Eating up a Storm in The Big Easy
A couple weeks ago my family was in town from Asia and I finally got to see New Orleans! The Big Easy is one of the top cities on my USA bucket list and I was so ready to feed my stomach, geek out on voodoo history and jazz up the nights. Here's a list of everything I tried to get into my stomach in three days, plus ideas to walk off some calories between meals!
611 O'Keefe Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70113
Willa Jean is located in a part of town that you would expect to see an Anthropologie and a West Elm. Despite all the presumptions, I ended loving this restaurant. It has lots of natural lighting, great service, and most important of all, an enticing pastry counter to greet customers at the entrance. The menu reflects the retro-chic decor and takes a modern twist on Creole food. We had the gulf shrimp etouffee, avocado toast and one of my favourite dishes of the trip, the BBQ shrimp toast. Grillled sourdough smothered with burrata and topped withgiant NOLA-style BBQ shrimp, all doused with a rich brown sauce, I'd go back to NOLA just for it.
Cafe Du Monde
800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
The legendary Cafe Du Monde is crowded, and perpetually covered in powdered sugar. The friendly staff runs it like a well-oiled machine, the line moves quickly, and staffs are efficient, so much so it reminds me of cha-chaan-tengs in Hong Kong. Although there is a large interior space, but it's worth waiting for a table in the covered courtyard, especially on a nice day. Order the cafe au lait and a plate of beignets like everyone does, and just sit and relax to the live jazz right around the corner. Fun fact: Beignets taste a lot like Hong Kong- style ngau lei so (牛脷酥）, a sweet cousin of fried crullers often sold in congee shops.
1829 Sophie Wright Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130
This is hands down my favourite coffee place in NOLA. It's the kind of place with a constant flow of customers that's just busy enough for you to concentrate on reading a book or working on the computer. The menu has a great selection of clean sandwiches and breakfast bowls, and just special enough that you'll be happy to dish out a few extra bucks for eating it outside of home. Don't say I didn't warn you, it'll be hard to make a decision.
Surrey's Coffee and Juice
1418 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Surrey's is a quirky cafe serving proper diner food with a Southern twist. We went to the location in Lower Garden District, which was inside a quaint historic home. The colourful interior and friendly staff can really brighten your morning. For somewhere that markets itself for juices, they have a pretty small and basic juice menu, and to be honest not that impressive. The extensive food menu makes up for the drinks, with specials like banana foster french toast and boudin breakfast biscuit.
930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130
I would've spent an entire afternoon at Cochon Butcher chilling out over pork and beer, but we did manage to rush for some takeaways for our flight back. The place is an overwhelming display of food, cured meats, charcuterie, pies, cookies, chips, sauces, chutneys - you name it. When we were there, the kitchen staff was cleaning some sausage casings for filling later in the day, and god knows anything house-made is a soft spot for me. We ordered the famous muffaletta, le pig mac, and the Cajun pork dog. All were delicious and a tad too salty, meaning that they should be washed down with lots of ice cold beer.
2800 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
I spent a lot of time deciding between Coquette and Cochon, and was not disappointed to say the least. We were seated at a table along an exposed brick wall and underneath beautiful crystal chandeliers. I usually use Yelp to show my parent's what dishes look like, but it was deemed useless here because the menu changes all the time. Some of our favourite dishes were the Don't forget to hydrate with a couple craft cocktails prepared behind the handsome dark wood bar.
701 Mazant St, New Orleans, LA 70117
My dad has highs standards for smoked meat and he 'liked' the top rack of the half ribs we ordered here. (Trust me it's a compliment) He's right though, we had the brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, and the ribs were the juiciest and most flavourful of the bunch. Make sure you get a slice of key lime pie, the crust to filling ratio will knock your socks off.
Oak Alley Plantation is one of the 20 something remaining plantations along the Mississippi river and is so worth the ride. The estate sets itself apart with a beautiful row of oak trees framing the view from the large house to the river. Take a tour of the "Big House" and learn about the stories of the estate's past owners. After the tour, purchase a mint julep from the stand outside the doors and continue walking the grounds of the historic site.
Preservation Hall is the epitome of New Orleans Jazz culture. The musicians are talented and charismatic, and you can just feel their passion through the music. Get a drink or snack before getting in line for the scheduled show, the venue doesn't offer any edible purchases.
The National WWII Museum is so much fun! The theme is pretty dense but the museum experience is truly one of a kind. The exhibits were informative and extremely well curated, with lots of videos and interactive devices to keep visitors engaged. I also love the idea of the Dog Tag Experience, which is a superb immersive train car that re-creates the wartime departures of American soldiers and each visitor gets a character to follow during the course of their visit.