IF MEMORIES OF YOUR LAST TRIP TO NEW ORLEANS ARE HAZY IMAGES OF BEADS AND NEON LIGHTS ON BOURBON STREET, IT’S TIME TO TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT THE BIG EASY. New Orleans is a world of its own where the South mingles with the Caribbean and lively music tickles your ears as you walk down the street. Beyond Bourbon Street – sometimes even just the next block over – there are pockets of neighborhoods, each with their own distinct personality and an endless amount of nooks and crannies to explore. The nearly 300-year-old city has a rich food history but it’s ever-evolving, and there’s so much more to taste than gumbo and po’ boys.
Begin the day with doughnuts at District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew. on Magazine Street. You’ll be amazed by the over-the-top doughnut offerings, like cannoli and strawberry lemonade. Post up at the counter and order a latte while you’re at it. Afterward, peruse the funky boutiques on Magazine Street and ogle the charming villas along St. Charles Avenue. From there you can hop on the streetcar and head back to the French Quarter. Make sure you have exact change! There’s no credit card machine, and the driver can’t give you change.
Tucked away in an industrial area, Old New Orleans Rum’s distillery is worth the 10 minute Uber ride. The distillery opened 20 years ago and is set in a 150-year-old cotton mill, a unique blend of old meets new. It’s small but mighty, offering three different rums and a bottled cocktail, each one hand-bottled at the distillery. After teasing your tongue with the sweet and smoky flavors found in their rum, it’s off to the Bywater for lunch.
Take a stroll around the Bywater. The neighborhood is in a state of revitalization and presents a visual feast of colorful houses and street art. It’s also home to Cresent Park, a 1.5-mile paved trail nestled along the Mississippi River that gives way to sweeping views of the city. The city that never stops playing music, Frenchmen Street is only a mile away from the Bywater and is a jazz hub in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. Slide into the narrow Spotted Cat for a hurricane and some afternoon toe-tapping.
Back in the French Quarter for dinner, you’ll find sophisticated dining tucked away on Bienville Street at GW Fins. Since 2001 Chef Tenney Flynn has created some of the most beautiful seafood dishes using locally sourced fish, shellfish and bivalves whenever possible. How local? The swordfish they use is caught just two hours south of the city. Passionate about his craft; Flynn even catches some of the fish used at the restaurant himself on occasion. Start with the sizzling oysters, served piping hot and ready to burst in your mouth. Naturally, you have to order fish as your entrée, but it won’t matter which one you choose, all of the dishes are fresh and beautifully prepared. Insider tip: order the apple pie at the beginning of your meal so that it’s ready by the time you’ve finished your entrée. You’ll forget all about how full you are when you sink your teeth through the cheddar crust and into the warm, spiced apple filling.
When the sun goes down the twinkling lights in the French Quarter are hard to resist. Find your way to Kingfish where you can belly up to the bar and order a classic Vieux Carre. The bar is named after Huey Long and hearkens to its namesake’s era with vintage décor. After the day is done your belly may be full, but your appetite for New Orleans will rage on. Fortunately for you, the sun will rise again in the morning and a new day of exploring through the city’s food will begin.