Looking for awesome restaurants,bars and fun things to do in New Orleans
April 5, 2013 1:37 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are going to New Orleans for Jazz Fest later this month. Although we'll spend a fair amount of time at the festival, we'd like to spend some time exploring NOLA itself. Looking for awesome restaurants, bars and fun things to do in New Orleans

First on the agenda is food. We already have plans to visit Commander's Palace, Central Grocery, Cafe DuMonde, and Brannan's. But for the rest of our meals, we're looking for delicious, authentic food that any local would be proud of. Totally down w/ "hole in the wall" places and dives. Cajun, Creole, Soul Food, BBQ, seafood, it's all good.

Definitely on the lookout for quality, non-touristy bars and hangout spots. Any place that I could only find in New Orleans and nowhere else.

Also just looking for cool things to do in general. We plan on doing a walk around the Garden District, checking out some jazz at Preservation Hall and touring some of the historic graveyards. What are some other cool things to check out? We're really into taking long walks, and we'll probably want to piece together a walking tour of sorts. Any areas (other than the French Quarter and Frenchmen St.) we should include?

Finally, any advice for Jazz Fest or visiting New Orleans in general will be welcome. For example, we'd like to get around by foot and public transportation. Is this a bad idea? (we've got shuttle tickets to get to/from the festival) We're staying in the French Quarter, dunno if it makes a difference.
posted by Afroblanco to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Couple of random ones:

* Cochon Butcher! It's not a dive and it's hardly unknown - you'll wait in line - but it was just great and it's an easy walk from the quarter. I'm sure Cochon is good too but we were on a budget.

* A lot of people go to Acme for oysters and they're great there. But across the street is Felix's - it's more dumpy but the oysters are just as good, the po' boys are good, and if you go late at night, you're more likely to come out with a crazy story!

* Don't forget to get some crawfish, they're in season and they're delicious.

I don't think you'll run out of things to do on foot/streetcar - not on your first visit or your hundredth! Enjoy!
posted by ftm at 1:43 PM on April 5, 2013

Garden and Gun usually has some interesting recommendations.
We've Got Soul is a pop-up and it's really, really good.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:44 PM on April 5, 2013

Seconding going to Felix's instead of Acme. (Felix's was recommended to me by a cop I asked for directions my first day there last time I went.) The vibe was a little funkier - for some reason I was reminded of Katz's deli, for no reason I'm able to ascertain - and I sat at the bar where I was tended to by a gloriously nuts bartender who spent 2 minutes talking me into having a piece of red velvet cake for dessert.

Along the main streetcar line you can find Igor's, which I wandered into just looking for a quick meal near my hotel and ended up having the absolute best red beans and rice of my entire trip. Plus you can do your laundry there, apparently.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:49 PM on April 5, 2013

Hole in the wall places I really liked:
Casamento's for raw oyters and sandwiches.
Parkway for po boys.

Fine dining places I really liked:
Galatoires - didn't really have high expectations but it was old school and awesome. Drink a ramos gin fizz.
posted by subtle-t at 2:01 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mother's was the first restaurant that came to mind as must-eat. Mm, I miss po-boys.
posted by solotoro at 2:03 PM on April 5, 2013

Hole in the wall amazeballs po' boys in a dive bar in the Quarter that serves, among other things, frozen Irish coffees, which are a very nice break from Jazz Fest heat.
posted by *s at 2:10 PM on April 5, 2013

Oh, and a place that is not really hole-in-the-wall but also not too touristy (as opposed to Mother's, which manages to be both), Mojito's is excellent. I recommend the lobster mac and cheese if they have it (it doesn't show up on their online menu right now - maybe it's seasonal).
posted by solotoro at 2:16 PM on April 5, 2013

Aw, jeez, here we go. Okay, let's see, first a few links to older (but relatively recent) AskMes:

- eating in New Orleans at all price ranges
- what to do that isn't a tourist destination
and one that I liked very much:
- safely exploring New Orleans on foot

