Help Me Plan My Last Minute Trip to New Orleans

by on August 29, 2013 · 79 comments

in Trip Reports

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I’ve been all around the world including Easter Island and Seychelles, but I’ve never been to New Orleans. However, this week a friend who is working there on a project got some time off and convinced me (with little actual convincing) to come down and spend a couple days. I know it is hot there right now, but weather doesn’t bother me. I plan to hang out and eat some good food and I know there are so many options in New Orleans.

French Quarter, here I come!

French Quarter, here I come!

So please feel free to share your “must-do” New Orleans experiences and if you want to follow my travels as they happen, make sure you follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

In the meantime, I’ll be re-reading our Destination of the Week: New Orleans guide as a primer for the city, but as always I really value reader recommendations!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Karo

    Lunch at Acme!

  • Brad

    Galatoire’s for lunch or dinner.

  • Casey

    The Hyatt French Quarter is really great! And eat at NOLA!

  • Ryan

    Here’s a different “must-do” if you have an extra day to get your hands dirty. Sign up and volunteer at the St. Bernard Project. After all, it’s the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the city. You’ll get more out of seeing the real New Orleans!

  • girlycheckin

    Bug Appetit! Entomophagy at the Audobon Nature Institute is definitely not your typical New Orleans (or anywhere else) gastronomic adventure. Met the chef last month at the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Bugfest in Philly, where he did a cook-off and sampling of all sorts of insect delicacies:

  • The #hustle Blog

    You enjoy tasty, eclectice food… Cochon and/or Cochon Butcher. It’s what I always recommend to people.

  • Cory Wright

    Dinner at Jacques-Imo’s, but be there soon after they open, the line forms fast.

  • Leverandon

    Cure: Best cocktail bar in the city (one of the best anywhere)
    Cochon: awesome modern Cajun food.
    Stella!: Pricey but well worth it for the best food in New Orleans. Get the duck five ways.
    Company Burger: best burger in the city.
    Napoleon House: old world bar with relaxing courtyard. Get a Pimm’s Cup.

  • Scoop

    Stay at the Roosevelt (Hilton property), which is a great old hotel and convenient. On the ground floor is John Besh’s Domenica — and from 3 to 6 has a happy hour of half price gourmet pizza, beer, wine and well drinks. Great place. Eat a afternoon snack and that allows a late dinner at Mr. B’s in the quarter (owned by Brennan family)…then walk across street to Monteleone Hotel and have a drink at its carousel bar.

  • Greg

    Crabby Jack’s for lunch if you’re renting a car. I’d go old timey in the Quarter. Lots of boutique hotels. Abita Brewery Tour is awesome.

  • Msv

    Go to Pat O’Briens and have a Hurricane

  • Jonathan

    Brunch at Atchafalaya and make sure to get outside of the French quarter.

  • Willy

    Hit up Mother’s for lunch. I recently stayed at W on Poydras, nice hotel, great location. You are walkable to Bourbon Street but not in the thick of it. Also, right next to Harrah’s. On Bourbon, hit up Pat O’Briens, great dueling Piano bar in the back.

  • JK

    Second Jacques-Imo’s, Cochon and Galatoire’s

    Commander’s Palace – $0.75 martinis with lunch
    Columns – cocktails on the porch along St. Charles
    Sazerac at the Roosevelt Hotel – birthplace of the cocktail
    Lafitte’s Blacksmith – best place to close down the night
    Frenchman Street – great live music in a ton of bars
    Atchafalaya brunch – Bloody Mary bar
    Bulldog – tons of beers on tap

  • Colby

    Go to August for dinner. One of the best meals I have ever had.

