There’s no time like the present to get a drink in the French Quarter. New Orleans is the last place I would send a recovering alcoholic. The streets are like a river of booze flowing through the delta out to sea. Most everyone you see is either going to meet someone for a drink or just returning from one. While we were there we visited a few of the most venerable and famous estiblishments in the Quarter. These are the bars that I would visit if I were traveling to NOLA and only had 24 hours.
For live jazz
The Spotted Cat
623 Frenchmen Street
New Orleans, LA
For live blues
The Apple Barrel Bar
609 Frenchmen Street
New Orleans, LA
For chill atmosphere at the oldest bar in the world
Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
941 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA
When we arrived in the French Quarter, I could smell the gumbo and the red beans and rice. My stomach started to growl and hunger pains took over all common sense. We quickly unloaded the car and set off on foot to find a bite to eat. When I’m hungry, I tend to be a bit finiky and prefer to choose a restaurant based on three things.
1. The aroma as I stand in front of the restaurant.
2. What items are covered on the menu card shown in the streetside display case.
3. If I can see inside, does it look like an apetizing environment to spend a few hours eating.
(Yes, I said a few hours… Ever since I went to Paris, I treat eating a meal alot more like an experience as the French do and alot less like the American style McDonald’s faster food is better.)
The first night because we were really in a hurry to get some chow in our bellies we walked a couple blocks around the quarter and my nose landed us in a relatively empty dining room. The folks at the Napoleon House were very friendly. They gave us a great list of live music venues and must see tips. Our drinks were stiff and the sampler of the most famous tastes of NOLA was the perfect way to get us started. We had a bit of red beans and rice, gumbo and jambalaya. All great Creole tastes that stick on your palate and your memory for days to come.
The second day, after nursing a hang over with a hot cafe late and order of bengnets from Cafe Du Monde, we decided to wander around the French Quarter and take in the sights. We had a great dinner recommendation from the owners of the world famous Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar. So around 5:10 we poped over to the corner of St. Philip and Chartres. There in a small inconspicuous dining room, we consumed some of the best Italian cuisine in NOLA. They have an excellent wine selection both by the glass and bottle. Our server recommended an excellend cabernet to accompany my steak… which was prepared perfectly.
539 Saint Philip Street
New Orleans, LA
In January, Jake & I got the itch to make a drive from Detroit to Austin via Nashville, New Orleans and Memphis. We love to travel, see the country. We don’t mind riding in the car too much. Guess it’s the gypsy musician in us.
We drove I-69 South from Nashville on through Birmingham, Alabama and then South on I-59 through Meridian, Mississipi and eventually across Lake Ponchatrain to the Big Easy. Now we should have been able to travel the whole distance between Nashvile and NOLA in what would have been about 8 hours… since our end goal was to get to there in time for dinner. However, we had a little incident in Northern Alabama at a truck stop. Someone lifted Jake’s cell phone and then Sprint sent us on a wild goose chase thinking we might actually be able to “locate” the phone. FYI: if you want to use the “gps locator” function on your phone, you actually have to approve a text message saying, turn on the locator service before you can actually locate the phone. (You would think the fine customer service folks at Sprint would know how their services actually work.) Yet I digress….
So, across the never ending bridges we cruised into a twinkling skyline of New Orleans. I know why they call it the Big Easy, cause it’s a big easy place to loose yourself in. 🙂
We found our hotel, the Place d’Armes, in no time. It is a ghost of a place with a traditional New Orleans style inner courtyard with a nice fountain and small pool. They have a great continental breakfast in the morning with fresh fruit, coffee and pastries. The rooms are a bit small, but nothing compared to some places we’ve stayed in Europe. Our room had a queen size bed, desk, lounge chair and a separated bath and sink area. The hotel was within walking distance of all the tourist spots in the French Quarter and off the corner of Jackson Square. I picked it because of it’s proximity to Cafe Du Monde. I had been dying for a Cafe Au Lait since I had my first one there in 1998.
We spend alot of time traveling around the Midwest and Chicago happens to be one of our favorite cities. Our most recent trip had us staying in Lincoln Park at the Days Inn on Diversey. It’s an excellent little hotel that has recently been remodeled. The staff was friendly and attentive. Included with your room is a free continental breakfast in the morning. Theirs starts nice and early around 6:30 and goes until 11 am… so plenty of time to sleep in and still get in on those free waffles.
We like the Lincoln Park neighborhood as there are lots of unique small shops and nice restaurants to eat at. The Days Inn is on the corner by a couple great shoe stores, a Starbucks and a Panara. About a mile away near Halstead and Armitage is the Cafe Babareeba tapas restaurant where we met up with our good friend Toya for a bite. We enjoyed a pitcher of the white sangria, some of the Calamaris ala plancha and laughed until the wee hours.