all GOOD at it too. As far as I'm concerned, this was the highlight of my entire trip. If your long weekend includes a Monday night, you really need to go there! (Of course... if you dont like bluegrass, this may not be your thing. But come on, who doesnt like bluegrass! Its the best!)
posted by silverstatue at 9:24 AM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Holy shit, everyone's gotten here before me!

You should go *everywhere* on mostly vowel's list, especially places that feature music. If you don't spend at least one night here dancing and letting it all hang out, well then you've missed the point.

And I second that you watch a Saints game with the general public, preferably at a bar.
I'm partial to Finn McCool's.

Don't get stuck in the quarter. It's fun and wacky and what's nola's known for, but there's other sections of the city worth seeing too! (don't go to metairie though.)

Check out the "Blog of New Orleans" near the time you're going to come, it gets updated regularly with events and issues. Check out Magazine St., Oak St. (above Carrollton), and Frenchman.

Il Posto is a little italian cafe, that admittedly is a little bougie. But it's cute and quiet, the staff is super awesome, and the food is tasty. If you need a break from the quarter and sight seeing and want a quiet afternoon, take the St. Charles streetcar up to Napoleon and then walk to Posto.

Also check out Prytania St.! Creole Creamery and the Prytania Theatre are near each other and you've gotta try the Strawberry-jalapeƱo-cheesecake ice cream flavor.

Rock n Bowl is exactly what it sounds like plus a bar. I highly recommend going on Zydeco Night and dancing up a storm; the people who dance that night are extremely friendly and will take you for a spin if you let them.

Another good spot for music and dancing is the Spotted Cat on Frenchman. (as well as people watching) I used to go see the Panorama Jazz Band play there regularly.

Cafe Reconcile has good home-style meals and it supports a great cause. I've heard their redbeans are excellent.

Speaking of good causes, think about volunteering while you're here. It's an easy way to meet people and learn about the city. There's a huge variety of things you can do.

Honestly, what you need to do is find a place to people watch. Somewhere sorta busy, somewhere you can get a drink. And then stay there. Stay there for at least four hours. Talk to the patrons around you, make friends with the bartender, chat with people walking down the street. The best and most memorable nights I have are from doing this. I spent about six hours sitting outside the R bar one night, and I'll never forget the cast of characters that happened across and stories I heard.

If you want further recommendations or information, feel free to contact me. :)
posted by elleyebeebeewhy at 11:58 AM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Do you like books???
B/c if so, my favorite NOLA book-places are:

Beckham's Book Shop (228 Decatur) - really well-organized used bookstore run by a couple of older men who wear suspenders and have puffy white beards. Once my boyfriend and I were there as it was closing and the proprietors gave us their copy of the NY Times, because they were done with it. Also has a bookstore cat.

Dauphine Street Books (410 Dauphine) - amazingly cluttered used bookstore where some walls are made of books and there are knee-high piles of books on the ground next to all the bookshelves, but the owner nonetheless knows where everything is. This one has a bookstore cat as well.

Iron Rail (511 Marigny) - not a used bookstore, but a self-described "radical library, bookstore, reading room and record rack." Don't know your interests/leanings, but it's a nice place with friendly people, and will definitely let you see a different part of the New Orleans scene.

Beyond that, seconding silverstatue's recommendation of Monday Beans & Bluegrass at the Hi-Ho Lounge on St. Claude, and adding Mona's Cafe on Frenchmen St., which has really excellent Middle Eastern food for cheap (although it closes for the evening before the music/bar scene on Frenchmen really gets going).
posted by josyphine at 5:25 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm trying to remember what was on my list of 10 essential places back when I lived in New Orleans that hasn't been mentioned already. The one that's come to mind first is a little restaurant called Bennachin on Royal St. in the Quarter. Bennachin was started by some people from Gambia and Cameroon, and they make West African food. The things these people can do with wilted spinach and plantains are completely ridiculous and bring a tear to my eye. A great place for vegetarians too.
posted by geneva uswazi at 10:16 AM on October 22, 2010

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