Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Orleans Recommendations, Part 2 (the cool person's version)

I asked a friend of mine, Danielle Tommaso, for her recommendation list for New Orleans activities.  She is WAY cooler than I am, and I wanted to see where she sent people.

After I got her list, I was amazed at how little overlap there was between hers and mine.  There is just so much to do in New Orleans.  I now have some new things to check off my list.

I asked her for permission to post it here.  Truth is, every time I was asked for my recommendations, it took me too long to find the original.  So by posting it here, I can make referencing it quicker.  Now I can do the same with hers.

Here is her response to my request for her to serve as 'guest blogger'

"I'm flattered you want to post my restaurant recommendation list on your blog! Please add Dick and Jenny's (Uptown), Frankie and Johnny's, and Eat (FQ) to my list before doing so. :) I inadvertently left those great restaurants off. I know there are a million more out there; expect an updated list soon, my friend."

"I checked the Eater NOLA blog this weekend - SO many new restaurants!!"

So enjoy her list.  And give me feed-back (heh, heh) on what you like - and what you don't.

  • Cash is king at a lot of smaller restaurants and bars.
  • Go cups and public drinking are legal- just no glass cups. Try to dispose of your go cups in a public can (not private garbage cans). One of the best things to do in the city is to watch the sun set on the levee while enjoying a bottle of wine. which you can do without fear of getting a ticket.
  • Use common sense at night. It's still a rough city. If you're yelling, "I'm so drunk I'm afraid I'm going to lose this wallet full of thousand dollar bills!!!" you're going to get followed and mugged. With warmer weather comes crime, so watch your back.
  • On that note, the cops are generally useless. Don't get in trouble.
  • If you're part of a big group you may want to call restaurants for reservations.
  • Everyone gets going at night at around 10:00 pm. Shows usually start between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm. Don't be surprised if you go into a bar at 9:00 pm and it's dead.
  • If you need a cab, United Cabs is the most reliable: 504-522-9771. If they don't answer that number, call 504-524-9606 and tell them Ms. Mae gave you the number.
  • If you find a cab driver you like, get his/her number! Most have business cards. They love playing the role of private driver for good tips.
(My top picks are *'ed.)

Geography, flood protection, and Katrina have had a big hand in how the city looks and who lives where. In short, the original city was built on high ground near the river. The city spread out following this high ground. The Quarter, the Marigny, the Bywater, Uptown, Espalande Avenue. The lower-elevation parts that used to be swamp were drained and developed in the 20th century. Lakeview, Gentilly, Mid-City. Generally, the old, higher parts of the city were spared from Katrina's flooding. No flooding + cute historic housing stock = higher home prices = eventual gentrification a la Park Slope and Williamsburg. If you've read this far and are still interested in this sort of thing see this article on gentrification.

Uptown & the Garden District

I could go on about Uptown for days and days but I'll spare you. It's my neighborhood and so I'm partial. It's a HUGE part of the city, so I'll keep it to areas you'll probably want to check out.

Main Drags
  • St. Charles (mostly between Henry Clay Avenue and Louisiana Avenue)
  • Magazine Street (@ Jefferson Avenue, @ Napoleon Avenue, @ Louisiana Avenue, and @ Jackson Avenue)
  • Freret Street between Jefferson Avenue and Napoleon Avenue
  • Oak Street between Carrollton Avenue and Eagle Street
  • Maple Street between Carrollton Avenue and Cherokee Street
  • Prytania between Jefferson Avenue and Napoleon Avenue
Freret Street
  • **Gautreau's (excellent upscale local food riverside of Freret)
  • *High Hat Café (Southern favorites)
  • *Company Burger (weird name, but the Company Burger with bacon and egg is the only burger I'll eat)
Oak Street
  • **Jacques-Imo's - Excellent food. One of the best meals you'll have in the city.
  • *Cowbell (brunch - dinner)
  • *Oak Street Café (local place, great breakfast, piano player on the weekend)
  • **Commander's Palace (enjoy a fancy lunch with 25 cent martinis. A true NOLA experience!!)
  • *Upperline (upscale local food)
  • *St. James Cheese Company (cheese plates and sandwiches, you can waste hours there)
  • *Creole Creamery (ice cream)
Magazine @ Napoleon
  • *Casamento's (old school white-tiled oyster joint)
  • *Surrey's (brunch + lunch)
Magazine @ Jefferson
  • *Frankie & Johnny's (should have crawfish this time of year)
  • Domilise's Poboys
  • Guy's Poboys
Magazine @ Louisiana
  • **Café Atchafalaya (old converted shotgun w/great local food. Bloody mary bar during Sunday brunch)
  • Dick and Jennie's
  • *Slim Goodie's (breakfast + lunch, usually a line)
  • *Bouligny Tavern (great cozy place with a nice wine list and small plates)
Magazine @ Jackson
  • *Juan's Flying Burrito (causal and punk-y, local Mexican)
  • *District Doughnuts and Sliders (just like it says)
  • *Stein's Deli (great sandwiches)
St. Charles
  • **The Columns Hotel and ...
  • **The Delachaise. We usually start out at the Columns for a happy hour on the expansive porch, then cross the street to the Delachaise for small plates and wine. You can't go wrong with this combo on a nice night.
Freret Street
  • *Cure (cocktails and wine)
  • *Other Bar
Oak Street
  • *Maple Leaf
  • *Snake & Jake's (divey-ish dive around)
  • Oak Wine Bar (fancy wine bar, loud when crowded)
  • Maple Street: mostly college-ish bars here

