Daniel and I took a road trip down to New Orleans in September. I know I’m late uploading these pictures. Better late than never. It was Daniel’s very first time visiting New Orleans. I can’t count how many times I’ve visited NOLA. But, I really wanted to make this trip special as I have taken on the role of showing my husband as many American cities as I possibly can. New Orleans is a special city. It’s one of America’s oldest cities. I do believe, It’s holding on for dear life to keep as much of its culture and essence as possible without being the victim of gentrification like many American cities. We didn’t have a hard schedule of things to do. During this trip, we wanted an authentic local experience. Anyway, here are some photos and our experience…..
We dipped away on a Friday afternoon around 11 am and headed down I-55 South from Memphis. Thankfully, we were not in a rush to get anywhere other than dinner. I love to slow down, hop in a car and just enjoy being present. Road trips are so relaxing. There is nothing like a car ride listening to music, eating snacks, talking and napping. The ride down to New Orleans is very smooth and easy. I am always in awe every time I drive over Lake Pontchartrain. It’s a massive 630 sq mile lake that has the longest straight bridge in the world. I will be honest I think about black people migrating from New Orleans through Mississippi up to Memphis and then to Chicago every single time I drive down to New Orleans. Random I know but worth sharing.
When we arrived, we checked into our hotel and quickly got dressed for what we were praying a dinner at Dooky Chase restaurant. To our surprise, the dining room was full and they were not taking any reservations. BOMBER. Our uncle Google, diverted us to Napoleon Restaurant where we had a bowl of gumbo and jambalya but also met a mouse friend in the restaurant. UGH! Our Friday night wasn’t been very hospitable but moving on we shall. Hoping to take back our Friday dining experience, we walked the French Quarter in search of the best bread pudding. Little tip about NOLA, many of the very popular must eat restaurants only take reservations and disappointingly stop dinner service at around 9p. I’d suggest going in on a Thursday instead of Friday. Otherwise, you will end up with very touristy dining experiences unless you travel into other neighborhoods.
The evening wasn’t completely lost. We found our way over to Frenchman Street. Frenchman Street was recommended to us by our hotel concierge for a more “local” experience other than Bourbon. I wasn’t in the mood for Bourbon-at all. We went into a few music venues and bars even went salsa dancing for a bit. Before heading to our hotel, we stopped by the Frenchmen Art Market and really enjoyed viewing local art and goods. I will definitely go back next time I visit.
Saturday morning, we had great plans. Our hopes were to get as much of New Orleans in as humanly possible. For the both of us that meant getting as much food and culture in as we could. Again, our reliable Uncle Google led us to the Garden District. During the car ride down, I intentionally searched for things to do in NOLA off the beaten path. My plans were to go on an artists weekend for much need inspiration.
The Garden District is cute and charming. I found it very funny one of the New Orleans tourism websites said “It has the looks in the family.” It’s one of the oldest preserved neighborhood with historic beautiful mansions, St. Charles Streetcar, Magazine Street shopping, famous universities, Audubon Park and the Zoo. I came Uptown to the Garden District for one thing—see Ashley Longshore’s Gallery.
I built up a quick appetite after oohing and ahhing at Ashley Longshore so we drove back to spend the afternoon in the French Quarter. I had the pleasure of taking Daniel to my favorite beignet shop, Cafe Beignet. No I am not a fan of Cafe Du Monde. It’s far too crowded. Cafe Beignet is tucked off on Royal Street in the Quarter. It’s cute, comfy and they serve the best beignets and cafe mocha.
We had a gorgeous time talking about what we loved thus far in New Orleans, things we don’t like haha and other cities we’d love to visit soon. We decided to walk the sugar off and I ran into a group of musicians preparing to head out for a second line. YA’LLLLLLLL MY DAY WAS MADE. I have always, like always, wanted to walk behind a second line parade. One of my NOLA escapade dreams came true.
Before leaving the quarter, we stopped by and gazed at the Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the United States. The view is gorgeous. The walk is so peaceful. If you are ever in New Orleans, its a great photo opp.
Remember the art and culture I needed for inspiration? We took a quick ride over to the Bywater District. Known for its colorful street murals, the Bywater neighborhood has a bohemian vibe, with plenty of outdoor cafes, boisterous dive bars and hip restaurants. I came over to lay my eyes on a jaw dropping mural by of this adorable little black girl with so much light by New Orleans superstar artist B. Mike.
Now you know, it’s time to eat again. This time, I used my cousin Instagram for food recommendations that brought me to my friend Justin who went to undergrad in New Orleans. I wanted to eat local and Justin recommended Neyow’s Creole Cafe, a black owned restaurant. Unbeknownst to me, this restaurant is becoming one of the most popular and highly recommended restaurants in New Orleans.
We ordered the most delicious chargrilled oysters with a seasoning that would make you slap yo mama, stuffed shrimp with a crawfish dressing and potato salad. Oh and I’ve been omitting the cocktails but I could not avoid mentioning the banana mojito. The atmosphere was lively. There was jazz playing, plates being served, parties laughing and enjoying themselves. I would recommend Neyow’s to any and everyone.
And, on Sunday morning we rose. It was a very last day in New Orleans. You can’t get on the road with an empty tummy. Of course not. I referenced a couple of food blogs of places to eat. We picked one. After passing by Katie’s and seeing the people outside waiting, we know we had to detour and see what Katie’s in Mid City was about. Apparently, it’s a hot spot for brunch for locals. I would agree it has earned its deserving title.
Daniel ordered the Eggs Benedict and Swamp Fries. The Swamp Fries were delicious just not too pretty for photos. Delicious though. I ordered the Crawfish Frittata. It was very yummy to my tummy. The food was really good and the service was awesome. The restaurant was jam packed which says a lot.
I enjoyed New Orleans as always. It made me so very happy to share memories with my husband as he takes in American cities like New Orleans. I can never see all that I’d like to see in New Orleans so I’ll be back very soon.
Have you ever traveled to New Orleans?