Remember when I spontaneously went to New Orleans with my girlfriends last March? Well, I couldn't get enough, John still hadn't been, and my parents were dying to go, so earlier this spring we all met in the Big Easy for the most incredible weekend!
John and I drove over from Pensacola in the morning (it's such an easy drive from Pensy, just under three hours) so that we could meet up with our friend Katie for the afternoon. Katie goes to Tulane so she was an expert on the surrounding areas. We picked her up, took a quick tour of campus (SUCH a beautiful school!) and then headed to Dat Dog for a late lunch.
If you haven't been to Dat Dog than you have to stop into one of their locations next time you are in NOLA. Specializing in gourmet hot dogs, the menu features items such as apple smoked sage dog, the turducken dog, the crawfish sausage--even alligator sausage! We kept it simple and went for brats and cheese fries, all washed down with ice-cold Mexican cokes. Yum.
My parent's weren't arriving until the evening, so we spent the afternoon in Auduban Park, strolling through the verdant avenues shaded by grandiose live oaks, and counting the turtles we saw floating down the river. Sadly, we didn't make it all the way to the Zoo, but opted instead to walk back a different route and admire all the old historic homes that abut the park. The architecture was amazing, each house complete with a lovely lantern-lit porch, and I couldn't help but peak into the hidden yards, many of which held beautiful gardens or a shaded swimming pool.
On a captivating note: During our visit the whole city seemed to be dripping with fragrant jasmine, the aroma of which was only intensified by the heat. It made me dream of having an arbor of jasmine one day at our dream house...
One of the things NOLA is known for is it's culinary scene, and to say we ate and drank well during our visit is such an understatement. Our first night, after picking up my parents at the airport and freshening up quickly, we headed down to the Marais for pre-dinner drinks at the hip Cane & Table. We sat at the marble-topped bar, toasted to the weekend and being together, and sipped our various potions while catching up. Mom and I also did our fair share of oogling over the smoky industrial chic ambiance of Cane & Table, complete with exposed brick walls, arched windows, and sparkly chandeliers. Between the quality mixology and the atmosphere--this was definitely one of my favorite stops of the weekend.
In terms of dinners we were completely spoiled. Our first night we headed uptown to Clancy's, an off-the-beaten-path local secret. Located on the corner in a residential area, Clancy's truly is a neighborhood restaurant, but when we walked in we were greeted by the vested waiters and white tablecloths reminiscent of an older and more elegant tradition of dining not often seen today. Between the four of us we tried all of the classics on the menu, including shrimp remoulade, crab salad, crawfish etouffee, and (my personal favorite) smoked pork loin with green peppercorn and mustard sauce...mouth watering.
Clancy's was fantastic, but John Besh and Alon Shaya's Domenica, located in the gorgeous Roosevelt hotel, was my priority for the weekend. (Yes, I do in fact go to sleep dreaming of my next meal and plan entire trips around dream restaurants. Sue me.) The Italian themed menu is inventive and far beyond the type of heavy Italian most Americans are used too--think house-made charcuterie, fried kale, oxtail ragu, and campanelle with morels and bone marrow, all complimented by a fabulous wine list. While we went for dinner (and I could have died happy) Domenica's happy hour deals are awesome, (1/2 priced pizzas? No brainer.) It would be a great place to spend an afternoon noshing and sipping a glass of wine.
We only had one full day to explore all together so we opted to do a carriage tour of the French Quarter and graveyards. While I cringe just a teeny bit thinking about how ultra-touristy this sounds, it really was a great way to see the entire quarter and learn a ton of the history in just a few hours. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and full of fun facts, and being a native himself, could answer all of the questions that inevitably came up along the ride pertaining to the rich history of New Orleans, as well as Creole and Voodoo culture. Since the carriages all line up in Jackson Square, it was also super easy to find an open one, no prior booking necessary.
Our gentle steed...
Many of the mules who kindly pulled the carriages were bedecked with colorful flower crowns. I thought hers was particularly enchanting..isn't she gorgeous?
These guys were my fave...
Of course, we couldn't visit New Orleans and not listen to some jazz, right? After my trip last year, I knew to skip Bourbon and head straight to Frenchmen St. for the best jazz and nightlife. We are all huge music lovers so both nights after dinner we headed down and danced the night away. The scene was buzzing, and in classic NOLA style, the party carried into the street, with amazing musicians both inside and outside on the curb. It's infectious and so unique to New Orleans--you absolutely cannot miss it. Some of our favorite spots were the Spotted Cat, Three Muses, and the Blue Nile.
I knew my parents would love the Garden District like I do, so we spent the better part of an afternoon exploring neighborhoods and wandering down Magazine St. We nipped into various adorable boutiques, and grabbed a quick happy hour snack and drinks at Slice. Pimm's Cup for me please!
On our final morning, before heading back to Pensacola, we returned to the Garden District for jazz brunch at Commander's Palace. I was a bit skeptical of all the hype surrounding Commander's (it's a classic) but was pleasantly surprised by how delicious everything was. Not to mention the physical palace itself...how fun and cheery is that blue?
Eggs Benny with slow-roasted pork shoulder on biscuits, as seen on instagram...(@evr_gallivant) Now I just need to publish my best-selling novel and hire a chef to replicate this in my house on Sunday mornings..
Pure decadence in the form of strawberry shortcake.
John's birthday was a few weeks before so we took this opportunity to celebrate him, and the staff a Commander's happily obliged. Completely stuffed after brunch, we all agreed that it was the perfect way to round out an amazing weekend . Thanks Mom and Dad for letting us tag along!
Have you ever been to New Orleans? You can read about my first visit to this beautiful city here. Some places I still want to see/visit are Butcher, SoBou, Folton Lanes, and the WWII Museum. Where are some of your favorite spots and/or things to do in the Big Easy? I would love to hear!
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