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The Best of New Orleans

Photo Link: https://flic.kr/p/Frw2Cm
Photo Credit Text: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

New Orleans also known as the Big Easy, the perfect destination for a getaway that’s close to home. We were looking for a vacation spot with great food and drink options and a fun, relaxing vibe that wouldn’t break the bank. New Orleans definitely fit the bill with great weather, talented street musicians, incredible food, and drinks to go!

Photo Link: https://flic.kr/p/Frw2G9
Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

Everywhere you look online you’ll find best of lists of things to do on your vacation. New Orleans is so diverse I’m going to give you a few of our favorites, the 5 fleur-de-lis award winners if you will. These may not be your typical categories but they are the places and things that made our getaway memorable.

Best Locals Bar

 

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Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

Hungry and thirsty from our trip, the young woman checking us in to our hotel told us about Cajun Mike’s; her favorite place to hang out after work. It was barely 2 in the afternoon when we walked in to this dark, dive of a bar to be greeted by the overly cheerful bartender, Rue, and a single drunk guy sitting at the bar. Truthfully we almost turned around and left thinking “what did we get ourselves in to?” but we didn’t want to be rude. That was probably one of the best choices we made all week. Rue was amazing, the drinks were inexpensive (the pours not measured), and the food was terrific. The jambalaya, boudin balls, hot roast beef poboy, and the special crawfish king cake made only around Mardi Gras… We ended up enjoying a little time there 3 times during our vacation.

Honorable Mention: A bartender at 801 Royal (you’ll hear more about them soon) told us he hangs out at The Howlin’ Wolf. It’s in the CBD but sadly we didn’t get a chance to make it over there during this trip.

Best Beer with a View

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Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

After sleeping in one morning we made a late morning walk down to Café Du Monde for the obligatory, yet yummy, beignets and café au lait. While enjoying that snack sitting in the Jackson Square park we noticed the Jackson (Jax) Brewery – it’s not an actual brewery anymore but the bar and restaurant occupy the former brewery space. Long story short we ended up going in and discovered they have a second bar upstairs with outside tables overlooking the Mississippi River. We basked in the sun on the cool February afternoon enjoying each other’s company, sipping a couple cold beers while watching the trolley cars and barges pass by.

Best Drink To Go

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Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

We just happen to stumble upon 801 Royal while walking down Bourbon Street one afternoon looking for a good lunch spot. We sat at the bar next to a couple we learned were bar owners in New Zealand, they assured us we picked the best place for lunch and a drink. The only warning they gave was to steer clear of the Louisiana Lightnin’ because it will knock you on your arse. With a recommendation like that how could we not order a couple of the “strongest drink(s) in town”? Not a drop of non-alcoholic liquid in the giant cup. While we enjoyed ours with a very tasty muffuletta and a heaping plate of crawfish tail and shrimp nachos these would be hard to beat while strolling down Bourbon Street.

Honorable Mention: Every list out there says you have to have a Hurricane from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar. We did stop of the famous Hurricane, and it was delicious. However, the Louisiana Lightnin’ won for being unique, somewhat unknown, and amazing!

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Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

Perhaps you’ve noticed a theme so far…. Truly was unintentional but I digress. ☺

Let’s move on to a couple other, non-drinking related, award winners.

Best Meal

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Photo Credit: Robert Kawasaki
Photo Credit Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yukz2daizzo/

A couple we were talking with at Cajun Mike’s told us we had to go try the chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House. This is an absolute don’t miss meal! Fresh chargrilled oysters in garlic butter sauce and topped with Romano cheese. I simply don’t have words to describe them other than unbelievably yummy! We went through 2 dozen in no time; I’m ready to go back just to get more of these! Pair them with an order of Boo Fries (French fries topped with roast beef debris gravy and cheese) for a sinfully wonderful meal.

We also had to try the crawfish. Our waiter happily gave us a lesson on popping off the heads and sucking the juice out before peeling the meat from the tail. Definitely an experience to try since you’re in New Orleans, but our preference is to skip the head sucking and just get the tail meat with your meal.

Pro Tip: Just a quick word of warning, don’t walk in the front door expecting to be seated. You have to wait in line outside on the sidewalk and the hostess will come out to get you when a table is available. They pack in as many tables as possible inside so expect tight quarters, sometimes sharing tables with others, and it can be a little loud. All well worth it for the food!

Honorable Mention: We opted for a fancy meal one night; we are on vacation after all! We chose The Commanders Palace. It’s not near the French Quarter but a quick 5-10 minute Uber will get you there safely. The service was impeccable and the food was delightful. Soups were incredible, meats so tender they just about cut themselves, and the bread pudding soufflé was light as a feather (order with your meal as it takes a while to make). Just be sure to take some nice clothes. For the gentlemen a coat is highly recommended!

Best Street Musician

 

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Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

Old school jazz and blues is the definition of Papa Kool. We heard him playing a block or two away with his small amp cranking out the tunes as he sat across the street from the entrance to the Hotel Monteleone. We listened for a few minutes and watched him from our seats at the spinning Carousel Bar in the hotel. His music was great and he’s a lot of fun to talk to as well. He reminisced about his time in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale back-in-the-day and played a special song for us, what a charmer! Of course we couldn’t resist buying a CD from him after all that.

Pro Tip: If your New Orleans getaway falls during the week you won’t see many street performers on Monday through Wednesday. However, starting on Thursday they seemingly come out of the wood work and you’ll see and hear them all over the French Quarter but mostly on Bourbon Street and around Jackson Square.

Honorable Mentions:

Many of the other musicians are very talented like these groups:

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Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

Photo Link: https://flic.kr/p/FWRNKE
Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

And then you just have the bizarre:

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Photo Credit: Lane Vance
Photo Credit Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lanev/

Best Way to See the City

Between meals I’m sure you’ll also want to see and learn about the city, its rich history and culture. I’d highly recommend taking your loved one on a horse and carriage ride during the day and follow that up with a ghost tour at night. Between these 2 excursions you should learn enough about this wonderful vacation spot to keep you talking on your strolls down the streets with drinks to go in hand.  Check out other tours and activites and things to don on guruescape.com Activity page.

 

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