roundup

The Ultimate Guide To New Orleans From A Local

Growing up in New Orleans, you become acutely aware of Mardi Gras being a season and not just a day. With about six weeks of parades, king cakes, costumes, marching bands, formal balls, house parties, street parties, and plenty of revelry, all culminating in a massive blowout of celebration on that final weekend, it’s easy to understand why Fat Tuesday is followed by the first day of Lent.
 
It's important to note however, that the city is not just about Mardi Gras. It's also an exceptional place to host a New Orleans bachelorette party and is the perfect destination for group travel with your besties. Taking it one step further, can you even fathom how magical a wedding in New Orleans would be?! Here to help you get it right for whatever you are planning, we’re taking a look at the best hotels, dining spots, and stopovers in the Big Easy. In the words of Al Johnson, “because it’s carnival time and everybody’s drinkin’ wine…”
 
Reporter: Alyssa Brown | Venue: Race + Religious 
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Ace Hotel New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

A welcome newcomer to the New Orleans hotel scene, the Ace Hotel opened its CBD doors in 2016. With a badass rooftop pool and a location that’s just a block away from the parade route, this is sure to be the ultimate pre-parade party spot.
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$237 - $339 avg. room rate
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Catahoula Hotel

New Orleans, Louisiana

Located in an old creole townhouse, this 35-room boutique hotel is new to the Nola circuit and couldn’t have come at a better time. An awesome place for easy access to the parades, Catahoula Hotel has adorable and cozy rooms that you could only expect to find in this warm, southern city.
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photo Cane & Table

Cane & Table

New Orleans, Louisiana

All up in the mix of Mardi Gras madness, Cane & Table is the go-to for amazing rum cocktails and Caribbean bites. Go for the cocktails, stay for the salty cracklins and glowing ambience. With a moody black and marble bar, aged walls and floors, tons of candlelight, a courtyard, and a pirate to greet you at the fireplace, this is one romantic little meeting post.
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Race + Religious

New Orleans, Louisiana

While it’s sure to be booked up for Mardi Gras, Race and Religious is absolutely worth checking out if you’re planning a wedding or photoshoot in New Orleans. This gorgeous two-story creole cottage dates back to 1830 and has all the scars to prove it. With a courtyard and pool, cool alleyways, and a few connected balconies, this spot really makes guests feel like they’ve stepped into another era.
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photo Seaworthy

Seaworthy

New Orleans, Louisiana

Part of the Ace Hotel scene, Seaworthy is a seafood-driven restaurant in the CBD that’s absolutely worth the reservation. With the vibe of an old creaky brothel or speakeasy, this oyster house is abundant in gulf seafood options and delish cocktails to pair.
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Marigny Opera House

New Orleans, Louisiana

A gorgeous old neighborhood church that’s been converted to a performing arts center, the Marigny Opera House is adored for its high ceilings, cracking plaster walls, raw wood doors, giant arched windows and doorways, and unfinished floors. If you’re looking for a last minute venue to throw a party for Mardi Gras weekend, check out these digs.
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Henry Howard Hotel

New Orleans, Louisiana

If being downtown during Mardi Gras scares you a little bit, not to fret. The Henry Howard Hotel in the LGD is a relaxing home-like inn that’s located just near the parade route, but in a part of town where you’re more likely to hang with locals than tourists. Head up to St. Charles Avenue to catch some beads and see why we call this holiday family-oriented (yes, seriously!).
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The Caribbean Room

New Orleans, Louisiana

With whimsical décor and that “only in New Orleans” flavor, John Besh and Chris Lusk’s restored Caribbean Room opened in 2016 to local acclaim. Located inside the Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles Avenue, you’ll want to plan around the parade schedule if you’re hoping to book a meal at this delish spot where wine flows freely and the people watching is real good (jackets required).
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photo Soniat House

Soniat House

New Orleans, Louisiana

It doesn’t get much more New Orleans than this. With beautiful courtyards and balconies, a mix of French antiques and eclectic art, and their very own antique shop, Soniat House is one of those old New Orleans inns that makes you feel right at home in the old fashioned kind of way. A great location in the French Quarter that’s not too close to the madness of Bourbon Street, you’re more likely to feel like part of the neighborhood than a typical tourist at this spot.

