For as long as I can remember, whenever I’d mentioned I’d never been to New Orleans, the people who know me well would strongly insist that I venture down there. They’d allude to the fact that perhaps this city was made for me – nitty gritty and full of history. I’m an old soul who delights in cities like Charleston and Savannah, so it makes perfect sense. Not to mention, I love me some voodoo, variations of fried food, and exceptionally large reptiles.
A few weeks ago, my dreams finally came true and six of us headed down. I was able to go with some of my best friends (two who have been tons of times) and was happy to have their expertise to show us around. I’m no expert on New Orleans, but here is a list of the places we visited. I’ll definitely be headed back.
I chose for us to stay at the new Ace Hotel (located in the Warehouse District) because I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay in the French Quarter. I wanted to imbibe, shop and eat within the French Quarter…but did not wish to dwell for the entire weekend. Not to mention, the warehouse district was perfectly situated between the Garden District (don’t even get me started on how much I love the Garden District) and the French Quarter.
The Ace Hotel was an absolute dream. You know a hotel is good when the lobby is constantly full of activity. It had a Stumptown Coffee in the lobby and a nice restaurant called Josephine Estelle. They also had a rooftop bar called Alto with a pool. Each afternoon we’d head up there for drinks and a dip. Hands down, one of my favorite hotel experiences yet. Oh, and one more thing…each room had a Smeg fridge as the mini bar. EACH ROOM HAD A SMEG FRIDGE.
The Carousel Bar located at The Hotel Monteleone – This was our number one stop upon entering the french quarter. The bar rotates while you’re sitting at it and it felt very fancy. We kicked off the day with a glass of rosé before heading to brunch. I loved every second of it.
Stanley – This brunch was top notch. I ordered the Breaux Bridge Benedict that included their house-made boudin (when in rome). There was a bit of a wait – but not terrible! We ordered a drink from their to-go bar and walked around the square to look at art while we waited.
Compère Lapin – This spot was located in the bottom of the The Old 77 Hotel (also a pretty cool spot to stay). The name means “brother rabbit” in french and I loved their branding. My friend booked our dinner here because he’d been before and loved it. It was a dreamy dinner with bottles of wine and curried goat. Their curried goat has won awards…sooooo I’d definitely go with that.
Balise – I first noticed the branding (shocking) that was done for Balise by Stitch (who I follow on instagram). They’re a design firm out of Charleston and I thought it was interesting that they had branded a restaurant in NOLA. How perfect. As it turns out, Balise was only a block from the Ace Hotel. When we returned from our Gator Boat tour, we were starving, and (fingers-crossed) called to see if they had availability. No wait! I ordered the open-faced pork loin sandwich….which could have been shared amongst 3 people. T’was delicious. Also, they had Butch Anthony art on the walls. So pretty.
Jaques Imos – The MOST New Orleans-y food we ate all week. Our waitress loved her job more than life itself and made the whole dining experience all the more enjoyable. We had alligator cheesecake for an appetizer and I ordered the potato-crusted drum – best fish I’ve ever had. They pride themselves on being a hidden gem saying “not famous since 1996” but that’s quickly changing. If you’re the kind of person that typically avoids touristy spots (I definitely fall under that category)…I’d still say don’t skip this one. The food was too good!
Willa Jean – Our final meal was lunch at Willa Jean. It was walking distance from our hotel and they serve “frosé” which is exactly what you think it is. FROZEN ROSÉ. We had to wait a long time for a table…but the restaurant was beautiful and their food was great. I loved their pastries and they had yummy coffee. If you just wanted to swing in for a to-go muffin and a latte, that’s totally do-able.
Gator Tour – Ryan has gone on about 1000 Bachelor parties to New Orleans (including his own!) and each time, they do these gator boat tours. I have been jealous for years! Yes, this is 100% the most touristy thing you can do, but also my favorite part of the entire trip. The men operating these airboats are true, cajun men that would put everyone on survivor (or naked and afraid, et al) to shame. They know the swamps better than anyone and our guy even had an adorable baby alligator in a cooler for us to hold. We opted for a private, 6-person boat so our experience was a bit more intimate. We also were allowed to bring a cooler of beer aboard. Hello!
Marie Laveaus – Voodoo is intriguing to me. And as silly as it sounds, after watching American Horror Story: Coven. I HAD to visit Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. New Orleans is old and full of magic. This quick trip to her shop will do the trick.
Bacchanal – Known for their exceptional wine selection. This will definitely be a spot we hit up on future trips.
Commanders Palace – According to my friend Andrew, they have 25¢ martinis on weekdays for lunch. We arrived at around 3pm and they were already turning over for dinner…but it looked beautiful. Apparently there is a dress code…this place seemed old school and awesome. Perfectly situated in the garden district.
Cane & Table – We attempted to grab a drink/maybe eat here and the hostess was on a major power trip that evening. I’m still not holding that against them and will one day return to the Crescent City and at least grab a cocktail. It looks like a really fun place.
Peche – Everyone and their mom said “Go to Peche” and we did not. But I promise, I will. It looks unreal.
La Petit Grocery – We walked and walked and walked through the Garden District. Each little shotgun-style home has been turned into lovely antique and interior design shops. Towards the end, lies La Petit Grocery. I wish we had squeezed this one in…it was adorable and according to my friends, totally worth it.