There is something magical about taking the Algiers ferry across the mighty Mississippi: the feel of the wind, the scent of the air, views of the shore, bridge and city. Then there’s the destination: Algiers Point—historic, beautiful and with lots delicious dining options.
Steps from the ferry landing is the Dry Dock Café for classic local cuisine. Get messy with buttery barbecued shrimp or a gravy-drenched Cajun Roast Beef Po’ Boy. The Crawfish Maureenica (sautéed crawfish tails in garlic cream sauce over pasta) is sturdy and a clever twist on the popular Jazzfest staple. Don’t miss Dry Dock’s rum-passion fruit-and-club soda specialty coctail, Sex on the Levee.
Tavolino Pizza & Lounge is a relative newcomer to the Point. The thoughtful Italian menu includes fun starters like Ping (pork-and-beef-stuffed fried Castelvetrano olives), bread knots with a choice of spread (try the honey-truffle goat cheese) and thin-crusted Neapolitan-style pizzas (go meaty with the Carne—prosciutto, sausage and pepperoni). Definitely opt in for a cocktail, especially one of the ever-changing daiquiris called The Ferry Companion. Most recently sipped: strawberry-rose lemonade.
A short walk from the ferry is Congregation Coffee Roasters, recently recognized by Food & Wine magazine for its stamp on the booming local coffee scene. Well-sourced beans are roasted on-site for various blends spanning a variety of tastes. Baristas know their way around the fancy espresso machine, pulling fruity, bright shots to sip or tip into a cappuccino. The brief-but-mighty food menu is highlighted by homemade boudin with a side of cane syrup for dipping—served weekends only—toasts, yogurt and coconut rice pudding. Yum.
Chef Peter Vazquez operates the Appetite Repair Shop, where the wildly varied menu crosses many cultures and cuisine styles of entrées, snacks, terrines, salads, sandwiches, sweets and other edibles based on whim. Check his Facebook page for current offerings. Take note: Vazquez keeps later hours—generally after 5 pm—and his food sells out fast, but it’s a definite must.
Hop on the ferry to Algiers Point for an eating adventure across the river. Fear not, there’ll be plenty of time to relax and recover on the return trip before continuing French Quarter-side.
Put down the smartphone, shut out the work noise and don’t even think about making that bed. You’re on vacation. The idea is to elevate your stay from the everyday. That’s not hard to do in New Orleans, where out-of-the-ordinary is the norm. No worries, no responsibilities and no penny-pinching. Just let go and indulge.
M.S. Rau Antiques: One of the city’s oldest antiques galleries is also one of the nation’s largest. For more than a century, Rau has ruled Royal Street with a stellar high-end selection of 18th- and 19th-century art and collectibles. Searching for Napoleon’s bronze death mask? Pope Paul VI’s diamond-and-emerald-encrusted cross? You'll find them among the 25,000 square feet of jaw-dropping treasures.
Avery Fine Perfumery: Step into this “smell gallery” and set off on a world tour of luxe fragrances. Scent stylists help you build a customized “fragrance wardrobe” with art perfume brands from around the globe. More a fan of home than body fragrance? The shop’s chic ceramic sculptures double as diffusers.
Waldorf Astoria Spa: This elegant escape inside the equally elegant Roosevelt Hotel provides a full line of spa services, from facials to massages, in addition to specialty treatments and lavish luxuries. Take the decadent Diamond Body therapy, which incorporates precious stones and gold-enriched creams. A complimentary glass of Champagne? Yes, please.
Fellow Suits: Where do sharp-dressed New Orleans Saints like Roman Harper and Brandon Coleman turn for expert fashion advice? Fellow Suits, where tailors take up to 30 measurements to ensure the perfect fit and guide guys through the process of selecting the right fabrics, styles and personal touches for a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind look.
The Shops at Canal Place: Tiffany & Co., Coach, Saks Fifth Avenue, lululemon: That’s just a small sampling of the many high-end retailers found at this upscale mall. On the third floor is a nine-screen theater where moviegoers can order gourmet snacks and cocktails straight from their seats.
Windsor Court Tea: With paintings of British royal life adorning its lobby, hallways and Polo Club Lounge, the Windsor Court Hotel emits a decidedly English air, which makes its traditional afternoon tea all the more authentic. Sip from 26 different varieties and nibble on scones with lemon curd, while Rachael Van Vorrhees, principal harpist for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, strums in the background.
Effervescence: Champagne is the order at this French Quarter bubbles bar, where a spirited crowd toasts the 90 different bottles—and 18 by-the-glass—on offer. Settle in for an international flight of French, Italian, Spanish or American varieties, while noshing on caviar and sophisticated small plates.
Commander’s Chef’s Table: A place at Commander’s Palace’s Chef’s Table, located smack in the middle of the kitchen, is an exciting, upscale experience, full of people, bustle, energy and, of course, amazing food. Chef Tory McPhail chats with diners ahead of time, so he and his team can create a pitch-perfect, specialized and thoughtful menu.
