NOLA First Timers


Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:58 PM
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NOLA First Timers

My best girl friend and I are gonna be visiting NOLA for the first time this April.

I need advice on some places to eat, shop, things to see. Off the grid would be great, little random hole in the wall places that we can enjoy. We will be staying off Bourbon Street, but I have a feeling our money and sanity will go quick if stick to eating and shopping ONLY on Bourbon Street.

We will be arriving on a Wednesday and leaving on a Sunday. Would possibly like to do a Swamp Tour or something along those lines, and would love to see the Superdome!

Thank you!
nightxsky is offline  
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 01:16 PM
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I don't know if this will be anything good to you or not, but it's something I always pass along to NOLA newbies. A few minutes ago I made our reservations for what is probably the 20th+ time to New Orleans, so if you have any questions about the Quarter, I'll be more than happy to try to help you.

This is long, but it’s full of good info (at least as far as I’m concerned *smile*). We aren’t big spenders while on vacations, so restaurants will be pretty inexpensive. The Inn on Bourbon is a great place to stay - that’s where most of our money goes because we get a Bourbon Street balcony room. When you need a break you can sit out front and just watch everybody coming and going on the street and all their antics. The bad part is that if you’re on Bourbon Street, you’re going to have noise at night. And I mean a LOT of noise! About the time the revelers are done for the night, the street cleaners begin and they go at it with a purpose! If you want to keep beverages in your room there’s a Rouses market in the Quarter (701 Royal St) that sells cheap coolers (along with pop, beer, liquor, wine, snacks, etc.) which is good since IOB doesn’t have refrigerators in the rooms. The hotel is located pretty close to the center of the Quarter so you don’t need a car for most of your travels.

If you want a swamp or plantation tour most of them will pick you up at your hotel so that’s no problem (if you decide on a swamp tour, just go for ½ a day, that‘s plenty long enough.) Hotel pick-up does add about $20.00 to the cost of the tour.
For other things to do:
Ride the Canal Street Streetcar to the Garden District to see the mansions - it’s only $1.25 each way and you get a lot of sights.
Take a walk through Jackson Square, the French Market and of course Bourbon Street - Frenchman Street is located just at the end of the Quarter and is great for jazz.
Gray Line has a city tour that has a short cemetery stop so you can see one without spending much time on it.
Along with the artists and palm readers, there is a ton of history at Jackson Square - three buildings to see are the Cabildo, St. Louis Cathedral, and the Presbytère.
At the far end of Jackson Square is Café DuMonde which is a definite breakfast stop for beignets and café au lait. Use the to-go window and take them up on the Riverwalk to watch the Mississippi as you eat.
There are a couple cooking classes you can take that are fun.
A ride on the Steamboat Natchez is ok but don’t go for a dinner cruise, there are too many places in NOLA with much better food.
The French Market is the place to go for cheap souvenirs, seafood to go, a couple restaurants/bars and general shopping.

Which brings us to food and drinks (all located within walking distance in the Quarter):
Acme Oyster House or Felix’s (right across the street from Acme and we really prefer them).
YoMama’s (the best burgers in the Quarter, but it’s a dive!)
Maspero’s on Decatur
Central Grocery if you want to try a muffuletta
Court of Two Sisters for brunch
Pat O’Brien’s or Lafitte’s for hurricanes - two recipes, two choices!
Johnny‘s Po-Boys
If you‘re really brave try a Lucky Dog from one of the vendors situated all through the Quarter
Razoo’s and Cat’s Meow are crazy 3-1 drink bars located right on Bourbon Lafitte’s Bar for “atmosphere”
Clover Grill or Oceana for breakfast
Margaritaville (should you happen to be a Parrothead)
Déjà vu (another dive but great food)
Pier 424 (great seafood)
Toulouse House Grocery, 607 Dauphine St. It’s a small local store located right on the corner of Toulouse and Dauphine. Along with groceries, coolers and alcohol, they also sell breakfasts and lunches until 4:00 PM. The breakfast po-boys (eggs, bacon and cheese) are only 5.99 and at a foot long splitable between two people.

Here are some websites that can also help out and the webcams are to get you in the mood - I love to watch the people…..

ccolor is offline  
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269 good info
used to own a condo and was born
there on St Charles at the Touro
Infirmary by the street car stop
on the way to Tulane cheap eats
Mothers for Muffalettas
Camelia Grill at the foot of St Charles for dinner best blackened redfish in the world
qwovadis is offline  
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 06:09 PM
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You have been given a lot of good information above but one thing I don't see if the necessary safety warning. Unfortunately there are very high crime areas in NO that are immediately adjacent to the the Quarter - so it;s very important to know exactly where you are going.. Be sure to have your hotel give you a map and exact directions as to which areas are safe and which are not.

