A Taste of New Orleans

My mom and I have moved back to America, but that doesn’t mean the traveling will stop! During our transitional period before we move into our new apartment, we took a little family trip with my sister to New Orleans, a city that all three of us have dreamed of visiting.

Sadly, not all destinations can live up to your expectations, and while I’m glad I got to check this southern city off my list, I don’t think I will ever go back. I don’t want to sound too negative, so I’m going to use most of this post to talk about the food, which was incredible. Here are my favorite places we ate and drank during the trip!

Maypop

Any restaurant that fuses Southeast Asian flavors with Creole and Italian is sure to find a way to my heart. My favorite types of dishes are innovative and surprising in that I can’t get them anywhere else. My mom, my sister, and I each tried a different pasta entree and loved them all. Mine was sweetbreads on top of pumpkin agnolotti (stuffed pasta) in a creamy turmeric curry sauce. My sister had snapping turtle bolognese, and my mom had cornmeal pasta with curried crab. Dessert blew us away as well—a deconstructed s’more with smoked chocolate cream, graham cracker brittle, banana fluff and toasted marshmallow ice cream. You have to be adventurous to enjoy this place, but if you take a leap of faith, you will be rewarded!

Willa Jean

We walked 16 minutes in a downpour to get here, and I would do it all over again just to have their brunch one more time. Their turmeric latte was enough to warm my cold, wet soul, and their fried chicken biscuit sandwich delivered on the southern cooking vibes I hoped for in Louisiana. They had a ton of tasty-sounding options on the menu, so it was difficult just picking one dish. Plus, the interior was super bright and open.

French Truck Coffee

This was one of my favorite coffee places I’ve ever been to! I had their New Orleans-style—ground coffee AND ground chicory—iced coffee almost every day I was there. They have several locations throughout the city and even source the coffee for many local restaurants.

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The Ruby Slipper Cafe

Speaking of restaurants that serve French Truck coffee, this is one of them, and another Louisiana chain that I highly recommend for breakfast! We went two days in a row. The first day I had a pancake duo with one bread pudding pancake and one banana nut. The second day, I had the breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese, fried green tomato, and candied bacon all on a biscuit. They had a huge menu, though, with benedicts, omelets, and even lighter brunches as well.

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The Rum House

If you take the street car from Canal Street to Magazine Street, you will find a much quieter section of town with a long strip of restaurants. The Rum House is one of them, serving Mexican. All three of us had the deal that gets you three tacos plus a side for $15, which was a welcome change from the more expensive restaurants we had previously eaten at. I loved that they had 10 to 15 different kinds of tacos that you could mix and match, like tamarind duck and lamb vindaloo.

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Mahony’s

Another win on Magazine Street is Mahony’s, serving up classic New Orleans dishes, like the delicious fried oyster po boy that I had for lunch. They had about 20 different options for po boys, but my sister didn’t like her pork and slaw one, so I can’t say that every one is a hit. However, our kind server happily replaced it for her for free with a fried oyster po boy like mine. We also started with fries topped with crawfish étoufée, another creole favorite of stewed seafood, tomatoes and spices.

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NOLA Brewing Company Tap Room

While you’re out enjoying Magazine Street and the beautiful houses of the Garden District, why not stop for a drink?! This brewery has a tap room with tons of different beers to choose from, and they even offer beer flights so you can sample more than one! It was here that I discovered my love for sour beer. They also offer brewery tours every Friday and Saturday from 2 to 3 p.m.

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Cafe du Monde

You can’t go to New Orleans and not try this iconic establishment’s beignets. There are several locations throughout the city, and they only serve beignets and coffee. Simple is best! The beignets are fluffy and warm—they tasted even better than I had imagined.

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The Negatives

I’m glad we had so much delicious food so that at least one aspect of our trip was a success. Here is why we didn’t have the best experience:

The weather: It rained every single day for us—so much that we even spent $30 per person to go to the aquarium because there was no way we could handle being outside, and we didn’t want to be stuck in our Airbnb. It was rarely a light rain either but rather a straight-up downpour that would soak every part of you regardless of if you had an umbrella or raincoat. On our last day, there was such intense fog that half the flights at the airport were majorly delayed or cancelled. Thank goodness we made it out of there on time. Apparently, the weather there is very inconsistent, where it could be pouring one hour and completely sunny the next. So while we did just get extremely unlucky, this inconsistence is not unheard of for New Orleans.