Behind the Lines Tour: You could easily spend two full days taking in all of the National WWII Museum’s holdings, and its exclusive behind-the-scenes experience lets you do just that. Climb inside a Sherman tank, get hands-on with historic artifacts, grab lunch with a curator and receive a pass for a second day to explore on your own.
The Jazz Playhouse: Walk-ins are welcome at the Royal Sonesta’s swanky jazz club, where visiting musicians, such as Stevie Wonder, have been known to stop by for an impromptu set. But why take your chances on finding a seat when you can secure a front row spot for just $20?
Since New Orleans’ food truck-friendly laws went into effect in 2014, there’s been a boom in the number of food trucks found at bars, breweries, events and on downtown street corners. The increase in the number of city breweries over the last year has provided opportunities for these trucks to feed hungry beer drinkers—which are plentiful—and a for a new surge in mobile pop-ups—preparing and providing food without a truck—that have sprung up to ensure everyone gets fed.
The food truck, pop-up and local brewing industry have had to overcome onerous city regulations to thrive in recent years, and the minds behind both are passionate, creative and entrepreneurial.
Saigon Slim’s creates Vietnamese food with a global twist, and can be found at Courtyard Brewery and Parleaux Beer Lab every week. Co-owner and manager Maria Senger notes that the tap room/tasting room culture at area breweries is different than at bars or other locations.
“It’s more leisurely,” Senger said. “If the food takes 10 to 15 minutes to prepare, that’s fine, they’ll just go have a beer while they wait. Customers at breweries don’t want to leave right away.”
Jacob Landry, founder of Urban South Brewing, feels that goes both ways.
“There are huge benefits to having food on-premise,” he said, “as it gives folks a reason to stay longer and helps round out their experience.”
Second Line Brewing co-owner Mark Logan points to another benefit.
“As a brewery owner,” he added, “having someone else handle the food end of things is one less issue I have to deal with, like staffing, inventory, equipment and regulations.”
The symbiotic relationship benefits both the brewer and food truck/pop-up owner. Tracey Armitage runs the food pop-up La Monita Colombian, which is found at Urban South, 40 Arpent, Parleaux Beer Lab, Courtyard Brewery, Wayward Owl and Second Line.
“Brewery clientele enjoys craft beer and will hang out for a couple hours over a few beers, and they need food,” Armitage said.
Scott Wood, founder and brewer at Courtyard, says food trucks and pop-ups have been essential to his business model from the very beginning. And they can bring new customers to the brewery.
“People love Saigon Slim's and Taceaux Loceaux with a passion, but each of our trucks has a cult following," Wood said. "There's a group that shows up like clockwork every Thursday for Taylor Made Wings, and people stalk our social media for the Frencheeze menu every week.”
While La Monita is just a year old, Saigon Slim’s has been around for almost three years, and Senger has seen significant growth on both sides of the equation.
“As the number of food trucks increased breweries became an outlet for new trucks to go and get their feet wet,” Sanger said. At this point though, with all the new breweries that have opened, there aren’t enough to go around. “Pop-ups have started filling in where food trucks aren’t going.”
Armitage says she has seen her business grow alongside the New Orleans brewing scene with the increased demand and pop-up business model.
“With pop-ups, barriers to enter the market are less significant,” she said. “Working with breweries is great because I get to meet entrepreneurs who are doing interesting things that they’re passionate about—like I am.”
The Truck Stops Here
Food truck and pop-up schedules shift constantly; check for changes on brewery locations.
Bonafried: Fried chicken sandwiches; Second Line
Foodies Destination: Korean fare; Courtyard, Parleaux and Second Line
Frencheeze: Grilled cheese on steroids; Courtyard, Parleaux and Second Line
La Cocinita: Latin American street food; Wayward Owl
La Monita: Colombian cuisine; found at 40 Arpent, Courtyard, Parleaux, Second Line, Urban South and Wayward Owl
Lucille’s Roti Shop: Trinidadian cuisine; found at 40 Arpent, Courtyard and Parleaux
The Red Stove: Middle Eastern food; found at 40 Arpent, Parleaux and Second Line
Saigon Slim’s: Vietnamese; found at Courtyard and Parleaux
Taceaux Loceaux: Tacos; found at Courtyard
Taylor Made Wings on the Geaux: Chicken wings; found at 40 Arpent and Courtyard
We've Got Big Bowls: Hearty soups and pasta bowls; found at 40 Arpent and Brieux Carré
New Orleans’ affair with fried chicken is historic. Popeye’s was founded here, and the late, legendary chef Austin Leslie—purportedly the inspiration for a long-ago television character—left a fried chicken legacy still cooking at Jacques-Imo’s.
