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gelatolover Mar 22nd, 2013 02:07 PM

New Orleans redux, need your suggestions
Hi Fodorites,

Seeking your help once more. Second trip to N.O. (first time with hubby). Looking forward to this trip, considering that the first one was with my 18 y/o DD – and was rated P.G. ☺

Please critique our hastily planned itinerary (this being a spur-of-the-moment trip). Except for the food tour that I’d done with my daughter two years ago, all the tours we will be doing are all firsts.

Food and Shopping:
As far as restaurants go, we would like to enjoy fine Cajun/Creole cuisine, with emphasis on seafood (and a lot of oysters)!!! Searching for the quintessential New Orleans flavor/experience: music, food, unique neighborhoods, shopping (N.O. artwork, jewelry, masks, nice crafts, sample a muffaletta, buy pralines to take back home for presents, other local delicacies). Have already dined at NOLA, Emeril's, Dickie Brennan's and Arnaud's Remoulade and prefer to try other restaurants.

Please share your favorite art galleries and shopping haunts. Searching for a nice painting that shows a local scene that I can add to the following two paintings that I bought on my last trip: a whimsical Martin LaBorde painting (reminds me of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince) and Diego Lukezic’s Tango the White Dog painting. Am also on the lookout for a nice bauble such as a lovely bracelet or pendant made by a local artist.

Because this is such a last-minute trip, I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of research. All I’ve done so far is make the reservations (tours and some restaurants). We are not planning to rent a car unless we absolutely have to.

Day 1
Arrive in NOLA at 5 pm. Taxi to the Monteleone.
Acme Oyster Bar, if line is tolerable. Otherwise Felix’s.
Dinner at Arnaud’s
Carousel Bar at the Monteleone, live music

Day 2
8:30 – hotel pickup for Swamp Tour (will be back by 1)
2:00 Food Tour (till about 4:30?)
4:30 – 7 pm – French Quarter exploration
dinner at Restaurant R’evolution
Pat O’Brien’s for a hurricane or two
Preservation Hall?

Day 3
8:15 pick up at hotel for Plantation Tour (Oak Alley and Laura) back by 12:30-1 pm
1:30 – Lunch at Mr. B’s
From 2:30 – 6:00? Magazine Street
Dinner at Muriel’s
10:00 – Sonesta’s Irvin Mayfield’s for some jazz

Day 4
Café Du Monde
Street car? Explore the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square
11:00 – 1:00 pm Segway Tour (hubby’s request)
1:00 – 3:30 – Shopping?
4:00 – 6:00 Cocktail Tour/Pub Crawl
Dinner at K-Paul’s

Day 5
Need suggestions for breakfast/brunch
Get to the airport in time for a 12:30 flight. With it being a week day, will it be safe to take a taxi at about 10:30, and still make it to the airport in time?

I would have wanted to indulge in a nice jazz brunch but our schedule makes this difficult. Found out last night that it’s too late to get Preservation Hall VIP tickets. Should we still try to go? Have never been there and I have no idea if it's going to be too crowded or uncomfortable to be standing during the performance. I’ve also seen Frenchmen Street mentioned many times here in the forums as a nice alternative to Bourbon Street for jazz. We don’t have a car and I was wondering if it’s relatively easy (and safe) to get a cab to take us back to the hotel.

I’m all ears. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions. :-)

gelatolover Mar 22nd, 2013 02:32 PM


On Day 5, will be at Brennan's at 9 am sharp for breakfast. Hoofing it back to the Monteleone to claim our bags, and then it's off to the airport. Hoping that we won't be late.......

november_moon Mar 22nd, 2013 03:22 PM

You absolutely do not need a car and having one would be a liability anyway, so good call there.

I would only plan to do half of what you have listed :) Ok, maybe a bit more than half, but I wouldn't do the swamp tour and the food tour on the same day. That would be too much structure for me - structure and NOLA just don't seem to play well together.

In NOLA, we always stay out later than we normally would, later than we think we will - just too much good music and people-watching to pack it in early. So making an 8:30 am tour would be a challenge for us. But maybe you are early risers.

Frenchman Street is great - definitely go over there at least on one night. It just just a couple blocks past the FQ, so it is walkable from your hotel or a short cab ride. There will be lots of cabs on Frenchman.

