Down here in New Orleans we’re adding to the long list of reasons you should come plan your visit! We’re gearing up Mardi Gras, we’re tuning the instruments for Jazz Fest, we’re always always always cooking, and we’re praying for warm but not rainy weather for Fat Tuesday. What I’m saying is… we’re making it NICE for you.
Now all you have to do is make your way down here.
Every year I write a short list of my favorite spots in New Orleans. The invitation is to come to this sweet city and see for yourself.
You surely have done some research ahead of your trip to New Orleans. I’m sure you’ve looked at lists that tell you the best friend chicken is at Willie Mae’s, that Dooky Chase is an absolute must, that the gumbo at Herbsaint is fantastic, and that a po’boy from Parkway Bakery is always a good idea. You’re surely also going to holler at the beignets at Cafe du Monde.
Those lists and the furious notes you took are spot on. Don’t miss a thing! Run don’t walk. It’s all so good!
What follows is an incomplete list of my personal favorites around town.
• A distinctly new New Orleans restaurant you must hit up is Marjie’s Grill. They source as much local as they can, the menu changes seasonally, they boil some of the best crawfish in town, their wine list is approachable but super playful, it’s unfussy and truly so delicious – go!
• My favorite place for vegetarian and vegan food is Smallmart in the Marigny. I like their curry and their bagel sandwiches and that’s that on that.
• The best brunch in town is on Fridays and Sundays at Jack Rose. The bottomless Veuve Clicquot won’t get you in any trouble at all as long as you order the steak and eggs.
• For a very fine cocktail and bite in the Quarter I love Jewel of the South. Their cocktails are thoughtful and their bar menu is really elevated. The Quarter is a must-visit when you come to New Orleans… obviously – but it can be hard to know where to go. My other favorite spots in the quarter are based on the coziness of the room and the charm of their courtyard. See: Sylvain, Cane and Table, Brennans.
• My favorite downtown bar is Bar Marilou with its sleek red walls and fine cocktails.
• For a very good glass of wine and the best fries in town hit up Saint-Germain. They also have reservation only small dinner seatings three times a week. It’s supposed to be incredible food – check it!
• My favorite new spot for tacos in New Orleans is Galaxie. Galaxie is the cute new spot in the Bywater for a quick early evening bite before heading to (more) cocktails. They make their own masa for tortillas, the al pastor tacos are super legit, and the margaritas hit the spot. Maybe you don’t come to New Orleans for the tacos but these are great and you can hit up Saturn Bar or Domino or Bacchanal after.
• My very favorite neighborhood restaurant in New Orleans is Thalia. Kristen Essig is the chef at Thalia and has made her menu super comforting and heartfelt. Essig is also co-owner of Coquette and uses much of the excess ingredients they use at Coquette at Thalia. The staff is incredibly warm and knowledgable. The whole space is filled with heart – and heart makes the best food.
• One of the very best bakeries in town is Levee Baking Co and you must must go! Christina and her team use local and thoughtful ingredients to bring together the best pastries in the city – no lie.
• My favorite place for morning yoga is Free To Be Downtown. It’s a beautiful room to watch the sun light up the world. (Because it’s downtown, classes around rush hour can take a while to get to. Traffic… that’s just a heads up.)
• My absolute favorite places for coffee are Solo Espresso in the Bywater and Congregation Coffee in either downtown New Orleans or across the river in Algiers. Solo Espresso also hosts weekend pop up from local food folks and they’re always delicious – a nice boost to Solo’s already lovely gluten-free menu. Find Solo on Instagram to keep up their latest popups and offerings. Congregation has great bakers and their quiche and croissants are some of the best in the city PLUS their coffee is roasted in Algiers and – it’s GREAT.
• One of the most beautiful hotels in town is Hotel Peter and Paul. It’s worth a trip to the Marigny just to see the space they’ve created. And while you’re there, have a drink and bite at one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city: Elysian Bar plus the best ice cream next door at Sundae Best!
• If you’re staying at a rental in town, stop into Keife & Co. for wine and cheese to stock the house. John has the best selection of wine and there’s not a bad bottle in the place – I’ve looked, haven’t found one. They also stock well curated fancy food stuffs like the duck fat I fry my potatoes in so…. we’re thankful.
• If you’re here for Mardi Gras and need a few costume options here are a few good spots to fine the sparkle and headdresses you’ll need to fit in: St. Claude Social Club and Glitterbox and Fifi Mahoney’s.
• The best manicure and nail art in town is with my girl Katalina at Saint Rose Nail Co. She’s an incredible artist and stocks the best colors and sparkle. She’s a one woman operation so book in advance!
• The best cajun food in town is at Mosquito Supper Club. Melissa distills dinner down to a lovely environment of community tables and family feeling meals in a house turned restaurant Uptown. She’s also at the top of my list for best chefs in town. Make a reservation and bask in the experience.
• Next door to Mosquito Supper Club is the best kitchen store in town called Seasoned. Seasoned sells vintage and “experienced” cookware. Betsy has the best taste – go get a skillet or little kitchen trinket. You’ll always think of your time in New Orleans back in your home kitchen.
• We also have really earnest farmer’s markets. Find the schedule here – they’re all over town. If you don’t need radishes, go for the pastry and bagels and popsicles and community!
• And you’ll come see me at The Bakehouse for a class? You can find the schedule of classes here and we’re adding more classes through June in the coming weeks.
Here are a few other New Orleans lists I’ve put together:
My New Orleans Favorites, Spring 2019
What To Do In New Orleans, Spring 2018
My Favorite Places To Eat Alone In New Orleans
We can’t wait for your visit… and then you’ll be back. That’s just how it goes.
My husband and I visited a couple of years ago. We tried many of your previous suggestions and every single one of them was so worth it! We will definitely be back! Enjoy hearing about all of your favorites. Keep them coming!
Hi Joy, thank you so much for posting this. My husband and I are meeting friends there in NOLA for a weekend at Jazz Fest, then heading on a 7 day cruise down to Mexico, then back for the last day of Jazz Fest – it’ll be a fun filled week of great music and relaxation! Thanks for all of these tips. If you have any events going on at the Bake House, I’d love to participate – I met you when you were in LA at Hadley and Hennett for your book signing! I’m from Orange County. it was such a pleasure to meet you then. I’ve given your Brunch book to many friends as gifts!
Thank you so much for those restaurant information my sisters and I will be out there from the 5th do the 11th we plan on having a ball
I really REALLY hope to come and visit this fall with my daughter Megan…takeamegabite!! I really hope to take a class too…and go to the kitchen store!! Seasoned…I LOVE kitchen stuff…and am looking for a biscuit cutter…I bet I can find one there!!
Hurrah!!! Amy DeKok
Liza in Ann Arbor
These are my favorites posts! I always check your recommendations before a trip to Nola and have followed so many of them. BRB booking my next trip!
Heading there this weekend for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon! Can’t wait to eat some good food! Thanks for the recommendations!
Thanks for the update. We’re going to attend the French Quarter Festival this year. We did Free To Be Mardi Gras glow flow class last year and really enjoyed it.
NOLA gets tangled up in your hair like the scent of burnt sugar and magnolias and God, reading this blog makes me miss it hard….even though I’ve only ever visited the city three times in my life.
Can’t wait to come back and explore the Bywater a little further!
Thank you for the head’s up to a new and exciting place in the old Bao and Noodle spot. We’re having some serious Bywater withdrawal here in Michigan and will probably head down for a fix this spring.
We’re here with open arms for your return! And yes – SmallMart is the new place in the Bao and Noodle spot!