Nola, A New Favorite.

We arrived in New Orleans at night and I quickly fell in love…which is saying something, because how can you even tell at night? We checked into our hotel and headed out for some gumbo and jambalaya (just jumping right in). A lot of people made NOLA sound really sketchy and dangerous but I never once felt that way. Honestly there are a million ghost tours every night through the French Quarter so there are always so many people around. My food guide is here if you are interested because this post is all about what we did! I’ve said it before but my favorite thing to do is walking tours in a new city. Do this first thing!! The reason for this is because you can completely pick your guides brain about anything and everything. Take complete advantage of restaurant recommendations, things to do and any other questions you have, it’s part of their job! A couple places on my food guide were from the guides. You also pass a lot of things and places that you wouldn’t find on your own that you can then add to your to do list and if you wait til the end of your trip you won’t have time. We used Free Tours By Foot and I love them! This is not sponsored at all either. We went on three different walking tours in New Orleans and I loved every one of them. The first one we did was the French Quarter tour and if you can only do one I would suggest that one just because it’s easy access and you get a feel of everything. The best thing about these tours is you can pay whatever you want so they fit all budgets. Bring cash for this, they really do an awesome job! We also did a ghost tour which was really cool. These are super popular and some companies charge a ton so you are really getting a good deal with Free Tours By Foot. They take you past the Lalaurie mansion. The final tour we did was the Garden District Tour. This was Lyle’s least favorite but I LOVE beautiful homes and architecture so I loved this tour and if you have time I think it’s fun to do!

To do:

Some other fun things to do are to wander Jackson Square which is in the center of New Orleans. Its a beautiful park with benches to have a picnic and if you walk straight towards the steps behind it you have some beautiful views for pictures. The picture below is taken from up there! Then you can wander Royal Street for some shopping. The best street for live music is Frenchman street so around 4:30 and on you can wander in and out listening to some awesome music! We also did the Historic Voodoo Museum which I think was only $5.00. It was really small but it had a lot of cool information and it was interesting to see how wrong I was about Voodoo ha. Another thing you have to do is do a Bayou Tour! I was really overwhelmed because there are SO many tours to choose from. If you have a car I recommend Cajun Pride Tours. Our guide was seriously the best. He knew everything there was to know and we even got to hold a small alligator! It was really relaxing to take a boat out on the water for a couple hours. My favorite part though was all the raccoons! If you don’t have a car though, don’t worry, you can book tours that can pick you up from your hotel but it will be more expensive. This tour was one of the more reasonable ones and even though I initially wanted to do an airboat I am glad we didn’t because it wasn’t so loud. This will take up at least half of your day though, so plan accordingly! I also recommend taking the trip out to Oak Alley Plantation. It is BEAUTIFUL (my pictures will be in the next post, I couldn’t fit them). I have seen a good amount of plantations and this one if my absolute favorite. The inside isn’t really much compared to the grounds but there is also a cute little restaurant that you can eat at for lunch as well. Depending on where you are staying it is about 45mins to an hour outside New Orleans but you can do a combined Swamp Tour/plantation tour and see both! Both were really fun and some of our favorite parts of the trip! Another really popular thing to do in New Orleans is to check out the cemeteries. This sounds really odd but they are all above ground and it is really unique. Everyone loves to check out Nicholas Cages’ burial site and you will hear a lot about why the people of New Orleans don’t really like him ha. You can also see Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo priestess resting spot if you are into all the voodoo stuff too. If you take the Garden District tour they take you through one of the cemeteries and give you a lot of background information on things you wouldn’t know if you wandered it yourself.

Things we didn’t get to do:

The first thing was the Pharmacy museum. This was recommended by our tour guide! It’s only $5.00 per person and they have guided tours at 1 pm from Tue-Fri. He said that there is always someone that faints because the guide goes into detail about how they used to do amputations and diseases that plagued New Orleans so if that interests you then check it out. Another museum that looked interesting was Mardi Gras World. The Free Tours by Foot also does a culinary tour and a Literary Greats walking tour so I would love to do those next time! Here is the link if you want to check any of the tours out: Walking Tours. I also really wanted to do the Steamboat Natchez boat ride. You can board it from the French Quarter and it is huge. We have friends that did it and they said not to pay for the food on board because it isn’t good, just a heads up! If you can’t do a swamp tour this would be a cool alternative. Its a beautiful, grand steam boat and I would have loved to do this. You can also take a horse and buggy tour around the city with a guide as well. They are right by Jackson Square. The Chalmette Battlefield outside of New Orleans also looked really cool to me! Whenever we go to a new city I like to look into the sporting events, concerts, festivals and holiday events that are happening because sometimes you come across the best stuff that way. If you go to google, most cities have calendars and websites that show fun things happening such as outdoor movies or Summer events.

