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Serious Business: Get To Know New Orleans The Local Way

Welcome to New Orleans! Whether you are a novice to this great city or a frequent visitor (and poboy/jazz enthusiast), we’re thrilled you’re here.

We know visiting this city can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to fit in a whole lot of NOLA flair (read: food, drinks, and more food) in a short period of time. Luckily, that’s where we come in! As New Orleanians, we pride ourselves on our ever-evolving lists of personal faves, recommendations, and tips for friends who visit. We pooled our expertise, consulted the IM muses, and curated a Serious Business-friendly guide on where to go, what to do, and what not to miss while you’re here.

While travelling to NOLA

On your way here, we recommend listening to the “New Orleans Brass” playlist on Spotify and scrolling through the @visitneworleans Instagram account to get yourself into what we call the “NOLA state of mind.” 

Saturday

12pm, before SalonBiz Powerup Tech Forum

Seafood lovers and foodies unite at Bourbon House to enjoy fresh, local cuisine for your first meal. Sorry, if it’s not in season you won’t find it on the menu, but you will enjoy classic Creole dishes like gumbo and delicious raw oysters. It’s a dining experience worthy of your first meal in New Orleans. Bonus: This easy walk will take you through the heart of the French Quarter so you’re immersed in our culture immediately.

Pro Tip: If you realize you’ve forgotten your toothbrush or any other comforts from home, walk a few blocks over to Rouses on Royal Street, a local grocery store with food, toiletries, and other goodies. (This is also a good place to pick up some Louisiana hot sauce to keep in your bag, Beyonce-style.) 

6pm, after the Welcome Reception at the Roosevelt

Want to connect with other Serious Business attendees? Head to the lobby of The Roosevelt Hotel and find the Sazerac Bar (those seasoned NOLA visitors among you no doubt will have enjoyed a beverage, or two…or five here before). It’s a classic place to catch up and network. Plus, the bar was just named one of the 10 Best Hotel Bars in 2017 according to USA Today. Our fearless leaders at IM, Nikki Brown and Kayla Morgan, highly recommend ordering a Ramos Gin Fizz—a boozy lemon meringue-style drink that looks as delightful as it tastes.

If breathtaking views and tasty cocktails are on your list, IM’s marketing consultant, Sarah, loves the new Monkey Board. Located at the top of The Troubadour Hotel, this swanky new rooftop bar is easily located in the Central Business District (CBD) overlooking our beautiful downtown and featuring handcrafted cocktails.

8pm, team dinner

Dress Up: On your first night here, meet for a team dinner to connect and bond as a group. Muriel’s is a 10-minute walk away and a great choice for your crew to indulge in some of the best of the best Creole cuisine. (Pro Tip: While you’re there, ask them about their resident friendly ghost.)

Dress Down: Take the pretty and short walk down Canal Street to Red Fish Grill—while casual, it’s part of Brennan’s Restaurant Group, so you know it’s going to be seriously good. From there, take your team on a post-dinner stroll down Bourbon Street to watch the revelry (because you should probably witness this debauchery at least once while you’re here). 

10pm, music + nightcap

Your first night in NOLA should be christened with live music and a nightcap. Make your way to Frenchmen Street (this late, it’s probably best to Uber or cab wherever you go rather than walk), a local favorite bursting with bars, musicians, and lots of NOLA charm. Once you’re there, you’ll have plenty of walkable options to try out. If you’re in the mood for a dive bar, head over to The Spotted Cat on Frenchman; it’s IM copywriter Kate’s favorite place to catch real local musicians doing what they love. (Fun Fact: ABC filmed New Year’s Rockin’ Eve from The Spotted Cat last year.)

 If you’re feeling something a little more upscale, walk to Snug Harbor and catch the Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet at 10pm. From here, follow your ears and wander into The Maison, Three Muses, or grab a late night hot dog from Dat Dog (we won’t judge). 