Prytania: *King Pin (my neighborhood bar, nice dive)

Magazine @ Napoleon:
  • *Bon Temps
  • *Ms. Mae's ($2 well drinks)
  • *Brother's Three (weird little dive)
Magazine @ Jefferson: *St. Joe's (great back patio)

Magazine @ Louisiana: too many to name
  • *Bulldog (great patio and beer selection)
  • *Balcony Bar (hang out on the balcony)
Music: Bon Temps has music most nights. Places on Freret have music on the weekends.
Things to see
  • *Audubon Park - Spanish moss hanging on giant live oaks
  • Ride the streetcar
  • *Shop Magazine Street
  • *Trek to the levee and relax (The Fly is a very nice park on the levee)
French Quarter

Beautiful old buildings and lots of tourists. Something to see on every street. Artists and writers still live here, so it's not a total living museum. Here's a local's take.

Main drags
  • The Lower Quarter (downriver of Toulouse Street between Royal Street and Decatur Street) is where you can find your local stuff.
  • At night, people tend to congregate on Royal Street (lots of art galleries and local bars); Decatur Street around Ursulines Avenue (mostly tourists); and Bourbon at St. Ann (plethora of gay bars).
  • Don't walk lakeside of Bourbon Street at night - it gets sketchy.
  • Bourbon Street is a mess. It's like Times Square. I avoid.
  • **Bayona (Susan Spicer's excellent restaurant)
  • Eat
  • *Galatoire's (Friday lunch is a NOLA tradition)
  • *Sylvain (small place, small plates)
  • *Napoleon House (for the courtyard- get a Pimm's Cup if it's warm out)
  • *Old Coffee Pot (brunch - dinner, great gumbo et al.)
  • Gumbo Pot (brunch - dinner, gumbo et al.)
  • *Clover Grill (24/7 diner, hysterical staff, awesome if you need a burger at 4am)
  • Lower Quarter: *Molly's, Pravda, and the like on Decatur
  • *Lafitte's (good early before the college crowd comes)
  • *Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone (has a carousel that revolves around the bar)
  • Erin Rose (Irish pub with good food)
  • Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse has (free, I think) jazz and burlesque Friday's at midnight
  • Preservation Hall for your trad jazz needs
  • One Eyed Jack's for your hip music
  • FYI, most venues in the Quarter charge a cover
Things to see

  • *Sit on the levee and watch the river go by
  • *Jackson Square (see art on the fence! My friend Jenelle is usually on the Decatur Street side. She sells skeleton paintings on black canvas)
  • Junk shops on lower Decatur
  • French Market for your cheap touristy tchotchkes if you must
Fun tip: "Everyone" says to get beignets (ben-YAYS) and café au lait at Café du Monde on Decatur because everyone at some point does so, local and tourist alike. Wedding second lines stop there. It's the last thing I did before I went to the hospital to meet my godchild. There's usually a very long line. It's open 24/7, so you can go late night/early morning if you don't want to wait and want to have a leisurely experience. Cash only!

Central Business District (CBD)

Mostly office buildings that clear out after lunch. Nothing to really see, but a lot to eat!

  • **Cochon (excellent local meats and seafood)
  • *John Besh's *Domenica, *Luke, and *August (from most causal to most fancy). Smart local food.
  • *NOLA (the best of Emeril's restaurants in town)
  • *Butcher (Cochon's more casual sister restaurant)
  • *Herbsaint (one of Susan Spicer's restaurants, upscale local food)
  • La Boca (great steaks)
  • Root (known for their cigar box scallops)
The Marigny

The Marigny is what the Bywater was 30 years ago. The hipsters raised families here and now it's full of "artsy" people. Beautiful architecture, safe if you're smart.