The wrong weekend: When we booked this trip in October, there was no way we could have foreseen the college football championship game would a.) include Louisiana State University and b.) be held at the Superdome in New Orleans the same weekend we were there. I’m pretty sure every LSU fan in the country was there celebrating all weekend long, in addition to the influx of Clemson fans. I don’t think the partying stopped during our four-day trip. I know New Orleans is a party city, but this was on a new level and gave me the impression that it’s trashy. I’m terrified by the thought of what Mardi Gras is like. We compared it to Amsterdam, where we also had terrible weather, my mom’s phone was stolen, and the party scene left a bad taste in our mouth.

The French Quarter: We chose an Airbnb at the edge of The French Quarter because we thought it was the nicest part of the city. Boy, were we wrong. While this neighborhood captures the history of New Orleans, it’s crowded, touristy, dirty and loud. Bourbon Street is not all it’s cracked up to be, and unless you’re drunk on a bachelorette party, I’m not sure how anyone can handle it.

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The activities: There weren’t a ton of activities that interested me in the first place, and the ones we did just didn’t deliver. We did a free walking tour, which, as you probably have read before, we do in every city. I think this was the worst one we’ve done because the guide talked way too much. We did a plantation tour which was nice, but the second half of that day trip was spent on a swamp boat ride where we saw about one-tenth of the body of one small alligator. Our guide said on most days, they see 40-50 gators. The only gator we really got to see was a 1-year-old baby that the guide brought along on the boat. Also, I’m just not a huge fan of the region’s landscape anyway, because muddy, flat swampland isn’t particularly scenic.

It’s really a shame we felt this way about a city that has so much potential, as far as its culture and history. I hope other people who travel there have better experiences, but for us, we struck out one too many times. 

4 thoughts on “A Taste of New Orleans

  1. Yes the French Quarter is not the place to go… unless the point of your trip is drinking and strippers. Unfortunately too many do come just for that. There’s so much more to this beautiful city.
    What they will not tell you on a swamp tour is that alligators are cold blooded and go dormant when it’s not warm enough. They do not hibernate because they don’t sleep through the winter, but they are definitely not as active. On that same tour you probably would see a ton – the hotter it is the more you see. I wish those tour guides would warn people of that but it’s about the dollar. One thing to remember is that NOLA survives off of tourists. It is a hospitality city, but this also means you have plenty of people that come to take advantage of tourists as well.
    Also, Mardi Gras outside of the Quarter is extremely family friendly. Mardi Gras, or carnival season as locals call it, is as much for children as anyone else. It’s really nothing like everyone thinks. The best place to enjoy watching parades is in Uptown, on Magazine Street.

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    1. It’s definitely a shame the timing of our trip with the huge influx of tourists for the big football game and also the weather. The less touristy parts like Magazine Street were my favorite because you got more of a sense of the day-to-day life than you would get in the French Quarter. I think it’s frustrating that it gets such a huge reputation as a party city because I did see that it had more to offer and didn’t party at all. That’s why I wanted to focus on the food in this post.

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  2. That stinks. I do not care for the landscape as I am an outdoor person, but if it rained the whole time you did not get a sense of the street art, music and entertainment. Definitely stay in the Bywater area next time. You are close enough to the hustle but far enough to not be part of it.
    The WWII museum is jaw dropping and you will get lost for entire day. There is also the coolest outdoor artmart on Frenchman. It may have been desolate due to the rain, but typically it is nonstop color, history and amazing locals to chat with.
    Audubon park is a breath of fresh air and great to hit up after walking down magazine street.
    Lastly, put Elizabeth’s on your list for next time. A MUST and off the beaten path. Get an order of the praline bacon and never look back…or share. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing. Always cool to see what other people do in a city they don’t necessarily click with and have the same outdoor love as me.

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    1. Yes it certainly is hard to get a good sense of the city life when it is raining, I get so frustrated with the weater! Luckily good food can be enjoyed rain or shine, so that’s why I wanted to focus on that because I was really impressed with the culinary scene, even if I’m not as into the culture. I feel the same way about other cities like Berlin, where I don’t necessarily love visiting it as a tourist, but I totally appreciated its culinary scene and the huge mix of cultures from all over the world that you don’t get in the rest of Germany.

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