Sunday

7am, but first, coffee

If you need some good coffee to bring you back to life, take the 0.8 mile sightseeing walk to Spitfire Coffee in the French Quarter for an Instagram-worthy espresso drink. While you’re there, take a stroll through Jackson Square and check out all the beautiful architecture in the area.

For eats, you can head to the classic Café Du Monde if the line isn’t too long—or walk a few blocks to Café Beignet, which has similarly delicious treats and smaller crowds. 

If you want to linger over breakfast, check out the killer Jazz Brunch buffet at The Court of Two Sisters right down the street, or head down Decatur Street to The Ruby Slipper Cafe. Their BBQ shrimp and grits will remedy any lingering trace of your Saturday night.

12pm, lunch

After the general session at the Saenger Theater, take a few extra minutes to explore the building. This amazing theater went through a $52 million renovation after being flooded following Hurricane Katrina, and the details are awe-inspiring.

For lunch, head back across the street to the lobby of The Roosevelt and find Domenica. Those of you who have attended Serious Business before might have eaten here in the past, but the convenient location and top-notch pizza (great for sharing) make it worth a second trip. Do yourself a favor and order the cauliflower appetizer with whipped feta. You’ll thank us later. 

If you’re craving something a bit more casual, Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria has you covered for delicious, fast, fresh Mexican food. Grab a margarita and a spot by the window to people watch, then take your margarita with you to stroll the half-mile back to the next session. (Thanks, open container laws!)

8pm, networking dinner

Walk the half-mile to Bayona, a Susan Spicer restaurant with award-winning food and a heavenly courtyard made for catching up with old colleagues. (Make sure to save room for dessert.) Or, for something a little more “jazzy,” make the short walk to Arnaud’s and enjoy live music, good vibes, and amazing food. If there’s a wait for a table, no problem—just pop into The French 75 bar next door and pass the time with some good music and a fun crowd.

A post shared by Saffron nola (@saffronnola) on

If you’re feeling adventurous, IM’s Sarah suggests a quick Uber ride to Uptown for some of the best Indian food around at the new Saffron nola. (Seriously, this place won Restaurant of the Year 2017 from both Eater New Orleans and New Orleans Magazine.) Their curried seafood gumbo adds more flavor than we could have ever imagined to a traditional dish. While you’re there, you’ll want to stick around for dessert (the “curry is my jam”).

10pm, more live music (because of course)

After dinner, walk a few blocks to One Eyed Jack’s, where you might find rock bands, roots music, or burlesque shows going on. Both for people watching and music watching, there’s not a bad view in the house.  (We also saw Jude Law there once.) 

Monday

7am, coffee and breakfast

You made it to your third day in one piece! Celebrate with some kickass coffee from Merchant, which has “The best MFing lattes in town.” Bonus: if you’re sore from dancing Sunday night away, it’s only two blocks away. For something charmingly grungy in all the right ways (this is NOLA, after all) head to the other side of the French Quarter to experience Buffa’s Jazz Brunch. Order IM social media director Eileen’s favorite: a scrambled egg poboy. Yes, you read that right.

12pm, lunch

For a networking lunch, take the quick walk to Palace Café, a New Orleans classic that has the best crabmeat cheesecake in the city.  Or, if you and your team are craving something quick and healthy, keep it fresh and walk to City Greens, where you can build your own salad or wrap.  

6pm, dinner

For your last day of the conference, you and your team might want to venture outside of the CBD for a team dinner.  We recommend making the trip Uptown to Jacques-Imo’s for “Real Nawlins Food.” Just make sure to call ahead for a reservation (Note: you must have a party of six or more to reserve) so you can avoid a long wait. (If you are wondering if you should get the deep fried roast beef poboy…the answer is yes). After dinner, take advantage of being Uptown and ride the streetcar ($1.25 a person, exact change only) all the way back to the CBD for a scenic ride. 

Alternately, dress up and take the streetcar from the CBD to The Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue, where IM’s Nikki recommends drinks and appetizers on the porch (can’t beat the view). From there, grab a ride to Commander’s Palace “for a quintessential New Orleans fine dining experience.” They are notorious for five-star service—and delicious turtle soup. 

