As we look forward to a full year of traveling abroad, Alex and I took one last opportunity to visit someplace new to us, here in the U.S. Always drawn to food and music, our choice was easy: New Orleans!
Let me tell you... it was amazing! The food was delicious, and everywhere we went, the people were so incredibly friendly. Neither of us have travelled to the South before. Does Arlington, Virginia count? (Actually, Alex travelled to North Carolina for a work trip once.) Anyway, this was our first true experience in the South, and it was just charming.
Sure, New Orleans is a large city, with over 9 million visitors a year, but it still has a very local feel. There’s no doubt that you have to walk through the French Quarter and Garden District, and eat beignets at Cafe du Monde... but there are so many other places to see and things to do away from the crowds of people in the streets with drinks in hand. It all starts with staying in the Tremé — the historic neighborhood that's the center of the city’s African-American and Créole culture.
We arrived at our Airbnb close to midnight, and the owner was throwing a little tango “shindig,” as he says. I had just re-watched “Midnight in Paris” (love Owen Wilson!), and it truly felt like a scene out of that movie. I mean, here we are in our jeans and yoga pants, entering an enchanting party set in the 1920s: a beautifully weathered historical house, with high ceilings, distressed walls, and chandeliers, tango music playing, dancers dancing, and the warm, humid, Louisiana breeze blowing softly through the open windows. They said to help ourselves to wine, so we grabbed a glass, walked throughout the house, and sat outside on the porch well past midnight.
The rest of the trip was magical in different ways, but mainly, that first night was a glimpse of the random, unexpected moments that we look forward to stumbling upon and sharing with you throughout the upcoming year.
Before we leave you with some recommendations, we wanted to highlight a standout for food and experience: Cochon in the Lower Garden District. Without reservations it would have been an hour-plus wait, however a local and regular named Rosalind (and her husband), very smoothly gave us their bar seats. So sweet and so charming, they recommended their favorites to order and asked if we’d ever tried Catdaddy Moonshine. Neither of us had, so she insisted on paying for a round. (So good — smooth and slightly sweet.) Anyway, if you have a chance to visit Cochon, you’ll see Rosalind in a photo collage that she made, sitting on the left side of the bar. Thank you Rosalind! Oh... and yes, the food was delicious! Loved the fried boudin with pickled peppers.
RESTAURANTS & BARS
- Cafe Amelie - We had the most delicious shrimp & grits here. Almost went back for seconds.
- Cafe du Monde
- Tan Dinh - We didn’t know about the large Vietnamese presence here until hearing about this place in Top Chef NOLA.
- Cochon - Fried boudin with pickled peppers.
- Willie Mae’s - Yes, it truly is the best fried chicken in the world, and also worth the hour long wait!
- The Spotted Cat - Reminiscent of our own San Francisco’s Amnesia (before the remodel).
- 30°/-90° - Great modern jazz bar where we listened to Justin Donavon.
- Paladar 511
- Spitfire Coffee
- Arrow Cafe
- Rue De La Course - Set in a beautiful historical bank building in the Uptown/Carrollton district.
- Fair Grinds Coffeehouse - Super local and cozy.