Stay:

In New Orleans we stayed in a Marriott since my dad works for them but we also like to use Expedia or Airbnb when we travel in the U.S. Expedia is awesome because we have an account and get loyalty discounts and sometimes we will get on and have money stored so we have $10 off our next hotel booking so that has a lot of great perks. I like airbnb because you get to feel what it is like to be a local and truly experience the city. For New Orleans if you are wanting to stay right near or in the French Quarter your best bet is Airbnb because it is much more affordable than most of the hotels. There are private rooms for $46 a night! There are so many good deals and it’s cool because you can meet the host/hostess and get the locals point of view. I am honestly cheap with hotels because you are never even in them and I would rather use our money elsewhere. I was pretty nervous using Airbnb the first time but you can read all the reviews and pick a place that best suits your needs! New Orleans was pretty cool because they have whole apartments you can rent for $1000-$116 a night. This is really hard to find and if you are traveling with a large group you will save tons of money. It is pretty easy to access everything in New Orleans, you probably won’t even need an uber or anything. They have public transportation and you can use the cheap trolley cars to get around. You will probably only need to use this to get to the Garden District. If it is your first time you will quickly realize how little time you have and you won’t need to venture too far out.

 

I really hope this helps. If there is anything you want me to be more thorough about or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Besides writing these for memories and helping me remember my favorite spots for when I return to places I really want to make traveling more affordable, easier and less stressful so everyone can not only do it, but enjoy it. Lyle always thinks the most stressful part is the planning and that is the part I happen to love the most. This city is so fun and unique and I hope you have the best time and see it for how truly amazing it is!


XO Cait

New Orleans Food

New Orleans is perfect for a million reasons. It could be the amazing architecture, the colorful buildings, the rich history, the energy or the phenomenal food. There was a lot of food I had never tried before so I loved how new everything was to me. We learned about the different food influences and Creole cooking and I loved all of it. We didn’t have enough time to try all the different restaurants I wanted because I had such a huge list. I got tons of recommendations and have been doing research for a long time for New Orleans. My must tries were gumbo, jambalaya, bbq shrimp, beignets, a muffuletta, a po boy and kings cake. I got to try all of them except kings cake (which we were told was usually only around during Mardi Gras). Below I added in all the places we tried, which ones need reservations and dress codes and which ones I really wanted to try but didn’t fit in. Luckily we will be living within driving distance to this place because I plan on coming back and eating here as much as possible.

District Donuts Sliders Brew

IMG_6431 IMG_6433 IMG_6665 (1) IMG_6666IMG_6524Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

THIS PLACE HAS BEEN ON MY LIST FOR YEARS. YEARS. I am writing in all caps because if there is one place you need to go to in New Orleans it is here. We didn’t get to all my breakfast/brunch places because we ended up eating here every single morning haha. First off, they don’t just have donuts. The amazing egg and cheese biscuit above was so good and on the last day someone had a breakfast taco looking thing that I wish I had tried. All the donuts are fluffy and change every day too. The cookie dough one above was one of my favorites. As you can see, they are big enough to share! My all time favorite thing I tried was the cinnamon roll. They have a brûléed one that I specifically went for and the first day they dropped the whole tray which is why we ended up going back the next day and I am so glad we did. It was really good but after that I got it without the brûlée just like a regular cinnamon roll and it was probably the best cinnamon roll I have ever had. EVER. I am still thinking about it. I called everyday before we left because they always run out of these and they would say when they are getting the next batch out and we would pop over when they were gooey and warm. If you are wanting to try it I recommend doing this because they always sell out. There are multiple locations and there is always a line but it moves really fast so don’t let that deter you. This place is listed as one of the best donut places in the U.S. so you have to try it!!

CAFE DU MONDE

IMG_6426

I feel like this is a must, if you go to NOLA and don’t try beignets did you really even go?! This place is all you hear about when it comes to them. I actually just watched an episode where Kim Kardashian went here three times on her trip because they are her most favorite thing. A couple things to note: you can only pay with cash, there is no host- you seat yourself, they come in an order of three for like $3?, there is typically a huge wait anytime during the day. We got up early one day like 7:45ish and there was no wait though, so if you are an early riser that is a great time. Apparently it is open 24 hours so if you go really late apparently the wait isn’t bad either!

Central Grocery & Deli

IMG_6489

This place was actually a recommendation and it was really good considering it wasn’t something I would typically order because of all the olives. Lyle really liked it too! It is very close to Cafe Du Monde and Jackson Square so you won’t have to venture too far. The line is always really long too but it also moves fast! There are several places that sell these but this is supposedly the best and the man behind us in line said he tried a couple other places and they were too salty so there’s a locals opinion. We just got a half that they cut in half and it was more than enough. It’s from Italy and it’s pretty popular down here.