For shopping for art, I like to check out the artists selling on Jackson Square. I have bought some very nice stuff there.

Cab to the airport, if you have to check bags/go to the counter, I would have the cab pick you up at 10. With carryon and electronic boarding passes, 10:30 is fine.

Day 5 breakfast - I like Camellia Grill and Ye Olde Coffee Pot. Stanley does a great breakfast too - we had bad service there, but are planning to give it another chance on our next visit.

SusanCS Mar 22nd, 2013 04:24 PM

Others may disagree, but I'm not a fan of Brennan's. Decades ago, yes. Now? In my opinion, it's overpriced and the food is mediocre.

SusanCS Mar 22nd, 2013 04:26 PM

Okay, I can't seem to get all my thoughts in one post. Back to Brennan's. Dinner? yes. Brunch? no.

POlson Mar 22nd, 2013 07:40 PM

I have to respectfully disagree on Brennan's. We had a wonderful brunch there last October, my salmon eggs benedict was so good and the bananas foster...yum.

I agree with november_moon that you might want to skip the food tour. You will be eating so much and likely to have more fun just wandering around. I am a big planner but even I relaxed the itinerary a bit in New Orleans.

As for shopping:

Art - I loved some of the Jackson Square artists but didn't bring anything home (though I could have chosen from several that I liked). My favorite (I think) was the guy with all the street scenes of New Orleans and the little plastic gems/jewels, wish I had picked up one of those canvases. At the time, I couldn't quite decide. Mostly we just wandered in and out of galleries and ended up with the one that caught our eye. We are still loving the piece we bought from Alex Beard. Try the art galleries on Royal Street and Julia Street.

Jewelry - my favorite pieces were from local artist Mignon Faget at 3801 Magazine street (I ordered a few more pieces after I returned home for holiday gifts). I also loved the antique jewelry in the little store on Royal very close to your hotel, Moss Antiques (411 Royal). The gift shop at the Ogden had good jewelry too.

Masks - lots and lots of stores offering masks, our favorite was Mask (636 Royal). Kids loved the ones I brought home for them. Some day I'll get one of the super fancy ones for myself.

As you know from my trip report, I love my rug from Louisiana Loom Works (616 Chartres). I see it everyday in my office and am reminded of our lovely trip to New Orleans.

Have a great trip!

gelatolover Mar 23rd, 2013 07:40 AM

Thank you to all who responded! :-)

november: I know - those two tours that demand early 8 am pickups are a bit much, but we have no choice because the only other option for the tour companies with available spots would fall on the noon pickup and we already booked activities/have planned other things for the afternoon.

The swamp tour was a last-minute addition on the day I was hoping I could sleep in - but my hubby really wanted to include that for this trip.

We will definitely check out Frenchmen Street. Glad to hear that finding cabs won't be a problem late at night.

Susan - regarding Brennan's - I was initially concerned about the mixed reviews. However, I've noted the rave reviews about breakfast at Brennan's being such a N.O. institution :-) that we simply have to try it once. We'll try to have a jazz brunch next time we're in NOLA.

POIson - hmmm...... it looks like we have shared interests. ;-)
Mignon Faget - definitely a place I will check out (thanks for the tip). Will also look into the other places that you mentioned on your trip report.

Regarding the food tour following the swamp tour - we love to take food tours anywhere we go. I've been on the same one ( with my daughter two years ago and enjoyed it. It basically covered the big N.O. establishments - Brennan's, Antoine's, Arnaud's, Tujagues' brisket, turtle soup, pralines, watched a Creole lady make roux, sample a Sazerac, etc. I don't mind doing it all over again because I know DH will enjoy the tour.

Again, thanks for your all your advice.

Looking forward to the trip!!!

nelsonian Mar 23rd, 2013 11:59 PM

We lined up at 8pm for tickets to the 9.15pm set at Preservation Hall. I got the last seat, DH stood, however he was so blown away by the music, the 45 minutes set just seemed to fly by. It was well worth the wait in line especially if you love traditional jazz like my DH. As he said when the show was finished, that is the jazz I came to New Orleans to see. It is great chatting to the people in line also, they come from all over the world.

We walked to Frenchmen street twice, and caught a cab twice, cabs are circling around all the time so easy to get.

