My Guide to Visiting New OrleansPosted: July 31, 2013
you’ve done Vegas, LA, NYC, Boston, DC. but have you ever been down to the NO? i’ve had more than one inquiry from readers that were set to visit my fair city and i gave a list of ideas on what to do. since i’m lazy, i’ve decided to finally post about what to see/do in New Orleans. i’d recommend going march to early may, and september-november. halloween is ALWAYS party time in NO. i’d avoid going mid-may-auguest as it’s hot as fuck.
fisrt things first; NO is divided into 2 major areas: downtown and uptown. downtown is the home of the french quarter and all the iconic crap you see on most post cards. uptown is everything below hwy 90. if you look on a map and follow I-10, you’ll notice it suddenly curves north-westardly. you’ll see a split at the curve heading across the mississippi river; this is hwy 90 or pontchartrain expwy. this is the dividing line between dwt/upt. cool? we will cover both sections in 2 parts: day/night.
we’ll start with downtown during the day.
downtown is the home of the french quarter: bourbon st (titties), royal, decatur, jackson’s square, the river walk, etc. you can easily spend 1/2 a day in the quarter. first: parking. you can pay to park or park somewhere along esplanade ave which is free. the only downside is parking on espalanade is that it’sconsidered “residential” parking and there’s a supposed 2 hour limit. you may/may not be ticketed. i’ve only been ticketed once parking in the quarter and it was for being outside the designated line. OR you can drive through the quarter and hope you find a spot. after 11am- forget it. in most cases pay-to-park puts you right next to all the main attractions/sites. i’d recommend the one next to jax brewery, a 5 minute walk to Jackson’s square.
head out around 10am and park. stroll on over to jackson square and just enjoy the area: stop in St. Louis Cathedral, watch the painters, just have a lazy stroll. then head over across the street and stop at cafe du monde (world famous) for a cup of cafe au lait and an order of beignets (french donut covered in powdered sugar) and listen to the street musicians and relax. once you’re done head up decatur street until you run into the French Market. stroll the french market (which could easily eat up an hour or so) and browse the wares. prices are usually negotiable.
from there, hop on decatur and check out Hex’s. NOW, i know many of you readers are very religious so i’ll warn you: it’s a “witchery store”. i go there and get my palm/cards read every time i go to the city. ask for Denise, tell her i sent you. she’s a certified voodoo priestess, VERY powerful medium, and dear friend. just describe me. lol. along the same lines, if you’re into this sort of thing, check out Reverand Zombies Voodoo Shop. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not take pictures or touch any of the “offering” alters. before i met Denise, this was my go to card reading place.
by now, you’ve probably built up an appetite and want something to grub on. this is where it get’s tricky since choosing a restaurant in the quarter is like picking your favorite kid. so, i’ll recommend the following:
–Johnny’s on st.louis and decatur. have the roast beef po-boy. expect a line, but well worth it.
–Central Grocery on decatur between dumaine and st. phillip. the link is from a NO food blog as central’s actual webpage blows goats. get a muffuletta. they come in 1/2’s and full. now, this is a VERY big sammich. 1/4 should be enough for one person. grab a bottle of barq’s root beer and head to a park bench along the river (notice where the blogger noshes his). i have MANY childhood memories of eating a muffuletta along the river with mom, sis, maw-maw and paw-paw.
–Cafe Maspero on decatur and toulousse. it’s basically a deli with local cuisine.
–Angeli’s on decatur and gov. nicholls. kind of bohemian. this is a local “secret spot” and if you feel in the mood for something different they have GREAT food.
–Pere Antione on royal and st. ann. this is classic creole and cajun cuisine. a bit pricier but WELL worth it. i’d recommend ordering from the “Louisiana Classics and New Orleans Favorites”. i always get the crawfish etouffe, and my mom loses her shit for the “mushrooms tchoupitoulas” (chop-eh-too-lus).
–Port-O-Call on esplanade and dauphine. best burger in the city, HAND’S DOWN. it’s been on foodTV and travel channel. they serve STRONG drinks, steaks, and a MONSTER burger, THAT’S IT. you gotta respect a place that keeps the menu that basic. again, this is if you just want a simple yet amazing burger experience. also usually the choice of pre-drinking grub.
