What to do now in New Orleans

Cheers to New Orleans' Beer Gardens

Aline Street Beer Garden, New Orleans
(©Shawn Fink) "Getting the boot" takes on new meaning at the Aline Street Beer Garden.

There’s nothing like a good beer and conversation at one of New Orleans’ beer gardens, which (as the following guide illustrates) have been sprouting up like clover lately. For the purposes of this list, a beer garden is a bar that serves great beer and at which a significant amount of the seating is outdoors. Some are more traditional than others, but all will help you pass a good time.

Avenue Pub: This renowned beer bar has always been well known for its upstairs outdoor balcony space overlooking St. Charles Avenue. But recently the management has transformed its back patio into a larger and greener space to enjoy. 

Bayou Beer Garden: One of the first bona fide beer gardens in New Orleans. Bayou's huge patio has an outdoor bar with plenty of seating and greenery. The beer list is extensive with more than 100 choices on draft and in the bottle or can. 

Bayou Beer Garden in New Orleans

Aline Street Beer Garden: A Munich-style urban biergarten with long orange tables, oom-pah music on the jukebox and a healthy selection of beer. Check out the bottled list for lesser-known but high-quality beer from Germany’s smaller breweries. 

Second Line Brewing: Second Line’s weekend beer garden is a great place to hang out outdoors, try the taproom-only beers and enjoy offerings from local food trucks. 

Bulldog Mid-City: This Mid City pub’s dog-friendly courtyard is a beer garden in all ways except in name. Located at the end of the Canal/Cemeteries streetcar line, the long tables, fountain, camaraderie and delicious food and beer all lend to a lovely New Orleans night.

The Bulldog bar in New Orleans

Courtyard Brewery: With the word “courtyard” in its name, it’s no surprise that this nanobrewery has most of its seating outdoors. While the vibe is very DIY—cable-spool tables, folding chairs—the beer is fantastic, and there’s always a really happy crowd. 

Tchoup Yard: Squirreled away in the Irish Channel near the river, you’ll recognize this block-wide space by the colorful lights that illuminate its outdoor tables. Craft and national beers are the draw, along with a large selection of frozen cocktails. Can’t decide? Order a “Beergarita,” which combines the two.

Evangeline: Step into the back courtyard here, and the city feels miles away. One of the French Quarter’s best-kept secrets, Evangeline also has a great beer selection and food menu, both locally focused. 

Evangeline restaurant in New Orleans

Ale: Right off the St. Charles streetcar line, Ale has a tiny, modern interior with 30 beers on tap. But head outside to the bar’s courtyard (shared with sister wine bar Oak) to enjoy fresh air and watch the world go by.

Bacchanal: Although this Bywater venue is best known in New Orleans for wine and live music, it also serves a great selection of bottled and canned beer. Pair that with a cheese plate and sit under the twinkling lights listening to local bands; it doesn’t get much better than this.

A Map of the Best Beer Gardens in New Orleans

10 top spots for drinking in the great outdoors.

Snoballs: New Orleans' Cure for the Summertime Heat

Pouring on a rainbow blend at Pandora's in Mid-City.
(©Shawn Fink) Pouring on a rainbow blend at Pandora's in Mid-City.

It snows in New Orleans in spring. Seriously. March heralds the re-opening of many popular snoball stands closed since September, and the businesses are back in full swing by May. By now, locals have moved past their snoball season kickoff flavor and are eager to try something new. Traditionalists keep it simple and classic, but just as king cake has evolved in recent years beyond plain brioche with colored sugar to rings filled with everything from bananas and bacon to muffuletta fixings, so too have snoballs rolled wild. Nowadays, the crazier the combo, the bigger the audience.

Hansen's Sno-Bliz New Orleans

Uptown, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz is known for clever gourmet culinary flavors including bananas Foster and thai-basil; but go old-school with the sweet-tart “Mary’s Own.” Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls also has some cool cream flavors; try the half “Chicory Cream”/ half “Cereal Cream,” lovingly dubbed “Breakfast Snow.” At SnoWizard, retro flavors such as “Dreamsicle Cream” are offered, along with unusual syrups such as “Wine Cooler” and “Chamoy” (chiles, apricot, lime and mixed fruit).

Imperial Woodpecker Snoballs in New Orleans

After a stroll through City Park, brave the long line at Mid-City’s Pandora’s for a snoball that mimics a frozen petit four—a layer of shaved ice with “Wedding Cake” syrup, soft-serve in the middle and more ice topped with “Buttercream Cream.” Wild sno is worth going the distance for. A Lakeview trek rewards with “Chocolate Sno-Cream” snoballs (frozen chocolate syrup scooped like ice cream) at NolaSnow, while Sno-La is renowned for its “Peanut Butter Cream” snoball, stuffed with peanut butter cheesecake and topped with either strawberry or grape syrup. 

