What are you favorite New Orleans gems?
January 1, 2019 2:21 PM   Subscribe

We're visiting for 4 days and I've never been. What's good? I know about beingets and such but otherwise don't have a lot to go off. We're staying at the Ritz Carlton this month. Looking for great restaurants, neat sights, fun ways to kill an afternoon, and off the beaten path gems, if you got em!
posted by disillusioned to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (23 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
unless you like fried oysters (i don't), shrimp po-boy at verti marte. get the regular if you do like the oyster kind.
posted by rhizome at 3:03 PM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

GALATOIRE's, 209 Bourbon, for a wonderful slice of old-school New Orleans dining. It's a little bit of a throwback, but worth your time. Here's what I sent a friend last month, who asked me the same question.
Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon) is an old-line New Orleans institution; it opened in 1905. I’ve been doing there since I was a kid — so, about 1980. Waiters there are on a career track, and do quite well. (Frequent guests keep the same waiter for decades, and it’s not just locals.) It’s expensive, but not like California-expensive. Dress nice.

For most of its history, Galatoire’s has had a very strict dress code (jacket and tie for men; appropriate dress for women); took no reservations (resulting in a line of smartly dressed folks out the door, perhaps for a block or more, patiently waiting for up to an hour); and accepted payment only in cash or the rare house account.

All three of those things have changed in the last 25 years or so (sic transit gloria mundi), but the food and atmosphere are still unparalleled. It’s even become a little famous outside the region — there’s a book on its history, a cookbook, and the picture you’ve seen of Stan Lee and William Shatner eating in a fancy dining room with green & white walls was taken there.

Anyway, they DO take reservations now, but only for the fairly new upstairs area. If you want to eat in the iconic main dining room, you have to wait — and trust me, that’s almost certainly what you want, because it’s not only about the food there. It’s the whole gestalt; you get a slice of true New Orleans. Just get there early (like, almost Matlock rerun early — they open at 5:30).

This is more a cocktail place than a wine place, but the list is still quite serviceable. My go-to, though, is a Sazerac, which is the REAL New Orleans cocktail.

After dinner, ask for some cafe brulot — it’s not on the menu anymore, but they’ll make it for you tableside if you know enough to ask for it. It’s made of coffee, booze, fire, and awesome.
posted by uberchet at 3:27 PM on January 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

We did a two hour walking tour of the garden district that started at Lafayette Cemetery #1, and it was fascinating. More on our time in New Orleans- in case anything else in the blog post helps you.
posted by COD at 4:26 PM on January 1, 2019

If you happen to like medical history stuff, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is a fun hour or so.
posted by Stacey at 4:29 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cane &Table had some of the best cocktails and snacks I’ve ever had in any city! I regret not getting dinner there too.

Audubon Park was breathtakingly gorgeous.
posted by kapers at 4:44 PM on January 1, 2019

It's been way too long, but I like to hang out on Frenchman Street. Most of the Quarter is (literally) a shit show.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:57 PM on January 1, 2019

Aw, ya gotta walk the Quarter once. As long as it's not crowded. It's a good way to meander through the basics, to Cafe du Monde, Lafayette Square, etc..
posted by rhizome at 5:10 PM on January 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have you looked at previous questions about New Orleans? Anything that piqued your interest or you felt was missing? What do you like to do?

My favorite tourist attraction is Mardi Gras World. If you like history, WWII museum is excellent. Best Po Boys are at Parkway. My favorite fancy restaurant that is not over the top is Palace Cafe (although Jazz Brunch at Commanders is super fun).

When exactly are you going? Mardi Gras season starts January 6th although there are only a few parades this month. There are also a lot of festivals. Check out the calendar here.
posted by radioamy at 5:16 PM on January 1, 2019

Repeating myself from a few days ago, but Julia Street (i.e. the walk towards the wwii museum) is great if you like contemporary art.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:24 PM on January 1, 2019

New Orleans Voodoo Museum. Small and fascinating.
posted by ejs at 5:37 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am being too hard on the Quarter. Napoleon House, Green Goddess, Coop's Place, souffle potatoes at Arnaud's (even the Blacksmith Bar is kinda fun, okay.) Just avoid the sugary drinks and the side street where they drive the carriage horses to poop whilst trotting.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:43 PM on January 1, 2019

Definitely do the Voodoo Museum. Definitely do NOT do the Museum of Death (unless you like glorifying serial killers and watching some sick and shocking videos of real people dying).

Turkey and the Wolf is mandatory for life-altering sandwiches and cocktails.

You might like to self-tour the Garden District (pick literally any guidebook from your local public library and you can walk yourself around).

