Going: New Orleans

Woo, vacation!  This last week my fella and I packed up our Halloween costumes and headed to New Orleans with a huge group of friends to celebrate the holiday. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and proceeded to eat, drink, shop and dance our way through the city until Monday afternoon. Here’s some of the places we went and the things we enjoyed. It was a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to go back!

We rented a row house in the Uptown neighborhood for 6 of us, complete with front porch, tall ceilings, back yard and kitchen. It was a wonderfully comfortable place to stay.  A whole larger group was over at a nearby inn and another group was over in the French Quarter. Our house was right near Freret street where there were bars, restaurants and shopping nearby.  2013-38-miriamdema

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A note on the street cars- they are amazing, beautiful, historic, soothing…the perfect way to get around the city. Except for the fact that they just don’t go that many places. We ended up taking a combination of street cars, walking, buses and quite a few cab rides. I think we took a different route or form of transportation every time we went somewhere in the city! and A LOT of walking!

Wednesday night we had drinks and oysters at Pacal’s Manale’s. It’s been around 100 years and they have some of the best raw oysters and a great bar! It was tough to drag ourselves away but we had dinner reservations at Cochon in the warehouse district.  We hopped a street car and arrived with time to have a pre-dinner snack at Cochon Butcher next door before heading to our delicious meal at Cochon. This might have been my favorite meal and night of the whole trip!  It didn’t hurt that the weather was absolutely beautiful that night, warm and with just enough humidity to make you feel like you were in a different place. We took a street car back to our neighborhood for some late night whiskey and conversation.2013-40-miriamdema

2013-41-miriamdema Thursday was Halloween! On our way to meet up with friends at a nearby bar in the French Quarter we noticed a *lack* of line to get into Acme Oyster House. I quickly detoured us inside for some raw and charred oysters, po’boys and red beans and rice. So yum! We wandered the Quarter and eventually had drinks and more snacks at Coop’s, shopping, and meeting up with more friends at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets. My fella and I really enjoyed just ambling around. We went to voodoo shops and little boutiques and historic homes. Parts of the French Quarter are very touristy but parts are mellow and with fun things to enjoy. We headed back to our house for costume changes and a great big ol’ meet up of everyone. Then there was rain, and there was waiting for the rain to stop, finally there was wandering in the rain and then lot’s of walking. When the rain finally cleared it was simply beautiful out, I was wandering the city dressed as Squirrel Girl with my husband dressed as Super Chicken in the company of about 20 other Super Heroes.We have a good time pretty much wherever we are.

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2013-45-miriamdemaFriday we had an early lunch reservation at Commander’s Palace and then a cemetery tour of Lafayette Cemetery #1. Commander’s Palace was fun though not quite my style, I’m glad I went with our friends and I did enjoy the food.  Our guided cemetery tour was very informative and really interesting. The guide had stories of old New Orleans families and who was buried where and why. Totally great! The rest of the day was filled with wandering for a bit on Magazine St, later fancy drinks at Cure on Freret St. and then a cab ride over to Frenchmen St. for live music and late night fried chicken at The Praline Connection and then dancing in the street to a band playing on a corner! Frenchmen St. area proved to be a fun area, I think I would love to stay closer to that part of town next time.
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Since arriving and going from one thing to the next I had been seeing a few shops and streets that I wanted to explore more, Saturday turned into the perfect day to retrace a few of our steps.  Fancy dress shops- I got a lovely dress from a shop called “Dolls and Dames”, The Pharmacy Museum, random spots I had bookmarked on yelp. It was a great day of wandering around the city with friends. Later a bunch more met up at Bar Tonique for hand crafted drinks, then oysters at Bourbon House (when the line for Acme was too long) and then 6 of us had a wonderful late dinner meal at La Petit Grocery on Magazine St.

