Very few cities inspire art like New Orleans. Whenever my creative well begins to dry, a quick stroll through the French Quarter along with a few libations and I’m ready sit my ass in a chair in front of a computer and write again. For first time visitors, The Big Sleazy can be intimidating. Of course everyone wants to go to Bourbon Street, but in all honesty, Bourbon Street is the least exciting place and most annoying. If Erin Rose or French 57 weren’t located just off the famous street of debauchery, I may never hop over puke filled puddles or dodge flying beads from above again. But those two places make my Top 5. So, this is just a quick day trip visit guide of what I like to do when have to time practice the art of the flaneur in one of the most beautiful cities in America.
#1 – Start your day with brunch from one of New Orleans newest eateries, Balise. New Orleans is home to some of the most fantastic culinary experiences and eating your way around the Big Easy isn’t easy. I try to go to a new place on every visit, but sometimes I have to visit old standbys like Coop’s or Willie Mae’s for fried chicken or get a hot dog from any of Dat Dog locations. But on my most recent trip, I tried a new spot that had been getting great reviews and Balise did not disappoint. The Bloody Mary was good with a unique approach to the garnish, a caper berry. For food I had the pickled quail eggs. Best pickled eggs I’ve ever eaten. Makes me second guess the next time I’m about to stick my hand in the 10 year old jars sitting on the counters of gas stations. For the main course I had the Beef Cheeks and Grits. Great way to change a classic Gulf Coast meal. Shrimp and grits are always a “go to”for me, kind of like chicken and waffles, but I truly enjoyed the beef cheeks.
#2 – Nola Brewing and Tap Room. If there is a brewery near by, go. And this one is doing everything right. I particularly enjoy their Hopitulous IPA or the Rebirth Pale Ale. There are ping pong tables or corn hole games set up. Or you can enjoy your drinks out on the roof top deck.
#3 – After a few drinks, I can make my way to the French Quarter. And as mentioned above I only go near Bourbon Street for two reasons, Frozen Irish Coffee from Erin Rose or the Ramos Gin Fizz from French 57.
#4 – There are few things I enjoy more while drinking than shopping for books. So naturally, my next stop is to Faulkner House Books on Pirate’s Alley near Jackson Square. Always a great selection of Southern writers. Located where William Faulkner once rented a room. If you need to add some Walker Percy or Tennessee Williams to your collection, this is a must stop.
#5 – By this time, you are ready for some music. And there is never a shortage of live music. If it isn’t Jazz Fest or Galactic isn’t playing at Tipatina’s, you will still find plenty of great performances down on Frenchman Street. Trust me, this is where you want to end your night. Any of the places along there will do, but Cafe Negril seems to always have great musicians whenever I stop in.
Now, this is just a very small sampling and trying to pick just 5 must dos is a tough task. There are many many more places to eat, things to do and drinks to consume. But I was keeping it simple for the first time visitors.