A (male) friend of mine was there 2 years ago and by accident turned the wrong direction out of his hotel. In only a block he ended up in the wrong area and was held up at gun point and threatened with being shot. They forced him to lay on the ground, took his wallet and watch and left when a police car came along the street. They warned him that he was definitely in the wrong area, was lucky not to be injured and told him to be sure to head in the other direction from his hotel.
nytraveler is online now  
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 04:17 AM
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nytraveler is exactly correct, but a robbery can happen in ANY big city so just use your smarts and be cautious. Do be aware of your surroundings and don't hesitate to question the hotel staff about the safest way to get from here to there. During the day I walk all over the Quarter by myself without a problem and am a short, older woman.

You have a great time in a wonderful city!
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:14 AM
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It's true that a random robbery can happen anywhere. But NO is differnt is that some VERY high crime areas abut the Quarter - and one block can make a huge difference. Have your hotel concierge mark up a street map for you.
nytraveler is online now  
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Jan 4th, 2012, 04:09 PM
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NY Traveler..........I see more negative posts from you about NOLA than any other poster. Why do you continue to run NOLA down. Crime is no higher in NOLA than any other city. I have seen your post about your friend taking a wrong turn from the Ritz Carlton often. I would appreciate you leaving NOLA some peace. There's crime in NYC too.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 04:11 PM
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Will you have a car. Some of the best dining is in the FQ and the CBD across Canal Street. There's also great restaurants in the Garden District and Uptown. If you are staying in the FQ you will have to take a cab or the streetcar 15 minutes or so Uptown which is not bad. Some people that stay in the FQ prefer to dine there so they can walk. Are you interested in fine dining or casual restaurants. If you prefer to stay in the FQ I like Galatoire's, Muriel's, Bayona, Stella, Irene's, Brennan's, Mr. B's and NOLA. Don't miss lunch at Galatoire's. On Friday there is a party all afternoon so choose your day as you please. Go to The Davenport Lounge at The Ritz Carlton Hotel and listen to Jeremy Davenport's jazz on Friday and Saturday at 9 PM.
Galatoire's @ 209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 525 - 2021.
Muriel's @ 801 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 568 - 1885.
Bayona @ 430 Dauphine St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 525 - 4455.
Stella Restaurant @ 1032 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 587 - 0091.
Irene's Cuisine @ 539 St. Phillip St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 529 - 8811.
Brennan's Restaurant @ Royal St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 525 - 9711.
Mr. B's Bistro @ 201 Royal St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 523 - 2078.
Nola Restaurant @ 534 Saint Louis St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 522 - 6652.
Have a po boy at Johnny's in the FQ and eat on a bench in Jackson Square. Napoleon House in the FQ is nice for drinks and lunch also. Stanley's is outstanding for breakfast/lunch. Mena's Palace is a local's favorite that serves NOLA comfort food for breakfast and lunch. They serve 25/30 different po boys. Johnny's Po Boy's is in the FQ on St. Louis and has outstanding po boys. Felipe's has great Mexican food using local ingredients. Clover Grill is open 24/7 for breakfast and good burgers and it's inexpensive. Rampart Food Store has good po boys. They are all in the FQ.
Johnny's Po Boys @ 511 Saint Louis St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 524 - 8129.
Napoleon House Bar & Cafe @ 500 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 524 - 9752.
Stanley @ 547 St. Ann St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 593 - 0006.
Mena's Palace @ 200 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 525 - 0217.
Felipe's Taqueria @ 301 N. Peters St., New Orleans, LA 504 - 267 - 4406.
Clover Grill @ 900 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 598 - 1010.
Rampart Food Store @ 1700 North Rampart Street, New Orleans, LA 504 - 944 - 7777.
There are numerous lunch and dinner special's in NOLA. Mr. B's has a 2 course prix fixe lunch for $20.00. Domenica is a casual John Besh Italian restaurant in the Roosevelot Hotel a block from Canal Street. They have happy hour specials from 3/6 half price pizza and drinks. Dining at the bar at Domenica is fun. Luke is another John Besh restaurant in the Hilton on St. Charles. They have a 2 course express lunch for $15.00 and 3/6 Happy Hour half price drinks and 50 cent oysters. Dining at the bar at Luke is fun also. Antoine's is in the FQ and they have a prix fixe 3 course lunch for $20.00.
Domenica @ 123 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 648 - 6020.
Luke Restaurant @ 333 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 378 - 2840.
Mimi's in the Marigny and Port O Call are fine places for inexpensive dining. The burgers at Port O Call are outstanding. Buffa's Lounge has good tamales.

Mimi's in the Marigny @ 2601 Royal St., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 872 - 9868.
Port of Call @ 838 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 523 - 0120.
Buffa's Lounge @ 1001 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, LA. 504 - 949 - 0038.
Littleman is offline  
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Jan 4th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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The first time I went to NOLA, I was nervous as hell about crime. I grew up around a fair amount of crime - gang violence, drug running, etc - I have good instincts and am not easily scared. But NOLA had more warnings about crime than any place I had been or considered going. Every guidebook had dire warnings about safety and just about every conversation I had with people about NOLA included crime.