To get the scoop on New Orleans’ sno(ball) storm, pick up a copy of Crescent City Snow, Where New Orleans contributor Megan Braden-Perry’s “ultimate guide” to snoball stands, snoballs, syrup flavors, toppings and more. Perry adds history and her personal connection to the local shaved-ice treat, along with tasting notes and tips to deliciously navigate the cool world of the city’s iconic seasonal dessert.

Summer’s heat is a long stretch; good thing there’s plenty of snow. Have a ball.

Chill out with a Crescent City classic.

Where to Satisfy Your Crawfish Cravings In New Orleans

New Orleans Crawfish Boil (©Shawn Fink)
(©Shawn Fink) In addition to crawfish, boils can include everything from corn and potatoes to mushrooms and Brussels sprouts.

 

It starts in early February along Mardi Gras parade routes, and lingers long into May. You’ll catch a whiff it wafting out of French Quarter bars and bubbling up from backyards in the Bywater. Ahh…the distinctive smell of spicy crawfish permeating the New Orleans springtime air.

New Orleans Crawfish Boil (©Shawn Fink)

By March crawfish season comes to a full boil, with the mighty mudbug taking its annual star turn on area restaurant menus. Locals line up to load up on steaming crawdads fresh from the pot at Melba's, Bevi Seafood Co.Clesi's, NOLA Brewing and Rouses, which served more than 50,000 pounds of them during last year’s French Quarter Festival, where Muriel's crawfish-and-goat cheese crepes are always a crowd pleaser.

Boiled beauties are also devoured at Deanie's, along with fried crawfish tails, crawfish etouffée and crawfish bisque. Elegant Restaurant R'evolution elevates humble mudbugs to fine-dining status with its crawfish-stuffed redfish Napoleon, as does Arnaud's, where they’re baked in a brandy-infused Creole tomato sauce, while Commander's Palace takes the standard croque madame sandwich to a whole new level with crawfish, escargot and crawfish-boiled mozzarella and Gruyeré.

Restaurant R'evolution New Orleans

At the tony Ritz-Carlton guests are schooled in the art of the peel (“suck on the crawfish tail while pushing from the bottom, and it comes right out”) by a dedicated “crawfish concierge.” The hotel hosts boils in its courtyard—with live music and champagne—from March through May; call 504.262.5048 for reservations.

Then there are the crawfish fetes that start up in earnest each April and spill into May. Crawfish bread, crawfish pie, crawfish po’ boys, crawfish pizza, crawfish pasta, crawfish eggrolls, crawfish quesadillas, crawfish-smothered catfish; the Louisiana Crawfish Festival in Chalmette offers a taste of it all and then some. There’s even a Crawfish Queen! Hot mudbugs and cold beer is a quintessential combo, which makes the NOLA Crawfish Fest, with its specialty brews, a no-brainer. Sandwiched between Jazzfest weekends, the three-day affair also spotlights a gumbo of local music acts.

Louisiana Crawfish Festival (©Louisiana Crawfish Festival)

The University of New Orleans gets in on the act with the Crawfish Mambo along Lake Pontchartrain, while Tulane University weighs in with its annual Crawfest, which serves up 20,000-plus pounds of freshwater crustaceans at its Uptown campus. True devotees go the distance, making the two-hour trek to the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, a big-time, small-town affair that draws huge crowds to Cajun country.

Grown men can get as excited as little boys when it comes to crawfish boils. And now kids can safely take part in the adult fun with the Lil Bit Crawfish Boil Set, complete with plastic pot, strainer, stirring paddle, mudbugs, veggies and seasoning. You’ll find them at Dirty CoastFleurty Girl and other area gift shops.

’Tis the season, so get out and get peelin’!

Kid's Crawfish Boil Set / Dirty Coast (©Shawn Fink)

 

A guide to springtime mudbug madness.

Rooftop Dining in New Orleans

Hot Tin Bar in New Orleans
(©Pontchartrain Hotel) A room with a killer view: the Pontchartrain Hotel's Hot Tin bar.

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.”

Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans

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.

Troubadour Hotel New Orleans

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.

Alto at the New Orleans Ace Hotel

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.

Catahoula Hotel New Orleans

Head upstairs for dinner and a show.