We did the Vampire Tour with Jonathan Weiss and it was intensely amusing if not entirely convincing. There is a deal on Groupon.

There will be live music basically everywhere you go so I'd say you don't really have to plan anything special to make that happen.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by Temeraria at 5:45 PM on January 1, 2019

The Pharmacy Museum - go for the guided tour. Amazing.

Cochon is one of my favorite restaurants ever.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:19 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding the rec for Galatoire's, but be prepared to dress up.

Also: Confederacy of Cruisers, in the Faubourg Marigny, offers some great bike tours, with pit stops for beverages along the way.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:26 PM on January 1, 2019

Cure had some of the best cocktails I'd had in years. I posted some notes about other great NOLA drinks/dining in a MetaFilter thread last year.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:26 PM on January 1, 2019

We were there recently; seconding Cochon and Commander's. We also loved Atchafalaya, and Cochon Butcher (behind Cochon), which has great sandwiches.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has cocktail and absinthe collections, if any of those are of interest.

Kiefe & Co. is a small wine/spirits shop with an excellent selection.
posted by silentbicycle at 8:37 PM on January 1, 2019

Oh, and the Music Box Village was delighful! We got there early, when it was still empty, and as more and more people joined it really came to life.
posted by silentbicycle at 8:55 PM on January 1, 2019

Kitchen Witch Cookbooks is a cool little used bookstore dealing almost exclusively in cookbooks. They also have some used music (CDs, vinyl) and local artists' work, and also have their own spice blend which they sell at the counter.

The proprietors are a cool local couple who were actually about to move out of the city right after Katrina, and even got as far as the border of California - when they decided "what are we thinking" and turned around and went back home. They had an extensive collection of books and music, and that was their initial stock - and the first couple years did very brisk business from people who came in looking for "my favorite cookbook got ruined by the flood, lemme see if you have it here" kind of quests.

(A friend of mine befriended them on his first trip to NOLA in 1997; he was a reporter who was sent there for work annually, so he stayed in touch, and sent me there when I went in 2009. I mentioned his name and they welcomed me like an honored guest; they're lovely.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 AM on January 2, 2019

The mighty Mississippi river is why New Orleans is where it is, and a huge influence on its culture. Take a walk, bring some muffalettas and beer. When I was there pre-Katrina there was a lot of sculpture along the river walk. There was a market area near Cafe du Monde that I enjoyed. Listen to jazz in a place where it has deep roots. Bourbon Street is skeevy but you should be able to find someplace with a 2nd floor balcony where you can watch the unfolding show. Eat delicious food and make sure you have bread pudding with bourbon sauce. It's an amazing place; I want to go back.
posted by theora55 at 10:19 AM on January 2, 2019

Definitely ON the beaten path, but since nobody else has mentioned it yet: Preservation Hall for live Dixieland jazz. Atmospheric (read: small, crowded, and shabby) and great fun for an evening concert in the French Quarter.
posted by Quietgal at 11:56 AM on January 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think New Orleans is a city I'll always return to -- nowhere else like it. Here are some of my favourites:
- Upperline restaurant is authentic, off the beaten path and has a warm owner who loves to get to know visitors and share her favourite hidden gems of the city. I wanted a nice meal and found this after a long walk down Magazine St. and it was perfect.
- Verti Marte (in the back of a variety store) has legendary po' boys. Get a full size, eat half and save the rest for when you get hungry later. I always make sure to grab one before heading to the airport. My mouth waters just thinking about them.
-Country Club is a unique spot with a beautiful bar and pool (I haven't been to the restaurant, or the Drag Queen Buffet, which is popular. When I went if you went to the bar you could get into the pool, and it was worth it -- nice atmosphere.

My favourite thing to do in NOLA is wander. Just keep walking, exploring, you'll discover lots of magical places on your own. :) Have a great time!
posted by Pademelon at 4:05 PM on January 2, 2019

Response by poster: This is all delightful, everyone! And yeah, Pademelon, wandering is definitely on the agenda!

Thanks so much, all!
posted by disillusioned at 9:23 PM on January 2, 2019

I second Music Box Village, and recommend a casual wander around the Marigny and Bywater in general. I'll be back at the end of January for my annual visit, and while I enjoy other parts of the city too, that's my go-to zone. Colorful houses, relatively quiet streets*, great low-key eats & drinks... it's just the best.

*Frenchmen Street in the Marigny is a notable exception to the “relatively quiet” descriptor — but in the best of ways. I go there in the late evening to hang out on the outdoor balcony of Dat Dog while a brass band plays in the intersection below. (Not my video, but exactly the experience I'm describing.)
posted by D.Billy at 11:00 AM on January 3, 2019

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