It’s an amazing time to be in New Orleans. We’re in the beginning of Carnival season, the weather is gorgeous, and the Saints are in the playoffs. The feeling of festivity is palpable in the city right now. Whether you’re a first-timer to this great city or a frequent visitor (and king cake enthusiast), we’re thrilled you’re here.
We know visiting our city can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying to fit in a whole lot of NOLA in a few short days. Luckily, we at IM tend to be experts at living our best lives out and about in our city, and we’re happy to share our ever-evolving list of personal faves, recommendations, and tips with our visiting friends. We hope you enjoy our Serious Business-friendly guide on where to go, what do to, and what not to miss while you’re here.
While travelling to NOLA
12pm, before SalonBiz PowerUp Tech Forum
You’re fresh off the plane, you’ve checked into your hotel, and you’re looking for something to eat before PowerUp. We recommend taking a quick stroll around the corner to Pythian Market, a super stylish, modern food hall in a gorgeously restored historic building, with something to please everyone in your group—from the healthy to the decidedly not healthy, from coffee to cocktails to king cake. Take yours to go, or sit down in the upscale cafeteria-style seating and maybe make a new friend or two.
Pro Tip: If you realize you’ve forgotten your dental floss, earplugs or any other comforts of home, there’s a Walgreens on Canal Street and two Rouses Markets in the Central Business District (CBD) and in the French Quarter, so supplies are always just a short walk away.
6pm, after the Welcome Reception at The Roosevelt
Want to connect with other Serious Business attendees? Head to the lobby of The Roosevelt and find the Sazerac Bar (those seasoned NOLA visitors among you no doubt will have enjoyed a beverage, or two 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 by 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 impeccable cocktails and atmosphere are your thing, the Catahoula Hotel is your next stop. Deemed Vogue’s “most Instagrammable hotel,” from the intimate Pisco Bar downstairs to the killer views on the rooftop bar, this artsy boutique hotel has become a gathering spot for the young and interesting in the city. And not only is it named after Louisiana’s State Dog, it’s pet-friendly, so you might just run into a pup or two if you’re missing your own furry friend back home.
7pm, get your art on
Join your fellow beauty industry peeps at Michael Baker’s #INSTA_HAIR art exhibit, wherein one of the country’s preeminent hair designers has crafted a unique hair-centered art experience. This show is 7pm to 10pm Saturday night at the newly-opened Studio 633, above Paris Parker Salon’s downtown location across from the Ace Hotel.
8pm, team dinner
Dress Up: Small enough to feel cozy and intimate and large enough to accommodate your team, Sylvain is just a few steps from Jackson Square and boasts amazing craft cocktails and farm-to-table dinner menus in a gorgeously restored French Quarter carriage house. The restaurant is named after the raucous and comedic first opera to take place in New Orleans, and they say they hope to recreate that fun atmosphere each and every night.
Dress Down: For a totally unique team experience that is equal parts kitschy, cool and delicious, head down to Decatur Street to Beachbum Berry’s Latitude29. We know what you’re thinking, but as world-renowned historic Tiki preservationists, they go beyond the cheezeball to a cozy-cool, vintage vibe with tropical flavors throughout the décor, the dinner menu and the cocktails. And let’s just talk about the cocktails. If you’ve ever wanted an authentic Mai Tai, Berry did years of research and travelled around the world to unearth and bring back to life exotic Tiki drinks that are as tasty as they are beautiful and come with all the umbrellas and accessories you’d expect. Hot Tip: Don’t miss the dumpling burger, or their signature dessert: a pineapple and coffee flavored multi-layer masterpiece by Debbie Does Doberge.
From there, take your team on a post-dinner stroll up to Bourbon Street to watch the revelry (because you should probably witness this debauchery at least once while you’re here).
10pm, music + nightcap
If it’s New Orleans music you’re looking for, grab an Uber down to Frenchman Street, which is essentially several blocks of music everywhere you turn. From Bamboula’s, to Three Muses, to The Spotted Cat to d.b.a., you can find jazz, blues, brass bands, hip hop, R&B, street performers, or a small quintet, and chances are you can grab a CD of the band you’re watching to bring home with you and #supportlocalartists.
If you’re feeling something a little more upscale, or if you want something a little more relaxed to wind-down your evening, The Davenport Lounge at The Ritz Carlton features a Sinatra-esque live band from 9pm to 1am every Friday and Saturday.
7am: but first, coffee
If last night’s antics have you craving a bagel and a good, strong cup of coffee, you’re in luck. Goldberg’s Bagels opened a few months ago, just steps away from The Roosevelt, and we couldn’t be happier. They have 26 kinds of bagels, breakfast sandwiches and good, old-fashioned deli coffee to cure what ails you. Running late? Hop online before you leave your hotel and order ahead for pickup.
If you want to linger over breakfast, there are two locations of the Ruby Slipper within walking distance of The Roosevelt and the Saenger Theatre, and we’ll tell you right now, their Morning Margarita and six different versions of eggs benedict are not to be missed.
Lunch on Sunday might be a bit crazy downtown with everyone here for the Saints playoff game, so you might want to book early at a local lunch favorite like Lüke or Willa Jean, or go somewhere with easy, quick turnover seating, like the Auction House Market, another food hall with offerings ranging from poké to empanadas to oysters on the half-shell. This one is an Uber-ride away, but IM’s own Kayla Morgan will attest, it’s worth it even for the bathroom selfie. And you can always grab a to-go cocktail for the walk back.
