February is a great time to take a vacation. The weather was cold and miserable so we decided to head south for a few days. I have felt New Orleans calling my name for some time now, finally I bit the bullet and we traveled the 1,900-something miles to our vacation destination. The morning of our flight it was sleeting, and I could not have been more excited to leave Connecticut. Sadly, upon arrival in New Orleans I learned a very valuable lesson: It’s not always warm in the south. Putting aside the cold weather, everything was amazing, if you haven’t been to New Orleans I suggest you book your trip now.
There we were: two twenty-somethings, first time traveling any great distance without an adult giving us a vague itinerary. Every trip I’ve taken has had a parent, or friend’s parent sponsoring most of it; not this time, we paid for everything, we were free as the wind. Weary from travel we managed to find our hotel, and then the age old question came up: what’s for dinner? Being the adventurous people we are, we left the hotel with no plan and ran straight toward Bourbon Street. It was immediate sensory overload. Lights, bright lights, and sounds, and people, oh so many people, everywhere! Oh, and drinks? Did you know they liked to drink in New Orleans? Drinks in hand we wandered down the street and found a restaurant that suited our needs: They had food. Honestly, nothing to rave about, and nothing to complain about, though it is not one of the places that I would recommend, or even remember.
What would I recommend?
Get an Abita, it’s one of their local beers and it is unbelievable! Craft brewing at its finest. Once you have your beer you can walk around and soak in the city.
Planning on drinking? Go get some food at Cafe Maspero. The sandwiches are huge, the service is fast, the food is tasty, and the daiquiris are four dollars. You will be full and ready to go out on the town.
Don’t get stuck on Bourbon Street! There is so much to do in the French Quarter, and Bourbon Street is mostly full of drunk tourists. That being said, there is something very enchanting about Bourbon Street after ten o’clock. The Saturday night crowd was large and fun, the people were friendly and, the bars did not close.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar. It’s an old haunted pirate bar, come on now, you know you have to go. You can find it at the end of Bourbon Street. If anything, go for the history, stay for a drink…or two.
Frenchman Street. Go there at night and listen to music. That is where we are lead to believe the locals go after a long week of dealing with tourists. The street was pretty packed while we were there, but the crowd was more dignified than the mob of young people looking to be flashed on Bourbon Street.
Want fried chicken? Go to Fiorella’s. The food is handmade to order and delicious. I had fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, unbelievable comfort food, and also great for a hangover…not that I had one.
Still haven’t had enough? People will tell you to make sure you eat a beignet (fried dough of the gods), these are good, but if you want real French pastries go to Croissant D’or. This is a real French bakery that makes everything in the morning and throws leftover dough away. Try a cafe au lait made with chicory coffee while you are there.
When it’s time for lunch find a place that serves crawfish, anyplace will be fine. We happened upon The French Market Cafe, conveniently located across the street from the French Market itself. The crawfish were spicy and juicy, they harmonized perfectly with yet some more beer.
Once dinner time hits you will be bombarded with more choices, there are just too many good places to eat. I wish that we could have tried them all, but contrary to what I’ve written, we did things other than eating and drinking. Our last dinner in the city was at the local Brew Pub. The food was gourmet, the beer was brewed on premises, but the memory that I will walk away with forever was the unbelievable preparation of their asparagus. You did not misread, I am talking about the long green vegetable that is low on most lists. I don’t know what they did to it, but I wish that they had given me much more asparagus. It was cooked very al dente, and seemed to have been lightly grilled, and salted… Was it really that simple? Am I missing something? I will be trying to recreate this…