Fanatics hold a dry-battered Dooky Chase chicken leg in one hand and a wet-battered thigh from Willie Mae’s Scotch House in the other. Never mind the small independent chicken joint Jim McHardy’s Chicken & Fixin’ gas station and convenience store birds and the myriad Creole soul and plate-lunch restaurants “famous” for their fried chicken like Lil’ Dizzy’s, Coop’s, Franky & Johnny’s.
But that’s barely, dare it be said, scratching the surface. So deep is the city’s fried chicken love, there’s now a festival dedicated to the matter. Meanwhile, there are some long-standing restaurants with worthy wings—and other parts—as well as new spots hatching fine fried chicken; even one place with some skin in the game.
Old-school plate-lunch places like Praline Connection in the Marigny and Neyow’s in Mid-City serve crackly, deeply seasoned fried chicken to go with creamy slow-cooked beans, tender stewed greens and Louisiana rice. Note to liver lovers: Praline Connection’s deep-fried chicken livers come with gravy and pepper jelly—yes, do both—and are not only available in the restaurant, but also at their Louis Armstrong Airport location on Concourse B.
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen continues to honor late chef Paul Prudhomme’s delicious heritage with popular local dishes. Yes, there is blackened fish and étouffée, but one of the best-kept secrets is the fried chicken. At lunch, the andouille-studded red beans and rice comes with a juicy fried breast, but keep eyes peeled for the random fried chicken special.
Beloved Fiorella’s Café may have recently been revamped, but its fried chicken has not changed a bit. Black pepper-shot dry batter evenly coats chicken pieces that stay juicy, crispy and the stuff of fried chicken dreams, offered by the box (10 pieces) or platter.
Coquette chef-owners Mike Stoltzfus and Kristen Essig occasionally hold all-you-can-eat “Fried Chicken and Champagne” dinners. The events are so popular, fried chicken is now a regular brunch/lunch menu item, served with flaky biscuits, pickles and deviled eggs.
Speaking of deviled eggs, Turkey and the Wolf, Food & Wine's “Best New Restaurant 2017,” makes house hot sauce-topped deviled eggs garnished with fried chicken skin, and every now and then there is an upmarket version of a fast-food favorite, “Fried Chicken Salad.”
Some may think of New Orleans as the Deep South; but when it comes to playing chicken, it's more like the deep-fried South.
Food pundits tell us that the optimal way to cool down is to spice-up what we eat. But, to be honest, cold foods—soups, snoballs, fruits and salads—are more appealing and obvious. The trick is finding dishes with cool on several levels.
When ripe melons come in, High Hat Café rolls out a juicy watermelon-and-crab salad with shaved red onion and lime vinaigrette. Equally exquisite is the snapper crudo with watermelon, lime, gardenia and jalapeño at Coquette.
Maïs Arepas serves all kinds of cool Colombian food, and the ceviches—tarted up with lime, onion and chunks of ripe avocados—are divine.
At Johnny Sánchez chefs Aarón Sánchez and Miles Landrem are always innovating, creating and playing around with the architecture of Mexican food. Their ceviche pairs fresh-tasting cobia with sweet cucumbers and tomatoes, creamy avocado, the tartness of passion fruit and the heat of habanero, topped with crispy hominy for a slightly Southern spin.
Hit Haiku for its killer “King Cake” sushi roll—cream cheese and coconut shrimp inside, tuna, “eel sauce” and toasted almonds on top, or make it Maypop for chef Michael Gulotta’s crazy good “Chaat Salad” with coconut-cucumber ranch dressing.
The gazpacho at the Standard changes on the chef’s whim, but you can bank on cool combos like watermelon, cucumber and tomato. Café Degas is known for its heavenly potato and leek vichyssoise. Add some crusty French bread and good butter…magnifique.
The flavors at Creole Creamery are both simple (chocolate, vanilla, etc.) and supremely cool; think honey-lavender, magnolia or jasmine flower.
At GW Fins, chef Mike Nelson’s “Salty Malty Ice Cream Pie” is so airy, a side view of a slice appears to have layers like a Napoleon. A pretzel crust provides the salt, and then there is the caramel whipped cream, the caramel drizzle and a couple of chocolate-covered pretzels for garnish. Dig in and chill out.
Short on amenities but long on lore, some of New Orleans’ most popular bars might be considered dives in other cities. But here, bars with storied pasts, the patina of good times had and the anything-goes vibe of a diverse clientele are regarded as hallowed ground for their regulars. They are found in old buildings that had previous lives as homes or corner stores which imbues them with the sort of authenticity you just don’t find in newer establishments.
While such institutions are the stomping grounds of locals, visitors are universally welcome, whether you show up for a late-night music performance or drop in for a drink during the middle of the day.
Aunt Tiki’s: Don’t let the name fool you; there are no umbrella drinks here. And don’t even think about ordering one, the bartender might toss you out. What you will find is a worn sofa, a well-stocked jukebox and extra-strong cocktails at hard-to-beat prices. Who needs mai tais?