Summery Sipping in New Orleans

SoBou New Orleans
(©Shawn Fink) Kombucha makes a guest appearance in SoBou's "Iridescent Gods."

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 BulldogPoke 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.

Big Easy Bucha

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.

Liquored-up beet-citrus slushy

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.

Cafe Henri (©Shawn Fink)

How to beat the heat? Grab a spritzer.

In the Swim: New Orleans Pools You Should Dip Into

W French Quarter Hotel New Orleans
(©W French Quarter) A flaming fountain, inviting pool and "Dive-In Movies" make the W French Quarter a summer hot spot.

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.

The Country Club New Orleans (©Romney Caruso)

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.

Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans

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.

Audubon Zoo Cool Zoo New Orleans

Six cool ways to combat summer's swelter.

New Orleans Food Festivals to Keep You Sated Year-Round

Oak Street Po'boy Festival (©Shawn Fink)
(©Shawn Fink) One of dozens of delicious offerings at October's Oak Street Po'boy Festival.

New Orleans boasts more than 130 annual festivals, many of them food-focused. Alligator, oysters, gumbo, mirliton—if it’s edible, we’ll celebrate it. Here, we’ve mapped out the best the city’s food fetes month-by-month. Dig in, y'all!


January

King Cake Festival: A Mardi Gras must-have, king cake comes in a variety of flavors, both sweet and savory. Local bakeries serve up their signature takes on the Crescent City confection during this Carnival season celebration at Champions Square.

Randazzo's King Cake


February/March

Soul Fest: New Orleans’ African-American influences are highlighted during this annual Audubon Zoo affair, which features a number of Creole and soul food vendors. Pork chop po'boys? Yes, please. 

Soul Fest New Orleans


March

Fêtes Fest and Fêtes des Chefs: Celebrity chef John Besh cooked up Fêtes Fest as an affordable offshoot of his big-ticket/big-talent Fêtes des Chefs fundraiser, which takes place the following evening with nationally known culinary talents dishing up intimate dinners in local homes.

Top Taco New Orleans: This offshoot of the popular Top Taco Denver nods to NOLA's growing number of Mexican eateries. Chefs compete in a variety of categories (most creative, most traditional, fan favorite), while area bartenders battle it out for top margarita.


March/April

Louisiana Crawfish Festival: Mudbugs are the star attraction of this annual affair in nearby Chalmette. Crawfish pie, crawfish cake, crawfish bread, crawfish pizza, crawfish eggrolls; all hail the Crawfish Queen!

Crawfish (©Shawn Fink)

Hogs for the Cause: What began as a small cook-off among friends has morphed into a wildly popular pork-a-thon. Close to 100 award-worthy barbecue teams compete while you pig out on the results.

Hogs for the Cause New Orleans

NOLA FoodFest: Regional specialties from around the nation (Philly cheesesteak, Memphis barbecue) join with local faves (gumbo, jambalaya) in this two-day chow fest. Save room for the beignet-eating contest.

French Quarter Fest and Jazzfest: Most New Orleans food fetes incorporate music—and vice versa. But the two receive near-equal billing at the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. French Quarter Fest claims “the World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” while Jazzfest counts 70-plus must-try food vendors.

Jazzfest New Orleans


May

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience: More than 1,000 vintages from world-renowned wineries, award-worthy cuisine by leading local chefs and dozens of restaurants offering vino-paired menus—that’s the recipe for success behind this foodie fantasy.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (©Shawn Fink)

New Orleans Greek Festival: The oldest Greek Orthodox congregation in the U.S. mounts this celebration of the city’s Greek culture. Stuffed grape leaves, fried calamari, souvlaki, goat burgers, feta fries and homemade pastries...Opa! 


June

New Orleans Oyster Festival: Bivalve lovers, come out of your shells. The city’s leading seafood restaurants serve up incredible oyster dishes while live acts perform along the Mississippi riverfront during this annual ode to ersters.

New Orleans Oyster Festival


July

Tales of the Cocktail: Bartenders and distillers from around the globe take part in this annual booze fest. But you don’t have to be in the industry to get into the spirit of things; restaurants join in the fun with special “spirited” menus.

Tales of the Cocktail New Orleans


August

COOLinary New Orleans: With dozens of eateries offering specially priced prix-fixe menus throughout the month, this way-cool summertime dining promotion makes the dog days bearable.


September

Daiquiri Season New Orleans: This Tales of the Cocktail offshoot offers sweet relief from end-of-summer heat, with city bars and restaurants serving kicked-up versions of the frozen concoction.

