Posted on Jan 29, 2016 by Imaginal Marketing
You’ve arrived in New Orleans! Serious Business will fill your days, but there’s plenty of time to make the in-between count.
Since you’d be remiss to let this magical city pass you by, we’ve put together your go-to guide for soaking up the best of what New Orleans has to offer in the limited time you’ve got.
Note that we are making two assumptions. First, that you’ll be downtown — you’ll notice that we’ve limited our suggestions to locations you can access by foot from the Roosevelt. And second, that you’re familiar with the usual haunts (think: Mother’s, Acme Oyster House, Palace Café), but are seeking an expanded experience. Read on for our favorites — and give us a call if you need more suggestions. Seriously.
The Roosevelt Hotel in the CBD.
5pm After the SalonBiz Tech Forum
Start your trip with something classic: a Sazerac at the Sazerac. You can find this iconic bar in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel, which is resplendent any time of year — but worth a December return trip to check out their awe-inducing Christmas display.
Head into the Quarter for a bite at Sylvain for some seriously incredible old world vibes and coveted courtyard seating or hit up Killer PoBoys, a pop-up turned brick-and-mortar with inventive takes on the New Orleans staple.
Courtyard at Sylvain. (Source)
From there, it’s time to decide what kind of night you’re chasing …
If You Were Thinking of Trying Bourbon Street:
Bourbon is not our favorite part of New Orleans – but you at least need to see it once and when you do, do it right at the iconic Pat O’Brien’s. Take a peek at their famed courtyard, but then get in line for the Piano Bar. (It moves faster than you think.) Pro Tip: Hurricanes are best shared.
If You Just Want to Dance: Walk past the main drag of Bourbon Street until you hit Oz and Bourbon Pub, the heart of a stretch affectionately known as “Gay Bourbon.” On these dance floors, 4 hours feels a lot more like 45 minutes, so be sure to keep an eye on the time.
If You Want to Hear Some Music: We’d recommend taking a cab or Uber to Frenchmen Street, arguably the most famous live music destination in the city. There are 2 blocks of music clubs of of almost any genre — Three Muses, the Spotted Cat and Snug Harbor are some of our favorite clubs.. (And this IS our favorite part of New Orleans.)
Live music at d.b.a., another beloved Frenchmen Street venue. (Source)
If You’re a Budding Mixologist: Drink like the old guard at Bombay Club or Arnaud’s French 75, both of which serve up of-the-moment inventions and long-standing classics equally well. Or, check out New Orleans’ flourishing tiki scene with a stop at Latitude 29 or Cane & Table, both of which feature some of the best rum drinks in this Caribbean-adjacent city.
If You Have a Sweet Tooth: Pay a visit to Sucré. The new French Quarter outpost of this beloved Uptown spot will transport you straight to a Parisian patisserie — and the bar upstairs (Salon by Sucré) makes it easy to tack on a nightcap. Plus, their king cakes are as delicious as they are beautiful, with icing so perfect it actually glitters. (No, that isn’t just in your mind.)
Daytime cocktails at Cane & Table: also recommended.
Sunday morning, take a short walk to Merchant. Their Illy coffee makes our hearts flutter in all the right ways, and one of their breakfast sandwiches can remedy any lingering effects of your Saturday night.
You might need to grab something quick to make it back for the 1:30 Breakout Sessions. For this, wander just across Poydras for Mexican at Juan’s Flying Burrito, or pick up a sandwich or salad to-go (the walk is a bit longer) at St. James Cheese Company. Their cheese-dusted Cantal salad is possibly the only vegetable-based dish we regularly dream about.
Have more time for lunch? Enjoy Café Adelaide (they provide complimentary cocktails if you wear a hat — but baseball caps don’t count, and you didn’t hear it from us) or Lüke, home to one of our favorite burgers in the city, and a part of John Besh’s family of restaurants.
A toast at Café Adelaide.
For a low-key dinner, head to Cochon Butcher in the Warehouse District. Bonus points if you try one of their “Elvis” king cakes featuring peanut butter, banana, and bacon (you read that right) — but you can always opt for a more traditional cinnamon or cream cheese variation.