–Acme Oyster House on iberville between bourbon and royal. GREAT seafood. the oyster rockafeller soup is insane. the “NO Specialties” portion of the menu is VERY good, but i’d recommend the 1/2 and 1/2 seafood platter. and trust me, the portions are HUGE.
i’m sure you realize there are MANY other places i could recommend, but these are my go-to list for a visitor to my city. when in doubt, if a place cathces your eye, check the menu and see if it’s up your alley.
so, you’ve stuffed your belly, and done a bit of walking. this is when i’d recommend heading to bourbon st. yes, you heard that right- tourist mecca. first off, stop into Tropical Isle and order a large hand grenade. HOWEVER, it is VERY strong. if the bar keep happens to be a tall, good looking white dude named Tim, tell him i sent you. just describe me, if it’s him he’ll know. tell him i brought my Paw Paw there once. this gentleman also knows my ex-Lyssia (she used to tend bar there). cool guy. kick back, enjoy your drink, enjoy the music (there’s usually a guy singing) and people watch. that’s our favorite past-time in the NO. i can’t tell you how many tourists i’ve had great conversations with in Tropical Isle. please keep in mind, locals are VERY friendly. that’s usually the first thing tourists tell me.
now, walk out of TI and head to your left. next on the agenda is Lafittes Blacksmith Shop. this is a must see as it reputed as being the oldest structure used as a bar in the US. it’s soooooo seedy and mysterious and cool. stop in and have a beer if you like, or just step in and get a feel for the nostalgia.
you may have noticed you passed a kinda gay set of clubs as you crossed St. Phillip. well, thats because you’ve officially crossed into the NO gay community epicenter. don’t fret, you’ll be fine, they don’t bite. but it would be in your best interest to put aside any homophobia or dislike for the gays. k. now, as you mosey on down to Laffite’s you might notice a joint tucked away to your right called
The Clover make a note of it, we’ll be discussing it later. the club Oz is where playboy visits when they’re in town. the club across the street is the one i used to dance in. what, don’t judge me.
after some time head down to Krazy Korner. ask for Marianna (i THINK she still works there, but i haven’t seen her the last few times i’ve stopped in) or Angie (she’s the manager). if neither are there head over to Bourbon St Blues Company (no link, sorry). once you get there ask for Angie (again she’s a manager and barkeep, i went to high school with her). if she’s working, tell her i said “Kisses Schmoops”. if she’s not there, no biggie. grab a seat and enjoy the show. if it’s daytime there should be an MC on the stage. order a beer (you’ll probably get three since it’s buy one get 2 free…..YEAH) and grab a spot at the bar and relax. remember, there’s no rush, you’re in the big easy- kick back and relax. plus, if it’s hot as balls out, enjoy the AC.
by now it should be late afternoon and you might find yourself getting hungry, i’ve already covered that. and now for some of what we in NO call Lagniappe (something extra). if you’d like you can visit my favorite used book store. “Acadian Books” just behind the St. Louis Cathedral at 714 orleans ave. if you blink, you’ll miss it. or my other book haunt, “Librairie Book Shop” just to the right of the Cathedral at 823 Chartres
ok. by now you might be pretty pooped, head back to your hotel cop a shower and get ready for tonight. OH, where are you staying? if i may; let me recommend The Royal St. Inn. this place is CHOICE. it’s swanky, it’s cool, kind of sleazy, and it’s AFFORDABLE, well…..realtively so. if i may, book “The Marigny” or “The Mississippi” suite. ok….ok, it’s $159 a night. but it’s WELL worth it. besides, one of the primary local hang-outs is the bar beneath your room (the R bar), plus it’s walking distance to all the places i’ve mentioned above. of course, feel free to book anywhere else you deem best.
now….the quarter after dark. first things first.
