As you may be able to imagine, we were excited to go to New Orleans for a little history and a lot of eating and drinking. We even made sure we were under budget the days leading up to our visit so we would have a spending buffer while we ran around the city. We didn’t so much run as walk all over the city (three miles each way in and out from the French quarter to the racetrack where we parked and almost five more around the French Quarter and the surrounding area). Here’s what our weary feet found interesting and/or delicious.
The go-to place for beignets and coffee. We waited about 20 minutes in line (luckily it was the takeout line which moved pretty quickly) to get our hands on a half dozen beignets and a couple coffees. We took our bags of fried, powdered sugar-coated delicousness and made the short walk to the edge of the Mississippi to sit and eat. The two of us indulged in our tasty fried dough pillows on the edge of the Mississippi while entertained by a grooving Darth Vader (and Danielle coating me with powdered sugar as I was sitting downwind). A tip from our almost mistake, if you’d like to get your beignets faster head to the line that is a little back off of the street, that is the takeaway line and it moves much faster. Also, have your order and cash (they were cash only) ready when you reach the window or you may garner the ire of those in line behind you and of the cashier.
The Voodoo museum is a great way to get an introduction to the Voodoo religion and get to see a few historical artifacts from New Orleans’ (including Marie Laveau’s shrine post) past. For $5 a person you get a self-guided tour that will take you about 20 minutes. The tour takes you through the history of voodoo coming to America, explains some of the rituals and what they are used for (mostly positive things such as love, health, and wealth) and gives you the chance to make an offering to the spirits and/or make a wish. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour but abstained from the offering ritual and the wish as we are pretty well satisfied with how we are doing at the moment.
On a quieter stretch of bourbon street (hard to believe right?) is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop which happens to be the longest continually operating bar in the United States, somehow even managing to stay open even through prohibition. Getting a beer was easy and you can feel that there is history there despite the cigar smoke and sticky from spilled daiquiri tabletops. The clientele was a mix of people starting or ending their time on Bourbon Street, which way they were heading was discernible by how well they could stand on their own. We feel it’s worth stopping here to get a beer or a daiquiri out of their slushy machines to be at least a small supporter of the longest continually operating bar in America.
Not far from Lafitte’s and a block off of bourbon street is this unassuming deli/convenience store. Don’t be fooled by the lack of space, if you want a fried shrimp po’boy, lasagna, or anything else they offer at the food counter in the back, you won’t be disappointed (especially if you order WOW sauce with whatever you get, we were tipped off by the lady in front of us). Needing to fortify ourselves for our mission to get hurricanes and absinthe on Bourbon Street, we were in search of food and were steered here by a quick google search (near blasphemy compared to just bugging a local like we usually do). We got ourselves a fried shrimp po’boy with wow sauce and $8 later we were in sandwich heaven. The shrimp was fresh and without too much batter, the wow sauce was tangy and creamy, the bread was toasted so it wouldn’t get soggy, fresh shredded lettuce and sliced tomato rounded out the sandwich perfectly. The two of us had made it less than a block before we finished the po’boy and were debating going back for another, but the lure of hurricanes was too strong and we headed down Bourbon Street.
Not too busy, on Bourbon Street, and serving hurricanes to go, this placed ticked all of our boxes and even had a smart aleck bartender who made Danielle’s hurricane a touch stronger because she bugged him about the recipe (His answer was “lots of rum, like this” while pouring extra into her glass). Not necessarily a must visit bar, but we were appreciative of the customer service. Especially in a place like bourbon street where bartenders can easily lose you in the hustle and bustle of the crowd around the bar. Don’t worry that we were tempting an arrest or citation taking our drinks to go. In parts of New Orleans it is perfectly legal to take your drink to go, if it is in a plastic container, and enjoy it while you’re wandering about.
A good stop for reasonably priced and tasty seafood in the French Quarter area. The gator bites were our choice as a starter, and our server suggested we have some of the chipotle ranch with them. He wasn’t wrong and it was quite tasty. People say gator tastes like chicken, we say it tastes like gator (or chicken and shrimp if you’re going to pressure us). Even though James was nervous it would make him ill (as it has done to his brother) he enjoyed the starter (and managed to hold it down). Then it was time for Oysters Rockefeller, suggested by the fella we ran into at Sam Houston Jones State Park. They are quite good (the guy is 2 for 2 after his suggestion of Seafood Palace). We downed a half dozen in a few minutes, paid and were off to aimlessly wander the French Quarter.
After trying out absinthe, which is ok in our opinion, we were in search of something to rinse the lingering black licorice flavor out of our mouths. Luckily James had been eyeing a slushy bar on our way by and he dragged me in to get some. We got nearly a quart of frozen White Russian and were parted from $14. The slushy bar we found out later (by looking at the receipt while tallying costs) was called Mango Mango. Inside, there were about 30 slushy machines all filled to the brim with frozen alcoholic beverages for you to order and take to go. On a warm day as it was while we were in town, this place is a heavenly oasis.
The French Quarter Festival was in full swing while we crisscrossed the city. The festival brings in local legends, Grammy award winners and fan favorites of the world of jazz and blues. The two of us were able to enjoy music at a few of the stage locations spread throughout the French Quarter during the day. No matter where we were there seemed to be a stage nearby with great music playing, and best of all it was free, you just needed to show up and enjoy.