Eating (and drinking) your way through the Big Easy
Oh man. I think New Orleans takes the cake for my favorite city ever. Here is my honest review of some of the typical “hot spots”, as well as a few unplanned gems we stumbled upon!
Muffulettas at Central Grocery – Worth it.
- The muffuletta is EXACTLY what you’d expect. Salty and briny and delicious. If you don’t like olives, you won’t like this.
- I would recommend getting 1/2 and splitting it between two people.
- This store was super fun with a lot of Italian imported goods and Cajun cooking staples.
- We didn’t see a fridge with cold drinks – there is a soda machine at the back but it is $1.25 a can and doesn’t take cards. Bring your own drinks!
Carousel Bar – if it’s convenient.
- We got in line at 10:55 AM and as SOON as they opened the doors at 11:00 AM, the entire carousel was full. This was after attempting the afternoon before with zero space at the bar.
- The cocktails are really good. I had the Pimm’s Cup, the Fleur De Lis and the French 007 and they were all fantastic. Don’t expect cheap prices, though. Cocktails range from $12-15 a piece.
- They set out snack mix at the bar for free, which was pretty tasty.
- There are also tables and lounge seating surrounding the carousel if you can’t find space at the bar.
- Overall consensus: it’s worth popping in if there’s not a wait. From the lobby, you can take some pretty cool pictures and get a feel for what it looks like. Is it worth waiting in line for an hour? Probably not.
Dragos – give it a shot and decide for yourself.
- They sell an asinine amount of oysters – especially the chargrilled, which is what we got. They came in this garlic butter that felt like wet sand – almost like it was mixed with bread crumbs. I think it would have gone a lot better with a thin clarified garlic butter, but the smoky chargrilled taste was still tasty and unique.
- They had a few good local IPAs that we tried out but I wouldn’t say the alcohol selection knocked our socks off.
- Overall consensus – eh. I found the gritty texture to be too much. My fiance said the oysters really grew on him, though. Try it out and see what you think! They’re obviously a top seller for a reason so maybe I’m the oddball out here, and if I went again I would try something else because they have a very extensive menu.
Compere Lapin – Yes.
- We saw this place on Beerland featured for doing beer cocktails, so we wanted to check it out. While there weren’t any beer cocktails currently on the menu, on the fly the bartender created us a mezcal-based fruit cocktail topped with a rose gose.
- Aperol Spritz drinks were the highlight of our time there. They infuse aperol with Lemongrass and serve it with prosecco, fresh berries, orange, and top it with cucumber lime gose. SO GOOD. The cucumber taste was so refreshing, and we found out it was from a local brewery called Urban South – less than a mile and a half away! So guess where we went.
Urban South – most definitely yes.
- Every beer was SO FLAVORFUL. So good. I’ve never had a more grapefruit-y grapefruit IPA.
- They’ve got creative sour beers (strawberry margarita, cucumber lime, blueberry lemon) that were perfectly balanced – not too sour.
- The vibe here was great. It’s a huge open space with a ton of tables, pool tables, board games, cornhole, etc.
- They had a BBQ vendor there when we went that smelled amazing.
- The only downfall is the flight is a pre-set 4 beers and you can’t mix and match.
- Overall consensus – totally worth it to get away from the craziness of Bourbon Street for a while and just enjoy each other’s company and some impressive brews.
Cafe du Monde – YUP.
- This place is cash only – just a heads up! It’s also a “seat yourself” establishment.
- The beignets are hot and light and fluffy and delicious. Topped with powdered sugar.
- We tried beignets at several places (including Cafe Beignet) and this was the clear winner.
- The cafe au lait is so good. I ended up buying a tin of the chicory coffee to bring home.
- Word to the wise – there is a shop across the street that sells both the coffee (even K cups!) and the beignet mix so you can make them yourself.
- Tip – try a weekday or a rainy day for a shorter line. Even if you do have to wait, though, the line moves quickly.
Jackson Square and the French Quarter – DUH.
- Street vendors, performers, live music, art, food, tarot card readings, crazy people, normal people – you’ll see it ALL!
- These streets are so alive, so vibrant. One quick walk through the area and you’ll see why so many people love NOLA.
