Ready to roam through New Orleans and get your fleur de lis on? Bring your joie de vivre. First let’s get a place to sleep situated. I stayed at Loew’s New Orleans on my most recent visit. And I’d stay there again. The room was clean, well-maintained and comfortable. The hotel is located downtown and a quick half mile walk gets you to the French Quarter. That’s close to the songs, swagger and sauce yet far enough away so you’re sleeping in a quieter neighborhood.
I love the ship-shaped chandelier and the red tongs theatrically gripping an ice block in Swizzle Stick Bar, part of Café Adelaide, located just off the hotel lobby. It’s a chic little bar for swizzling some beverages.
The main reason I’d stay at Loew’s New Orleans again is this: the staff was super friendly and professional. I felt welcomed to my vacation as soon as I walked into the hotel. The concierge gave fantastic advice on local spots, neighborhoods and how to navigate NOLA.
As I said earlier, Loew’s New Orleans is close to the sauce. So close that I could see one of my favorite sauce-making places from my room. That red brick building in the shadow of a skyscraper is Mother’s Restaurant. It’s been serving supremely comforting food in that same location since 1938. People line up to get at those po’boys, fried chicken, gumbos, baked hams and biscuits. Mother’s is the first stop in New Orleans. Always. Because this is the food I’ve been longing for since I last sunk into a Ferdi Special (roast beef, ham, debris and au jus po’boy) and swam in smoky gumbo and devoured crispy, juicy fried chicken. Get in that line.
By the way…don’t be daunted by the line or navigating Mother’s. Here’s how to do it: get in that line, go where the friendly staffers tell you to go, stay out of the path of busboys and servers hustling around and know what you want to order when you get to the front. Order, pay, find a table, give your receipt to a waiter and they’ll bring your food to the table. Here’s a link to their menu so you can plan your attack.
Relax and watch a bustling, longtime local restaurant crank out southern comfort on a plate. And definitely use that pepper vinegar sauce. You can bring sauce home with you or have them ship a whole big box of it to you so you won’t run out between visits. Time to walk off that gumbo and make room for donuts. Head to Magazine Street and Jackson in the Garden District which will put you smack in front of District Donuts for perfectly pillowy donuts and strong, smooth cold brew coffee. District Donuts serves the best sliders I’ve ever had in any city. My favorite: fried chicken with sweet and spicy slaw, candied jalapenos and crispy chicken skin.
There are plenty of antique and interior design stores to prowl through along this section of Magazine Street as well as funky little shops with clothing and baubles.
I bought several excellent necklaces from Langford Market and chatted with the super nice salesgirls who happily advised me on some other local places to check out. You can see a third necklace, my favorite one, from Langford Market in my last post.And since we’re talking about favorites…it’s time for Chef Donald Link’s Cochon: my no-contest favorite celebrity-chef-run restaurant of the many I visited on this trip.Cochon serves sumptuous, traditional Southern Cajun food and kickass cocktails. My favorite cocktail: The Mogwai, a delectable little sip of Vago Elote Mezcal, cold brew coffee, grapefruit juice and sugarcane syrup.
The service at Cochon was pristinely professional while remaining true to the friendliness and ease you get used to in New Orleans. Every dish and every cocktail (all of them…tried all of them. Don’t worry…I had help.) I dove into was totally oink-worthy. I plan to check out all of Donald Link’s restaurants on my next romp through NOLA.
Oink, Donald Link…I dig what you do!Time for tequila? Go to Yo Mama’s in the French Quarter. This local, dimlit dive has a surprisingly extensive tequila selection. The burgers are supposed to be awesome and they looked like some sloppy goodness on a bun but I wasn’t ready for a burger just then. Next time I’m in NOLA I’ll try one of Yo Mama’s burgers. Bonus: you get a yo mama joke on your receipt. Put that in the arsenal for your next schoolyard throwdown. On to look at art by local New Orleans artists at Bee Galleries. I wandered into this gallery and wound up loving (and purchasing) two pieces by Mark Bercier. He created a language of images, called The Healing Symbols, that harbors raw emotions and memories. I love looking at this piece and finding a new story within it each time I wander through.
I think an art piece is completed by the viewer. In that way I see art, and the fate of any artwork, as a mutable conversation. Mark Bercier’s work inspires ongoing conversation; journeys. His symbols have meaning and personal stories, some of which are hilarious. Those same symbols wake other memories and emotions in me that might author a new story.
I like that idea: that objects have lives before and after your hands have touched them. Maybe objects whisper their own language.Time to celebrate that artsy purchase with, of course, snacks and beverages. Check out Saint Lawrence for local and regional craft beers, Pimm’s Cup Daiquiris and some solidly good bar fare. If they have the crab claws: get those crab claws, boss.
Keep the celebration going by rolling over to 21st Amendment Bar which is part of The Hotel Mazarin. This is a sweet, petite spot lit by glittering chandeliers. Black and white photos of old school gangsters decorate the red-painted walls.The 21st Amendment Bar serves beautifully balanced, handcrafted, Prohibition-era cocktails from their shimmery, copper-topped bar. My favorite classy cocktail from here: the Diablo Viejo (translates to Old Devil) a mix of Reposado Mezcal, Cabeza Tequila, habanero citrus syrup and bitters. Thank you.
Plus they have live music trumpeted out by some seriously talented players.
The space is purported to be haunted which I didn’t know when I went there. And yet this place inspired some haunted lines in my poem for New Orleans.
Look out for those gangsters’ ghosts. They’ll sway that chandelier at ya.You might wind up bewitched, as I am now, by New Orleans. This city owns swagger and ease and a quaffable voodoo that’ll sink into you and make you want more.More haunting, more songs, more shivers, more sauces and sugar piled high.
Hunt that haunting.Don’t forget to stop into Café Du Monde and get your requisite beignets.
Till next time, New Orleans…stay haunting. It’d be so cool if I could still be haunting you.
Photos in this post link to NOLA spots. And here’s a nice orderly list with links:
Stay: Loew’s New Orleans