It’s 172 days until Mardi Gras. Not that we’re counting.
Sure we’ve got this year’s Thanksgiving to consider, Christmas lights to hang eventually, a New Year to cheer and then some sort of diet resolution to endure… but really, down here we’re counting down the days to Mardi Gras (now that we’re no longer counting the dog-days of August + the days until the Saints play football). I think we’re working off a different calendar. A slower calendar with powdered sugar and glitter on it.
All of this to say… you’re coming for a visit, right!?
There are all sorts of lists to be found about New Orleans. Where to eat, where to go, what to see. Those lists have the classic New Orleans-y things: Cafe du Monde, Brennan’s, Dooky Chase, Cochon, Pesche... all the good stuff. Definitely places you should go and enjoy and take tons of pictures and Instagram all of them. I mean… please drink a martini in the Brennan’s courtyard and please eat all the pork at Cochon. You’ll be doing it right.
For those of us that live here, we enjoy these places, but on the day to day to day to day… we’re on a different tip. Here are some of my favorite everyday spots in New Orleans, special and maybe a little under the radar for visitors but totally worth the seek.
Shank Charcuterie: Head down St. Claude Ave and you’ll hit some great New Orleans gems. One of my favorites is this locally sourced, full service butcher shop that also serves lunch. Their meet selection is solid. If you’re staying in town, have a kitchen and want to make yourself a special meal, head to this butcher shop for your meat, and head across the street to St. Roch Market for the rest of your local ingredients! For lunch at Shank, the Ropa Vieja and Meatball Sandwich are unstoppable.
Sneaky Pickle: Further down St. Claude Ave you’ll find this special, charming, supremely delicious vegan restaurant. It’s not exclusively vegan (I had the seared Cobia with couscous), but they have hearty bowls of healthful food.
Bao and Noodle: is the neighborhood Chinese food jammer that’s really really good! The menu is intentional and authentic, the prices are reasonable, and it’s a great place to pick up takeout. I love the Fried Steamed Bao, the Burmese Tea Salad and the Cumin Braised Lamb with hand-pulled noodles. AMEN!
Red’s Chinese is the other GREAT neighborhood Chinese food restaurant tucked beneath an obtuse red sign on St. Claude. The Chinese food is masculine, unexpected, and dirty-good. Dirty, in this iteration, is a high compliment. Be here and order one of everything. It’s that crazy delicious.
Bakery Bar: Two of the best words together at last! Go for a slice of Doberge Cake (if you don’t know, then you better find out!) and a cocktail! Strawberry or Key Lime Doberge: you can not lose. Bakery Bar also has small bites at night if you’re in the mood for something other than cake (which would be weird but I get it).
Mosca’s: About 30 minutes outside of New Orleans in the town of lives maaaybe the very best Italian food in the South. My friend Rachel took me here before I had officially moved to New Orleans and the Shrimp Mosca was easily the best thing I’d eaten all year. GO!
N7: It’s like New Orleans’ secret restaurant that’s not so secret anymore. It’s tucked away, literally behind an inconspicuous wooden fence in the Bywater neighborhood. Inside that fence is a little world of charm and wonder, and canned fish (the fancy sort) and a lovely wine list. This would be the coziest date spot or a fantastic dine-alone at the bar option for good, good living.
Solo Espresso Bar is yours if you’re coffee particular like me and like fresh ground, pour-over cups. It’s a small place with very right coffee. They serve Panther Coffee right now. They also have very delicious gluten-free peanut butter cookies if you’re lucky.
Cafe Henri: A no-fuss neighborhood restaurant with a simple, straight-forward, still-feels-like-a-treat cocktail and food menu. It’s family friendly, solo work friendly, and just a perfect pit stop in the day. Their happy hour is bangin’. Definitely get the burger.
For more New Orleans vibes:
New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
Come on down! We love when you visit.
Joy, where would you recommend staying, dining, and grocery shopping in New Orleans. My boyfriend and I are looking at hotel and Airbnb options — preferably close to things that are yummy.
(Forgive the typo.)
SO cool that you mentioned Mosca’s! I grew up about 35 mins from NOLA & it’s been a longtime family favorite.
I love your blog & perspective of the city!
Have you been to Angelo Brocato’s in Uptown? When I was down there for school I’d drive there once a week to get a cream puff- the best damn cream puff you’ll ever eat the size of your head- and gelato. If you haven’t been, for sure check it out!
Love this list! I was born and raised in New Orleans but left about 10 years ago and haven’t lived there since. It’s always nice to find some off-the-beaten path recommendations to check out when I return, especially for things I didn’t know about growing up and/or things that aren’t being written about as much. Though I admit, when I read about N7 last month, I became completely convinced that next time I’m home visiting family that I had to go. I still will but am not so sure I’ll get in with their recent BA spotlight! Fingers crossed ;)
Glad to see you’re loving life in New Orleans and all the weirdo calendars we live by. It’s a very special little place :)
Hi Joy! We just got back from a long weekend in New Orleans and I can see why you live there. It was hot, humid, loud, crazy in the Quarter because of the Saints game…and utterly seductive. I loved it. We did a lot of the traditional touristy stuff (and enjoyed it), so next trip I’m referring to your list for more non-touristy delights. In that vein, we ate dinner at a new-ish restaurant called Shaya on Magazine. It’s “modern Israeli cuisine” and we thought it was fabulous. We have a young friend who is considering Tulane so if she attends school there we have a very convenient excuse to fly down the river from Minnesota to visit — often, if she’ll permit!
Welcome Welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed the city and Yes, Shaya is fantastic!
You’re the only one I know of that’s already counting down to Mardi Gras. Most of us wait until after Christmas, or at least Halloween for that, but to each her own. I guess it doesn’t hurt to get in the spirit early. And I cosign re: Bakery Bar. That place is perfect.