Chart Room: When this local landmark changed ownership after 40 years in 2015, loyalists lamented the end of an era. But, thankfully, little has changed at the corner of Chartres and Bienville: the atmosphere is still easygoing, the bartenders unpretentious and the shots just keep on coming.
Golden Lantern: It’s from this 24/7 watering hole in the wall that the annual Southern Decadence parade—a booze-fueled, flesh-filled celebration of debauchery—kicks off each Labor Day weekend. Gay but straight-friendly, the Lantern keeps patrons lit with strong pours and a daily happy hour that runs from 8 am to 8 pm. Great drag shows on weekends.
Brothers Three: Despite its sunny yellow exterior, inside this Magazine Street lounge it’s dark, dank and divey 24/7. There’s country on the jukebox, a rotating cast of colorful characters at the bar…and the drink prices are almost as low as the ceilings.
Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge: A NOLA dive-hunter rite of passage; even Anthony Bourdain has boozed it up in this tumbledown shack. Gritty, grungy and lit mostly by Christmas lights, this legendary land of the lost is eternally cool and quintessentially New Orleans.
Rock Bottom Lounge: The name kinda says it all. But don’t be put off by the bars on the windows; this former apartment building-turned-"black cultural bar" is home to a friendly crowd of neighborhood regulars and a number of social aid and pleasure clubs. Strong drinks at rock-bottom prices.
Ms. Mae’s: Another Magazine Street must-stop. There are pool tables, air hockey, foosball and a small patio, but the real draw is the friendly patrons and crazy cheap drinks.
The Saint: A dive with a doorman? Yep, and a DJ and hopping dance floor. The party at this easy-to-overlook nightspot gets started long after the others, beginning around midnight and going until sunrise. When it gets too crowded inside take it to the back patio. Tiki-themed karaoke on Tuesdays; free jukebox on Sundays.
Checkpoint Charlie's: Dirty clothes? Perfect, you’ll fit right in with the grunge crowd. Or you can clean up at the on-site laundromat while getting down to live bands—no cover, though there is a drink requirement for bathroom use. Music runs the gamut from blues to rockabilly. 501 Esplanade Ave., 504.281.4847
The John: In a city filled with every type of bar imaginable, it takes a lot to stand out. Enter The John. Cheap drinks in Mason jars, ping-pong…and toilets. Pulling up a stool here means grabbing one of the many gold toilets that serve as seats. Who says you can’t sit on the toilet and drink in public? 2040 Burgundy St., 504.942.7159
Saturn Bar: In recent years the Bywater neighborhood has become hipster central. But the cool-kid crowd has been orbiting around the Saturn Bar for more than four decades and still lands there today. Catch King James and the Special Men Mondays at 10 pm.
J&J's Sports Lounge: With happy hour starting at 11 am, J&J’s morphs from sports bar by day to locals dive in the early evening hours. Deep in the Bywater, this spot is great for catching Saints or LSU games—and a really cheap tall boy. Keep an eye out for the neighborhood cat who has his own bar stool.
BJ's: Sure, it’s been featured in the New York Times and Robert Plant has been known to drop by for an impromptu jam session, but this low-key corner bar remains one of Bywater’s best and least affected. Live music on Fridays.
Where to Find New Orleans' Dive Bars
New Orleans is a fun place to eat and drink. In early May James Beard Awards were given to stellar chefs Rebecca Wilcomb (Herbsaint) and Zachary Engel (Shaya), and there was a long overdue nod to the city’s cocktail culture with a win for Arnaud’s French 75, helmed by star barman Chris Hannah. Continue to debate whether the cocktail was born here, but do so over a drink, please. The summer sipping scene is packed full of fizzy options, with and without booze.
On the soda side there’s Big Easy Bucha, a local business that bottles fermented tea in various flavors. You’ll find it tucked into drink cases at The Bulldog, Poke Loa, St. Roch Market, Green Fork and more. From the Vietnamese drinks canon comes “Soda Chanh,” a sparkly limeade made by mixing muddled fresh lime juice and sugar with a small bottle of club soda. Try one at Pho Cam Ly, Lily's Café or Magasin.
Restaurants are keen on creating their own sodas, which can be “corrected” with spirits, or not. Kebab has a sweet-tart beet-citrus soda to drink plain over ice or with a shot of vodka or gin. At Shaya there are seasonal sodas to drink as is, or order the “Birth of Athena,” a fizzy blend of sloe gin, cider beer and rosé.
Spritizers are back in a big way, with bars/restaurants taking effervescent drinks to the next level using locally distilled spirits, housemade shrubs, syrups and sodas. At Lula Restaurant Distillery they use their own vodka. Try the “Basil Smash” (lemon, basil, cane sugar and bubbles) or a “Cucumber Collins” (cucumber, lemon, cane sugar and soda).
Cocktail goddess Laura Bellucci’s “Iridescent Gods” at SoBou is a smoky-fruity composition that gets a smidge of heat from ginger and fizz from elderflower kombucha. Or go with a “Roffignac” (cognac, homemade raspberry shrub and soda) at Bakery Bar.