KVR Mar 25th, 2013 07:44 AM

When are you going? We are returning for our 2nd trip next month. I also plan/write out detailed itineraries because if we don't we'll miss out and then who knows when we will ever get back. I also booked a food and bar tour. Who did you book with? If you are going before we are, I would love to read your review on them.

Have your considered the Commander's Palace Sunday Brunch? We have done before and it was OK. For this trip, we chose to do thier .25 cent Martini Lunch instead. For Sunday brunch, this time, we chose the Champange Brunch at the La Pavillon. $39 p/p and comp. champagne and mimosas with piano music.

For breakfast, the Red Gravy is getting really good reviews. We are going to try and get there. We enjoyed the Bombay Club on Conti Street our last trip. They make really good martinis.

For shopping I've been reading about the French Market. We are going to try and check it out.

SAnParis2 Mar 25th, 2013 08:05 AM

There is another post on here re: a simialr itin. I'll see if I can top it for you rather than repeat myself. I also go every year & my trip report from August may also be helpful...

SAnParis2 Mar 25th, 2013 08:06 AM

BTW - there is a good gelato place in Nola -

gelatolover Mar 28th, 2013 02:57 PM


Food Tour:
2nd Time doing this, hubby's first. A lot of fun - good samples (like the Shrimp Remoulade from Arnaud's, and the brisket from Tujague's) and the guide gives you good recs based on what you want to eat. I recommend that you do it on your first or second day there.

Cocktail Tour:
My first time: had a BLAST! 5 Stops (the tour starts with a complementary hurricane that you sip as you start the tour). Note that all the drinks cost extra. Had an introduction to absinthe, got to sample two kinds. Oh yeah! Tip: eat something before the tour, because there's no time to order bar food until the last stop. Some people on the tour didn't eat lunch, thinking that food will be provided, and they were miserable.

As far as your brunch question, we ended our trip with Breakfast at Brennan's on the last day, and I'm glad we did that. Was very happy with the food and the price of the 3-course breakfast was a very reasonable $36 (drinks extra).

I hope to be brave enough to post a trip report, as I've never had the courage to post any and figured that it's time I started.

SAnParis2: Thank you for topping your thread - good info! And yes, ladivinagelateria was part of the food tour.

SAnParis2 Mar 29th, 2013 12:12 PM

Anytime 0 sounds like a good trip - just need to share the rest of it....(wink, wink) subtle encouragement...

bachslunch Mar 29th, 2013 12:52 PM

My NOLA experiences from ca. 2 years ago, food and attractions:

Had an excellent breakfast experience at Brennan's at that time.

KVR Mar 29th, 2013 07:21 PM

Thanks for the information. Glad you had a good trip. I did book the same food tour, but a different cocktail tour. I booked the Crescent City Cocktail Crawl. Hope it is just as good.

We plan on eating at Commanders Palace before our cocktail tour. That day will be my actual birthday.

Yes, please post a full trip report. We so appreciate them and they are quite helpful. :)

topeater Apr 1st, 2013 12:01 PM

I lived in NOLA for 10 years & go back 2 or 3 times every year, so I'm not a native, but I have experienced a lot there!

If your choice is Acme or Felix's, go to Felix's. Acme has really just become a tourist place & the food has really gone downhill. I see that you are eating at Arnaud's the 1st night which was odd since you said you wanted to try different places this trip. I assume you want to take your husband there???? Why not have a drink there & then go to Herbsaint or Bayona or Sylvain?

Foodwise, it seems to me that you are heavy on the old New Orleans restaurants & you might want to mix it up with some newer places. I would take some time to explore art galleries in the warehouse district, then wander down (either by streetcar, cab or walking if you like long walks) to Magazine St & look at the shops. The best Mignon Faget shop is on Magazine. I would then have lunch or dinner at Coquette which is a small bistro, wonderful food, drinks & staff. Chef was recently named by Food & Wine magazine. They have an amazing 3 course lunch for $20.00. I would skip Muriel’s. There's just much better food to be had!

While not the best muffaletta in town, I always get mine at the Napoleon House because I love the atmosphere. Get a seat in the courtyard & have a Pimm's cup. It is completely different from any other place.

For some of the best Cajun/Creole food, take the streetcar to Brigtsen's. The restaurant is chef owned & the food is seriously yummy. Check out the menu. The other place that is geared more toward the locals is Clancy's. Loud, but great food.

Have a great time.

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