With the wedding and the location scouting/pre-prep for the wedding, we ended up having about 1.5 days of free time in NOLA. And the way our schedule worked out, we didn’t get a chance to try almost any of the restaurants that our foodie friends had recommended. But we did have lovely weather for walking around and enjoying several of the quintessential must-sees (Bourbon Street & the French Quarter, the cemeteries, the Garden District) while taking in the essence of the city.
The Old No. 77
535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans LA 70130
This place has a very cool hipster design favoring a masculine industrial vibe with plenty of exposed brick and duct work. The hotel doubles as an art gallery for the local art school and the lobby features an excellent coffee & pastry bar. To the left of the lobby is Compére Lapin, Top Chef Nina Compton’s restaurant, which unfortunately, we didn’t get to try. The location is nice and central in the Warehouse District: 3 blocks from the French Quarter and a slightly longer, but scenic, walk to the Garden District. The front desk staff were all excellent. Our first floor room had some funky vintage mod furniture and a very comfy bed, but was really dark with no natural light (the only window looked out onto a dark ventilation shaft). Apparently the higher level rooms have windows with much more light, so if we went back, we’d request a room on a higher floor. Parking isn’t cheap at $40/day, but you really don’t need a car with such a central location.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co. (inside Renaissance Arts Hotel)
700 Tchoupitoulas St.
Shrimp & grits, biscuit & spinach artichoke, beignets. Great food, cool scene in the bar area.
Breakfast at Surrey’s
1418 Magazine St.
Be prepared to wait – this place is a local favorite, and only has a handful of tables. But come hungry because everything is delicious and the pancakes are ginormous.
St. Roch Market
2381 St. Claude Avenue
A beautiful airy space with about 15-20 vendors offering a diverse range of food options and a cocktail bar. It’s like a mini upscale version of Reading Terminal Market.
Lunch at St. James Cheese Co.
641 Tchoupitoulas St.
Super tasty sandwiches & salads, and of course a great selection of cheeses in a bright cheerful space.
930 Poydras St.
This taqueria is co-owned by two celebrity chefs, John Besh & Aaron Sanchez, so we had fairly high expectations, especially since Mexican is one of our favorite cuisines. We would certainly go back, but we weren’t blown away. The highlights: strawberry habanero margarita, guacamole, cauliflower tacos (they were bangin’), and the coconut salted caramel flan. Just ok: the ceviche and the black bean side dish.
Magazine St. in the Garden District.
There are a few chains, such as Lush and Free People, but mostly fun & funky independently owned boutiques and restaurants.
The Art Garden
613 Frenchman Street (behind the wood fence)
Local artists and crafters display their wares in a charming courtyard setting.