Main drags
  • Frenchmen Street from Decatur to St. Claude ("the locals' Bourbon Street," though it's gotten pretty touristy the past few years)
  • Franklin Street @ Royal Street (mostly locals)
  • *Cake Café (brunch + lunch)
  • *Feelings Café (great old mansion, good for dinner, local food)
  • Pho at the Lost Love Lounge (get the tamarind tofu)

  • *The Spotted Cat (quintessential NOLA)
  • *dba (great beer selection, music every night)
  • *Three Muses (great food and trad jazz)
  • *Mimi's (go upstairs- no pool-playing bros there)
  • *Lost Love Lounge (great pho in the back)
  • *R Bar
  • *Marie's

Frenchmen, Frenchmen, Frenchmen. There's music everywhere on Frenchmen Street every night starting at around 6. Just go and walk around. Walk into places that sounds good, leave when the music stops.

Things to see
  • *Frenchmen Street
  • *Frenchmen Street art market at night
  •  Washington Square Park next to Frenchmen for people watching
The Bywater

"Williamsburg South," or whatever they're calling it these days. A landlady once told a friend she couldn't rent her apartment to her because "you don't have a big dog and a big man." Now it's full of baby strollers and "food apothecaries". But I digress. The Bywater is a mix of mustached hipsters and old school NOLA families. The architecture is beautiful. It's safe to walk and bike around at night so long as you're not drunk and loud and dumb.
Main drags
  • St. Claude Avenue from Elysian Fields to Press Street
  • Burgundy (bur-GUN-dee) Street between Piety Street and Montegut (MONT-ee-gew) Street
  • Don't go lakeside of St. Claude at night
  • *Bacchanal
  • *Maurepas Foods (lunch + dinner, great farm-to-table)
  • *Suis Generis
  • *Satsuma Café (brunch + lunch)
  • *The Joint (lunch + dinner, BBQ)
  • *Elizabeth's (brunch + lunch, make a reservation)
  • Jack Dempsey's (dinner, cheap fried local seafood, big plates)
  • Pizza Delicious (NY style pizza - it got me through some food-related homesickness)

St. Claude Avenue for the hip people and music, everything else inside the neighborhood for drinking and relaxing. Other than Bacchanal and the Country Club I'd classify them all as dives.
 St. Claude between Elysian Fields and St. Roch Avenue:

  • *All Ways Lounge
  • *Hi-Ho Lounge
  • *Saturn Bar
  • *Siberia (great pirogues in the back)
  • Kajun's
  • **Bacchanal (GREAT wine and food, just get there in the afternoon or before 5 because it gets crowded)
  • *Country Club (go for the heated pool- discounted after 5, I think)
  • *Markey's
  • *BJ's
  • J&J's
  • Vaughn's
Music: Bacchanal hosts jazz most nights. Most of the bars on St. Claude have music every night, most without a cover.

Things to see

  • *Thrift stores and shopping on Burgundy Street
  • *Country Club swimming
  • the new River Park (enter at Piety Street- can't miss the big ugly arch, the landscaping is kinda weird but there are great views)
  • *Dr. Bob's studio on Chartres Street (quirky local artist)
  • *Red House Treehouse, 2822 St. Claude Avenue @ Press Street (day or night. help yourself to the backyard and climb the insane treehouse, be nice to the squatters who live there and they'll probably invite you to a party)
Bayou St. John/City Park

I love the bayou. It's beautiful, and the people in the old houses on it are lucky to live there. Definitely worth a trip trip up Esplanade Avenue if you have the time. Bring a blanket and some drinks, and you can spend all day there.

Main Drags
  • Esplanade Avenue - great old houses and live oaks
  • Walk or bike up and down Moss Street (either side of the bayou) between Esplanade and Lafitte Street

  • *Liuzza's (local food)
  • *Parkway (great poboys)
  • *Toups Meatery (excellent charcuterie)
  • *Lola's (Spanish)
  • Morning Call in City Park (beignets 24/7)
  • *Pal's (local joint)
  • Bayou Beer Garden if it's nice out
Things to see
  • Bayou St. John
  • *City Park - the Museum of Art and a nice sculpture garden are located inside the park

Lower 9

Go here to see what happens when flood protection systems don't work. Maybe 10% of people are back. Lots of slabs, and then the Brad Pitt Houses. Go over the St. Claude Bridge and notice how high the water is in the Industrial Canal vs. how high the land is. And then imagine a storm surge. That's what happened. The Brad Pitt houses are clustered around Tennessee Street and N. Prieur Street. Travel a bit towards the lake and see how nothing's come back. Just remember that people live there, so be respectful if you take pictures.

There's a great viewing platform on Bayou Bienvenue at Caffin Avenue and Florida Avenue on the other side of the levee.

1 comment:

aunt Patty said...

More food and booze and music than anyone could Ever try. Why or how could anyone stay in? I willing to give some of both list a try.