First, I have to thank all of you for helping me get acquainted with this city before we went. You provided such valuable recommendations! A list of these are at the end of the article with a PDF print out for you!
It’s only so often that a Mom can spend 72 straight hours with her girlfriends these days! A close friend you can always count on to be there for the good and the bad turning 40 is a great reason to take a trip together. My friend brought the people closest to her from all decades and stages of her life to New Orleans and we had a blast. We know it’s few and far between when we can have time like this to ourselves and together and we took full advantage!
Staying in a home has so many advantages. The cost is less for lodging and for meals since you can prepare breakfasts and lunches easily at home. We ordered Insta Cart from the airport and breakfast bars, coffee and snacks were sitting on the porch when we arrived. We took an Uber from the house to a local store to stock up on celebratory beverages. Staying together in a house also gives so many more opportunities to spend time together since we are all right there during the downtime. Not in small, separate rooms down the hall. We got ready together like the old days curling each others hair, doing make-up and sharing clothes! The first night we also saved energy by having a private chef come to the house to prepare local cuisine for us! This was one of the highlights of the trip! Chef Byron Bradley of The Haute Way and Mardi Gras School of Cooking is a native New Orleanian who specializes in French cuisine, creole and Caribbean foods.
Our house was on Governor Nichols street and we later found out that so was Brad & Angelina’s home quite some blocks away towards the french quarter. The home we rented was from VRBO and it is a Frank Glaser Stay Heirloom property. Another celebrity home we spotted was Sandra Bullock’s. My close friend has been living with her family in Costa Rica for the past two years building a luxury villa rental property, Villa Costa Vida, so we were grateful to have plenty of time to catch up. We decided to walk from our house to the French Quarter then to the Garden District and back. We spent 7 hours walking our way through New Orleans and talking and eating along the way.
Next time, I would love to spend more time in the Garden District and take a guided walking tour. We were able to eavesdrop on a tour to learn which house was Sandra Bullock’s. It is not her primary residence and people usually know when she’s in town by the food trucks on the street by her house. Another couple let us take a photo of their map so we could go on our own tour. If we had more time, we would’ve loved to have lunch at Turkey & the Wolf – a spot that was highy recommended.
Our rental house on Governor Nichols
Brad & Angelina’s former property also on Governor Nichols
Sandra Bullock’s property in the Garden District
On our long journey we tried to get a beignet at the famous Cafe Dumond but the line was so long we decided to take the advice to try Cafe Beignet instead and it was so delicious! The other girls in our group got lucky at Cafe Dumond the first night at 5pm walking in to no line at all! That seems to be the best time of the day rather than the morning. That is what our Uber driver told us anyway. Getting pro tips from Uber drivers is one of my favorite things to do in any city. I love doing what the locals do and hearing their perspective of their town from them. On the way to a parade one night we learned all about the balls of New Orleans and the krewes that are a part of them.
One of my favorite ways to get to know a place is by food tour! The last time I travelled with a few of these friends we took a food tour in Nashville and that is where I fell in love with hot chicken. I always love sampling the local cuisine and New Orleans is one with so many unique offerings that would be hard to eat all of them on our own. This way we got a few items to try at every place we went that were hand picked as great establishments by Doctor Gumbo Tours. It was a food & history tour which I found to be a great combo. The New Orleans Food and History Tour took us to 7 stops: SoBou, Pepper Palace, Leah’s Pralines, NOLA Poboys, Tujague’s, and Tableau.
We walked over 1.5 miles and tasted fried pork skins, boudin balls with creole mustard, biegnet and king cake combination, sampled hot sauce, pralines and brittle, muffulettas and poboys on fresh baked french bread, brisket, and gumbo! We learned where the poboys got it’s name and the story behind the woman who invented brunch!
We loved our final dinner on the third night at Commander’s Palace. This is one place you definitely need a reservation (calling is the best method) and to follow the dress code! My parents and their friends were turned away on another trip when they were out walking in the Garden District and unaware of the dress requirements.
Dress Code: Business Attire, No shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, sweat shirts or pants. Jeans are discouraged and ripped ones are not allowed. Gentleman: Collared shirts and closed -toe shoes required and jackets preferred.
Chef’s Table or Wine Room are also available for separate reservation.
SoBou where our food tour started and Brennan’s are also part of this restaurant family. Emeril Lagasse is a former chef of this world class restaurant that has won the James Beard Foundation Award seven times. This special place has been in the Garden District since 1893.
Justine’s for dinner and Bar Vin after were favorites too. Plus the live music on Frenchman Street was a blast! Do beware of pick pockets. When I first set foot out of the Uber from the house to the night life on the first evening I was almost a target. From then on I made sure my purse was around my shoulder and neck and in the front of my body. It is always a good plan to be aware and travel in twos when traveling.
This city is so full of life, culture, cuisine and there was so much more I wanted to see. Next time, I’d like to go on a cemetary tour, swamp tour and ghost tour! The architecture is beautiful too.
List of Recommendations from Family, Friends and LAM
We all did so much research prior to the trip. That is one of my favorite parts of travel. The excitement beforehand and looking up all of the many options. I like to be informed and have alot of choices but also have spontaneous fun along the way. It’s just nice to have back-up plans. Below you’ll find all of the fantastic places that were recommended to me. Many of which we did not have time to go to this trip, but I plan to go again. Thank you for taking the time to share your favorites with me! I have created a PDF file if you want to print this list.
French Market: Live music, good restaurants, and more low-key than Bourbon Street
Jackson Square: Shopping, near Cafe Dumond
Garden District: Great walking tours, beautiful homes, cemmetery and restaurants
Sazarec Bar & Cocktail
Monty on the Square: Brunch/Lunch and people watching
Mother’s Restaurant: Authentic NOLA cuisine
Acme Oyster House
Cat’s Meow – Karaoke
GW Finn’s – moderately priced, need reservations
Johnny Poboy’s – best dive for poboy
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar – oldest bar in town, visit at night when it’s lit by candles
Mr. B’s Bistro – good spot where reservations are not necessary
Cafe Beignet: less lines than Cafe Dumond
Turkey & the Wolf: lunch
Central Grocery – poboy
Cajun and Creole
** My favorite is the Beignet / King Cake combination
New Orleans School of Cooking
Preservation Hall for Jazz Music
Voodoo Ghost Walk