At Arnaud’s French 75, order the “Candelabra” (Singani 63, Sancerre, pomegranate syrup, lime and club soda). At Café Henri its all about the tart and intriguing “Venetian Spritz,” made with Cappelletti Aperitivo, soda, Champagne, olive, black pepper and lemon, while Cure quenches summertime thirsts with “The Love Below,” which features Louisiana strawberry shrub, thyme and sparkling wine.
New Orleans has a lot more breweries now than it did a year ago. To help visitors (and locals) get to several safely at one time, three beer-focused bus tours have popped up in recent months. They’re all high quality and priced about the same, but each company has its own specialty. Check their websites and reviews to find the best fit for you.
Best for Beer Nerds Who Like Shiny Equipment
When Urban South Brewery opened in March 2016, Premium Tours and Transportation founders Patrick Healey and Peter Van Dusen decided the time was right for a proper brewery bus tour in the Uptown area.
Their New Orleans Brewery Tour takes place every day at 4 pm, and always hits Courtyard Brewing, Urban South and NOLA Brewing. The tour includes two beers at each stop and an up-close look at the breweries’ inner workings—the only one of the three companies to do so.
Healey says friendships are often facilitated between tour attendees.
“We once had two recently married couples on the tour,” he recalls. “They loved craft beer, were staying at the same hotel, got married on the same day and didn't know each other until they got on the bus. Three hours later they had dinner plans together for the next two nights.”
Best for Any Kind of Party
Matt Marsiglia’s NOLA Brew Bus is a customized party mobile, on which he conducts three weekly brewery tours.
On Friday afternoons the Brew Bus crosses Lake Pontchartrain to tour the Abita Brewing Company; on Saturdays and Sundays, it hits three of the eight in-town breweries, switching routes every month. Participants get a tour at one of the three stops, two beers at each and some history about the city and its rich brewing history in between.
NOLA Brew Bus also offers a Saturday afternoon “To-Go Cup” walking beer tour, which focuses on one of the city’s newest breweries—Brieux Carré, just off of Frenchmen Street—along with a couple of French Quarter bars where guests can sample local brews. Private tours are also available for groups and parties.
“We promote not just craft beer in New Orleans, but our city in general,” Marsiglia says. “As a licensed tour guide company in the Big Easy, we really pride ourselves being the liaison between tourists, breweries, new locals finding their groove and small businesses.”
Best for the Beer Explorer
New Orleans Brews Cruise is Amber and Brad Gunn’s tribute to Louisiana beer and the people who love it. New Orleans tours are offered three times a week— Fridays and Saturdays at 6 pm and Sundays at 2 pm—and include a rotating three out of 10 local breweries with samples at each stop and a tour of one.
The Brews Cruise also makes monthly brewery tours to the Northshore (to visit Abita, Old Rail and either Covington or Chafunkta), Baton Rouge (with stops at Gnarly Barley, Southern Craft and Tin Roof) and in Lafayette (home base for Bayou Teche, Cajun Brewing and Parish Brewing Co.).
“The majority of our customers seem to be craft beer fans who are interested in learning more about what New Orleans has to offer,” says Amber. “They are also looking for someone who is knowledgeable and can bring them to places the locals would go to.”
With school out and families on the go, summer travel is usually devoted to kid-friendly fun. But in celebration of Father's Day we’ve mapped out more-manly adventures for the big kid at heart. Yes, guys, there’s more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street.
Wet and Wild
You’ll see lots of wet T-shirts—and tons of redfish, sheepshead, black drum and jacks—just an hour outside the city on a guided fishing excursion. Marsh & Bayou Outfitters and Jean Lafitte offer chartered trips with seasoned captains. Fishermen can also reel ’em in at City Park, where Wheel Fun Rentals provides fishing boat, kayak and pedal boat rentals, making it easy to explore more than 11 miles of lagoons.
Kayak-iti-yat conducts daily kayak excursions, from easygoing cruises along historic Bayou St. John to strenuous, three-hour tours of Bayou Bienvenue, where adventurous nature lovers will spot alligators and a wide variety of birds. This one isn’t for the faint of heart; there are no bathrooms, no breaks and paddling experience is required. Canoe & Trail Advenutres' eco-conscious tours navigate small groups through swamp, bayou and marshlands then dip into Lake Pontchartrain.
Choot 'em! Premium Tours and Transportation brings “Swamp People” fantasies to life with its Gators and Guns outing. Practice your aim at the area’s leading shooting range before heading out on a high-speed airboat ride through the Jean Lafitte Swamp. Hunting for gators? Don’t worry, they’ll find you.