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2013-51-miriamdemaSunday, friends we’re starting to migrate home to various parts of the country but my fella and I still had until Monday afternoon to explore New Orleans. We walked over to Magazine St. for some walking and shopping and snacks! I picked up a lovely strand of vintage Mardi Gras beads, had another order of the awesome crab beignets from LaPetit Grocery and stopped in at Sucre for chocolate and iced tea to enjoy while antique shopping. From there I wandered by way of street car over to the French Quarter to visit the Voodoo Museum. Later a big group of us met up at Tipitinas for music, dancing and drinks then a trip over to the warehouse district for a late night brass band. Having skipped dinner I hit up the grocery store nearby and got some great snacks to go! As much as I love fancy food like Cochon and LaPetit Grocery I also love quick snacks to go from grocery stores.
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 Oh noes Monday- last day in New Orleans! It was a toss up between going back for lunch at Cochon or wandering down Magazine for traditional Po’Boy sandwiches at one of the places that’s been around forever. After much deliberation we decided to go for the Po’ Boy’s and we were glad we did! We went to Domilise’s Sandwich Shop and shared a large half oyster/ half shrimp Po’Boy. It was so tasty, I wanted another one about  five minutes after we finished it! After lunch we walked more of Magazine St., I got a beautiful dress at a lovely shop called “A Girl Is A Gun” and then we had ice cream at Creole Creamery and got a big ol’ brownie to go from ManhattanJack for the plane ride. We enjoyed one final beer on the porch before catching our late afternoon flight home!
A few thoughts on our wonderful time in New Orleans – mostly  for myself since we *will* be going back and there are a few things I want to remember 🙂
Have oysters and beignets whenever possible. They are 2 of my favorite things. No really, that one time I was near the beignets but decided to go elsewhere….that was silly- go for beignets!
Everything is closed up tight on Sunday- from shops to restaurants. Go for one final early lunch or snack and then fly home on Sunday. Staying till Monday was awesome but leaving on Sunday is fine as well.
Stay closer to the French Quarter. I loved our house and it was nice to be close to the inn where a bunch of friends were staying but I think I’d like to stay in the Quarter or nearer to that next time. The amount of time we spent on getting from one area to another could have been better spent listening to music on Frenchmen St. or eating more beignets.
2013-53-miriamdemaShopping on Magazine Street really is lots of fun. There are great places to eat, drink and amble from one area to the next. If you start on Decatur in the French Quarter it becomes Magazine Street and heads towards the Warehouse District, through the Garden District and then to the Uptown Neighborhood before ending more or less at the park. I’m not sure you could walk and enjoy the whole street in one afternoon. I would focus on the areas between Napolean and Washington, although many blocks in either direction are filled with great shops and places to visit and all the way out by the park was the lovely store “A Girl Is A Gun” where I bought a dress on our last day. But yes, shopping on Magazine really is enjoyable.
Go at other times of the year. Yes, I totallly loved traveling with such a big group of friends. It was a blast! They’ve been going on this trip for many years now- originally to celebrate a friends birthday. But there are a few downsides to going over Halloween- the weather was a bit unpredictable. I actually would have loved a bit more heat and humidity. Also, I’d like to go and see what the music is like when there isn’t the huge music festival “Voodoo Fest” happening nearby but not in the city. I think maybe the bookings at the music venues might have been more interesting if the whole city’s music focus wasn’t elsewhere.
And more music! It was a toss up some nights between finding places to hear live music and getting dinner with friends. Now that we pretty much ate our way through New Orleans I think next time we’ll find time for more music venues!

Yep- just the food notes below! Sine we were traveling with such a big group (about 30 in all) that came together in various combinations we were able to share a lot of snacks and try a lot of different things. Thereby living by the motto for the week “Less of ALL of the Snacks”.

Pascal’s Manale, Uptownish – oysters and drinks
Cochon Butcher, Warehouse District – charcuterie and drinks
Cochon, Warehouse District  –  fantastic dinner and drinks!

Acme Oyster House, French Quarter – shared oysters and a po’boy
Coops, French Quarter – drinks and more shared snacks
Cafe Du Monde, French Quarter – beignets and coffee!
Superior Seafood, Uptownish – late night snacks- oysters again 🙂
later a blur of Halloween evening bars across town

Commander’s Palace, Garden District – lunch and drinks
Central Grocery, French Quarter – Muffuletta at the house for snacking
Cure, Freret St. – great cocktails and snacks
Random bars on Frenchmen Street listening to music
The Praline Connection, Frenchmen St. – shared fried chicken!

Dat Dog, Freret St. – hipster hot dogs
Bittersweet Confections, Warehouse District – scones and coffee
Bar Tonique, French Quarter – hand crafted cocktails
hand delivered beignets from Cafe Du Monde with cocktails!
Bourbon House, French Quarter- oysters and Bourbon Punch
La Bon Temps Roule, Magazine St – drinks
La Petit Grocery, Magazine St – fantastic dinner and great cocktails!

La Bon Temps Roule, Magazine St – Breakfast Bloody Maria’s
La Petit Grocery , Magazine St – lunch snack, those crab beignets!
Sucre, Magazine St – chocolate and iced tea
Kingfish, French Quarter – drinks
Grocery store near Tipitina’s – mini Muffuletta’s and jambalaya
Tipitina’s, East Riverside   – drinks and Zydeco
Superior Seafood, Uptown – late night oysters
The Howlin’ Wolf – late night brass band

Domilise Sandwich Shop, Uptown – Po’Boys!
Creole Creamery, Uptown – ice cream
ManhattanJack, Uptown – brownie to go for the plane ride
one final beer on the porch before hitting the airport!

 My favorite sit down fancy meals were at Cochon and La Petit Grocery. Favorite snacks were raw oysters from Pascals’ Manele, the beignets from Cafe Du Monde and  Po’Boys from Domalise Sandwich Shop. But pretty much everythng we ate was delicious!

One of these days I’ll learn to take it easy on vacation…
Nope, prolly not!

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