  • Nick

    Make sure to have a day to do non-touristy stuff — I recommend a day hanging out in the Bywater, which is creative, buzzy, artsy and very happening in a non-happening way. (I can’t explain it.) It’s sort of the gay/hipster neighborhood of the moment. You’ve got to hit up Booty’s Street Food (the breakfast banh mi, btw, is to die for) and have some of their artisan daiquiris. You can also hit up Maurepas Foods, a block away, for a dinner that will astound you. And the best part of the Bywater is The Country Club, which is at once: (1) a foodie restaurant in an old mansion; (2) a mixed gay/straight bar; and (3) a beautiful outdoor pool with a pool bar and lounging area. Great music, cheap drinks, lovely pool, FUN crowd. Probably anywhere from 80% gay/20% straight on a weekday to 80% straight/20% gay on a weekend, but all very accepting. AND, some folks choose to go clothing-optional, which makes for very interesting people watching. It sounds kind of skeevy and steamroom-like, but it’s very much on the up and up. I’ve even seen celebrities there!

    Also: you have to go to Domilise’s for an oyster po boy. No question about that one.

  • Jerome

    Jazz at Preservation Hall, Trolly Car ride through Garden District, WW II Museum, lunch at Mullate’s,

  • Yippeee

    Jacques-Imo’s is awesome….make sure and step away from the Quarter and eat there. Also Elizabeth’s for brunch or breakfast is awesome!

  • Efilon87

    Port of Call for a Monsoon, it’s like a Long Island Iced Tea….except more alcohol-y :)

  • studio253

    Mother’s is great. Willie Mae’s Scotch House has the best fried chicken I have ever eaten. It’s the yardstick that I measure all others by.

  • JB

    Port O Call….best burgers and amazing Baked Potato with the works

  • Rachel

    I loved going to the Spotted Cat for great music, local dancers and drinks. A highlight of our trip last year.

  • DWT

    Will you be there this coming weekend? It’s Southern Decadence!

  • Adam

    yay go Southern Decadence!

  • dcsg

    Erin Rose for Po’ Boys (and a cocktail)
    Red Gravy for any meal
    Coop’s for cocktails, authentic food and atmosphere
    Frenchmen Street for music
    Schiro’s Cafe in the Marigny for catfish or Indian food, and cheap/strong drinks

  • Charlie Fischl

    Eat at Restaurant August. This is Chef John Besh’s flagship, and it’s truly excellent. If you do any fine dining in New Orleans, make it at August.

    Cassamento’s for oysters. The place has been around forever, and if you’re lucky they’ll be serving grilled ones when you go. Definitely order a dozen. Great place for lunch.

    Lunch or dinner at Herbsaint. This is Donald Link’s restaurant, and while the restaurant describes itself as a “modern bistro,” its really New American/French with strong Louisiana/regional influences. The food was both interesting and delicious. The restaurant was a James Beard finalist in 2012.

    Have a great time in New Orleans!

  • Andrew Witter

    Its the Southern Decadence Festival this weekend! There will all kinds of colorful festivities!!! Enjoy

  • DavidYoung2

    French Quarter: Make your way down Decatur Street. Grab a beer at Crescent City Brewing, pop into The Cigar Factory for some good smokes then head down to Coops Place for real NO food.

    If in the Garden District, grab some boiled shrimp and (doubtful they have any this time of year, but maybe) crawfish at The Big Fisherman on Magazine then walk across the street and spread them out at The Bulldog and have some beers.

  • Rene Webb Miller

    Have lunch or dinner in the courtyard at The Court of Two Sisters. We eat there every time we go to New Orleans. Have a drink at the carousel bar at Hotel Monteleone. Also, if you have time, go on a swamp tour. Very interesting experience. If you are into U.S. history, you can visit many old plantation homes along River Road on the way to Baton Rouge. Oak Alley is one of the most photographed, and fun to visit.

  • Frank

    I love to party on Bourbon Street like all the rest, but the single most incredible must-see spot in New Orleans is the National World War II museum. As a Canadian, the D-Day invasion of “Juno” is personal for me but the history of the war in that museum is incredible. Even if I’m down there for a bachelor party, I try to swing by. Can always learn something new!

  • Mark Lyon

    The Bourbon Orleans is a great place to stay. If you need a place with free parking, the casino will give you free parking if you spend a little time on the slots (usually am able to not lose any money in the number of plays required for free parking).

