New Orleans, a city filled with many treasures.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent a few days in this beautiful city which just so happened to be celebrating its 300 years. Below are some of the highlights of my trip. It was difficult to narrow it to just a few places and activities as I truly enjoyed every moment there. Sit back and enjoy, as I take you through a glimpse of what can be found in New Orleans.
Jackson Square, New Orleans
When people think of New Orleans the relatable place that comes to mind is the famous “French Quarter.” However, as you walk around the city, it does not look like a place you find in France. In fact, it looks very much like a city you would find in Spain. Jackson Square, for example, looks like a piazza you would find in Rome or any major Spanish city. Most restaurants found in the city center all have a beautiful patio with string lights and a very romantic ambiance. Tableau, an elegant 3-story townhouse with a beautiful balcony that wraps around and a beautiful patio in the center, is where I enjoyed the mouthwatering dishes you see below. We, of course, sat outside in the patio and we kept warm by drinking their famous “Hot Buttered Rum” made with spiced butter, El Dorado 8 year rum and cinnamon. I can’t say I’ve had anything like this but I would describe it as being wrapped in a warm blanket of liquid heaven.
Tableau French Quarter Restaurant
I knew nothing about New Orleans so the first order of business was to learn about the city we were visiting. I booked a walking tour with Tours by Steven, and Sarah our tour guide was absolutely fascinating. She taught us a lot about the city but in a captivating way with her sarcastic humor that made the tour so fun and definitely a highlight of our trip. During our walking tour, we saw the three oldest buildings in the city, the second oldest is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar. Technically, it’s the oldest bar in America and it is known for their rum cocktails, Purple Haze to be exact. We also learned about how slaves were treated by the rich and famous and how almost every building is known to be haunted. There was a big fire during the French ruling and when it was given over to the Spanish, the Spanish had to rebuild the city. That is why the city looks more Spanish than it does French. We ended the tour by stopping by the Mississippi River and a quick overview of how the river shaped the city.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
One of my favorite meals of the trip was at GW Fins. You are welcomed with a warm cornbread muffin and whipped cream butter which I could have kept eating all night long. I had to resist the temptation to keep eating more bread and I’m glad I did because what came next was even more delicious. The menu is made daily based on the catch of the day and I ordered the Lobster Dumplings to start and the Blackened Swordfish as my entrée paired with a French Pinot Noir. We had the pleasure of meeting one of the owners, Gary Wollerman, and he told us the story of how the restaurant got started. Gary and Chef Tenney Flynn, both worked at Ruth Chris in Kansas City and decided to move to New Orleans and open up a restaurant together. Since they opened in 2001, they have been named the best seafood restaurant in the city. From the service, food, and wine, everything was excellent.
GW Fins Restaurant
As you walk through Bourbon Street, there are so many bars to pick from and walking through the street alone provides great entertainment. You will see people dancing, playing music, performing, and stumbling through. On one occasion, a girl walked by and gave Alan’s behind a squeeze. Before either one of us had time to react, she was already making a move on me. All I could do was laugh as she turned around and winked. I guess that was the local way of saying welcome to the craziness of Bourbon Street. We quickly realized we had to pick a place and make a move inside and we ended up at Famous House. I have never seen the option at a bar to pick how many shots you would like in your drink, that definitely explains the liveliness of the streets. The live band was truly electric, you immediately started moving from side to side enjoying the rhythm of every beat. It wasn’t long until I made my way to the dance floor where I let loose and danced the night away.
Famous House Jazz Bar
By recommendation, we made our way to Acme Oyster House for lunch. We learned that regardless of the time of day when they are open, they always have a line. They are known for their char-grilled oysters which is exactly what we ordered. The oysters were still sizzling when they arrived at our table and we could have easily eaten two dozen of them. The food is what makes this place, everything else gets overlooked but overall worth the wait and definitely a place to stop for a quick bite.
Brennan’s was probably Alan’s favorite restaurant because it is an Irish family that owns it. Our server quickly turned our dinner experience into a night to remember. He recommended their special for the night along with their famous Banana Foster which we quickly said yes to. Both dishes are prepared tableside and as your food is prepared, you learn about the history of the restaurant. A fascinating story along with great food makes Brennan’s a must stop to visit. Fun fact, as you walk by the restaurant, there is a window where you can see the kitchen of the restaurant and the culinary team prepare the meals.
Frenchmen Street is very similar to Bourbon Street however, it is where the locals hang out versus the tourists or so they say. They have a daily night market that starts at 7 pm where you will find some cool art pieces and funky jewelry like bracelets I saw made out of zippers. After a quick stroll through, I was eager to finally try the famous beignets from Café du Monde. You are probably thinking, how was that not my first stop in town but you see, there was always a line every time we walked by. However, thanks to our awesome tour guide Sarah, we now knew that only tourist wait in line. The restaurant is open seating, so all you have to do is walk in and grab an open table. They have both indoor and outdoor seating so there is always an open table to sit at. They also have a to-go counter in the back where you can walk up to and order what you need. Either way, whether you sit at the café or take the beignets home, be ready to get white powder sugar all over you as part of the experience.
Booking a cemetery tour can be a bit confusing because there is more than one famous cemetery. We visited the oldest cemetery where we found tombstones for both the dead and the living. The most famous person buried there is Marie Laveau, the notorious “Voodoo Queen.” Interesting enough, Nicholas Cage also has his burial site in this cemetery. His nine feet tall tombstone reads “Omnia Ab Uno,” which is Latin for “Everything from one.” During our tour, we learned some famous phrases that originated from New Orleans such as “Saved by the Bell.” This phrase started because during yellow fever, many people were buried without knowing for sure if they were dead. They tied a string around the person’s finger to a bell inside their grave. The night watchers would then keep an ear out for any bell noises that would identify anyone that was still alive and that is how the saying originated.
St Louis Cemetery #1
New Orleans was much cooler than expected. I had no idea it was filled with so much history and culture. If you enjoy history, music, art, and food, NOLA is the place for you.
Gators and Ghosts Swamp Tour