30 Hours in New Orleans
“Happy Sunday! File under things that are totally unnecessary, but I’m considering flying to New Orleans for one night to see Kacey Musgraves and stay at Maison de la Luz. Interested?”
“Count me in!”, was my immediate response to this text I received several weeks ago from my friend Alix.
A factor in making this an easy “Count me in!” is that Alix is an extraordinary planner, this weekend reinforcing that sentiment.
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities and continues to endear itself to me on every visit. Our thirty hours were too good not to share; we hope you’ll support some of these great establishments on your next visit.
Bag Drop Turned Photo Shoot
What was supposed to be a quick stop to drop off bags became an hour long photo session, snapping every beautiful moment in Maison de la Luz (546 Carondelet Street; Phone: 504.814.7720), a distinctive new guest house from Ace Hotel. Not only was the hotel beautifully designed in partnership with Studio Shamshiri, but the service was exceptional. Thomas, the front desk manager, ensured everything was perfect for our stay, including a late night delivery of freshly made macaroni and cheese after the concert. Coffee service (needed) was ready outside the front door the next morning, and not only was it delicious, but the presentation was impeccable. Pro tip: there is a secluded private “speakeasy” tucked behind a secret bookcase door which is the perfect place to grab a quiet drink or moment of escape in this lively city.
Afternoon in the Bywater
After our bag drop/photo session, we headed to the Bywater district, where we spent most of the day. We grabbed brunch at Bywater American Bistro (2900 Chartres Street; Phone: 504.605.3827); you will definitely need to make a reservation. Come to terms with the fact that your weekend will will be full of decadent food, and order the smoked tuna toast and the hot sausage+cheese sandwich dressed with the sunny egg.
Our next stop was to see Kerry at Lucullus Antiques (915 Kentucky Street; Phone: 504.528.9620). Kerry recently moved Lucullus to the Bywater after 35 years on Chartres Street in the Vieux Carré; he is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to French antiques and culinary pieces. We felt incredibly proud when Kerry, a New Orleans expert, affirmed our dining choices for the weekend; he literally named every spot on our list! He also generously called N7, and secured us an incredible table for our evening dinner reservation.
Next up, Bacchanal Wine (600 Poland Avenue; Phone: 504.948.9111) is commonly referred to as Nola’s backyard party. Upon arrival, we grabbed a glass of white and headed to the backyard for live jazz. Attempting to stay on schedule, we were only there for an hour, but we both agreed that we would definitely want to spend more time here on the next trip.
En route to Hotel Peter and Paul, we made a quick stop to check out Music Box Village (4557 N. Rampart Street), a one-of-a-kind art site that hosts intensive artist residencies, performances, panels, that welcomes visitors for exploration and play (reminiscent of the Goat Farm here in Atlanta). Make sure to check out their concert schedule before your visit; will definitely be back next time.
We arrived at Hotel Peter and Paul (2317 Burgundy Street; Phone: 504.356.5200) a reborn historic church, school house, rectory and convent, reimagined by design firms Studio WTA and ASH NYC. We somewhat inappropriately nicknamed it, “Aggressive Gingham” (meant as a compliment); if you’ve seen photos online, you know it’s doused in gingham throughout. The church, built in 1931 and designed by preeminent New Orleans architect Henry Howard, is a beautiful, still-sacred venue space, the convent an ice cream parlor, and the school house, a hotel. It would be difficult to to not stay at Maison de la Luz again, but I think I may have to book my next stay here.
More Food and Good Tunes
Maybe my new favorite restaurant anywhere, my dining highlight was definitely dinner at N7 (1117 Montegut Street), a Bywater neighborhood French restaurant and wine bar. Run by the couple behind Yuki Izakaya, not only is N7 reasonably priced, but its casual atmosphere, top notch service, and food are all equally incredible. A vintage car placed in the yard is an ode to the building’s history as a former tire shop and adds to the authenticity of the space. I’d like to provide a specific menu recommendation, but we tried seven things and they were all amazing. This is my do not miss of the trip.
We made it back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes before heading to The Fillmore (6 Canal Street) for the Kacey Musgraves concert (SO good). With a capacity of 2200, The Filmore is a great venue to see a national act in a more intimate setting. After the concert we headed back to the hotel for a nightcap in the aforementioned speakeasy.
8am (ok, maybe 9)
More Food and Sculpture Gazing
After a quick bite in the hotel restaurant, we were off to walk through the The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden (1 Collins Diboll Circle) before it was too hot (it may almost be October, but it is still unseasonably warm in New Orleans). Set amongst pines, magnolias and live oaks surrounding two lagoons, the garden design creates outdoor viewing spaces within this picturesque landscape. The gardens recently doubled in size to include more than 90 sculptures, with much of the the work completed by women sculptors in the 21st century. The Elyn Zimmerman, Mississippi Meanders, piece was very impressive: a laminated tempered glass, steel and aluminum bridge, where the glass floor is painted to depict the maps and bands of the Mississippi river running closest to New Orleans.
More Food and Local Architecture
Brunch on Sunday was at Palm & Pine (308 N. Rampart Street; Phone: 504.814.6200). It’s hard to believe that at this point, we’d be able to look at a menu, but everything at this French Quarter spot sounded perfect. Chilaquiles, Tasso Hash & Eggs, a side of Nueske’s bacon, and buttermilk biscuits to boot were the choices, and all happily consumed. This was their first brunch service and we’re certain once the word is out, it will be the go to brunch spot.
With a little time on our hands, we took the quick walk from Palm & Pine and toured the Hermann-Grima Historic House (820 St. Louis Street; Phone: 504.274.0750), a restored French Quarter home built in 1831.The rain barrel that the former owners commissioned was visually striking and inspiring: first, that they were using rain water at that period for plumbing, but mostly because the structure was made of cast iron. I could envision this design executed in a modern context as doors to a commercial or large space, instrumental in creating a very industrial feel.
Last Call. When can we come back?
It wouldn’t have been right to leave without one more visit to the speakeasy before heading to the airport. Having grown up several hours away from NOLA, I’ve spent countless weekends in this city, but this was by far one of my favorite visits.This city continues to explore its roots and identity in a modern context; it’s bold and inspiring. And let’s face it, they’re experts at celebrating.
I would honestly go back and happily use the same exact itinerary, not changing a single thing. Who’s in for our next visit?