Though the list of old guard restaurants in NOLA hasn't changed in decades the new hot stuff is a constantly-shifting landscape. Here would be my recommendations for things that have opened in recent memory:

- top of the list: Maurepas Foods. Must dine there.
- Toups' Meatery
- Mariza
- Serendipity
- Dat Dog
- Pizza Delicious
- Company Burger
- Cowbell
- Booty's Street Food
- Sylvain

Places that have been open for a while but may not be on your radar:
- Domilise's
- Parkway Bakery & Tavern
- Coop's (if you're looking for a place that locals might actually eat in the FQ)
- Pho Tau Bay
- Squeal
- Jacques-Imo's

and I'll stop there because I've probably already exceeded your time and / or budget. Hitting up all of those places would take you more or less all over the southern part of the city, from Riverbend to Bywater.

If you're looking for nice drinks, drinks you will remember and talk about with your friends, I would recommend:
- Cure. Must drink there, but I'm biased.
- Bellocq
- Perestroika at Pravda (right beside the aforementioned Coop's)
- Sylvain (again)
- SoBou
- Twelve Mile Limit

If you're looking for drinks drinks, throw a rock.
posted by komara at 2:26 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, I should mention that Eater NOLA has a great and frequently-updated Heatmap which will tell you the places that the tourists probably haven't found yet, but all bets are off during Jazz Fest.

Oh, that's right, you said you were coming for Jazz Fest. Take Jacques-Imo's off the list because you'll wait for hours to get in.
posted by komara at 2:29 PM on April 5, 2013

My husband and I watched the Man V Food from his trip to NOLA and ate our way through it. Happiness ensued. I cannot recommend Mothers enough for their softshell crab po'boy.

Also: The Court of Two Sisters!
posted by haplesschild at 3:03 PM on April 5, 2013

A cook that worked at many restaurants in New Orleans for about 40 years recommended, in addition to Commander's Palace where he worked for many years, Tujaques and Port of Call. I haven't been to any of them yet.
posted by Yorrick at 8:48 AM on April 6, 2013

I would recommend some time in the Bywater/Marigny. 30-45 minute walk from the quarter, or a $10 cab ride.

When I have friends in town I usually take them to Bacchanal, and then some drinking at Vaughns, and/or BJ's. On Thursday Vaughns will probably have Kermit Ruffins Playing, and possibly BBQing, but there will also be a crowd.

Other Bywater recommendations.
BBQ at The Joint.
Breakfast/Brunch at Elizibeth's.
Happy hour, and a swim at the Country Club.
I spend lot's of my time at the little bar out back of Sugar Park. Friendly crowd, friendly bartenders, good hamburgers.
Pizza Delicious has great pizza, but is really a terrible place to eat. They will however bring you pizza if the bar you are in is not serving food.

There is a nice cluster of bars/venues on St Claude a little near to the quarter. Kajun's, The AllWays Lounge, Siberia, and the Hi Ho, all within a block or so, and I am sure there will be some great shows happening during the festival.

There are usually lots of great shows and events during the fest, and lots of the bands here to play will be popping up at smaller venues. Chazfest is on the first, but aside from that I have not really looked into what is going on. If you want to memail me closer to when you are coming I can let you know if anything particularly cool is happening.

If you have some free time during the day, I would also recommend taking the ferry from Canal st, across the river to Algiers Point. The ferry is free, and it is fun to get out on the river, and get a view of the city, also Algiers Point is a neat neighborhood to walk around a bit. The Old Point Bar is a few blocks from the ferry, and usually has live music.

I will leave recommendations for the quarter and uptown to others.
posted by St. Sorryass at 12:36 PM on April 8, 2013

Eater just updated their 38 Essential New Orleans Restaurants so that list alone would keep you busy for your entire trip.
posted by komara at 10:16 AM on April 9, 2013

If you just came in this past weekend I hope you had a good time. If you're coming in this weekend, here's yet another great article about food from two names I trust absolutely.
posted by komara at 11:04 AM on April 29, 2013

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