Sympathies to all in New Orleans: all who call it home, all within the tourism industry, and the many thousands still in a state of limbo. New Orleans will be back as a tourist delight ... not in a month, not in six months, but it will back.
For those that will be returning, for future first timers, or for those who have been and share the same fondness, here's a rundown and recommendations from our excellent trip. Most of the places are tourist hotspots but .. hey .. I'm a tourist.
May was a great time .. 85-90, sunny, very little humidity. Six of us, three couples of thirtysomethings, flew down. A limo was actually the cheapest way to get from the airport. Our driver introduced us to the wonders of drivethru daiquiris. A large holds a lot of squishy rum fun.
We arrived late to our B&B, a magnificient place in Fauberg/Marigny, minutes from the French Market in a quiet neighbourhood of beautiful homes. The Crescent City Guest House (crescentcitygh.com) at only $70/night per room features a large room and private bath. The rooms open into a great common area. Matt and Lynn, hope you're ok, we've sent you emails.
Late night 5 min walk to Frenchmen St., a great strip of clubs (including Snug Harbor) not overcrowded like Bourbon St. Music, drink, music, drink, bed. We return often to Frenchmen during our stay.
Day 1 we explored the Market and antique shops along Decatur. Lunch, we enjoyed the recommendation of another TA post of a muffaletta (sandwich stuffed with meat and olive salad .. mmmm) from Central Grocery, a drink from the liquor store next door, and sitting along the banks of the river with the feast.
This is followed with the obligatory bag of beignets smothered in icing sugar from Cafe du Monde. More wandering, we return to Frenchmen and have dinner at the Praline Connection. All deep fried southern food, this one was a bit disappointing, considering how well reviewed it is. Excellent prices, but none of us six were enhtusiastic about the meal.
Bourbon St. is next. Silly drunks everywhere, packed, street smells like old underwear, bead tossing and breast flashing (usually from breasts that should remain bundled in public!) ... and what a blast.
On the way to Pat O'Briens, we find the wonder that is Preservation Hall. Tiny, unassuming down an alley, no booze for sale, but this is where jazz was meant to be played. Easily the highlight of my trip. Do not miss. Wily, enthusiastic masters belt out old school jazz. Ours was a 6 piece band. I've had my CD on everyday this week. (preservationhall.com)
Several stops including Pat Os (massive, packed patio, yummy hurricane), a cheesy piano bar Howl at the Moon (something like that), we finally stop somewhere and watch music till the wee hours. At evening end, to quote a friend who was a staggeringly wasted: "I did Bourbon St. right!"
Great street performers along Decatur, we jump on the ferry and head to Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. Cool tour, you see past floats in storage, future floats under construction.
Dinner is at Toujagues. Fixed menu, very good meal at a reasonable price. (www.neworleansrestaurants.com/tujagues)
Day 4, day tour at the garden district. Futile effort to get into Commander's Palace for brunch, reservations and jacket required. The Garden District boasts fabulous homes, great wrought iron, all in unbelievably quiet surroundings. We didn't bother with a tour, just hopped on the streetcar and used our trusty guidebook.
Back to Bourbon and an unbelievable lunch at the Acme Oyster House. (amceoysterhouse.com). A seat at the bar to watch the endless shucking is highly recommended. Big fat oysters, followed by their Red Beans Poopa(!). The oyster poboy was equally impressive.
Back home, the neighbourhood is having an open house tour, their 33rd annual.
We clean up and decide to splurge on Galatoire's for the last night. Reservations recommended, two of us borrow the required jacket from their extensive collection. And, considering what we had, the bill really wasn't a mortgage breaker. Tremendous french food, I bloated myself with turtle soup, fish, and a sinful banana bread pudding.
Day 5. Last day, slip out to St. Louis Cemetary #1. Cool. Shopping (including a stop at Rodrigue Studio - you know that crazy blue dog with the yellow eyes?). As I write this, I'm looking at my great iron ornament of jazz players atop a bar of music.
Thanks NOLA. We will be back.