Bump up the pace even more at NOLA Motorsports Park, the stop for full-throttle fun (without losing your license in the process). The sprawling racetrack, just 25 minutes southwest of the city, offers “Arrive & Drive” karting, which allows guests to hit 50 miles per hour on the winding, seven-acre track. Satisfy the ultimate need for speed behind the wheel of a 500-horsepower, full-bore racecar with the “Xtreme Experience.” Aspiring Andrettis receive coaching from a professional driver and a crash course on car control before being let loose on a 1.8-mile track.
Shops for Pops
The custom-designed ties at the Wild Life Reserve are a perfect fit for dapper dads, while Italy Direct caters to sharp-dressed men with wooden bow ties and Queork provides clothing and accessories fashioned from cork. Top things off at the century-old Meyer the Hatter or Goorin Bros., the city’s go-tos for bespoke head wear. From handmade straw fedoras to classic truckers, there’s a style suitable to every taste and man.
Ranked the No. 1 barbershop in America by Playboy, Aidan Gill for Men has been keeping locals fit and trimmed for the past 25 years. In addition to its signature hot-towel shaves, the shop also features top-of-the-line grooming products and accessories, ranging from pocket knives to pocket squares.
The Art of Shaving likewise elevates male grooming from necessity to indulgence. The two-tiered space offers retail below and a Barber Spa above. Let one of the master barbers take you through the “Royal Shave” before heading next door to Rubenstein’s, which has been outfitting New Orleanians in designer wear and summery seersucker suits for nine decades.
Booze and Brews
Explore the ins and outs of mash-making, column-still distillation and barrel-aging at Celebration Distillation, home to Old New Orleans Rum. Tours start with a cocktail and end with a tasting of each of the distillery’s award-winning spirits. Facility tours and tastings are also offered at Atelier Vie, Cajun Spirits, NOLA Distilling and Lula Restaurant Distillery.
Beer-loving dads will find what they are after at NOLA Brewing, Crescent City Brewhouse, Urban South and Courtyard Brewing, all of which offer popular taprooms and tours. For a taste of what's new on the local craft-beer scene, check out Port Orleans Brewing, Brieux Carré and Parleaux Beer Lab. Or hop on the NOLA Brew Bus, New Orleans Brews Cruise or Premium Tours and Transportation's New Orleans Brewery Tour.
Beef It Up
10 top spots for steaks and burgers
No pool at your hotel? No need to get all hot and bothered about it. There are a number of cool venues around the city that offer summertime visitors welcome relief from New Orleans’ trademark heat and humidity.
In the Bywater neighborhood, The Country Club has served as a popular destination for Crescent City sun seekers for more than four decades. Recently renovated, both indoors and out, the sophisticated space draws big weekend crowds with its wildly popular drag brunch and lushly landscaped saltwater pool. Public access is offered daily ($10 Mon.-Wed.; $15 Thur.-Sun.), along with great poolside dining.
Spend $20 on food or drinks at the rooftop Alto bar and restaurant at the Ace Hotel in the Central Business District, and wade on in. Great city views are coupled with killer cocktails (try the “Mayon Mule”), summery small plates (pimento cheese with bagel chips, hot dogs on pretzel buns) and one of the hippest pool scenes in the city.
At the W French Quarter $30 secures a place poolside on Sundays, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and goes toward your food and beverage tab while there. Located in the hotel’s central courtyard, the W’s pool also plays host to monthly Dive-In Movies. Munch on complimentary popcorn while bobbing around watching free screenings. How cool is that?
Splashy cabana rentals ($175-$350) are offered daily at the ritzy Roosevelt Hotel. Accommodating up to six people, cabanas come with a pool attendant, stocked cooler and fruit plate. Or double your pleasure with an appointment at the elegant, in-house Waldorf Astoria Spa, which allows you to access the rooftop pool afterward.
Poolside cabana rentals ($350) are also available at Le Méridien, and include a bottle of booze (vodka, tequila or rum), mixers, water, fruit and chips/salsa. Or you can suit up and sip on a complimentary cocktail of the day, beer or wine for just $15 on weekends, from 11 am-6 pm. Did we mention the live DJ on Sundays? Reservations are required; space is limited to a set number of tickets per day.
Traveling with children? Head for the Audubon Zoo, where the animal-themed Cool Zoo splash park brings a bit of the beach to the heart of the city. Water-spitting snakes, spider monkey soakers, lion-head water cannons; the big attraction is a giant alligator slide that dumps 400 gallons of water at regular intervals. Up the cool quotient even further at the adjacent Gator Run, where live elephants look on as kids tube around the 750-ft. “lazy river” ride.
How can you beat the heat in “the northernmost Caribbean city”? With our summertime roundup of hot properties and seriously cool venues.
Effervescence: The bubbly crowd at this chic Champagne bar gets even more spirited as the evening progresses.
Music Box Village: Make your own kind of music at this whimsical wonderland, where ramshackle huts double as instruments.
St. John’s Eve: It’s not every day you get to witness a real-deal voodoo ritual. Mark the calendar for June 23, when this annual head-washing ceremony takes place along Bayou St. John.
