I recently visited New Orleans for the first time (I know I know. What took so long?), and of course had a wonderful time. I ate and drank and saw lots of fantastic stuff. Mostly I ate.
Below are some restaurants I’d recommend trying out, along with a few places we went that are worth specifically mentioning. Above all, I’d recommend wandering. Wander the French Quarter, Bywater, the Garden District. Wander and take in the beautiful, colorful homes, the river, the parks, the sights and sounds.
- Oxalis — Chill bar/restaurant with a delicious burger and well-mixed cocktails in the Bywater.
- Satsuma Cafe — An earthy cafe with fresh juices, vegan and not-so-vegan breakfast and lunch, and coffee in the Bywater.
- Cafe Du Monde — You already know about this one. Totally worth a trip for beignets and coffee, especially at a random time on a weekday. Seat yourself in the cafe area or grab to-go at the window. Don’t wear black (see photo).
- Parkway — A classic po’ boy joint with every kind of sandwich. Go for the fried shrimp.
- Cane & Table — A good balance of high-class food in a jovial setting. Try the whole grilled fish and cocktails.
- Sylvain — A nice dinner in the French Quarter that won’t totally blow your budget. New spins on Southern and NOLA cuisine. Romantic.
- Elizabeth’s — A down-home restaurant in the Bywater where everyone will feel at home. Serves NOLA classics and has brunch.
- Cochon Butcher — Lots of people talk about Cochon, but the sandwich shop next door is pretty great. Delicious lunch fare and a meat and cheese counter to boot. Where the Warehouse/Lower Garden/Central Business District collide.
- Bacchanal — A homey wine and cheese store + restaurant and venue in Bywater. Pick out your wine (with the help of an expert) and cheese downstairs and they’ll deliver it to you with accompaniments on the patio or upstairs.
- Carousel Bar — Located in Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. It’s historic and fun. Go at an off time for a chance to sit at the rotating bar.
- Frenchman Street — Wander this street any night of the week and see live jazz of all kinds. Follow your ears.
- WWII Museum — A huge and engaging museum with lots to see and do. Don’t skip the 4D movie.
- Jean Laffite National Preserve — It’s a couple of hours drive from New Orleans, but if the weather’s right it’s worth it. Take a supremely peaceful walk through the swamp and see snakes, turtles, gators, and lots of hanging moss.
- Preservation Hall — Top-notch NOLA history and jazz. Go to an early show on a Sunday or weekday and line up at least 30 minutes beforehand. Be prepared to cram into the tiny, magical venue.
- Magazine Street/Lower Garden District — Wander in and out of shops and ogle at the beautiful homes.