New Orleans will always and forever be a special place for me. I’m not really sure why, but something about that city gets me every time. It’s got a spirit, energy and grit, plus hospitality and food, unmatched to any other place I’ve been (which includes some amazing cities). If you’ve never been, I can’t recommend highly enough that you do yourself a favor and head down. It’s a great long weekend from Atlanta and the flights are very reasonable with Southwest flying there now.
I went several times in college (it helps that Tuscaloosa is only 4.5 hours away), and then once Katrina hit in 2005, I didn’t go back for 5 years, until 2010, when one of my sorority sisters got married. And I’m mad at myself for waiting so long to go back – I fell in love all over again with that city and have been back three more times since and hope to take my husband soon. If you’ve only been for Mardi Gras or a bachelor/bachelorette party, do yourself a favor and get off Bourbon street to explore what the city really has to offer. I promise there is so much more than Pat O’s and The Cat’s Meow!
If you do go, here are a few of my favorite places to eat in New Orleans:
Commander’s Palace: For me, this place was totally worth the hype. Make reservations before you go, and request to sit in the Garden Room. It was louder than I expected, but it was definitely a dining experience. They expect you to linger over your meal, have another drink and continue the conversation. One of my pet peeves at more expensive restaurants (like where you’d go for a date night) is when you feel rushed and the food comes too fast. Yes, it’s expensive, but the portions are huge so you definitely feel like your getting your money’s worth.
SoBou: This cute little restaurant is in the French Quarter, within the W Hotel. I tend to pass over hotel restaurants, but this is pretty unique. Unlike most of the other places I’ve been in New Orleans, this is more small plates and tapas style, but just as delicious. It was a nice break after the other big, decadent meals we ate.
It’s great for a group (we went here for my bachelorette party) as well as a table for 2 (my mom and I ate here on girl’s weekend). The cocktails aren’t bad either!
Stanley: Located next to Jackson Square, Stanley’s is a great stop while you’re out walking in the French Quarter for the day. My favorite is the Eggs Stanley, which is Eggs Benedict with fried oysters, but on this last trip, my mom and split a shrimp Po Boy and it was awesome! I can’t stand when you get a Po Boy and the bread is so crusty that it cuts the roof of your mouth, but this bread was perfectly soft but still held up to the yummy fried shrimp inside the sandwich.
Cafe du Monde: I mean, you really can’t go to New Orleans and not got to Cafe du Monde. It’s against the rules. And if you have a sweet tooth like me, the beignets completely hit the spot. A few weeks ago was the first time I went and didn’t also have a Cafe Au Lait, but their coffee is delicious as well. I promise it’s worth the line to wait and it goes quick. Cash only so make sure to save some for this classic NOLA experience! Oh, and don’t wear dark colors because your are bound to get powdered sugar on yourself no matter how hard you try not to.
In terms of hotels, I’ve stayed at the Loew’s, Hotel Dauphine and the Q&C. All have their own pluses and minuses. This last time, my mom & I stayed at the Q&C Hotel and I have to say, it was probably my favorite location. It had a great industrial design and friendly staff. The rooms were on the small side, but they had really cool barn doors to the bathroom and nice, updated amenities, like outlets on the headboard for charging phones, and built-in shampoo, conditioner and shower gel dispensers in the walk-in shower. It’s right between the Quarter and the business district and easy to walk around. I loved being near the Quarter, but not in it (in college, we once stayed directly on Bourbon with a balcony, which seemed like a great idea, until you are woken up at 5 a.m. to the sound of Mardi Gras Mambo over. And over. And over).
These of course, are just a few of the many, many great restaurants in New Orleans. Have you been? What’s your favorite?