I thought I knew New Orleans. That is, I did the tourist trip in my younger years, popping in to museums and gift shops, walking through the famous streets of French Quarter, in search of shiny, stray beads. My little mouth buzzed with the delight of powdered sugar and hot beignets from Café du Monde, and I quickly fell in love with the variety of delicious and surprisingly kid friendly foods that the city had to offer.
There is a unique excitement that comes with being in that city for the first time. The rhythm that follows you like an ancient voodoo spell, and the age-old “good time” smell of Bourbon Street are all part of that initial experience. That was the fun of it. That was New Orleans as a tourist.
New Orleans as a local (or pseudo-local), however, is a trip of an entirely different caliber.
When I informed a close friend of Colt and my plans to surprise his brother in New Orleans, he immediately insisted that we stay at his parent’s home in the aptly named Uptown district. And boy, was that a gift that kept on giving!
From the moment we arrived, we were showered with the best dining recommendations and activities. Easy and quick Po’ boys at Crabby Jacks, a delicious and walk-able vegan breakfast from Surrey’s, Reginelli’s for fabulous pizza and salad, followed by some real, French Quarter, French food at Café Soule. Seriously folks, if you had to choose a spot in all of New Orleans, Magazine Street is it. That scenic street has enough fantastic spots to last you a week. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, deserts. You name it, they’ve got it. If you’re looking to meet the true NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) residents while you’re there, this is where it’ll happen.
**Side note: You can taste the literal BEST New Orleans style bagel ever (in combination with a smattering of local traffic, for people watching), by hitting up a place called, Café Luna. You will not regret it. I prodded the barista for some information about the recipe and all I could get from him was: “Its made up of everything, and maybe some ginger.” So…clearly, there’s some secrecy surrounding these breakfast treats.
From Saturday to Tuesday, our little foursome made its way through the tourist spots and activities fairly quick, for the sake of saying we did them. On Sunday night we turned our focus to Frenchmen Street, which has been dubbed “the local’s Bourbon Street.” There, we found the real gems: Snug Harbor has the best burgers, The spotted cat and Blue Nile were tied with the best music and dancing, and the night market gave us a chance to see some awesome local art.
Each day after breakfast, we tried to take advantage of some of the more casual, exploratory activities that our host had suggested. Checking out the crowded but “worth it,” French Market, walking in Audubon Park and then, finally, touring the Southern Louisiana Bayous with Cajun Pride Tours (One can never have too many pictures with a baby gator. I mean, honestly.). The daily afternoon downpours were perfect for late afternoon naps/cleanup back at the house, allowing us to, then, hit the town once again around dinner time. What a blast!
We all know that I struggle to document things like this, but with the help of my lovely sister-in-law, Melissa, I was able to get more “proof” that we actually went on this trip, than I have with any other. So. That’s something.
As they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
Have yourself a wonderful 4th of July! I am so thankful for this beautiful country that God has allowed us to live in. What a joy to explore it and the history that holds us all together.