  • Kevin P

    definitely Cochon and August for grub

  • John Guide

    Deanie’s Seafood at 841 Iberville, kitty corner to the Ritz Carlton’s back entrance. Great seafood with clean modern decor.

  • CMH322

    Patty O’s Hurricane!

  • notchochz

    It’s been said already… but don’t miss Mother’s for lunch.

    Also, the Blacksmith bar has an interesting (all candle-lit) atmosphere. Stop in for a drink.

  • Mark

    I highly recommend the Saint Hotel, which is part of the Marriott Signature Collection.

  • drbubba

    Agree with everything so far but would add Restaurant R’evolution to the mix. Also try Stanley’s

  • Little Tea Blog

    Surprised no one mentioned Cafe du Monde yet.. or is that a given/tourist trap?

  • Dina

    Cafe dumonde for the beignets and chickory coffee! The turtle soup at commanders palace I also recommend. Walk along the Mississippi

  • madtho

    Breakfast: Elizabeth’s
    Stroll: through the Bywater and Marigny back from E’s
    Music: can’t go wrong spending the evening on Frenchman, but don’t miss the happenings out at Siberia and Allways Lounge
    Late night Po Boy: Veri Marte (maybe not the finest, but a great experience)

    All that said, you’ll love Bacchanal Wine, go there.
    Bike is a super way to get around.

    Have fun!

  • Kathy

    Get a French 75 at French 75. You’ll feel like you’ve re-entered the 1940s, and the drink will be amazing. We also loved the food at Dick & Jenny’s, which is a bit off the beaten path.

  • Fred

    Drago’s for char broiled oysters. Life changing. Croatian family owned. Cvitanovich. Go on the way from airport to the original location in Metarie. Closed Sundays.

  • Jamie

    I was just going to say eat at Mother’s. It is good! So, I will second Willy’s suggestion.

  • Jamie

    I think it is a given/tourist trap, but SO worth it. Do not be deterred by the long lines (the line moves fast) and fact that it is full of tourists, because it’s also full of locals. Cafe au lait and beignets. hard to beat.

  • Donnie Berkholz

    Avenue is great.

  • Myron

    Having frequented NOLA quite a bit while living in Louisiana the last 6 years, here are some of my favorite recommendations:

    - Cochon is good, but Cochon Butcher (around the corner) is amazing.
    - My pick for a fancier meal would be Bayona, though Restaurant August is excellent as well and offers a $20 prix fixe lunch on Friday.
    - Hansen’s Sno-Bliz for an incredible sno-ball.
    - Willie Mae’s for fried chicken. There’s debate on this, but it’s been spectacular every time I’ve been. If you do this, go with butter beans as your side.
    - Hit up Domenica at happy hour for some quality pizza (and drinks).
    - Take a stroll down Magazine. It’s lined with neat little shops and eateries for quite a ways.

  • Jamie

    We stayed at the Astor Crowne Plaza and thought the room, location, and customer service were great. The valet took a long time to bring the car the last day, but it was a busy time.
    Deanie’s seafood is nearby and great, as well.

  • JayPHX

    We are having a party on Saturday afternoon at our house – hit me up for details if you guys want to come! French quarter

  • Christian

    I always make sure to go to Southern Candymakers on Decatur just before I head to the airport. While their original pralines get all the awards, their coconut pralines are out of this world. They will shrink wrap your purchase to help with security at the airport.

  • em

    Brunch at Elizabeth’s (don’t miss the praline bacon). The world’s hands-down best fried chicken is at Wille Mae’s Scotch House. They sell out and the wait can be long but it is worth it.

  • Espan

    Skip the line at Acme and go across the street to Felix’s and eat at the bar…

    End every night on Frenchman’s street…

  • Michael

    You must eat at Cafe Amelie ( and Muriel’s ( I’d rate them both over so many places that end up on the “must-do” lists.

