Hello fellow foodies! This sunny weather has me day dreaming about my recent trip to NOLA and I would like to share with ya’ll some of my favorite foodie stops during the trip.
After almost falling asleep at the wheel a hand full of times, over 20 gas station breaks, and 10 cans of energy drinks later we survived the 16 hour car ride to NOLA. It was sunny and a high of 70’s most of the time during our weekly stay. Our hotel stay at the French Quarter Mansion was convenient for walking around the French Quarter.
We made sure to wake up bright and early, so we could enjoy our first day in NOLA. Luckily, I had secured several reservations during our stay, but because Mardi Gras was cancelled due to COVID-19, it was eerily quiet in the French Quarter and it was easy to walk into any establishment without a reservation.
Our first stop was Brennan’s. This was one of the top rates “must visit” restaurants while researching where to eat in NOLA. Their innovative Creole inspired menu consists of traditional French dishes but with a Spanish twist. Their brunch feature menu items on Saturdays and Sundays were heavily praised by food critics. My friend and I were impressed by the attentive customer service and the decorative rooms.
Brennan’s offers complimentary bread, which was served fresh and warm at our table. I had ordered the Eggs Sardou, which consisted of crispy artichokes, parmesan creamed spinach patty, topped with poached eggs, and served with choron sauce (tomato based sauce). It was absolutely devine and rich in taste. Think vegetarian style Eggs Benedict. My friend had their Brioche French Toast, which was thick cuts of brioche bread topped with bourbon-soaked plums, and whipped crème fraîche.
Of course we had to finish our breakfast with Brennan’s famous table side Banana Foster. Tip: Sit on the opposite side of the table because the bananas are actually lit on fire and it gets a little toasty. Such a fun experience!
Most of the hotels will offer different experiences that their guests can register for. Our hotel representative recommended several different tours, one of them being a Cemetery Tour. My friend and I were curious to know more about cemeteries in NOLA because some of the most famous scenes in the American Horror Story Coven were filmed in a Cemetery in NOLA.
It was the best $30 that I had ever spent. Our tour bus guide was very experienced and knowledgeable in the history around NOLA. There were three different cemetery stops where we were able to explore the St. Louis 1 Cemetery, St. Louis 2 Cemetery, and the Hurricane Katrina Memorial. We learned a lot about the burial process in NOLA, how the environment impacts the burial process, and the impact of Hurricane Katrina.
When in New Orleans, it is imperative to try gumbo, beignets, and a po’boy. After searching high and low for the best po’boy, we finally found Parkway Tavern. The sizes of their po’boys are legendary and there is a science to the making of the perfect sandwich: crispy, thin French bread, deep fried shrimp, and the hot sauce.
Parkway offers several different seating options outside, a variety of drink options, and a classic menu where you can order different variations of the po’boy. I ordered my po’boy “dressed” with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
I cannot say enough good things about our Ghost and Cocktail guide, John. We were guided to some of the most eerie and haunted locations in the French Quarter. Along our way, John introduced our group to some of the oldest bars in New Orleans. Below are a list of bar stops:
- Old Absinthe House
- Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
- Bar Tonique
John took us around several establishments and told ghostly tales of murdered jealous lovers and Marie Laveau. Of course, the guided tour wouldn’t be complete without incorporating some voodoo stories into the mix. We learned a lot about the history of how New Orleans became the catalyst for developing speciality cocktails, partly thanks to the collaborations between Marie Laveau and local pharmacies. Love Potion #9 anyone?
This quaint French styled 1800’s mansion was one of our top rated dinner stops. We loved this place so much we made reservations for dinner and brunch. The prices were reasonable and the menu items consisted of Creole based dishes with a southern flare. Cavan is located in the Garden District, on Magazine Street. I highly recommend taking a 15 minute Uber to escape the French Quarter and browse the different boutique stores along Magazine St.
