November brought my last wedding of the year and to my luck, it was a destination wedding in New Orleans, Louisiana. You can read about the wedding here but below is what I saw, heard and ate around the town.
I flew in late Friday night so when I woke on Saturday morning earlier than I thought it was (there’s a 1 hour time difference) I grabbed a coffee and started wandering. After meandering on Canal street, which was, in a very small way reminiscent of Havana (70’s style marquees, palm streets, street cars), I found myself on Bourbon Street. At 11am, Bourbon street was well underway – patrons young and old dotted the streets with beads around their necks and hurricanes in their hands, all to the familiar sounds of New Orleans.
Black Heritage Gallery – Bourbon Street
I popped into Black Heritage Gallery which is well stocked of photographs and prints of black culture. Portraits of historical figures like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Muhammed Ali, Barack Obama and others graced the walls along with cultural icons like Beatles and Rolling Stones. While still feeling the feels from our election, I must say it felt surreal being in this gallery. Peppering the walls alongside the portraits were other moments in our country’s history, specifically monumental moments surrounding the civil rights movement. Photos displaying messages of strength, commitment, opportunity, equality, and courage eerily gave me a sense of deja vu as our country enters a new chapter come January 20th, 2017.
Tanya & Dorise
Bourbon Street and the French Quarter is full of street performers. Living in New York, I’m no stranger to street or subway performers but I must say talent down in Nawlins was of a different caliber. It might have been the musical performances, rich in jazz and rhythm & blues, surrounded by French architecture that took it to new heights. I found myself listening to Tanya & Dorise for a long, long time and would have continued to stay there if I didn’t have a wedding to get ready for. The beauty of their music is that its incredibly simple: just a violinist and a guitarist and it’s that simple combination that makes for a moving sound when they’re playing songs like Hey Jude or #41 or Hotel California. You can find them on Royal Street on the weekends or in the evenings and if you cant get to them in NOLA, I highly suggest you buy one of their albums – I bought Fifth Album. See more from Tanya & Doris here.
Cafe du Monde & Beignets
Dessert du jour of New Orleans and for good reason: its essentially fluffy fried dough swimming in confectioners sugar. After the wedding, my dad suggested a night cap at Cafe Du Monde which is THE spot in New Orleans to have beignets. Originally established in 1862, Cafe Du Monde was the result of the French settling along the gulf coast. There was a shortage of coffee, so they created their own, a chicory (like chocolate) blended coffee and brought over their tradition of beignets. Over the years, Cafe Du Monde has stayed true to their core and only serve coffee, juice, water and beignets – that’s it and it’s been doing so ever since their doors opened during the American Civil War. There are about 8 locations around the city (and apparently a few in Japan) but the location on Decatur street is the OG.
La Petit Grocery
Recently added to Eaters National 38 list, La Petit Grocery is a charming restaurant on Magazine Street in the Touro district which is about a 20/25 minute drive from the French Quarter. The dining room is decorated with rich hardwood floors and yellow walls that creates the perfect golden hue at lunch time. Now, what to get? The blue crab beignets – first and foremost and if I wasn’t being cognizant of how much food I was eating (Happy Holidays y’all), I would have ordered two. Warm, gooey, slightly cheesey heaven. To start we also had the fried Oysters because how can you avoid having something fried in NOLA? They were delicious and not overwhelmingly fried. For my main I had the Shrimp & Grits (insert thumbs up emoji) and the Hammer – which is essentially a meal in a bloody mary.
After brunch the parentals needed to hop back to the hotel so my sister and I decided to roam around Magazine Street which is dotted with clothing and home decor shops and a few bars/restaurants (at least the part we saw). We then made our way to Pontchartrain Hotel which I discovered on Refinery 29’s instagram as part of #InteriorsTruly and by golly does this hotel have incredible design. Not only that but there are 4 bars/restaurants inside the hotel – The Bayou Bar, rich in deep woods and drinks served in etched crystal glasses; The Caribbean Room which has an impressive gallery wall with dedicated space for Lil’ Wayne; The Silver Whistle serves coffee, teas, and baked goods in a setting with retro flair; and Hot Tin, the roof bar with a view looking over the city. I know where I’m staying on my next visit.
Last stop on my NOLA weekend was Cooter Browns, a perfect spot for beers, delicious Louisiana fare and the game. I had discovered my friend Alex was at the wedding the night before (where we didnt see each other) so we decided to have dinner and to my delightful surprise, nearly everyone else at the wedding had the same idea including the bride & groom. Unfortunately no photos to document this meal as I was famished and inhaled my po’boy the second it came out of the fryer.