    And as someone else mentioned, it’s Southern Decadence this weekend so, *cough*, expect the unexpected. lol

  • Mark

    You are going for Southern Decadence weekend! It’s always over Labor Day weekend and is considered to be THE Gay Mardi Gras party in U.S.. Just hit Bourbon street down the Bourbon pub and you will have plenty of fun paryting.

  • Eric

    If you want something a bit less formal go to Luke’s (a John Besh brasserie). The prices are not quite as high and the food is delicious. Definitely worth a visit!

  • sammyny

    If you are there on Thursday, Vaughns if Kermit Ruffins is playing. It’s great. Second the Columns for drinks, WWII Museum. We always stay at Country Inn and Suites on Magazine and have always had a great experience. The Sculpture Garden at City Park is very cool. Great city, have fun.

  • Alex Farmer

    Glad cassamentos is on the list already — best Po’ boy in NOLA. Best fried chicken in the Big Easy is a Seventh Ward joint called Lil Dizzy’s. Hole in the wall but phenomenal…and the waitresses are a trip

  • Sean

    Walk the length of Magazine Street, taking in the bars and galleries every quarter mile or so. Stay clear of Bourbon Street … a smelly tourist trap!

  • Josh

    St James Cheese Company for lunch. Its Uptown, and not old-school NOLA, but, perhaps my FAVORITE LUNCH spot in the entire world. Seriously. That is, only if you like good food and a staff that is truly passionate about their products. Then drive/stroll up to Magazine St section of town to get a good feel for the hippest part of town for locals shopping.

  • Chanel @ La Viajera Morena

    Thanks for posing this question, I am going next weekend so I would love to see what people suggest :D

  • Curtis

    Second the swamp tour (I recommend Cajun Encounters, they have a covered boat and good guides). I think the Court of Two Sisters is also popular for Brunch.

    Can try the Baked Alaska or Cafe Diabolique at Antoine’s for an interesting dessert/after dinner place. The food is decent and the rooms are interesting. Service seemed hit or miss.

  • JohnnieD

    Char broiled oysters at Acme!!

  • michel

    It’s not to be offensive to Mothers but there is a reason you don’t find many locals eating there. Try Johnnys PoBoys over in the Quarter proper, or Uptown/Irish Channel try Domalise’s or Parasols and over by City Park/Bayou St John area the Parkway Bakery & Tavern or Luizzas by the Track will not disappoint.

    Port of Call for burger and a drink, Buffas (its air conditioned) for a drink both on Esplanade at back of the Qtr. Frenchman for music and Adolphos above the Apple Barrel Bar there is good food.

    Bootys, Maurepas Foods in the Bywater and the experience not to be missed check out Bacchanal ( ) wine bar slash great food and nightly music in a great setting.

    If you are there thru Tuesday do Jacques-Imo’s then and then wander over and see Rebirth Brass Band playing their Tues night show at the Maple Leaf, or start early catch Kermit Ruffins at Bullets and get some bbq. Kermit is a NOLA must see and plays gigs at his places around town all week.

    Its NOLA, you can’t go wrong anywhere down here for food, wine and great people, enjoy the getaway. That 1st comment by Ryan isn’t a bad idea St. Bernard Project is a great group.

  • michel

    Since I wasn’t clear Bullets is other side of city from Maple Street, you would have to cab it across but its worth it. All in all just the suggestions I skimmed through, lots of good tips!

  • Deb

    I second Jacques-Imo’s, Commander’s Palace for lunch and 25 cent martinis, and the Roosevelt bar for a sazerac. I also loved having a ramos gin fizz at the Carousel bar in the Hotel Monteleone. Hyatt French Quarter is a great little hotel.

  • harold

    Definitely the Acme Char Broiled Oysters!!!….I don’t even like oysters and I went back 3x in one week!! I have subsequently tried them at other NOLA type places and none compare!! Oysters alone worth the trip!!

