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New Orleans City Guide

City Guide
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I’d never wanted to visit New Orleans, as I associated the city with drunken debauchery, dirty streets, douchebags—and any other negative word that begins with a “d.” Yes, New Orleans is much of that—as I strolled Bourbon Street in a white sundress I was perpetually in fear of getting splashed with dirty water as they cleaned the streets from the night before.

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That said, New Orleans is filled with incredible architecture, talented musicians, and utterly divine cuisine. Each day, we rolled out of bed late, strolling the dirty cobblestone streets in the sunny, humid city and enjoying the live music and bustling nature of the vibrant scene. New Orleans is a feast for the eyes, with all types of people, sights, and sounds. Each brunch was incredible, and our afternoons were spent taking in the culture, napping in the comfy beds at Royal Sonesta, or enjoying its beautiful courtyard pool. In the evening, we had top-notch meals at Trinity, Annunciation, and Maypop, with each dining experience divine in its own right. Here’s our list of the top places to brunch, dine, and drink in New Orleans.

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Stay

The Royal Sonesta
We stayed right downtown at the Royal Sonesta, which lies right smack in the heart of the French Quarter. The hotel offers incredible service: from the helpful check-in gals to the speedy bell hops, to the 8th floor lounge. Despite its central location, the Royal Sonesta was safe, quiet, and relaxing. We heard no noise from our hotel room, and were able to sleep well in the enormous, fluffy white beds. The courtyard pool was similarly calm—offering a welcome respite from the hustle & bustle of New Orleans. And, when we made our way through the bead throwing hooligans at night, we were pleased to discover security guards at all doors keeping guests safe.

While the Royal Sonesta won our respect with comfortable beds and great service, they won our hearts with a complimentary happy hour on the roof each evening. This happy hour featured beer, champagne, and wine, as well as a buffet of snacks. Somehow, this buffet managed to have cheese, gummy bears, and fresh bread pudding—can’t beat that. Plus, the lovely ladies at the Royal Sonesta made it feel like home, chatting with us about last night’s activities as if we were the oldest of friends. Gals, we love ya, and we’ll be back soon!  The Royal Sonesta, 300 Bourbon Street, New Orleans LA

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See

Jackson Square
We spent hours enjoying the live music, walking the historical sites, and perusing the street art in and around Jackson Square.

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Rather than make a plan, we decided to walk about and figure it out ourselves—stumbling upon great entertainment, and doing a little bit of shopping along the way. There’s no need to make a plan—just get yourself to Jackson Square and see what happens.

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Brunch

New Orleans is known for its food, and we found it to be one of the most incredible dining experiences to date. New Orleans is filled with gluttonous, hearty Southern spots serving incredible cuisine. Here are our favorites.

Brennan’s
Housed in a pastel pink building, Brennan’s is a New Orleans icon best known for its invention of the bananas foster, which is prepared table side at the end of your meal. Eggs Benedict varieties are a must, like the Eggs Sardou or the Eggs Hussard. Read our full review—and ogle the incredible Bennys—here. Brennan’s Restaurant, 417 Royal St., New Orleans, LA.

Brennans Brunch in New Orleans

Cafe du Monde
No visit to New Orleans is complete without beignets from Café du Monde. While the spot infamous for beignets and chickory coffee has expanded to multiple locations, they usually all have lines. So go early—it’s worth it. Read our review here. Café Du Monde, 800 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA.

Cafe Du Monde Brunch

Compere Lapin
Located in the posh, vintage-inspired The Old No. 77 Hotel, Compere Lapin exudes farmhouse vibes, with exposed brick, industrial accents, wooden tables, and a high-top coffee bar. The space is stunning and bustling with brunchers, but the food is an absolute dream. The menu is stocked with creative takes on classic fare: like an everything doughnut with fresh Hamachi crudo, or a fresh tuna tartare served atop an everything bagel. The Southern creole shrimp hush puppies were incredible, as was everything we tried. This was our best meal in New Orleans—and one of our best to date. Read the review here. 535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA.

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Elizabeth’s
Elizabeth’s offers incredible, Southern fare in a kitschy, warm atmosphere. The Benedicts and Praline bacon are a must-order. Read our review here. Elizabeth’s, 601 Gallier St., New Orleans, LA.

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Sylvain
Run by a well-respected female chef, Sylvain is built into a carriage house that was built in 1776, in the historic French quarter. The space is stunning and minimal, with wooden tables and old black-and-white city sketches giving off some serious farmhouse vibes. We enjoyed an incredible brunch with crisp cocktails, inventive American fare, and decadent, creative desserts on the back patio. Read the review here. Sylvain, 62 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA.

