It had been awhile since I had been back in the Bayou. The last time I went was in 2014 to visit my aunt and uncle who worked as teachers in Belle Chasse, just 10 minutes southeast of the city. I’ll never forget the end of that 11ish hour drive when we arrived to a feast of crawfish, oysters, and shrimp étouffée.
I’ll love New Orleans forever because of that.
I went back this past Labor Day weekend to celebrate Danielle, someone who has become like a soul sister to me for the past five years. We bonded over breadsticks and margaritas and Southside karaoke during our time at Mizzou and have stayed close ever since. It’s so nice to have someone in your life that you will always just click with no matter how long it’s been. The same goes for places like New Orleans.
Without further ado, here’s what I recommend doing if you’re ever in NOLA:
THE FRENCH QUARTER
I can still hear the thunder rumbling in the background as this violinist performed. The French Quarter is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited the States. Not only is it steeped in colonial history, it’s one of the most diverse corners of America that continues to celebrate its multiracial roots. There’s Spanish, French, Creole, Natives, and Africans who have all contributed to La Nouvelle–Orléans in some way, shape, or form.
We took a Saints and Sinners Tour with our tour guide Justin, who was very knowledgeable and entertaining. He told us about General Bienville, a 19-year-old French military man who tattooed himself with local tribe marks to get along with the 40+ native tribes who inhabited the area. He also tricked the British to not attack the rising French settlement. New Orleans history is as wild and scandalous as you can imagine it to be, as it was a port of entry for many immigrants during the start of the New World. Home of Bourbon Street, Royal Street, Jackson Square, and the best freakin’ food I’ve ever had, New Orleans is definitely a must-see for travelers and foodies.
EAT & DRINK
New Orleans cuisine is a whole other level of Southern home cooking. I would fly across the country for its aforementioned seafood, along with seafood gumbo, shrimp po’ boys, and some of the best sweets I’ve ever had in my life.
Must-Go Spots: Cafe du Monde (sit down wherever there’s an open seat and your server will clean your table and bring you treats!), Palace Cafe, Saint Cecilia, Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe, Willa Jean, Cafe Beignet on Bourbon Street, Fat Catz, Pat O’Brien’s, Saints & Sinners
Mosey on over to the corner of French Market Place and Barracks Street if you want to start the demise of your credit card. Just kidding — bring cash. There’s an open air French Flea Market that sells just about everything such as local art, clothing, and jewelry. I found lots of little trinkets to take home, plus there’s food stalls at the end so you can cool down and refuel.
I highly advise spending an afternoon strolling through Royal Street. I was invited to check out the Red Truck Gallery (who’s hosting a brilliant exhibit curated by ThinkSpace at the moment) and its sister gallery right across the street. I found this amazing piece that gives me all the Alice in Wonderland vibes, as well as art pieces that reflect the modern revolution of sex, feminism, and the environment.