Just an hour after landing in Louis Armstrong International Airport, my friends and I took our first fried bite at the famous Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee. The beignets came up pipin' hot and overly dressed in powder sugar. Although Cafe du Monde's beignets were tasty and understandably hyped, I personally liked the beignets at Cafe Beignet which I found less oily and more airy.
For something even sweeter, checkout Leah's Pralines for, well you know.
Brunch: Commander's Palace. The happiest place on Earth.
The brunch special at Commander's Palace includes an appetizer, entree and dessert. I decided on the turtle soup (splashed with dry sherry) and it was the most flavorful soup I've ever had.
My main dish was the Eggs Benedict over a spiced pork shoulder and spicy creole hollandaise sauce. Every bite was a punch in the face... for a masochist.
There were so many dessert choices, but by far the best were the mixed berry shortcake and the creole bread pudding. The bread pudding was dressed with table-side caramel and was surprisingly light and not-too sweet. The shortcake was buttery and light and the berries were fresh, tangy and sweet. A perfect ending to the meal.
Lunchtime: Sandwiches. Meaty, artery-clogging sandwiches.
A must in New Orleans is the traditional Italian Muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. It was the perfect ratio of salami, ham, olives, provolone and sesame seed bread. Delicious hung over or not.
After a long intense afternoon at the World War II Museum in the Warehouse District, we filled our empty bellies at Cochon Butcher. Below were a few items we devoured: brisket sliders, duck pastrami sliders, and pork belly sandwich.
Johnny's Po-Boys. Recommended by friends and many food blogs. Johnny's has a long list of po-boy options but I decided on the shrimp po-boy (mostly because that was all the cash I had on hand). Solid sandwich but not life changing.
On my last day in NOLA, I visited Royal House for a happy hour bloody mary and oysters. Below are the chargrilled oysters drenched in garlicy butter. I also tried the Oyster Duo (Rockefeller and Royale) but I didn't taste much of the oyster underneath the fried batter and toppings.
|Sunset on the Courtyard. Gratis sunglasses|
|Me enjoying an O'Keefe Cocktail|
Of course, we ordered the foie gras burger, pork cracklins and mac n'cheese. A nice surprise with the burger was the root beer float as an accompaniment.
Tip: I also stopped by SoBou for their happy hour before my flight. But SoBou also has a happier happy hour between 11-3pm offering 25 cent martinis!
Sylvain: Not the best representation of traditional New Orleans food, but Sylvain is on my list of must-go restaurants for food-lovers. The vibe is more LA than Louisiana-- hip, casual and modern. The place was so hip that the cast of American Horror Story (Kathy Bates included) decided to dine right next to me! Pardon the bad lighting.
My friend and I shared the Grouper special, Braised Beef Cheeks, Pickled Shrimp Salad, and (our favorite) the Pan-Fried Pork Shoulder. And of course, a chocolate pot de creme for dessert.
If you want a break from all the jazz clubs in NOLA (The Spotted Cat, Maison, Howlin Wolf), The Gold Mine Saloon is a contemporary dive bar and dance club (with a cover). It has a young crowd looking for love or looking to get trashed. If you want more of a low-key bar scene, Backspace Bar, Checkpoint Charlie's and One Eyed Jacks were my other destinations with a solid juke-box. A classier bar scene can be found at Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone. It has a rotating bar, which can make a party of 3 or more a bit tricky ordering drinks. Personally, my aviation was too way too sweet but any bar that attracts Judy Greer is ok in my book: "Say goodbye to these!"
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar.
After dancing the night away (and not getting lucky), head on over to the Turtle Bay for their nachos and pizza for late night sustenance.
For the morning after, the fried chicken at Coops Place can cure any hangover (it did mine).
Notable mentions: Olivier's gumbo trio appetizer and Columns Bar for classy daytime Southern drinking.