The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery

New Orleans, Louisiana

Located just near Poydras Street, expect to see dancers walk by in-costume before and after the nearby parades line-up. The rooms here are convenient and nicely decorated, and the restaurant downstairs, Compere Lapin, is not to be missed.
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Q&C Hotel and Bar

New Orleans, Louisiana

Q&C Hotel is just a few steps away from the French Quarter, located in what’ll be a bustling part of the city during Mardi Gras weekend. If you’re a Bourbon Street fan, this hotel is not just convenient but it’s classy too (and you may need a bit of class after spending your night trekking around Pat O’Brien’s and Lafitte’s). Traveling with pets? You’re in luck. Q&C welcomes four legged friends.
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Terrell House Bed & Breakfast

New Orleans, Louisiana

If you’re hoping to make your trip to New Orleans a romantic affair, check out the Terrell House Bed and Breakfast. This charming old mansion in the LGD sparkles at night, and is a great location that’s a bit removed from the chaos of the parade routes without being inconvenient.
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photo Ken Lund

Café Du Monde

New Orleans, Louisiana

No trip to New Orleans is complete without beignets and café au lait. Café du Monde is the French Quarter fave, often with a line around the block this time of year (it does go quickly). A word to the wise: check it out late night or really early in the morning. Better yet, skip this spot if it’s too crowded and head to mid-city’s Morning Call in City Park for beignets with the locals.

People's Health New Orleans Jazz Market

New Orleans, Louisiana

Keep an eye out for events at the Jazz Market during carnival season, as these guys throw some epic parties that are often open to the public. A combo performing arts center and bar, there’s always something on at this Central City spot.
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Bottom of the Cup Tea Room

New Orleans, Louisiana

An old New Orleans fave, getting your tea leaves read at Bottom of the Cup Tea Room is no joke. We’d recommend heading here on a quiet morning, as it’s in a part of the Quarter that can get crazy busy during carnival. Be sure to check out the crystals and jewelry selection too.
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One Eyed Jack’s

New Orleans, Louisiana

One of the city’s most popular music venues amongst the hipster crowd, One Eyed Jack’s almost always has a good line up. Check out the WWOZ livewire for a music calendar that’s citywide and look for anything local. You’ll get your fill of marching bands at the parades, but brass bands in bars are a whole different ballgame. Keep your eyes peeled for the local greats like Rebirth, Hot 8, or Soul Rebels.

Brennan's Restaurant New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

An old New Orleans institution, Brennan’s is one of those French Quarter restaurants you’re likely to read about in guidebooks. Plan ahead if you’re hoping to get in a meal at this spot, as you’ll want to book a reservation and be sure to dress the part.
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photo Root NOLA

Root NOLA

New Orleans, Louisiana

There are (almost) too many great restaurants in New Orleans, but you’ve definitely got to do your research to find the best spots. This small LGD establishment offers up an experimental menu that always impresses. Again, you’ll have to work around the parade schedule because it can be difficult to get to this area during a parade, but it’s well worth the trip.
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The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel

New Orleans, Louisiana

A Waldorf-Astoria hotel, The Roosevelt is known for its stately elegance. A visit to the Sazerac Bar is a great way to kill some time while you’re waiting on friends to make their way to the Quarter, and the rooftop makes for some awesome people watching from above.
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photo Meril

Meril

New Orleans, Louisiana

Emerli Lagasse’s newest restaurant, Meril offers casual dining and a worldly small plates menu. And since it’s Mardi Gras and everybody’s in party mode, be sure to check out all the local beers on tap.
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Molly's at the Market

New Orleans, Louisiana

An old New Orleans dive bar, Molly’s at the Market is a place us locals have called our own since back in ‘da day. Expect it to be totally packed during Mardi Gras, with everyone decked out in their costumed glory. A nod to the old coffee shop of the Quarter, Molly’s still serves up Kaldi’s coffee frozen and kicked up with booze.
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photo Cure

Cure

New Orleans, Louisiana

Cure is one of the best places in town for craft cocktails and locally famous bartenders. Located in the Freret Street Corridor, you’ll find this bar to be a good spot to get away from the parade routes when you need a break. Though don’t expect it to be too quiet – it’s still New Orleans during carnival season, y’all.
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Sisters In Christ Record Shop

New Orleans, Louisiana

If you’re looking to tune out for a few hours (not during parades), check out this small, local record shop Uptown for a mix of indie, punk, metal, and hardcore vinyl and cassettes. Operating alongside Rank & File Books, expect to find lots of zines and memorabilia as well.
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photo Palladar 511

Palladar 511

New Orleans, Louisiana

Lovely for a nice dinner or brunch, Palladar 511 in Marigny is a little off the main path and offers up a sort of SF-meets-NO experience. Located inside a gorgeous old warehouse, this space is a stunner. Book in advance during Mardi Gras season so as not to disappoint.
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La Petite Grocery

