Today I have a treat, my cousin, Robyn just turned 30, and celebrated in New Orleans. I asked her if she would share her adventure with us and she agreed! POP UP Blogger: Robyn @resipsarob
Extraordinary Eats and Scrumptious Sips in The Big Easy
Traveling to New Orleans as both a foodie and a libation lover meant much of my birthday trip was centered around food and drink. NOLA truly is a foodie’s paradise, from the inexpensive beignets and café au laits at Café du Monde to a four course dinner (complete with turtle soup) at Commander’s Palace. And don’t get me started on the drinks! From the Hurricanes and Hand Grenades of Bourbon Street to luxuriating at the original Sazerac bar, New Orleans has got a delectable drink for every palate. Any way you slice it, NOLA is truly a mecca for extraordinary eats and scrumptious sips. Here are a few of the highlights you won’t want to miss out on during your next trip to the Crescent City.
Commander’s Palace – Dating back to the 1800s, Commander’s Palace is the quintessential classy dining experience located in New Orleans’ Garden District. From the famous white and blue awning adorning the outside of the restaurant, to the legendary turtle soup, this is a dining experience you truly do not want to miss. I chose this as the location of my official birthday dinner, on my 30thbirthday trip to NOLA with six of my closest friends. The service was impeccable, the food incredible, and this place just oozes Southern hospitality. We were all excited to try the famous turtle soup, and it sure didn’t disappoint! Other delicious menu items include the pecan crusted gulf fish and the spiced rum and molasses lacquered quail. Don’t forget to finish your meal off with the gorgeous fleur de lis adorned crème brulee, or, my personal favorite, the decadent bananas foster. Commander’s Palace also boasts a great cocktail menu and an extensive wine list. And don’t fret if you cannot find the restroom in this large, multi-story and multi-room establishment…the waitstaff will gladly link arms with you and personally escort you towards it. Ah, that Southern hospitality!
Napoleon House – This lovely, unassuming café in the French Quarter provided a delicious escape from the thunderstorm that rolled in on our last day in NOLA. I hadn’t yet had a muffaletta, and hearing this place also had some of the best Pimm’s Cups in town, we decided to pay it a visit. Not only were the muffalettas massive, incredible, and inexpensive, but we also enjoyed some savory red beans and rice with andouille sausage. To accompany our meal, we found the refreshing Pimm’s Cup to be the perfect beverage for a very hot, humid, and rainy New Orleans afternoon. All of this was enjoyed in a charming little café with a lovely courtyard to enjoy as well.
Café du Monde – No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to the world famous Café du Monde, where you can eat your fill of powdered sugar covered beignets and drink your fill of café au lait for well under $10. We came here three times on our trip, and each time was just as enjoyable as the last. (Though I might add that the 3 am beignets after a night of revelry were my favorite.) Being that it was hot and humid, most of us went for the iced café au lait, which was both refreshing and provided a much needed caffeine kick. And where do I even begin with the beignets themselves? Hot, fluffy, not too sweet, and the perfect snack any time of day or night. Most of us came home with a famous Café du Monde mug, beignet mix, and their famous coffee with chicory. This place is just so charming. It’s a great place to people watch and enjoy the sounds of the city.
Sazerac at The Roosevelt – Long before we landed in The Big Easy, I knew a trip to Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt was a must-do. Originally a popular hangout for men only (women were only allowed in during Mardi Gras), when the bar re-opened in 1949, women showed up in droves to try all of the luxurious libations in what is remembered as “the storming of the Sazerac”. Storming the Sazerac has since become an annual ritual at The Roosevelt. This classy, mahogany bar exudes the grandeur of old-school New Orleans. I chose to ring in 30 at the Sazerac bar, cheers-ing to a new decade with this potent drink made of rye whiskey, absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, and a sugar cube. As we sipped our Sazeracs and rang in my new decade, a second line band began to play in honor of a wedding that had just occurred in the hotel. Soon, the entire bar was up swaying to the upbeat jazz. If ever there were a truly NOLA experience, this, my friends, was it.
Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone – The gorgeous Hotel Monteleone hosts a fabulous rotating carousel bar. Although seats can be hard to come by, especially on a weekend night, they are certainly worth the wait. The carousel bar provides a grown-up way to enjoy a classic childhood ride. I ordered a sidecar and was delighted by how well it had been executed- with just the right amount of Cointreau. As we spun around and sipped our drinks, the ever-bustling bar provided a jovial atmosphere in which to decide on our next adventure. The Carousel Bar boasts that they have been spinning for 65 years, and here’s hoping they spin at least another 65 more! Do not miss this unique gem.
Must-Try Drinks on Bourbon Street (For a True NOLA Experience) – While doing research on New Orleans prior to our departure, I wanted to make sure that I tried the quintessential New Orleans beverages. On our first night there, we made a beeline for Bourbon Street, and began our night with some world-famous Hurricanes from Pat O’Brien’s. The bar was loud and lively, and the drinks were shockingly inexpensive (at least compared to L.A. standards). Personally, made with two kinds of rum and a fair amount of grenadine, the Hurricane was too sweet for my liking, so I did not end up ordering another. However, others in my group loved them.
Another must-try is the Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle. Served in a kitschy green cup, complete with a plastic grenade, this potent mix of gin, vodka, rum, grain alcohol and melon liquor will hit you hard if you’re not careful! I found this to be a tastier drink than the Hurricane mostly due to its only slight sweetness.
And there you have it! The must-try eats and drinks of NOLA. Laissez les bon temps rouler!!
Check out part 2 next Tuesday!