Christmas in NOLA

January 3, 2017 by NJPainter

It’s been awhile since Barry & I had no agenda in New Orleans.

Getting married there injected a lot of things to get done over the last few trips.
But not this time. This time we had a full week to just enjoy it and remind ourselves how much we loved that town.

When all that’s on the schedule is wandering, there is no better place to be than NOLA.

We stayed at the new Catahoula Hotel for the first few nights; the hotel itself was really great but the rooms were pretty teeny (and we’re New Yorkers!). Never the less, it felt like a secret, special hideaway that was walkable to the French Quarter but a welcome reprieve in the evening.

We slept in, wandered, rented bikes, ate praline bacon (that’s bacon, baked with a brown sugar and pralines), restocked at my favorite dress shop, took in a Saints game at the Dome, sipped sazeracs at the Roosevelt Hotel, danced in a hot, packed room to Soul Rebels at Les Bon Temps and checked out all the things we’d been meaning to see over the last three years but never got to. It was a spectacular 75 degrees the whole time.

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nola-courtyard
NEW (to me) STUFF

To do-
Chris Rose’s Magical Mystery French Quarter Walking Tour
Not a tour about vampires or ghosts or even succinct history. More of a scattered conversation between Chris, a beloved ex-city columnist, and his tour goers that defends (and proves) Ernie K. Doe’s famous quote:
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There are multiple bar stops. And multiple people walking by will stop the group to interrupt and tell Chris how adored he is. It’s a weird, round-about tour that takes hours and runs the gamut from ‘is this story going anywhere?’ to ‘Fascinating!’ Highly recommended.

The Pharmacy Museum
This country’s first licensed pharmacy was in New Orleans, of course. The building, the stuff in it and the courtyard are all totally worth $5 and 30 minutes of your time.

A Gallery
One night (while at a bar) we got to talking about Bellocq’s  infamous Storyville photographs and with a little research, realized that two originals were hanging in a shop on Royal Street. We stopped in, admired all the things that were way (WAY!) beyond our price range and chatted for awhile with the proprietor, who gave us a ton of background on anything that peeked our interest. As a non-buyer, I don’t often wander into galleries just to look around. But this reminded me how fun it was to do. These things were made to be admired and shared!

Music Box Village
A little place of noisy wonder created out of salvaged materials from a 18th century creole cottage. Tin drums to bang on, deconstructed horns to toot, step pianos made out of old wood planks, chimes made out of forgotten keys. A place for kids and adults to just play.

American Bicycle Rental Co.
I had forgotten what an incredibly easy town New Orleans is to bike around in. I mean… you do have to keep your eyes peeled for potholes but, it lets you see the city in such a unique way. And everyone forgets: New Orleans is really small!
To eat –

Seaworthy
Not a can’t miss but the kitchen is open late and the cocktails & oysters were solid. It’s confusingly non-New Orleans in it’s setting. It could easily be in Brooklyn. But it’s attached to the new Ace Hotel in town so that whole block looks a lot different than it did a few years ago.

St. Roch Market
This is a must do. It’s the Chelsea Market of New Orleans except that every single booth is a local business serving really good (even healthy, in some cases!), affordable food. And the business as a whole turned the neighborhood into more of a destination than it’s been in years.

Restaurant Revolution:
It’s very fun to make a date with your college friend and do the things you could have never, ever afforded to do in college. Restaurant Revolution is an experience. We must have been there for three hours in between the little bites the kitchen sent out before our appetizers arrived to the dessert “treasure box” we were presented with at the very end. One of the more expensive dinners in NOLA, but totally worth it.

Sylvain
A total French Quarter gem. I love when you have to walk in a side door and thru a lush, candlelit courtyard to get inside a restaurant. We sat at the bar and split a burger and scallops. The ambiance, the drinks, the music – all spot on.

Full recommendation list (from our wedding): NOLA MAP