New Orleans, Louisiana

For a fine dining experience that’s equally beloved by tourists and locals, La Petite Grocery has been doing their thing for many years. Located in an old grocery storefront, this restaurant has been nominated for multiple awards and in 2016 took home the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the South. Justin Devillier’s blue crab beignets are not to be missed!
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photo French Truck

French Truck

New Orleans, Louisiana

There are a couple locations for this tasty coffee/refuel stopover. One of the only coffee shops in town to roast their own coffee beans, French Truck is most known for their cold brew iced coffee. But also, you can’t go wrong with their pour overs and the cookies are delicious when available.
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photo Butcher

Butcher

New Orleans, Louisiana

A local favorite for their muffalettas and hangover comfort food, this Warehouse District restaurant by Donald Link is as casual as it is easy on the eyes. With roll-up garage doors, you’ll get a much-needed breeze with your pulled pork sandwich and side of potato salad or mac n’ cheese.
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St. Roch Market

New Orleans, Louisiana

If you’re looking for an airy, open space loaded with options for lunch, head to the St. Roch Market to check out the small vendor stalls. Whether you settle on freshly shucked oysters and rosé at the bar, or the avocado toast and a seat outside, there’s a little something for everyone here.
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photo Bacchanal

Bacchanal

New Orleans, Louisiana

Another local highlight, Bacchanal is a wine shop in the Bywater with a huge outdoor seating area and a decent menu of dinner options. These guys usually have some sort of live music going in the evenings, and they offer up a mean selection of wines from around the world. It can get pretty packed late night, so a visit prior to the night parades might be your best bet.
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photo Willa Jean

Willa Jean

New Orleans, Louisiana

If you’re staying in the Warehouse District and dying for some good old fashioned southern biscuits, wander on over to Willa Jean. Don’t be dismayed by the sit-down vibe, you can get biscuits to-geaux and walk to the river to nurse that hangover.
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photo Kent Kanouse

Three Muses

New Orleans, Louisiana

Frenchmen Street has become a major tourist destination over the past decade, and for good reason. This is where a lot of the city’s best music venues are located. Three Muses is a stand-out, offering up a dinner-and-a-show type experience that feels like a luxury in an otherwise overcrowded area.
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photo NOMA

NOMA

New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans Museum of Art is located in the city’s largest park, right in the middle of town. If you’re able to hop on a bike and ride over, it’s a sprawling park with gorgeous old oak trees, ponds, and a whole lotta beauty. Take the time to pop into the museum, which features a collection of old and new that’s as impressive as the space itself.
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photo Pagoda

Pagoda

New Orleans, Louisiana

Easily the best spot in town for breakfast tacos, Pagoda is a rad little outdoor post for fueling up in the morning or early afternoon. The pastries are amazing, particularly the rum cake that’s got a real gooey buttery center that’s known to make grown men weep.
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Shaya

New Orleans, Louisiana

How does one describe the best pita on the planet? It’s impossibly fluffy, delivered to your table straight from the wood-fired oven, and tastes like Heaven when dipped into lamb ragu hummus. Shaya has won more awards than it has hummus options and is every bit worthy of each. Make reservations and don’t break them! 
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photo F&F Botanica

F&F Botanica

New Orleans, Louisiana

If you’re all about that Voodoo magic, F&F Botanica is the most legit place in town to make your magical potion and voodoo candle purchases (hello, souvenirs!). Don’t forget to keep an eye out for their cool neon sign out front.
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photo Defend NO

Defend NO

New Orleans, Louisiana

Looking for gifts to head back home with but don’t want to go to some cheesy tourist spot in the Quarter? Check out Defend NO for attire, posters, books, candles, local art, zines, and more. There’s a shop on Magazine in the LGD and now a shop in the Ace Hotel as well. Support these guys, they’re rad!
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photo Mimi's

Mimi's

New Orleans, Louisiana

Mimi’s in the Marigny is the bar where it all begins on Mardi Gras Day. Okay, that’s a lie. There are a ton of parades on Mardi Gras Day and lots of places where people kickoff their own celebrations. BUT, Mimi’s is usually the meeting spot for the city’s biggest grassroots parade, St. Anne’s. A mob of locals with makeshift floats and the best homemade costumes you’ll see, this marching crew walks from near Bud Rip’s and picks up speed (and people) around Mimi’s. These guys get started early, usually around 9 or 10, so be sure to add some coffee to that whiskey in your cup.
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