New Orleans, LA: Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler
You don’t have to spend beaucoup bucks to tap into the French Quarter’s American je ne sais quoi.
Openings: Post-Katrina, some great new restaurants have opened up: try Iris for contemporary American cuisine or Argentine steakhouse La Boca.
Local flavor: We could go on forever, but the short list of our favorite local eats includes muffalettas at Central Grocery, beignets and chicory coffee (and free live music) at Cafe du Monde, oyster po’ boys at Mother’s, and the crawfish cheesecake appetizer at Dick & Jenny’s.
Editor’s favorite watering hole: While there are countless opportunities to try the local tipple(s), we prefer to sip mint juleps in the palm-shaded courtyard at the Napoleon House, a 200-year old building that was gifted to its namesake owner during his exile.
You can take it with you: Chartres and savvy antiques stores’ owners will happily ship that turn-of-the-century decanter set, Rococo gilded mirror, or even an early American highboy back home to you, worry-free. And for high-end furnishings, be sure to visit Ann Koerner Antiques, Mac Maison, and Jon Vaccari Design (all on Magazine Street), as well as the family-owned French Antique Shop on Royal Street.
Place we love, even if it is touristy: It has its moments, and some nights resemble a scene from Girls Gone Wild, but most of the time, Bourbon Street is worth a stroll– if only for the laissez faire open container policy and free music spilling out from the back-to-back bars and clubs. Stop in at the Old Absinthe House or Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop for a drink.
The real deal: Die-hard music aficionados overflow onto the sidewalk from Preservation Hall’s rustic, one-room venue to hear authentic New Orleans Jazz–by both legends and newcomers–for only $8.
Best excuse for packing a coat and tie: Friday lunches at Galatoire’s–last time we visited, one table of seersucker-suited lawyers belted out “When the Saints Go Marching in” in the middle of their elegant shrimp remoulade, trout mueniere, and oysters Rockefeller lunch.
Most bang for your buck: For $1.25, hop on the St. Charles streetcar (of “Streetcar Named Desire” fame) and do a little sightseeing from on board. While Hurricane Katrina damaged the route in 2005, all sections of the line are now open again. A city tour for a dollar and change? You can’t beat that!
SINGLE OCCUPANT IS AT AN ADDITIONAL COST