Dante’s Kitchen

IMG_6420 IMG_6421

This chicken was unreal. It had a sweet maple sauce and it was so juicy and perfectly cooked. Everything at this restaurant is locally sourced and you can tell. I could eat that chicken every single day. It’s in a quaint little cottage and outside of the French Quarter so if you don’t have a car it may be a little more difficult. Lyle didn’t like that the menu wasn’t too extensive and it’s a little unique/different but I love what it is all about. The service and the reviews are great and I think you should check it out.

The French Market

IMG_6490

If you keep walking past Cafe Du Monde on your right you will run right in this place. They have tons of little stalls selling souvenirs and things and tons of little food vendors selling everything from sweets, smoothies, crepes to gator on a stick, crawfish and New Orleans classics. There is one little place selling cookies and brownies and they were all so soft and yummy. I really loved this brownie and their oatmeal cookie! This is a fun place to check out because you can sample lots of different things in one place.

Brennans

IMG_6364 IMG_6663Processed with VSCO with s3 presetThis place requires reservations. We watched people show up and be turned away. It is a cute pink building with the cutest interior! We got the french toast and the apple thing but we split both of them. They kept telling us the french toast was sweet and I was like I have the hugest sweet tooth on the planet I can handle it but they were not kidding hahaha, it was dang sweet. I think I could do without all the powdered sugar but Lyle loved it! I have said it before but I am not a frou frou food person. I don’t like really fancy places with weird foods but this place was written about everywhere so we gave it a try. It was really good, has tons of great reviews and created the bananas foster dessert which is really cool.

Gumbo Shop

IMG_6668 IMG_6669 (1)

The first night we got in we headed here to get some gumbo and jambalaya. Both were really good. I loved how low key this place was and we sat out in the little courtyard and I loved it! I got the chicken andouille gumbo. I tried gumbo three times on this trip and my all time favorite was the gumbo from the restaurant at Oak Alley Plantation. It was a seafood gumbo and it was SO GOOD. Lyle got the po boy from there and that was great too so if you take a day trip out (which you need to) I recommend eating here! You should try the bread pudding.

Willa JeanIMG_6518IMG_6520

So I was really excited for this place because if you look at all the baked goods they have they look amazing. They have these huge cinnamon rolls and all these different pies but they make different things everyday and they didn’t have any of them that I wanted when we went. We will have to go back and try some of their other things next time though. They have a cute little cafe too with a bunch of menu items. It’s really cute and I recommend this place!

Boucherie

IMG_6667

Pretty much every place has bread pudding on their menu but this place makes a Krispy Kreme bread pudding! We got it to go so it doesn’t look as good but you can do ice cream on top of it too. This place was recommended to me but it was also all over when I did my research too. I would love to try this earlier in the day like lunch time because it was really good but we got it right before they closed so it wasn’t as fresh. This dessert is raved about though. I recommend trying it but go early!

I would do your research before you go because not every place is good. We had some places I really wanted to go to but we couldn’t fit in. When I go to them next time I will update this but I am listing them below for you. A lot of these are suggestions from our local guides but they all had different favorites because everyone likes different things so I recommend checking out the menus, but here they are:

Willie Maes Scotch House- I had two places I was really sad I didn’t get to try and this was one of them. Everyone said it has the absolute best fried chicken but it was hard to get to because it closes at 5 and wasn’t in the french quarter and our days were pretty packed. It is at the top of my list for next time.

Antoines- A New Orleans classic place to eat at. You need reservations! We didn’t eat here because it was another fancy place but I definitely want to go. You can even take a tour of all the rooms. It is one of the oldest family run restaurants in the country.

Sucre- It is a cute little shop with gelato, cupcakes, pastries and macaroons. As you can see we had more than enough sugar on this trip but when we walked in I really wanted one of their cupcakes! They seriously looked so big and soft. If you are needing something sweet I would check this place out.

Ruby Slipper- I got recommended this place by multiple people and made space for it because it looked really good but District Donuts took over. This place had a huge and yummy menu and this will also be at the top of my life for next time.

Commanders Palace- This place was one of the ones I was saddest to miss out on. I really wanted to try their strawberry shortcake but I didn’t make reservations because our schedule was crazy and then I missed out. It is right by the huge district homes so you can do a tour through there and schedule a reservation for this place after. It is also fancy though and requires a dress code so keep that in mind!

Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge- We don’t drink so we didn’t go here but the carousel would be so cool to sit at. Look at some pictures of it!

Palace Cafe- Apparently this has the best bread pudding!

Galatoires- for amazing gumbo. There are so many places that sell gumbo but I was kind of limited because I didn’t want to eat any with duck or rabbit so I tried the seafood ones or just the plain chicken ones.

St Roch Market, Biscuits and Buns on Banks (I love a good biscuit!), Irenes Cuisine (recommended my our local guide),  Parkway Bakery and Tavern 4 Po boys (outside the French Quarter but you can get them everywhere) and Muriel’s (if you want to pay to dine with ghosts, yes, you read that right) to finish off my list.

Check back in a couple days because I am working on my New Orleans post right now!