The Vintage Nola consisted of everything that you would want on a Friday night, or even for a Saturday brunch. Their brunch menu consists of sweet and savory southern flare dishes like eggs and grits, avocado toast, and mimosas. The Vintage has an extensive cocktail, wine, and beer menu. What I loved about the Vintage was that it does not feel like a typical restaurant, but more of a bookstore cafe where customers can enjoy reading a book with a glass of wine in hand.
But we are not here to talk about their cocktails, but actually their beignets. This unique cafe offers a flight of costume beignet flavors, fried to perfection. Featured in the flight above is: Strawberry, S’More, and King Cake flavors. Typically, tourists rush to Cafe Du Monde (which we still went to), but I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
Another tour that our hotel representative recommended was a guided plantation tour. Oak Alley was hauntingly beautiful, but came with a historic dark past. When we first arrived, we were given a guided tour around the grounds and throughout the estate.
After the guided tour ended, we were able to roam free on the grounds and explore the different museum artifacts and renovated slave quarters. All of the tour guides offered a different perspective on the plantation.
Homemade biscuits, bakery items, and southern hospitality is what you will find at Willie Jean. Built in 2015, this charming cafe has carried generations of recipes through a grandmother’s love for cooking. My friend and I both ordered the Creole inspired bloody mary served with okra, pickled green bean and pickles. We were also eyeing one of their frozen cocktails as well. The bartender explained the different types of frozen cocktails such as their frozen mimosa and Frozé.
I highly recommend anything on their Snacks Menu. Everything from the cornbread, banana bread, or anything with the word “bread” in it will not leave you disappointed. The biscuits and gravy were so savory and paired perfectly with their bloody Mary.
I am not exactly sure what a trip to New Orleans would be if you didn’t try gumbo, jambalaya, or red beans and rice. After speaking to a couple different locals, the Gumbo Shop was where we needed to go. This was my first time trying gumbo and jambalaya. I will have to admit that I loved the jambalaya more than the gumbo, even though they specialize in gumbo. The jambalaya was filled with shrimp, chicken, and sausage and was so perfectly seasoned and flavorful! The red beans and rice came in 2nd because of the flavor and satisfying texture. The Gumbo came in 3rd for me just because I was so focused on the jambalaya.
Ticklers Bar in New Orleans offered some of the best entertainment that my friend and I could experience during our last night in NOLA. The performers on the dueling pianos were so much fun and were very talented. Tip: make sure to bring cash, so you can tip the performers when requesting songs.
Of course, like any new tourist to NOLA I had to stop at Cafe Du Monde to try a latte and their famous beignets. These fried, pillow soft pastries almost remind of a donut, but are more airy than a donut and are topped with powdered sugar. There are two different locations in NOLA. Our tour guide for the Cemetery Tours recommended visiting the location on the riverwalk, as it is less crowded and consists of more of a scenic atmosphere.
While having dinner at Cavan, our server recommended that we visit their new sister establishment called, the Chloe. This down to earth hotel may look like any other mansion on Magazine Street, but don’t let that fool you. Once we stepped inside we were greeted with swanky decor, plush lounge furniture, rich dark wooded floors, and beautiful chandeliers.
I highly recommend enjoying a cocktail during happy hour pool side. Unfortunately for us, it was going to rain that afternoon, so we opted to enjoy our cocktails inside. We were offered a private table in the lounge area, where we had space to stretch out and enjoy the atmosphere in a safe way. The cocktails at the Chloe were amazing. My friend ordered the Good Destruction (pictured): Vodka, Peach Shrub, Cranberry, Orange, Galliano. I had ordered the All The Rage: Mezcal, Habanero Infused Bitter Bianco, Blanc Vermouth, Orange. I can definitely appreciate a cocktail bar that uses boojee names for their cocktails.
As stated above, we loved Cavan so much that we were able to experience their brunch just before we left.
That’s a wrap folks! Please keep following MiFoodChronicles to learn more about our foodie adventures. Our next trip is Portland, Oregon in June. Follow Rachel on Tik Tok at FoodieLove20 for more awesome foodie finds in West Michigan.