Daiguiri Season New Orleans

We Live to Eat Restaurant Week: Hungry for a great dining deal? You’re in the right town at the right time. Numerous fine-dining venues offer budget-minded, two-course lunch and three-course dinner menus. Never eaten at Antoine’s? Here’s your chance.

Louisiana Seafood Festival: Seafood fans get their fill during this salute to the glories of the Gulf and the state’s waterways. From alligator and oysters to crab and shrimp, get a taste of it all while chefs conduct demos and live bands perform.

Louisiana Seafood Festival (©Shawn Fink)

Fried Chicken Festival: Area eateries weigh in with their trademark takes on this deep-fried classic. Bone up for the chicken wing eating contest.


October

Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest: This annual celebration of two Southern staples spotlights regional blues legends and local pit masters.

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival: Established in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in an effort to “preserve the po'boy,” this homespun happening draws thousands to Oak Street, where dozens of vendors vie for top honors.Grande Isle restaurant New Orleans


November

Boudin Bourbon & Beer: Emeril Lagasse, local James Beard Award winners Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski and other top chefs from around the nation pay homage to the state's signature sausage with this perennially packed pork-out.

Boudin, Bourbon and Beer Fest New Orleans

Carnivale du Vin: Named one of the Top 10 charity wine auctions by Wine Spectator, this tony affair, a fundraiser for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, pairs world-famous vintners with top-notch national chefs.

Bywater Mirliton Festival: Mirliton—aka chayote—once grew like weeds throughout the Bywater neighborhood. Now “the unofficial squash of New Orleans” is making a comeback, thanks to this annual autumnal event.

Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival: All gumbos great and small are the focus of this deliciously fun event conducted by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. Warm up and get down to live bands in Armstrong Park.


December

Reveillon Dinners: During the 1800s, locals would gather for multicourse meals following Christmas Eve Mass. Now they’re served throughout December at restaurants citywide. Restaurant bars make things even merrier with holiday drink specials.

A 12-month Crescent City culinary calendar.

The Hot and Cool Guide to Summer in New Orleans

Voodoo ritual in New Orleans
(©Shawn Fink) The annual St. John's Eve voodoo ceremony is just one of summer's cool to-dos.

How can you beat the heat in “the northernmost Caribbean city”? With our summertime roundup of hot properties and seriously cool venues.

Music Box Village New Orleans

Cool Scenes

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 Golf Course New Orleans

Hot Games

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.

Windsor Court Hotel New Orleans

Cool Quaffs

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.

Seaworthy New Orleans

Hot Plates 

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.

Audubon Zoo New Orleans

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 New Orleans

Hot Art

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 New Orleans

Cool Shades

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.

Johnny Sanchez New Orleans

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.

What's new, now and not to be missed this season.

The Summer's Coolest Dishes in New Orleans

Johnny Sanchez New Orleans
(©Beau Ciolino) A sampling of ceviches and margaritas at Johnny Sánchez.

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.

Fruity Cool

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.

Coquette New Orleans

Seafood Cool

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.

Salad Cool

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.

Maypop New Orleans

Soup Cool

The gazpacho at the Standard changes on the chef’s whim, but you can bank on cool combos like watermelon, cucumber and tomatoCafé Degas is known for its heavenly potato and leek vichyssoise. Add some crusty French bread and good butter…magnifique.

Sweet Cool

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.

GW Fins New Orleans

Crescent City chefs play it cool during summer months.

A Stroll Through New Orleans' New Sculpture Garden

Enrique Alferez Sculpture Garden in New Orleans City Park
(©Shawn Fink) Alférez's "Nude WIth Shell" serves as the sculpture garden's central focal point.

Like many locals, Enrique Alférez came for a visit … and never left. Born in Mexico (where at age 12 he served in the Mexican Revolution under Pancho Villa), the acclaimed sculptor arrived in New Orleans in 1929, where he established himself as the city’s most popular public artist until his death in 1999.

You’ll spot Alférez’s Art Deco-inspired works all over town, from Lakefront Airport to City Park, where he created everything from water fountains to garden benches as part of the WPA project during the 1930s and ’40s. The park’s recently opened Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden within its Botanical Gardens puts 14 of the artist’s most important—and controversial—pieces in one setting, while putting his prolific career into perspective. Open daily, the sculpture garden offers free admission to Louisiana residents each Wednesday, as does the neighboring New Orleans Museum of Art, where the Besthoff Sculpture Garden offers works by more than 50 additional artists.

Selections From the Helis Foundation Enrique Alférez Sculpture Garden

(Images @Shawn Fink)

City Park celebrates the lasting legacy of artist Enrique Alferez.