  • Zach B

    I went earlier this year (February) and by far our best experience was a performance at Preservation Hall by their jazz quintet. It was intimate and not very long but such a great time. If you decide to go, do yourself the favor and reserve seats ahead of time on their website just to make the process easy. Otherwise there’s a line-up ahead of the show(s). Also, Frenchman St is a lot of fun and more interesting than the French Quarter/Bourbon St music scene. If you want to venture west to food at Jacques Imo’s (or the like) stay and watch the Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf (Tues nights). Can you tell I’m a music person?

  • Central Scrutinizer

    Felix’s oysterhouse ( across from Acme)

    Frenchman Street – pop in and out of places for amazing live music. Spotted cat is my favorite bar anywhere.

  • Tricia

    You must go to Cochon! We went twice because it was so good. They have a deli around the corner which is great if you want to snack on a delicious meal for the ride home. When we went, we saw 4 master chefs eating there…Tom Colicchio, Wylie Dufresne, David Chang and my favorite , Eric Ripert. Yes, they were all there together and looked like they were enjoying their meals!

  • Matt

    Use your suite night upgrades at the W on poydras, its only 10-12k for a night and the corner suites are very large. You do know that it is southern decadence this weekend there so there will be a lot of gay and gay friendly tourists coming to town. Take the train ride into the garden district by the zoo/Tulane university and explore that part of town. My favorite spots to eat: iris, Luke, NOLA (1 of 4 Emeril restaurants) and Cochon. Do all the tourist stuff and go to Patrick O’briens for a hurricane. Check out the market all the way north on bourbon along the Mississippi river near Frenchman’s quarters. Walk around the park where where the pope went to both at night for the gypsies and during the day for the art. DEFINITELY buy yourself some art.

    See William Faulkner’s house just to say you saw it.

    Mothers is not that great. Ruby Slipper is much better for a brunch.

  • Adam Porter

    Go to the Gumbo Shop and get their Chicken Andouille Gumbo.

  • Antoin Glenn

    take a drive out of town a little bit and go on a swamp tour on one of those boats with the big fan on the back. Best thing I ever did.

  • David

    Brian, if you are partial to fried chicken (this is NOLA, after all), I would bite the bullet and get in line for a seat at Willie Mae’s for their awesome fried chicken. I did kind of a tour of this dish throughout the city, but I think the food matches the hype:


    Brian – so glad you will be visiting NOLA!!! As a local I would recommend Gautreau’s restaurant for fine dining (uptown on Soniat Street). A helpful food website we use for restaurants is You can search this site by neighborhood.

    The Ritz upgrades to suites with an Amex FHR reservation and the Roosevelt is very generous with upgrades. Those are probably the two nicest hotel properties in NOLA.

    If you need a taxi at any point – use united taxi 504-522-9771. It’s generally the best taxi company in NOLA.

    Have a blast!!

  • jta5

    I agree Cochon Butcher is outstanding. If you like ice cream or gelato and Italian pastries try Angelo Brocato on Carrollton, an easy cable car ride from the Quarter, Deanies for great seafood, I like the original in Bucktown, though there is one in the Quarter. Also in Bucktown you can take a walk along Lake Pontchartrain and eat at another local place R&Os.

  • jta5

    I beg to differ on the term “trap”, yes tourists flock there, but we are talking a great product, real early in the morning is the time I like to go.

  • Jamie

    You’reabsolutely right. I shouldn’t had used the term “trap”.

  • Garyst16

    Jacques-Imo’s – 8324 Oak Street,
    New Orleans.

    Atchafalaya Restaurant – 901 Louisiana Ave.

    Breakfast – Surrey’s Juice Café
    & Bar – 1418 Magazine Street. – Home made bagels, lox, egg dishes, etc.
    Inexpensive (for New Orleans)

  • JC

    When in New Orleans I eat one meal a day at Mr. B’s Bistro. Their shrimp with grits and red eye gravy is one of my favorite dishes anywhere. Their bread pudding is the best I’ve had.

    I also have fond memories of the Hotel Monteleone with its vintage charm. It’s not as posh as some other choices, but it’s old and real, and the service is always great.

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