THE NEW ORLEANS LOCAL: Bob
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HIM: (From Bob:) I’ve lived in New Orleans for 14 years, both before and after the Federal Flood/Katrina. But don’t take my word for it, trust my dog!
1. Best Crawfish?
Clesi’s. Chef James Clesi has a really unique story. According to interview with MyNewOrleans.com, Clesi started his career by serving food at a disaster recovery operation. After realizing his love for serving New Orleans food to strangers, he started a “renegade guerilla” catering operation: He would drive his SUV over to busy bars that didn’t serve food, and with his supplies, set up a pop-up crawfish boil. In January 2015, he was able to rent a space on Banks Street in New Orleans, which now houses the full restaurant. He still does catering on the side.
2. Best Happy Hour?
Domenica’s – They have happy hour every day from 2 to 5pm. Includes half price pizza, wine, cocktails and beer.
3. Best Area to Stroll?
The French Quarter is always good for year-round people watching, however Bayou St. John during Jazzfest has best people watching.
4. Best Venue for Live Music?
Chickie Wah-Wah. This live jazz spot is intimate with great acoustics and an always lively crowd. Plus, they serve BBQ on site! Also, if there’s a cover, pay knowing that 100% of the money goes to the band and not the venue. Locals and tourists alike love The Spotted Cat, near Washington Square.
5. Essential New Orleans Tip?
If you must linger in the French Quarter, spend more time on Royal than Bourbon Street. In fact, just get out of the Quarter and explore! Also, if it’s not Mardi Gras, don’t accept or put on beads. Ever.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP NEW ORLEANS ATTRACTIONS
1. The National WWII Museum– Thumbs up!!
2. St. Louis Cathedral – Thumbs up.
One of the oldest churches in New Orleans. Jackson Square Park in general is great. Travel + Leisure suggests to, “walk the perimeter to see the statue of Andrew Jackson, St. Louis Cathedral, and the many street performers and canvas-dabbing artists who set up their easels here. Afterward, head over to nearby Café Du Monde for some chicory coffee and beignets.”
3. Food Tours– Thumbs down.
If anything, I’d recommend a bicycle tour to different try out local food experiences. If you want to book ahead online, check out this one or this one. And if you’re interested in the history of New Orleans cuisine, read up about the origin of the po’ boy here:
4. Frenchmen Street– Thumbs up.
Live music galore. The most popular section is a two-block stretch in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, known for its wide variety of live music every night.
5. New Orleans City Park– Thumbs up, way up.
1,300 acres in the heart of the city, this is one of the oldest urban parks in the US. Go for the ancient oak trees and modern art at the Besthoff Sculpture Garden.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP NEW ORLEANS RESTAURANTS
1. GW Fins – Thumbs up, but not #1. Go for fresh seafood and a notable wine list.
Never even heard of this place! Instead, go to Bacchanal for wine, courtyard dining and live jazz. From Bacchanal’s website: “Bacchanal is a wine laboratory where food, music and culture collide with Holy Vino to create the most unique evenings you will ever experience in New Orleans Ninth Ward.”
3. Shaya– Thumbs Way Up.
It’s one of the best restaurants in the country; Chef Alon Shaya won the James Beard award in 2015 for Best Chef in the South. Modern Israeli cuisine in the Garden District and part of the Besh Restaurant Group. The menu changes, but you can always expect mouth watering dishes like the pomegranate glazed lamb shank, creamy baba ganoush with spiced lamb ball, avocado toast with smoked whitefush and pink peppercorns or the red snapper chraime with spicy tomato, tahini, basmati rice. DON’T miss this if you’re a foodie.
4. Upperline Restaurant– Thumbs Up.
I haven’t been in a year or so, but if it’s on top preferences, it sounds like they’re still good. In a large old house near the Garden District, Upperline serves classic creole and does it right. With Southern charm, owner JoAnn Clevenger often greets her guests as they arrive. JoAnn was actually nominated for a James Beard in 2015 as well- in the category of Outstanding Restaurateur. Also, if you’re craving classic creole for brunch, head to Antoine’s in the French Quarter. The restaurant is still owned and operated by the relatives of the founder, Antoine Alciatore. Private dining, reservations and walk-ins are all available, and reservations are recommended.
5. Langlois– Another place I’ve never experienced.
I’ve walked by it though, and never seen anyone in there. From my understanding, it costs $120 per person, and you cook your own food. Apparently I’m a sucker because when I boil crawfish, everything’s free to my guests… I guess I’m in the wrong business! If you want a cooking demonstration or a food experience that won’t break the bank, find a crawfish boil at a local place (usually a bar) during the spring or summer months when crawfish are in season. Both Clesi’s and NOLA Crawfish King are usually out boiling professionally for people.
Featured Image Credt: N. Hoopes