For the kind of dinner that requires reservations, we can’t say enough good things about Balise and Compère Lapin. Both were 2015 additions to the New Orleans restaurant scene, and they’ve managed to make big impressions on our palettes and our hearts in that short time. (If you want something more classic, check out our list at the bottom of this blog post.)
Sunday night, we’ll see you at Master Meets the Next. (Tickets available here or at the door.) On the way, you may want to enjoy a drink at beer and whiskey hotspot Barrel Proof. It’s a bit of a walk, so call a cab or Uber — the latter should be under $15 round trip, provided there’s no surge pricing.
Last year's Master Meets the Next.
The Store serves up a mean breakfast sandwich, but if you’re feeling ambitious, we recommend getting up 45 minutes earlier and walking to the river for beignets at Café du Monde. They’re open 24 hours a day, so the earlier the better. Best of all, arriving on Monday means you’ll bypass the weekend tourist crowds.
Beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde. (Source)
The break is shorter today, but being in the CBD means access to the abundance of places serving the workday lunch crowd. If you are craving something green (we know New Orleans fare starts to feel daunting) try City Greens. Or, the classic sandwich at Reuben’s does not disappoint.
Wander over to our favorite corner of the budding South Market District. Shop your heart out at Hattie Sparks and Stonefree. If you forgot to make reservations for dinner, we recommend local favorites Company Burger and Magasin Kitchen, both of which only recently opened second locations in this new hot spot. Also noteworthy is nearby Willa Jean, one of our favorite brunch spots. (We’re sure they deliver on dinner, too.)
Willa Jean in the South Market District. (Source)
Staying into the week or not feeling these suggestions? Don’t worry — there’s more where that came from (just read on). Lastly, you must promise us that you’ll have king cake at least once. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Willa Jean (South Market)
Get a chicken biscuit if it’s the last thing you do. (We also love the avocado toast.)
Café Amelie (French Quarter)
Dine in a Royal Street courtyard so beautiful you might not be able to leave.
Ruby Slipper (CBD)
Serves up all your breakfast favorites, often with a NOLA twist. (Plus, some seriously generous mimosas.)
Galatoire’s (French Quarter)
The gorgeous mirrored walls and tiled floors (not to mention some mean Oysters Rockefeller) will bring you right back to the restaurant’s early 20th century roots.
Brennan’s (French Quarter)
After a brief hiatus, this New Orleans mainstay reopened last year. Its iconic dishes are as delectable as ever, and the revamped bar menu is not to be missed.
Bourbon House (French Quarter)
Also under the ownership of the Brennan Family (though a different branch), this place delivers on New Orleans classics — including chargrilled oysters just as good as the ones at nearby Acme Oyster House, but without the block-long line.
Haute (Warehouse District)
Not so easy on the wallet, but full of goods incredibly easy on the eyes.
The Shops at Canal Place (French Quarter/CBD)
All your favorites in one upscale spot — think Saks, Anthropologie, J.Crew, Lululemon, Tiffany, French Connection, and more.
The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk (CBD, Riverwalk)
Worth braving for the outlet warrior. The weekend crowds can be tough to battle, but the airy, brand-new space makes it enjoyable.
Hemline (French Quarter)
Always worth a stop, but be warned — you’ll find something you like. (We always seem to.)
Krewe (French Quarter)
This New Orleans sunglasses line recently opened up shop on Royal Street. Perfect for grabbing your sunniest souvenir (and an excellent espresso from their in-house coffee bar).
WWII Museum (Warehouse District)
This one’s not just for the history buffs. The walk through the Warehouse District is on the long side, but beautiful and worth it.
Julia Street (Warehouse District)
Ogden Museum of Southern Art (Warehouse District)
One of our favorite collections in the city — definitely a treat for your inner art historian.
Reyn Studios (Warehouse)
Our yoga sanctuary and the perfect place to jump start your sense of discovery.
Barre3 (South Market)
Because we know there are devotees among you.
Running (CBD/French Quarter)
Jog down Canal or Poydras until you hit the river, then head past the aquarium onto the riverside jogging path. It’s easy to forget you’re on a river in New Orleans, and this path serves as a beautiful reminder.
Downtown New Orleans from above.