Bayou Oaks-South Course: City Park's new 205-acre golf course features 46 bunkers, 300 oak trees and water hazards at nearly every hole.
Dave & Buster’s: The Texas-based entertainment emporium has finally landed in Louisiana, bringing with it 40,000 square feet of fun.
New Orleans Boulder Lounge: Soon to open a second location, this colorful indoor climbing facility is taking Crescent City fitness to new heights.
Brews Cruise New Orleans: How best to navigate the city’s burgeoning beer scene? By letting someone else do the driving. This group provides tours of local breweries with multiple samples at each stop.
Pisco Bar: Pisco is the pour of choice at this Catahoula Hotel hot spot. A taste for tiki? Head to the rooftop.
Windsor Court Hotel: Channel your inner Audrey Hepburn while lounging around the lobby bar, sipping “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”-inspired cocktails.
Killer Po’Boys: The name says it all. The humble po’boy gets gussied up with rum-glazed pork belly, smoked salmon and chicken confit.
Seaworthy: Oysters—from the Gulf, East and West coasts—are the big love at this offshoot of Manhattan’s floating Grand Banks bivalve bar. But burger fans will fall just as hard for the brisket/chuck version with roasted ham and fontal cheese.
Turkey and the Wolf: A sandwich shop nominated for a James Beard Award? Yep, it’s that good and deserving. Try the fried bologna topped with chips.
Cool for Kids
Cool Zoo: At this animal-themed splash park live elephants look on as kids tube around Gator Run, a 750-foot lazy river ride.
The French Library: School may be out, but there’s always time to learn something new… like another language.
Hansen’s Sno-Bliz: Shaved ice soaked in flavored syrup; it doesn’t get much simpler or more summery.
Frank Relle Photography: Night owl Frank Relle has gained a strong national following with his haunting images of nocturnal New Orleans.
Red Truck Gallery: Circus sideshow meets outsider art at this edgy, oddball gallery, where the works are at once weird and wonderful.
Sarah Ashley Longshore Studio: Oversize Champagne bottles, ottomans filled with shredded cash, bedazzled Abe Lincolns: The wacky works here are as colorful as their creator.
Art & Eyes: This shop’s eye-catching eyewear is sourced from artisans and independent brands around the globe.
Krewe: Local designer Stirling Barrett’s fab frames are a hit in Hollywood, spotted on everyone from Kendall Jenner to Gigi Hadid.
Vintage 329: Retro designer sunglasses—Chanel, Dior, Gautier, Ginet, Gucci, Versace—never go out of style.
Hot Happy Hours
Broussard’s: No, you’re not hallucinating: the daily L’Heure Verte service features $5-$7 absinthes from 5 to 7 pm.
Palace Café: Duck into the upstairs Duck Bar, Monday to Friday, from 4 to 7 pm, for half-priced small plates—fried duck wings, duck confit poutine)—tap wine and draft beer.
Johnny Sánchez: Celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez helps get the party started with $2 tacos and half-off house margaritas, beer, wine and mixed drinks, weekdays from 3 to 6 pm.
Forget staying grounded; what’s happening in food and drinks is up on the roof. The views are stunning and Instagramable, the dining and drinking is divine and, at this time of year, the weather is perfect for lovely days and sultry evenings under bright blue skies that fade to dark blue-black dappled with city lights.
Atop the beautifully restored Pontchartrain Hotel is Hot Tin, a rooftop bar with a name that alludes to playwright Tennessee Williams, who once resided at the property. The stunning 270-degree view of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River makes a great backdrop for cocktailing. The interior design has notable (and naughty) flourishes to discover while sipping a couple of fingers of bourbon, a bit of bubbly or a frivolous and fantastic “Pineapple Upside-Down Daiq.”
The Troubadour Hotel’s 17th floor is home to Monkey Board, a rooftop hangout with modern, street-graphics style. The full renovation of the historic Rault Building is dramatic, as are the views. There’s a full bar and food truck-style eats. Order a gin-and-lime “Alpine Slush” to slurp, and carb-load with a “Big Ass Pretzel” (beer cheese fondue for dunking) and the crunchy fried chicken sandwich with tart house pickles and mayo. At brunch, add a slow-cooked egg to the “Mojo Pork,” black beans and rice, then seal the deal with a fat slice of rainbow sprinkles-covered confetti cake.
A dipping pool, rooftop garden, 10-seat full bar and deck, all with a pretty view best describes Alto at the Ace Hotel. Recently appointed chef Nathan Adams cycles dishes on his menu, depending on the season. As summer approaches the food offerings trend lighter, and include grilled shrimp with a green garlic vinaigrette, avocado, cucumber and radish. Obvious poolside bites, such as burgers, hot dogs and wings, sit alongside Gulf fish tacos and a bright, herbaceous “Lemongrass Pie” with graham cracker crust and spiced whipped cream.