8pm, Bar hop. Hydrate. Repeat.  

We couldn’t pick which bar to send you to, so we’re sending you to all of them. Just be sure to stay hydrated! 

Start at The Carousel Bar, a famous watering hole in the lobby of The Hotel Monteleone, where the room revolves slowly like an adult merry-go-round. It’s a must-see. Then, walk to Loa, which just might make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a voodoo priestess’s lair. Expect elegant, candelit décor, with a bar that features bottles of locally-sourced syrups, elixirs and bitters, eccentric bartenders, and great drinks. Close out the night by strolling to The Bar at the Ace Hotel for delicious cocktails and entertainment. After a drink or two, you can head up to the rooftop for some amazing views of the city—or to dip your feet in the rooftop pool. 

Late night eats

After a night of bar-hopping, you might find yourself ready for meal number four of the day (we’ve all been there). In that case, head to Camellia Grill. It’s open til’ 2 am and the vintage vibes and kickass omelets make it well worth the line to get in. 

Beyond Serious Business

If you’re treating yourself to an extra day or two in the city (which we highly recommend), here are some off the beaten path ideas to get a feel for local life.

Shopping

Make a visit to Magazine Street, which is packed with shops and boutiques to browse until your heart’s content. A local fave of Lauren, IM’s creative strategy director, is Perch. It’s THE go-to store for fabulously chic, eclectic goods and home décor. And your shopping experience in NOLA would be remiss without stopping into Ashley Longshore’s gallery. You might recognize Ashley’s work from Blake Lively’s Instagram or a recent issue of Vogue, and if you’re anything like the IM crew, you’ll quickly become obsessed with her, too. Her art is loud, creative, and bejeweled. Need we say more?

Mid-city

After being inside for the conference all weekend, take a trip down beautiful Esplanade Avenue to City Park, where you’ll find over 1,300 acres of walking paths, lakes, gardens, sports fields, and more. Head to the Sculpture Garden to see larger-than-life art that inspires, or check out the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), located right in the middle of the park.

And while you’re in the neighborhood, come see us!  You can take the Canal Street streetcar or walk from City Park to IM’s cheery, renovated home-turned-office to execute all the ideas you picked up from Serious Business. Talk strategy on our back porch or over a coffee at The Bean Gallery across the street (or one of the dozens of lunch spots in this bustling neighborhood).

Adventures

If you are feeling adventurous, schedule a swamp tour and get up close and personal with Louisiana’s finest: alligators, mossy oaks, nutria, and mysterious bayous. The tours are located about 30-45 minutes away from downtown, and can be done by boat, kayak, canoe, or even on foot. Or, if you’re the type that would love to blow-off some steam driving a Ferrari (we know there are those among you) make the 20-minute drive from downtown to Nola Motorsports Park and take a spin in a sports car, go-kart, or motorcycle.

Tea Time

At some point in your trip, you might crave a beverage that isn’t so boozy (because New Orleans is a marathon, not a sprint). For that, IM project manager Brooke recommends walking to the Windsor Court Hotel for tea. Tea is served with scones and treats in a comfortable dining room with couches and coffee tables. This is a fun, fancy way to kill an hour or two before meeting for cocktails or dinner.

Happy Hours

Make the most of your extra day here with a happy hour hop. We recommend starting at the CBD gem Lüke for 75-cent oysters and half-priced wine and beer. Around 4pm, mosey on over to the Catahoula Hotel & Bar for their “mostly $6” happy hour, for $6 cocktails, wines, and snacks. And at 5pm, if you’re still standing (we believe in you), take the half-mile trek to St. James Cheese Company and enjoy three-cheese plates for $10 and dollar-off drinks.

Can you tell we love this city?  We’ve got your back if you need any more suggestions. Just give us a call or shoot us an email for any recommendations you might need. No matter what you eat, drink or do while you’re here, be sure to HYDRATE and, of course, let the good times roll. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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