8pm, networking dinner
Another new addition to the hot downtown small plates scene, Copper Vine combines Southern and American cuisines with a selection of over 30 wines on tap. Their outdoor patio has lush ferns begging to be Instagrammed, and their interior is polished with sleek design and local New Orleans art. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly—so don’t hesitate to ask about their favorite pinot pairing.
For something completely different, but truly fantastic, head across the Quarter and into the uber-cool Bywater, for IM owner Kathleen’s favorite restaurant, N7. Named after the French “Route des Vacances” that once ran from Paris to the Italian border, N7’s French cuisine and carefully curated European wine list has earned the honors of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in America and Imbibe Magazine’s Wine Bar of the Year. Intimate, simple, familial, this off-the-beaten-path choice is perfect for a quiet conversation over an amazing bottle of wine. Bonus: The wine menu totally aligns with Aveda’s mission—most of the wines are organic, using little or no added sulfites or pesticides.
10pm, more live music (because of course)
So you’ve done the classy things. You’ve done the artsy things. Now your team wants to go somewhere and kick up their heels a little bit, have some drinks and some fun bonding time. Nothing says bonding like karaoke, and Kajun’s Pub is the place. It’s equal parts dive-bar and hipster hangout, and on Saturdays for karaoke, it’s always on. It’s not The Ritz, but it’s a darn good time.
Pile in an UberXL and head to the St. Claude Avenue corridor. You can start at Kajun’s but there are about a dozen clubs, bars, restaurants and art spaces in a five-block stretch of St. Claude Avenue that you can wander between to entertain yourselves, from punk rock and Polish food at Siberia, to burlesque and/or drag shows at the AllWays Lounge, to rock and roll at the Hi-Ho Lounge.
7am, coffee and breakfast
You made it to your third day in one piece! Celebrate with some kickass coffee from Merchant, which, according to IM Digital Director, Henry, has “the best MFing lattes in town.” Bonus: If you’re sore from dancing all of Sunday night, it’s only two blocks away.
If you’re craving some good ole’ Southern food, New Orleans’ tradition is to have red beans & rice on Mondays. You can find the hearty dish at a couple of spots close to the Saenger: The fan-favorite Mother’s Restaurant on Poydras Street or Acme Oyster House just inside the French Quarter on Iberville Street, where they’re served up alongside a plethora of oyster options. No matter which one you go to—we promise it’s going to taste amazing.
And don’t be fooled by the name—the dish is often flavored using smoked sausage or ham, so if you’re vegetarian, check with the restaurant before you order. (That’s probably a safe bet for most meals, if we’re being honest.)
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 Cavan for gorgeous food in a gorgeous atmosphere. Set in a 19th century Garden District mansion, this restaurant boasts elevated New Orleans cuisine and an impeccable wine list, with extensive offerings in the craft cocktail and traditional daiquiri realms. Call ahead, because they absolutely book up.
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.
8pm, Barhop. 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!
Late night eats
After a night of bar-hopping, you might find yourself ready for meal #4 of the day. Fret not; you won’t have to settle on a Lucky Dog, although that may be on your bucket list. New Orleans respects the need for late-night sustenance. If you’re on Frenchman Street, 13 Monaghan is a perfect late-night stop, with a focus on craft sandwiches and anything tater tot—the Tater Tachos are not to be missed.
For classier late-night sustenance Uptown, The Delachaise is a wine bar and gastro pub that serves internationally-influenced plates like Thai Moules et Frites (mussels with goose-fat fries) or Shrimp Clemenceau from noon to midnight or later.
If you’re looking to order something delivered to your hotel room downtown, the old faithful go-to for late-night recovery meals is Verti Marte. They’re cash only, and if you walk in, you’ll find they’re a very bare-bones deli. But the All That Jazz Po’boy or the AuGratin potatoes have been known to save lives.
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.
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?
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, located right in the middle of the park. Afterward, be sure to make a stop at the gorgeous former church-turned-restaurant and bar, Vessel. In addition to delicious French and New Orleans-influenced cuisine, you’ll find an extensive cocktail, beer and wine menu, served in 12 different unique glasses/drinking vessels (See what they did there?)
And while you’re in the neighborhood, come see us! You can take the 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).
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.
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.
In the rest of the country, Happy Hours are only on weekdays, but the smart places know that weekends can be happy, too. Make the most of an afternoon in-between speakers, or enjoy your bonus day with a happy hour hop. We recommend starting downstairs from the conference at Domenica. Every day from 2pm to 5pm, you can get half-priced pizzas, wines by the glass, well cocktails and beer. Around 4pm, head over to the New Orleans Social House (N.O.S.H.) for their daily “social hour” with 50 cent Louisiana oysters as well as $5 craft cocktails, small plates and excellent drink specials. Hot Tip: On Saints game-days, social hour lasts all day long, so remember that on Sunday!
Saturday and Sunday from 5pm to 7pm, sneak away to Salon by Sucré for cocktail and food specials. Sucreé is known for their beautifully deluxe sweet treats, but Salon Sucré elevates the experience by adding elegant savory small plates and amazing cocktails. It’s worth the trip into the Quarter.
Can you tell we love this city? We’re happy to help if you need any more suggestions—just give us a call or shoot us an email for any recommendations you might need. And if you find someplace new and exciting that you just love, stop by the booth and let us know; we’re always down for a new adventure! No matter what you eat, drink or do while you’re here, be sure to HYDRATE and, of course, enjoy your time to the fullest.