Ever since we returned from our incredibly relaxing two weeks in Playa del Carmen, we've had a whirlwind of more fun!
First up was a trip to The Big Easy with our good friends Kevin and Lisa. They would be celebrating their wedding anniversary in August and we thought this was a great opportunity for all of us to visit this historic city. I also found a great rate at the Hotel Monteleone and $62 flights (Yes, $62 round-trip and non-stop from CLE to NOLA!!!) so we were left with plenty of spare change to drink and eat our way through the French Quarter. We sure needed it!
The Hotel Monteleone is one of the more historic hotels in the French Quarter and in a great location. The Carousel Bar located in the main lobby is quite the tourist attraction!
The food in NOLA was absolutely incredible! I've never eaten so much seafood in my life. We didn't have a bad meal and we had so many different types of foods. We couldn't help but compare one place to the next.
Mother's was our first stop after it was recommended by a few people. Mother's did not disappoint. Steve and I shared a roast beef po-boy for breakfast :) while Kevin and Lisa had more traditional breakfast fare. Kevin did proclaim "Wow, this might be the world's best ham!" Of course, we had to start the day with a bloody Mary and mimosa!
We stopped for drinks along the way everyday. After all, it is New Orleans! One of many drinks with 151 was the Voo Doo Brew from Pere Antoine.
Next was the Napoleon House, which is the where the Pimm's Cup originated! I tried the watermelon Pimm's while Steve and Kevin had the Englishman's Pimm's. Lisa chose a nap instead ;)
Along the way we saw this stellar sign and couldn't resist the $3 hurricane. It was absolutely terrible! Seriously, we couldn't even stomach the quality of liquor...but the sign, how could we resist the sign?
For lunch we tried the roast beef and fried shrimp po-boys from Johnny's Po-Boys. We all agreed this was the most disappointing meal of the trip and Mother's was far superior. It's a small, cash-only establishment that got food in our stomachs and out the door to our next destination!
Pat O'Brien's is a famous New Orleans landmark well-known for their Hurricane's. We also couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Alvin on Tappan and the dueling pianos.
That night we enjoyed dinner at Cane and Table. We had done some research and this place sounded right up our alley. The crispy ribs with a pepper jelly glaze were out of this world! We actually went back a second time just for the ribs.
The ceviche was a delicate and refreshing way to start our meal.
The drinks were another awesome addition to our meals.
We tried the pork shoulder, the skirt steak and the whole snapper, which was prepared tableside by our incredible server.
The Ruby Slipper was another brunch establishment that came highly recommended.
The Bacon bloody Mary and mimosas were delicious!
Steve and I shared the Chicken St. Charles and Eggs Cochon Benedicts.
We stopped at Tujague's, which is where the Grasshopper (with brandy) was invented.
Lisa came up with the brilliant idea to stop at a few smaller spots off of Bourbon and split drinks. First was El Libre where they made their cocktails from scratch.
Harry's Corner made some really terrible Long Island Iced Teas...really terrible!
Café Lafitte in Exile is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States. It's open 24/7 and has operated continuously since 1933.
We took a stroll down Bourbon street where we had to take advantage of the 3 for 1 special at Fat Catz. They had karaoke all day! Crazy.
Tropical Isle had some fun drinks such as the hand grenade and the shark attack. I even brought the shark home for Louie. I'm so resourceful!
We met Lisa's childhood friend at Emeril's for dinner one night where we enjoyed a fabulous display. Steve's pork chop with a tamarind glaze and green chile mole was the biggest pork chop anyone has ever seen. Gigantic! I tried the Andouille Crusted Gulf Drum and it was perfectly crispy and full of flavor. We also couldn't resists Emeril's famous banana cream pie. Yum!
We decided to take the street car to the Garden District one day and made a few stops on our journey.
First up was the bottomless vodka brunch at Lula Distillary. BOTTOMLESS VODKA. Need I say more?!?! Ok. Fine. Lula distills their own spirits and this brunch included a nice juice and bloody Mary display to mix with their own vodka. Very cool. At $20 per person, we made sure to get our money's worth. We ended up with 23 between the four of us. Very impressive and very filling! The food was also outstanding. My chicken sandwich was THE BEST CHICKEN SANDWICH I've ever had. Hands down. Everyone else enjoyed their meals too :)
After a relatively long ride back on the streetcar, it started to get more and more crowded. We were also parched, which is when we came upon Igor's. Steve jumped out of his seat and pulled the cord. It was the same place he and his friends had visited when they were in college nearly 23 years ago! The place hadn't changed much...and still had a Laundromat. Kevin was so happy to get off of that street car...
That night we knew we had to get some New Orleans gumbo, so stopped at none other than the Gumbo Shop! New Orleans gumbo is legit.
We parted ways after dinner and Steve and I grabbed a glass of wine on the balcony at the Royal House where we witnessed the awesome New Orleans tradition of a wedding parade where a police escort and live jazz band lead a wedding party down the street. It's one of the more incredible and authentic aspects of The Big Easy.
On our final day we enjoyed a live jazz brunch at Café Sbisa complete with bottomless mimosas. Kevin, Steve and I ordered the shrimp and grits while Lisa had the eggs Benedict. The shrimp and grits was so massive we could have easily split it three ways. We also enjoyed a wedge salad and fried oysters.
We walked towards Frenchmen Street and enjoyed some live music. Frenchmen's is the place to go for music all day every day.
We couldn't leave New Orleans without a beignet and café au lait from Café du Monde. Leave it to me to wear all black and walk away clean! Lisa had a much more responsible approach with her white shirt.
Sucre was a cool little place near our hotel that was entirely different from the rest of New Orleans with a sweet boutique downstairs and a little bar and restaurant upstairs. We enjoyed a cocktail and small appetizers during their happy hour.
We made one final stop at Domenica where we shared a small charcuterie board and pepperoni pizza.
I swear we did more than just eat and drink!
Our collective favorite aspect of our trip was Preservation Hall. With a capacity of only 100, we waited in line for about an hour before the show for standing room only. No bathrooms, no cameras or phones, and no bar (we could bring our own drinks). It was just good old fashioned New Orleans jazz. It was awesome.
During many of our walks around the French Quarter, we passed by Jackson Square. This historic park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, for its central role in the city's history, and as the site where in 1803 Louisiana was made a United States territory pursuant to the Louisiana Purchase.
We also visited Louis Armstrong Park located just steps outside of the French Quarter.
In four days we did a great job of eating and drinking our way through this awesome city. We had a blast and made memories that will last forever. Until next time...