How to laissez les bons temps rouler in New Orleans

From backyard wine bars and Tuesday night brass bands to cemetery strolls and alligatorsausage cheesecake, discover The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery’s local guide to doing New Orleans right.  

While we’ve listed just some of our favorite spots here, this certainly isn’t all – check out our neighborhood guide. As you plan future trips, please double check with the featured business’s websites as, given safety measures in place and state regulations, hours and operations may be affected. 

 

cafe du monde
 

EAT  

You don’t have to go far for an unforgettable meal. Right downstairs off the lobby you’ll find Compere Lapin. The menu inventively honors Chef Nina Compton’s Caribbean roots and culinary background in French and Italian technique. Backed by accolades like “Best Chef: South” by James Beard Award in 2018 and “Most Influential Restaurants of the Decade” by Esquire magazine in 2019, you know the hype is real.

For one of the most imaginative meals you’ll have in the Big Easy, stop by Palm&Pine on Rampart Street. With flavors hailing from the southern states all the way down to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, you’ll likely find your mouth doing a happy dance. Where else can you try their version of a quarter pounder burger with cheese — garnished with banana ketchup — or their hushpuppies with pickled collard tartar sauce. These are the kind of inventive flavors you will quite literally want to write home about. 

Over in the colorful Bywater neighborhood, Saint-Germain is both a French wine bar and a dining room, but the two are kept separate, and reservations for the uber-popular dining room are pretty hard to come by. That’s because the five-course prix-fixe menu is the kind of perfect meal that you’ll tell your grandchildren about — flawlessly prepared and curated, beautiful presentations, lovely wine pairings. If you’re looking for a special evening out on the town, Saint-Germain, may just be your spot. 

If you’ve never tried Southeast-Asian-Creole cuisine, your mouth should expect a serious party. Marjie’s Grill has a cult following, and with good reason. Inspired by the flavors of the street foods found in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, and using open-fire cooking techniques and fresh, seasonal and local ingredients, Marjie’s is known both for dishes like Chili Butter Hard Crabs and for pitchers of fun, shareable cocktails. 

 

 

DRINK  

Arguably the first bar in New Orleans to spotlight a strong cocktail program, Cure knows how to make a cocktail. All of the classics are present and accounted for, and you know your gin martini will be flawlessly executed here, but delve farther into Cure’s menu for intriguing treasures like the Rosita, made with two kinds of vermouth, Reposado tequila and Campari. Cure also serves beer and wine, if spirits aren’t your style, in addition to a gourmet snacking menu. 

If you’re looking for a bottle of wine to take home (or to drink back at the hotel), stop into Keife & Co. on Howard Avenue. With shelves of bottles reaching to the ceiling, and a rolling ladder you can climb to reach the uppermost selections, you might feel like Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” when she’s plucking out books for her little village, only the books are wine, and the wine is only for you. Keife & Co. also sells a unique and delicious selection of charcuterie and other specialty foods from around the world, including many pantry goods you can take on the plane. 

 

DO   

Roll on over to Frenchman Street for the archetypal Big Easy experience. You’ll find crowds of tourists and locals alike dancing in the street to jazz, blues, reggae and rock bands playing impromptu concerts, and endearingly bizarre street art alongside classic Southern Gothic architecture. Venues like the Spotted Cat and the Blue Nile are famous for their live music shows, but sometimes simply enjoying the buskers can yield a fabulous night out. 

Fontainebleau State Park, on the north shores of Lake Pontchartrain, once the site of a large sugar mill built by Creole planter and senator Bernard de Marigny in 1829, is now home to 2,800 acres of beaches, trails, campsites, playgrounds and fishing areas. Most famous for its waterways, rent a kayak for the day and paddle past native fish and cypress trees in Fontainebleau’s placid streams. Or rent a bike and check out the 31 miles of paved trail — don’t worry, you don’t have to ride all 31 miles — you’re on vacation. 

Just an hour’s drive from New Orleans, Pass Christian, Mississippi, is a small beach town on the Gulf of Mexico. Spend a day here lazily sunning on a white sandy beach or watching boats float by on the harbor. Or head to Henderson Point to walk the 1,700’ Enchanted Nature Trail, a forested wetland hiking trail loop with plenty of kid-friendly (or playful adult-friendly) stations along the way, like insect hotels and vine tunnels. 

About an hour and a half away from New Orleans proper is Denham Springs, a quaint little town near Baton Rouge. Denham Springs, though only about seven-and-a-half miles square, is home to a spectacular antique village that is absolutely brimming with amazing finds. You can easily spend an entire day getting lost in their few blocks of stores. Our favorite — the Gilded Sparrow, with adorably rustic housewares and gorgeously refinished furniture pieces, you’ll want to take everything home.