DISCLAIMER!!!!!! NO is a VERY dangerous place late at night. when walking out in the quarter, the biggest mistake tourists make is being blindingly drunk and stumbling about. usually, they hem you up on the cross streets. so if YOU MUST cross from bourbon to decatur, walk in the middle of the road. this enables you to keep a distance from the deep doorways where the thugs out to rob lie in wait. on the main streets: royal, decatur, bourbon- you’re fine. we good? good. also, there’s really no point going above bourbon street at night.
first thing you as a tourist must know is: clubs/bars don’t shut down in NO. so, we usually don’t start our night until 10-11. secondly, we drink…..A.LOT. HOWEVER, pace yourself. don’t pound drinks, sip, savor, and relax and let your night unfold. thirdly, put some food in your belly before heading out, and never, ever, EVER, eat a lucky dog. also. be aware, the closer to canal street you get, the shadier it gets. so, stay off canal at night.
now as touristy and hokey as it sounds i highly recommend the Haunted History Tour. now these are comprised of: ghost, cemetery, vampire, and various other walking tours. you get a history lesson and it is actually a pretty interesting tour. take your pick. after the tour….
stop over at Molly’s and mix in with the locals. again, this is not a touristy spot. these people are locals. sit back, grab a beer and enjoy yourself. don’t be shy about being a tourist either, if anyone asks you where you’re from, tell them and then mention you know a local who recommended the place. see….that’s not so hard. hell, we LOVE talking to tourists. remember the R bar i mentioned earlier, yeah…..that place is tits too. you gotta respect a bar that offers haircuts and a shot for $10. wanna grab a drink, listen to some live music, shoot some pool…..and DO YOUR LAUNDRY???? well, Check Point Charlie’s has you covered: right there on esplanade and decatur. just be advised, the place CAN be rough. lol.
feel free to mosey on back to bourbon (hell, i always start my night with a hand grenade) and watch the debauchery unfold. just realize, 99% of the places you visit are tourist spots. no harm in it, hell, you ALWAYS see something funny on bourbon at night, especially TIT-TAYS!!!!!!!
it also might be time to refuel at The Clover. i recommend the cheeseburger with egg. best post-drinking food in the city IMHO.
New Orleans Night Game.
oh, i know what you were waiting for. “where does Danny go hunting?” truth be told, the quarter isn’t really conducive to pick-up. but the one place that you can do well is The Gold Mine. don’t even bother going before 11. matter of fact, i’d shoot for 12-1 am. it’s in an old stable and it’s loud, sweaty and usually packed. they play every type of music and have a pool table. i’ve scooped a chick at the gold mine more than once. it’s usually PACKED with girls.
now, picking up on bourbon would seem like a dead lock. i mean, it’s a bunch of tourist chicks from mississippi, alabama, texas, and florida looking to do shit they never mention to the rest of their friends back home. however, the cock-block factor is HUGE. but, you can pull, it’s not impossible. i prefer to meet a tourist during the day, number close and promise to show her the REAL parts of the city later that evening. one good method is gaming the shot girls working on bourbon. usually, they tend to be pretty, well….let’s just say more willing to “show a tourist the good drinking spots”. if anything, get in good with one and have her invite you out with her friends. i usually end my night with a stop at the clover (linked above) for a post drink cheese-burger with blue-cheese and fried egg. at 4am, it’s heaven. you know you have a drinking problem when you know how to find the bathroom at the clover. only locals will get that reference.
meet the Morning 40. a GREAT local band that has since broken up. they were a group of fun-loving, unapologetic, proudly alcoholic, fun-loving boys from the 9th ward. did i mention NO also has a GREAT music scene. At least i got to see them perform once.
MC Trachiotomy. a local guy that does his own production and lyrics. he’s a virtual one-man band and fave among the local indie music snobs. met him once, he’s cool as fuck.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE visit Preservation Hall for some amazing jazz. House of blues usually has some decent gigs, and there’s a few different place good for live shows. check the “whereyat” link i’ll provide later for shows. also, if you listen to WTUL they usually give out free tickets. if they announce tix for a show you’d like, call in (504-865-5885) they’ll give you 2 free tickets. show up at the venue, tell them you’re on the “TUL list”, show ID and BOOM…..you’re in. can’t beat free.
metal….SURE, we do metal as well, but a few on them lean towards the “satanic” side. i usually see them when they play at House of Shock. would it surprise you to know that they’ll all Catholics? lol.
EyeHateGod. what we call in NO “sludge”. cool guys as well.
for any other info on what’s going down while you visit, please check out: WhereYat Magazine. it’s updated monthly. the friday paper also offer a “Lagniappe” section that breaks down what’s going on for the coming week. music, museum exhibits, festivals. all of it. OH, the WWII Museum is a good place check out. Paw-Paw has a brick there dedicated to him. hope all this helps.
i’m still working on the “Uptown” post. lol.