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Dine

People say New Orleans has incredible food—and boy are they right. In addition to our divine brunches, we had top-notch dinners at Trinity, Annunciation, and Maypop, that rival any of my better meals around the world. These restaurants offered diverse cuisines in stunning spaces from creative chefs, with great service. To heck with partying on Bourbon Street, we’d go back just to revisit these restaurants.

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Acme Oyster House
This popular seafood chain lives up to its buzz and is worth the wait. We slurped down enormous fresh oysters and inhaled shrimp po’boys. It’s a classic must-visit for lunch to line your stomach before all that drinking. Acme Oyster House, 724 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA.

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Trinity
We loved the sleek, sexy and modern aesthetic at Trinity, with it’s beautiful bar, marble tables and mirrored ceilings. Located right on Decatur Street, Trinity is a great place for a top-notch group dinner before going out on Bourbon Street. We loved the steak tartare and the scallops—fresh, top-notch ingredients that are beautifully, cleanly executed. Trinity, 1117 Decatur, New Orleans, LA.

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Annunciation
This is a go-to spot for New Orleans visitors and residents alike, and its easy to see why. Chef Jacob Cureton crafts expertly prepared and beautifully plated classic dishes, with a slight twist. The simple roast chicken was one of the better versions I’ve sampled—it was moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, and bursting with flavor (And I never get excited about chicken). Similarly, the beet salad was beautifully plated and utterly memorable—and I’ve had hundreds of beet salads in my day. It’s worth making a visit to Annunciation for the baked oysters with Boudin and Hollandaise—a New Orleans dish that’s just perfectly done. We concluded our meal with an utterly divine banana pudding crème brûlée, and promptly rolled ourselves to bed. Who needs to go out after a meal like that?
Annunciation, 1016 Annunciation Street, New Orleans, LA.

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Maypop
Over in the Market District lies Maypop, a popular new restaurant from Chef Michael Gulotta, who has another restaurant named MoPho. For starters, the Chef is damn good looking—and he named his first restaurant MoPho. We couldn’t resist. Upon entering, we fell in love with the unique, industrial space has high ceilings, sleek wooden seating, and a dark, sexy bar accented with industrial light fixtures. The cuisine is unique, stemming from Cajun, Vietnamese, Creole, and Italian inspiration—and the service is impeccable. It’s meant to offer refined food, and fine dining details—like great service and an amuse bouche—without the pretense. It worked. We loved everything, but especially loved the Bibb lettuce chaat, the carrot gemelli pasta, and the chai doughnuts.  When we return to New Orleans, we will definitely be making a return visit to Maypop.  Maypop, 611 O’Keefe Ave., New Orleans, LA.

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To Drink & To Dance

While most people enjoy the debauchery of Bourbon Street, it’s not exactly my style. We’d been told that Frenchmen Street offers the same New Orleans vibes but with better tunes and less of a crowd—and our people were right. We loved the line of bars along Frenchmen so much, we returned twice, enjoying the bands in the bars and dancing our butts off to street performers, too.

Bamboulas
This popular bar on Frenchmen Street has lots of space, plenty of TVs, and a stage filled with great live bands at the front. It’s a must-visit on your stroll down Frenchmen Street. Bamboulas, 516 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA.

Cafe Negril
This Jamaica-inspired Frenchmen Street bar had an epic band with a girl boss lead singer on the night we visited. We had a blast dancing our tails off. We appreciated the bright Bob Marley graffiti, the open floor plan, and the fact that there’s hot pizza on site.  Cafe Negril, 606 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA.

Cane & Table
While we visited Cane & Table for brunch, we found the cocktails to be top notch and the food to be simply, good. The charming restaurant in the French Quarter has a great back patio and an incredible cocktail program. So, we recommend going to knock a couple back. Read our brunch review here. Cane & Table, 1113 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA.

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Pat O’Brien’s Dueling Piano Bar
No visit to New Orleans is complete without a visit to Pat O’Briens, an Irish bar with an expansive outoor patio, enormous hurricanes, and an indoor dueling piano karaoke. We’ve never had so much fun as we had drinking Piña Coladas and singing our hearts out to 80s and 90s tunes from live pianists. We also appreciated that there were people over the age of 22. Pat O’Brien’s Dueling Piano Bar, 718 St Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116

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