Is there a city more magical, more historic, more culturally significant and more deliciously intoxicating than New Orleans? No, really – we’re asking because we can’t think of any. New Orleans is a city to be treasured and experienced and savored. It’s a city of secret back rooms, cobblestoned alleys, and ancient bars. It’s a city of decadent, spicy cuisine, unique shopping, romance and debauchery. It’s my kind of town. A recent trip to New Orleans opened up my eyes to its unexpected delights. Allow me to share them with you.
Where To Stay:
Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier Street
Located within walking distance of the French Quarter and near all the shopping on Canal Street, the Windsor Court is plush and comfortable, modern with old fashioned southern charm.
Where To Eat:
SoBou, 310 Chartres Street
Elegant, trendy ambiance and unique takes on classic New Orleans dishes are the order of the day at SoBou, the newest addition to the Brennan family chain of restaurants. If you’re looking for a romantic evening and quirky flavor combinations, this is the spot for you.
Deanie’s Seafood,841 Iberville Street
Most Nawlins natives will respond with one word when you ask them for the best place to eat in the French Quarter – Deanie’s. Expect mountainous portions of traditional Creole cuisine, and absolutely, positively order the barbecue shrimp. It’s a Deanie’s staple.
Antoine’s, 713 St Louis Street
Known as one of America’s oldest restaurants, and the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States, Antoine’s is a must-visit for your trip to New Orleans. Order oysters Rockefeller in the very restaurant in which the dish was invented. Ask your waiter for the grand tour after your meal and witness New Orleans history – from Mardi Gras royalty to dark, cramped slave quarters – in the 14-odd private back rooms.
Commander’s Palace, 1403 W. Washington Avenue
Thousands upon thousands of birthdays, anniversaries, wedding proposals and celebrations have taken place within the historic walls of the Commander’s Palace restaurant. Open for business since 1880, the place is a New Orleans landmark for a reason. Get the bread pudding soufflé if you want something to talk about.
La Petite Grocery, 4238 Magazine Street. You know that restaurant that’s so amazing you hesitate to tell others about it because it won’t be a hidden gem anymore? This is that restaurant. La Petite Grocery has a fascinating history and incredible cuisine, thanks to chef Justin Devillier. The blue crab beignets might make you want to give thanks to a higher power.
Where to Shop:
Voluptuous Vixen, 818 Chartres Street
Plus size fashion lovers, there’s a mecca for us in The Big Easy. Voluptuous Vixen has a lovely selection of on-trend, climate appropriate tops and dresses, and a chic ambiance to enhance the shopping experience. Best enjoyed after an afternoon of strolling and exploring the French Quarter.
With locations on Magazine Street and in the French Quarter, you’re likely to stumble past a Fleurty Girl location eventually, and when you do – definitely stop in. You’ll find the cutest and coolest New Orleans teeshirts and souvenirs here.
This quirky, adorable boutique on Royal Street is a new diamond in the rough. Stop in for one of a kind, locally made artworks, accessories and home décor items.
Six blocks of outdoor shopping at America’s oldest outdoor shopping market await you. Sure, there’s a fair measure of mass produced junk for sale at the French Market, but there are hidden gems to be discovered. Look for Oscar of New Orleans for truly unique handmade earrings, smell every last candle at Scent-Sations booth, and indulge in cupcakes by The Cupcake Fairies.
What To Do:
Only newbies and amateurs go to New Orleans and spend the whole time getting sloshed on Bourbon Street. To discover the city’s diversity and history while imbibing the whole time, we recommend you take the Scandalous Cocktail Hour Walking Tour. You’ll learn where some of New Orleans most historic watering holes are, and you’ll enjoy cocktails in the very bar in which they were first created. And then the next time you visit, you can impress your friends with your knowledge about the history of Pat O’Briens and the Carousel Bar.
Contributing Editor, Patrice Grell Yursik is the creator of Afrobella.com, one of the first blogs to celebrate the beauty of natural hair and ladies of all skin tones and sizes. Affectionately called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging, Patrice takes her readers inside unique beauty, fashion and cultural experiences.