These sumptuous suggestions make for a splendid springtime weekend in the Crescent City.
Lunch at: Decompress from a long week with an uber-casual lunch at High Hat Cafe. Get your hands dirty (and likely your shirt) in a plate of buttery, lip-smacking barbecue shrimp, or immerse yourself in a big bowl of rich, dark Chicken Gumbo Ya-Ya. Chef Jeremy Wolgamott’s perfectly fried catfish washes down beautifully with a house-made lemonade or hibiscus soda, and just see if you can manage to walk out those doors before indulging in one of High Hat’s special desserts, like a warm pecan butterscotch pie with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey ice cream. I surely couldn’t … 4500 Freret St., highhatcafe.com
Sip at: Although the modern feel and hushed atmosphere of Cure might be intimidating, especially with a barbecue-stained blouse, you have nothing to worry about. The elegant-but-comfortable bar might very well have one of the darkest lighting schemes of any Uptown bar. About to celebrate its 5th anniversary, Cure is known city- and country-wide for being one of the best places to procure an exquisitely and carefully prepared cocktail, like a For Whom the Sun Rises — described on the menu as “a bold and bitter Dr. Frankenstein interpretation of a Hemingway daiquiri with Varnelli Amaro Sibilla, Maraska Maraschino Liqueur and salted grapefruit.” 4905 Freret St., curenola.com
Get funky at: One of the newest venues in the city, Gasa Gasa is not unlike a community co-op, playing host to an eclectic mix of live music, art exhibitions, film screenings and more. You can even stop in for power yoga sessions every Wednesday and Friday at 11 am, but the main reason to go (thus far) is the music. Although featured musicians visit from all over the country, on April 18, the venue will be keeping it close to home with local bands Brass Bed, Cardinal Sons and Vox and the Hound. 4920 Freret St., gasagasa.com
Brunch at: Profitez d’un petit-déjeuner au Café Soule dans le Vieux Carré! Located inside a restored Creole mansion that was originally built by French nobleman Pierre Soulé in 1830, Café Soule’s historic architecture will inspire awe while you’re busy savoring the restaurant’s Creole/French cuisine. Delight in simple, savory crepes and quiche or sweet beignets and pain perdu while sparkling, antique chandeliers dangle overhead from 16-foot ceilings. Elegant libations, from mimosas and bellinis to the Soulé Cocktail with Champagne and St. Germain, will bolster you for a day spent shopping in the French Quarter. 720 St. Louis St., cafesoule.com
Shop at: Easily one of the most fascinating places in the country to shop for antiques, collectibles, art and oddities, Royal Street can exhaust even the most avid shopper. Packed into a relatively short, 14-city-block stretch, you can find everything from 19th-century estate jewelry to glass eye collections and Civil War-era guns. Some of the city’s finest art galleries feature local, national and international artists, like Rodrigue and his Blue Dog or Todd White at the Galerie d’Art Francais. Royal Street also boasts the Gallier House Museum and historic hotels like the Hotel Monteleone and its famous (or infamous?) slowly rotating Carousel Bar.
Sip and snack at: With executive chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez in the kitchen and Abigail Gullo behind the bar, it’s a sizzling combination at SoBou: A Spirited Restaurant, brought to life by the Commander’s Family of Restaurants. Located near the corner of Chartres and Bienville streets, inside the W New Orleans French Quarter Hotel, SoBou is the perfect place to enjoy both spirits and sumptuous cuisine in a modern, relaxed atmosphere. The bar features an array of cocktails, like a Dizzy Blonde Negroni, made with Seagram’s gin, Casoni 1814 Aperitivo, dry vermouth and Cointreau. Or, you could simply sit at one of several tables with built-in beer taps located just mere steps away from walls featuring automated wine-dispensing machines. Ask your server (or your bartender) which cocktails pair best with their shrimp and tasso pinchos — made with grilled pineapple and ghost pepper jelly — or their crispy oyster tacos, wrapped in grilled flour tortillas and topped with spicy satsuma miso, pickled mirlitons and jalapenos. 310 Chartres St., sobounola.com
Revive at: Just a jump off Esplanade Avenue on Ponce De Leon Street, you’ll find Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, a cozy cafe housed in a historic, two-story building devoted to “great coffee for a change.” Fair Grinds is a communal space, serving fresh pastries, including those of the vegan and gluten-free variety, and 100 percent fair-trade, organic coffees. Sip a foamy cappuccino with a conscience while munching on a lemon-white chocolate scone and watching traffic on Esplanade Avenue as it lazily rolls by. You can even up your involvement by “Drinking Liberally,” described as “an informal, inclusive, progressive social group for like-minded, left-leaning individuals,” with meetings held upstairs in a community event room with free conversation and donated libations. 3133 Ponce De Leon St., fairgrinds.com
Bust some birdies at: Score a hole-in-one at New Orleans City Park’s newest attraction, City Putt. The well-designed and manicured grounds offer two 100 percent ADA-accessible-courses (each with distinct themes) with 18 holes that feature challenges for novices and seasoned putters alike. The Louisiana course emphasizes statewide cultural themes, like pelicans and the Mississippi River, while the New Orleans course features a pot of gumbo, Louis Armstrong and French Quarter street tiles. The course designers even added an educational element to the fun, with local facts and trivia about historical landmarks and iconography. 8 Victory Ave., neworleanscitypark.com
Dine at: Restaurant August’s former chef de cuisine Michael Gulotta is doing stellar business at his new Mid-City restaurant MoPho, located kitty-corner from the original Bud’s Broiler on City Park Avenue. The menu boasts Vietnamese/Cajun-infusion cuisine with dishes like Gulf shrimp or pork shoulder spring rolls and a whole fried Gulf fish with local citrus, soy and cilantro. MoPho also offers traditional Vietnamese banh mi, vermicelli bowls and pho with not-so-traditional ingredients, including NOLA hot sausage, fermented black bean-braised crab and duck confit. One note: Be sure to avoid parking in the Burger King lot near the restaurant, or a towed vehicle will put a damper on an otherwise perfect weekend. 514 City Park Ave., mophonola.com