My guide to New Orleans

New Orleans

In New Orleans, we celebrate everything. It’s probably the only place you’ll see people dancing in a funeral home. ~ Trombone Shorty


I love New Orleans, I have often said it’s the only city I’ve felt truly comfortable in. I’ve felt this way since the first time I set foot there. Every time I’ve been there I’ve had an incredible time and often they have been very different trips. Without a doubt thought, my favorite time there is during Mardi Gras season. I’ve written a lot about it in the piece I’ve linked to and will add some detail below about Mardi Gras.

A special note about Bourbon Street. For most people when they hear New Orleans the first thing they think about is drinking hurricanes and getting loaded on Bourbon Street while watching women flash their breasts for beads. And that all certainly happens, especially every weekend night, and most nights whenever the city is full of tourists. Also for this reason, a lot of people really come down negatively on the French Quarter as the world’s best crime infested tourist trap. This is not entirely a miscategorization. The French Quarter, especially Bourbon Street is full of tourist traps, and there certainly are a number of criminals looking for tourists who are drunk and out of control to take advantage of them.

But there are also amazing things to experience in the quarter. Lots of small quirky museums, fascinating shops, hole in the wall amazing places to eats and most importantly, always, yes always interesting things you could never expect to see. New Orleans is a huge and complex city, there are lots of areas and a myriad of things to do. I’m focusing on a small area and a small set of things I know and love well. Don’t miss the walking tours, the museums, the aquarium, the buskers, Preservation Hall, the million jazz clubs, I think you see the permutations are endless.

New Orleans is a music and food city, both are everywhere and jazz is king, but jazz is a broad and complicated form of music. If you’re a jazz person I would actually point you toward evenings on Frenchman Street at the base of the quarter. I don’t like every form of jazz and I’m not well enough versed to know what types I like, but for me the one place I always spend at least part of one evening is Fritzels European Jazz Club on Bourbon Street, the jazz there seems to be the kind I like and it’s worth a visit.

bosom buddies, mardi gras

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is an amazing time in New Orleans, the season starts a full month before Fat Tuesday. The parades are the star of the show so if you go during Mardi Gras, don’t miss the parades. The big parades do not go into the French Quarter, don’t stay down on Canal Street, make your way up St. Charles and hang out with the locals and the families, I promise you an amazing time. St. Charles is also the main street car route when the parades aren’t happening. Finally, remember, Mardi Gras ends at midnight on Fat Tuesday and they literally clear the streets and shut the bars.

cochon food
rabbit and dumplings


All of the restaurants on this list I have, or close friends have personally eaten at. There are literally over 1000 restaurants in New Orleans, so this list is nowhere near comprehensive or even a good survey. The list is French Quarter focused and does not include high brow fancy restaurants. There are plenty in New Orleans and you can find them on the net. The restaurants on the list do not require fancy clothes and will not break the bank. Most do require sleeved shirts and at most a collared shirt.

Coterie – I am angry at myself, I have had Coterie on my list for awhile but hadn’t got there. I got there for the first time on my last trip several weeks ago. It was incredible, the best gumbo I’ve ever had, I ate there three times in two days, don’t miss Coterie.

Cochon/Cochon Butchery – The recent discovery of Coterie is the only reason Cochon was not at the top of this list, it is my favorite restaurant in New Orleans. They also have a fabulous sandwich shop around the corner which features Le Pig Mac, basically all of the ingredients of a Big Mac but with pork patties, it’s amazing. If you go to Cochon I will recommend my favorite dish, the Rabbit and Dumplings, it is simply transcendent.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House – Famous as having the best fried chicken in America, not fancy, it’s a simple place with simply fantastic food.

Dooky Chase – a really basic lunch cafe, you don’t go there for the food, but the history. It was a gathering place for leaders during the civil rights movement it’s like having lunch in a civil rights museum.

Mothers – Another place that you will think I was nuts for sending you too, it’s a modest brick building, and when you enter, after waiting in line, there is always a line, you will thiink you have entered back to your high school cafeteria. But order your food and find a table, the place is way bigger than you originally think and be ready to eat some quality southern fare for very reasonable prices.

Deanie’s Seafood – Deanie’s is not magnificent, but always solid. The meal always starts with some boiled potatoes, the service is quick and good, your food typically comes quick, the servings are big and you’ll be full and satisfied.

Ruby Slipper – I typically stay near this breakfast/brunch place and there is always and insane line for this place every morning during Mardi Gras and every other weekend. Finally, on my last trip, up early on a Monday morning I was able to walk in and get a seat at the bar. The biscuits and gravy I had were really good, the woman next to me had the pancakes and I was instantly jealous. The mimosas were flowing even on a Monday morning and it seems like a fantastic place to have brunch, they don’t do reservations.

Neyows – is the one mid-city place on my list. Great traditional New Orleans restaurant, reasonable prices and most of all, super generous portions. Haven’t been there myself in a few years but the online reviews are still really strong for this place.

The lobby at the International House


All four of the following hotels are situated within a block of each other. They are all within 2 blocks of the Mardi Gras parade route on St. Charles. They are all within three blocks of the French Quarter, within a minute walk to Ruby Slippers, 5 minutes to Mothers, 7 minutes Coteri, 12-15 minutes to Cochon.

Voco Hotel St. James – Nice hotel, not a ton of amenities but really nice rooms, some actually witih couches and chairs. Great location and a good price.

Eliza Jane – Basically the same as the Voco Hotel St. James, right across the street in fact, slightly cooler feel to the hotel, nice bar, about the same level of rooms and price.

International House – I have never stayed here, but I’ve had a drink in it’s bar on a couple of occasions and they have by far the funkiest lobby I’ve ever seen, like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Website seems like simple but unique rooms, definitely not your standard hotel.

Magnolia – Very nice hotel, rooms only have one bed, but it’s a nice big bed. I haven’t stayed here since it’s changed owners but still seems to be a great place to stay.

About Michael Kane

Michael Kane is a writer, photographer, educator, speaker, adventurer and a general sampler of life. His books on hiking and poetry are available in soft cover and Kindle on Amazon.
This entry was posted in Happiness on the Road, Happy Travel Stories, personal happiness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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