My opinion is that the warnings are overblown. If you are reasonably street-smart and you don't wander off into dark alleys or stumble around drunk at 3am, chances are you'll be fine.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 08:29 PM
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Grcxx3 is offline  
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Jan 4th, 2012, 08:32 PM
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Dang, hate posting from my phone.

Littleman - as for your 6:09 post - my thoughts exactly.
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Jan 5th, 2012, 02:40 AM
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Any advice about eating in the French quarter around Mardi Gras? Are most places shut? I've heard the streetcars are not running, are there plenty of cabs about to get to uptown and garden district and again are a lot of places shut there as well?
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Jan 5th, 2012, 04:51 AM
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I safely enjoy NOLA by following NY Traveler's recommendation to fully embrace the beauty of this singular city by staying within the safe confines of typical tourist territory.

There is a whole life and rich culture beyond the tourists' needs and reach in NOLA and the best way to respect the fabric of this city is to wrap yourself in the parts of the city specifically maintained for visitors. There's enough there to satisfy most visitors. If it isn't, then one should consider moving to NOLA and contribute to the daily needs of the local community.
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Jan 5th, 2012, 06:23 AM
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You may find my trip reports for NOLA useful:

Go to the latter posts in the second thread for the report.

Re safety in NOLA: I agree fully with nytraveler and Bowsprit on this issue. One needs to be mindful of areas immediately surrounding the French Quarter to the northeast and northwest -- for example, there's a large and notoriously unsafe housing project immediately adjacent to St. Louis Cemetery #1 and #2 and only a block away from the FQ to the northwest. The closer one gets towards it walking away from Bourbon as your cross street (that is, heading towards Rampart as your cross street), the more care one needs to take (most especially after dark), to the point where visiting StLC #1 should be done only via tour and StLC #2 should be avoided altogether. nytraveler is entirely right to say that NOLA "is different in that some VERY high crime areas abut the Quarter - and one block can make a huge difference. Have your hotel concierge mark up a street map for you," which in my experience is unusual for a US city.

That of course doesn't mean you have to be a shivering maniac when it comes to NOLA safety, either. Just do your homework on areas to avoid, take the usual reasonable urban precautions, and given that NOLA neighborhoods can go uphill or downhill in a hurry, turn around and head back if things don't feel safe where you are.
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Jan 5th, 2012, 08:24 AM
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Thanks, bachslunch for the detail. I'm going to NOLA within a couple of weeks.

IMHO, for at least 5 USA cities I have visited and some in Europe too- that same one or two block walk in the wrong direction has the same result. I don't think it is at all unusual. Not in my experience. It's almost always surrounding a Public Housing project too, the same. But not always.

Downtown Chicago over the holidays for instance has seen an observable "change" remarked upon by at least 3 friends- all in separate trips for shows and a meal or museum and a meal. The very intense and hard sell begging, sometimes with touch and forcing a "paper" on you is coming in here. That I have experienced in S.F. And visible purse snatching on the bus near Rome too. And in Manhattan we were followed and hit on repeatedly which looked weirdly like a partner robbery in the making, because we were in a dark and not heavily "walker" area when shopping had closed. Regardless, he got mean.

Personally, I don't think any cities are all that safe. And you need to have awareness at all times. And not wander at night without specific direction from the home residents.
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Jan 5th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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No one is arguing this point. In the FQ, I recommend staying between Bourbon and the river and between St. Philip and St. Louis, especially at night. Along Canal Street, I would stay between Royal and the river.

<< following NY Traveler's recommendation to fully embrace the beauty of this singular city...>>

Sorry, Bowspirit, but that is NOT how nytraveler's advice comes across.
Grcxx3 is offline  
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Jan 5th, 2012, 01:57 PM
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That's exactly how it comes across to me. Sorry.
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Jan 5th, 2012, 02:06 PM
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Bowsprit - I do not recall nytraveler ever saying anything positive about New Orleans, much less anything like " fully embrace the beauty of this singular city..."
Grcxx3 is offline  
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Jan 5th, 2012, 02:47 PM
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We were just discussing the other day how in some cities (Manhattan comes to mind), the areas where a tourist would likely visit are all bunched together (since Hell's Kitchen is now safe, this would pretty much include all of Manhattan except for some parts of the very "upper"), and as long as you aren't stupid (walking down a dark street alone at 3 a.m.), you'll be fine. Other cities, like New Orleans and San Francisco, the bad parts are mixed in with the good parts, so yes, you have to know which way to turn to avoid the bad parts. It's been often mentioned on here about New Orleans (and frankly, one night we walked from Bourbon Street to our hotel in the Warehouse District and I was less than comfortable, but fortunately, made it safely), and since I live in San Francisco, I know it's true here -- if you stay in Union Square, it's okay to wander one way but not the other, same for the edges of Pacific Heights, Market Street, etc.

P.S. I've never gotten the idea that nyt is a fan of New Orleans
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Jan 5th, 2012, 02:52 PM
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Fan or not...nyt's advice regarding safety in NOLA is sound and seconded by many other true fans of New Orleans.

I've always found it quite easy to avoid trouble in NYC and also in NOLA.
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