One of our favorite places in the world is the Big Easy! I love the music, the heat, the food . . . the city seems to pulse with energy and joy. John visited New Orleans many times before we met (he had a good friend who lived there), and he’s introduced me to some fabulous places that are off the beaten track. I loved experiencing the real New Orleans–so much better than Bourbon Street!–and today I’m sharing some of his best recommendations with you.
From the minute you arrive at the New Orleans airport, you’re immersed in the jubilant sounds of jazz. But don’t limit yourselves to the musicians who play outside on Bourbon Street or in the tourist bars! We’ve heard some incredible music at various bars on Frenchman Street, including the Spotted Cat and Bamboula’s. (But please learn from our mistake and don’t get a hotel or Airbnb on Frenchman Street. During our most recent trip, the music didn’t stop until after 3 am!)
We’ve also loved visiting Kermit’s Mother-in-Law Lounge in Treme. The owner is a famous trumpet player who co-founded Rebirth many years ago. He’s created a very welcoming space with a cool vibe. Follow @ruffinsbbq on instagram to see the music schedule for the Mother-in-Law Lounge.
We saw Rebirth live at Jazz Fest, and they put on a really fun show! If you can see them live while you’re in NOLA, don’t pass up the opportunity.
A few years ago we spent a day walking down Magazine Street and popping in and out of the shops and bars. It was fantastic!
And please do yourself a favor and stroll a few blocks off Magazine Street for a po’boy at Domilise’s. This no-frills diner is a New Orleans treasure. The food is incredible.
On another trip we joined a group walking tour of the Garden District, which I also recommend. It’s fun to hear the stories about local and international celebrities in New Orleans, and walking around the neighborhoods gives you a good feel for the city. Plus, the homes in the Garden District are gorgeous! I bet a walking tour of Marigny would be excellent, too.
Both times we’ve been to New Orleans together, we’ve visited Jacques Imo’s, an amazing local restaurant famous for crawfish étouffée, shrimp creole, fried chicken, and a bunch of other stuff. The food is absolutely incredible. It’s fun to take the St. Charles Streetcar to the Claiborne stop and walk to the restaurant from there. And, if you have any room left after your meal, we recommend getting a freeze at the Camellia Grill, a diner within walking distance of Jacques Imo’s.
If you’re near Marigny or the Bywater, we loved Elizabeth’s Restaurant. The vibe was funky and the food was divine. John said their Bloody Mary was one of the best he’s ever had.
What are your favorite things to do in New Orleans? Please share your best tips in the comments! I have a feeling we’ll be going back very soon . . .