New Orleans, Louisiana II
New Orleans is one of those magical places you'll never fully discover. Growing up with family in Baton Rouge and later in NOLA, we made frequent trips, and those memories are filled with trips to the aquarium, river walk, and the French Market. My love for all things crawfish blossomed. In college, I became acquainted with Mardi Gras and Jazzfest, and experienced enough Bourbon Street to last me a lifetime, thankyouverymuch.
Now, my trips to the Crescent City are filled with a sense of urgency, desperate to pack in as much as possible into what is usually just a weekend jaunt. I want to hit up a few favorites, I want to play the part of tourist, I want to seek out those favorites I still haven't discovered.
I was in town last weekend for the Sunbelt Conference Tournament to see the Little Rock Trojans men's basketball team (spoiler alert: They won!). While there, my travel buddy and I packed in what we could while sparing the time for the semifinals and finals. Here's my Top 10 from the trip, in no particular order:
1. LIVE MUSIC AT BLUE NILE
I feel like this has been on my New Orleans Bucket List for a while -- not disappointed! We were in the upstairs venue seeing band that was about 13-strong.
2. PO' BOYS AT MOTHER'S
I know it seems like you really can't mess up a po'boy, but whoa -- this was a damn good po'boy. These suckers were huge (even though we got the small [$17] rather than regular [$18]). In retrospect, yes, you can split one. Especially if you get fries and the best bread pudding you've ever tasted.
3. WE SAW MARK MCGRATH
This was our first meal in town (if you don't count the drive-thru daiquaris). Recommended to us by the ever-in-the-know Emily Van Zandt, this restaurant is connected to the American Food and Beverage museum. The inside is minimal and open with that cool urban-industrial look. I got the Southern Board and fried catfish, Lisa ordered the hanger steak, and we split a tres leches cake, all at a wraparound chef's bar (think sushi-bar style) where we got to chat with the very pleasant chef and staff.
5. BEST CAB DRIVERS
Though we took advantage of an Uber here or there, our two mid-day cab rides to Lakefront Arena (about a 25 minute drive from our downtown hotel) were excellent tour guides through usually unseen parts of New Orleans. These guys' decades of experience toting tourists and pointing out the history in otherwise everyday landmarks was apparent.
6. LITTLE ROCK TROJANS WON!
Speaking of Lakefront Arena, we won! The Little Rock Trojans beat UL Monroe in the finals to advance to the NCAA Tournament. I haven't been so excited for a sporting event since my own high school endeavors.
Other highlights from the weekend? Trips to Louisiana Music Factory and NOLA Brewing and the ever-necessary walks around the French Quarter with beignets in hand. Till next time, NOLA!