The Catahoula Hotel has a super-cool rooftop terrace, where chilling out to live music, catching a movie (yes, they screen films up there!), sipping smart cocktails or wines and eating contemporary Peruvian-inspired snacks is the thing. Causas (chilled whipped potatoes stacked with shiitake mushrooms) and salchipapas (fries with wild boar sausage) are listed, along with chilled salads, hefty sandwiches and raw seafood. Also on site are a Peruvian café, a coffee shop serving New Zealand’s Acme coffee and a hip cocktail space called the Pisco Bar, where the pisco sours are frothy, tart and divine.
Why would anyone not have their wedding in New Orleans?
It’s a question many couples ponder when planning their big day, and one that, in recent years, has helped position the Crescent City—with its timeless architecture, one-of-a-kind cuisine and cherished traditions—among the nation’s top wedding destinations.
While each wedding is different and unique, there is one constant: The special je ne sais quoi the city can bring to the joyous day.
The first location most couples consider is the French Quarter and its most iconic attraction, St. Louis Cathedral. Since 1727, the cathedral, with its picturesque spires and iconic altar, has served as the setting for countless nuptials, and continues to today. According to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the local landmark plays host to an average of 100 ceremonies annually.
It’s not uncommon while walking through Jackson Square (which the cathedral faces) to suddenly find yourself a member of the wedding, tossing birdseed at a twosome you’ve never before laid eyes on. Or getting drawn into a brass band-led second-line procession en route to a reception at one of the many restaurants where dozens of multi-tiered cakes are sliced into each month.
But not all New Orleans nuptials need be so formal. Not Catholic? The cathedral can still serve as the backdrop to a ceremony along adjacent Pirate’s Alley, the cobblestone passage that runs aside of the church. Others have been known to celebrate the depths of their love at the nearby Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, or to say their “I dos” along the Mississippi riverfront at Woldenberg Park or Crescent Park.
The great outdoors can make a great New Orleans wedding venue, especially from March to April and October to November, when temperatures are mild and days are sunny. The city’s legendary heat and humidity usually starts in May and continues through September, and December and February can be surprisingly cold. But what glorious places you can celebrate in during those four picture-perfect months!
The centuries-old oaks in City Park and Audubon Park not only make an ideal backdrop for wedding photos, but for the wedding itself. City Park is home to the Peristyle, a neo-classical open-air pavilion overlooking Bayou Metairie, that can work either for a ceremony or a reception—or both.
For those on a budget or seeking something out of the norm, New Orleans offers all manner of romantic and imaginative alternatives, from jazz clubs to racetracks. One young couple recently wed at a historic courthouse on the Westbank then took the ferry across the river to meet friends and made a second-line parade to a small restaurant in the French Quarter.
The city also has no shortage of historic homes and spaces oozing 19th-century atmosphere in which to construct the wedding of your dreams. From the French Quarter and Garden District to the Lower Garden District and Marigny (where singer Solange Knowles and music video director Alan Ferguson famously bicycled to their wedding in a former church that’s been converted into an opera house), the options are near limitless.
It’s your day to make your own. Why not make it in New Orleans?
There is nothing new about restaurants with big bar/cocktail/beer programs or bars with serious food. But New Orleans’ newest restaurant iteration is found tucked into distilleries and breweries, places where booze is the front man—sometimes the raison d’etre—though the food is no slacker. Sound intriguing? It is.
The new Lula Restaurant Distillery produces vodka, rum and gin made from 100 percent Louisiana sugarcane products, and offer retail bottles for purchase on-site. To dine, Lula co-owner and chef Jess Bourgeois created a menu that could easily be dubbed “Contemporary Louisiana.” Kick off with salty-sweet boudin eggrolls and a sticky fig-molasses dipping sauce, then try the tender braised rabbit with pickled pork-flecked white beans and green onion popcorn rice or Gulf shrimp lacquered and spiked with Lula Rum, tempered by an earthy soybean succotash.
Effervescence Bubbles & Bites, which opened mid-March, features Champagnes and sparkling wines—by the bottle, glass and on tap—from France, Italy and Spain. The menu of modern American small plates includes fried chicken, grilled octopus and caviar with crème fraîche and fresh-fried potato chips. Dessert is a hollowed-out grapefruit half filled with frozen grapefruit spheres, a drape of Champagne sabayon and a wisp of edible gold leaf.
The recent swell in local breweries is just short of shocking—currently hovering at around 17—with a growing number now adding dedicated restaurant spaces. The taproom at NOLA Brewing features pit man Neil McClure's big barbecue menu of smoky, tender barbecue and a few surprises—pho, banh mi, poutine and tacos made with smoked meats—that are a great match for the house-made beers. Joining in the trend, the recently opened Port Orleans Brewing Company houses Stokehold, chefs Jeremy Wolgamott, Phillip Mariano and Tim Bordes’ new venture serving elevated dishes with a modern American, Southern and Italian vibe, built around the beer brewed on site.