- If you are into zesty and spicy, YOU WILL LOVE IT here. There are sooo many good shops with tons of hot sauce, seasonings, cooking mixes, etc. New Orleans is NOT afraid of flavor.
- The t-shirt selection in the shops is hilarious. If you’re trying to advertise to the entire world what a drunken hot mess you are, you’ll find quite a wardrobe here.
Frenchmen Street – if you’re a music lover, you must go.
- This is a nice little tucked away area about a mile from the French Quarter. It’s a strip of bars, restaurants, and cute little shops.
- There is live music evvvvverywhere. We literally just walked up and down the strip and checked out 4 different bands in the few hours we were there! No cover charges.
- Open container laws, people. Take advantage of them! We stopped by a convenience store that sold a-la-carte beers so we got some amazing local IPAs for $3.50 a piece which we could bring to bars with us!
Mothers – do it for the assortment and because everybody says so.
- We tried the hot sausage, gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya and biscuits.
- The sausage was good. The biscuits were too crumbly. Honestly, as far as gumbo, jambalaya and etouffee go I’ve had it ALL better elsewhere.
- The wait staff, though, is super friendly. The food came out quickly.
- The lines can get very long. I don’t personally think it would be worth a long wait, so might be best to scope out the area and go when the line is short. I am glad I went for the experience, but to be honest I didn’t think the food warranted the hype.
Muriel’s – so good. Yum.
- They start you off with warm bread with hints of rosemary and garlic.
- The shrimp creole was out of this world. I’m a spicy kind of girl so the fact that it had a major kick to it? I’m a huge fan. It also came out piping hot, which if you know me, you know that’s very important. Less than $16 for this seafood entree AIN’T BAD!
- The chicken and andouille etouffee was so flavorful. It had a rich, buttery gravy-like taste. This came with a bomb ass salad for $19.99.
- While there is a bar at the back, the dining area is more formal than other NOLA spots. I would recommend for a nice, quiet lunch or dinner BEFORE you start guzzling grain alcohol.
- The hush puppies aren’t on the menu, but you can still order them! They were the BOMB with fresh jalapenos and corn.
- We unfortunately didn’t eat anything else here – we just went for drinks. My fiance said his bloody mary was just “eh”, but the platters coming out all looked great and judging by the hush puppies I bet the rest of the food is good!
Other notable mentions – all worth a visit:
- You HAVE to try a hand grenade when you’re here because YOLO, bitches. These are incredibly strong and have a tart melon taste. Beware of alcohol content.
- Other drinks include a horny gator and a shark attack, which is worth ordering just to see the the bartenders make a big deal out of it.
- Get a hurricane because it’s a NOLA classic. Just know, though, that each hurricane has 4 oz of rum.
Envie Espresso Bar & Cafe
- I loved the vibe and look of this cafe since it’s totally open to the street. They had food, too, but I didn’t try it – I got an iced latte which was good.
- This is an easy place to pop in while you’re shopping and need a caffeine break – it’s right off of Decatur.
Huge Ass Beers:
- You can get beers up to 70 oz.
- Live music.
- Worth going to for these hilarious cups.
- Great food for the end of the night when you want to avoid a hangover the next day.
- Alcoholic slushees on draft.
- The red beans and rice were TO DIE FOR. Fresh, hot, so flavorful – tasted like it had been simmered with a ham hock for days. From what we could tell, the chicken was okay but the sides were great.
Manning’s Sports Bar:
- Really great atmosphere, including a theater style area with leather recliners.
- Great food selection – the cheese fries came with both cheddar on top and a macaroni and cheese style cream sauce on the bottom. We loved those.
- Good prices – maybe I’m DC biased but $4 for Miller Lites (not on happy hour) is a steal.
- Really unique cocktails.
- Great environment – cozy seating, dim lighting.
- Is not a speakeasy but has that same feel to it.
- Breakfast sandwiches with beignets as the bun.
- “Briscuit” breakfast which is biscuits topped with smoked brisket, eggs, and tobasco hollandaise. Delicious.
- Beignets were a bit too doughy for my taste, but once you have Cafe du Monde it’s like nothing else compared so I may be biased.
- Good choice if you want to escape the crowds for a bit since it’s located a bit away from the madness.
Hope you enjoy your trip!