Step outside, dine al fresco and spend the weekend indulging in the stunning fall weather
Lunch at: Get a taste of Caribbean and Colombian cuisine on Magazine Street at Baru Bistro & Tapas. Sit at one of the many sidewalk tables and dive into the tasty tapas, tacos, arepas, salads and sandwiches created by owner and chef Edgar Caro. Watch the traffic roll by while devouring dishes like Gulf fish ceviche with avocado and aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chile pepper), pulled pork arepas with black beans and pickled onion or a dish the locals can’t get enough of called “Mazorca,” made with roasted corn, salao cheese, “pink sauce” and crispy potato sticks.
Sip at: Head all the way to the back of St. Joe’s Bar on the corner of Joseph Street (surprise, surprise) and Magazine to discover an unusual yet comfortable patio paradise. Equipped with a full bar, this eclectic space represents an array of religions from Catholicism to Hindu, but that doesn’t stop St. Joe’s from serving a nice selection of beer on tap (and bottled), nor from offering the most delicious blueberry mojito in town.
Get funky at: Some of the best musicians in town play regularly at Le Bon Temps Roule on the corner of Bordeaux and Magazine. The name is taken from a popular Cajun/French phrase “laissez le bon temps rouler,” a literal translation of the English expression “let the good times roll.” The good times are indeed always rollin’ at Le Bon Temps. See performances from the Joe Krown Trio, Soul Rebels, Clint Kaufmann, Daria & the Hip Drops, Pontchartrain Wrecks and more. All performances are crammed into a back room with no air conditioning, a small bar and only one table, but that doesn’t stop music fans from packing themselves in.
Revive at: Kick back at a table outside of the city’s last remaining Rue de la Course Coffee House on Carrollton Avenue and Oak Street. Located inside an old bank building, this popular cafe offers brews from local roaster Try Me, which has been “serving discriminating coffee lovers in New Orleans since 1925.” Enjoy a well-made iced latte and nibble on pastries from Laurel Street Bakery or delight in a bagel and cream cheese from Artz Bagelz while people-watching on Oak.
Take a ride: Don’t you dare call it a trolley or a cable car, because here in New Orleans it’s always been referred to as a streetcar and a streetcar it will always be. In this town, we are proud of having one of the oldest continuously running streetcars in the country still used for public transportation, and to shame if you’ve never taken a ride. Hop on in the Riverbend and let the St. Charles Avenue streetcar take you all the way to the French Quarter for a slow-paced gander at our city’s unique architecture. Let the breeze blow through your hair as you rumble down the tracks, ambling past antebellum mansions, double gallery houses and center hall Victorians … not to mention several great bars, shops and restaurants.
Dine at: You’ll need a reservation if you want to score a table in the lush bricked courtyard at Bayona. Located on Dauphine Street in the French Quarter, Chef Susan Spicer’s flagship restaurant is always a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Spicer and her Chef de Cuisine Brett Duffee offer an eclectic menu that changes seasonally, with meals inspired by cuisines from all over the world. Feel free to let your mood choose from dishes like Crispy Smoked Quail Salad with a bourbon molasses dressing, Peppered Lamb Loin with goat cheese and zinfandel sauce or Ricotta Frangipane Crepes with apricot sauce and house-made vanilla ice cream. By the way, it would be a mistake not to try one of Spicer’s signature dishes: Pan-Fried Veal Sweetbreads in a lemon-caper sauce.
Brunch at: Located in an 18th-century carriage house that was once a Storyville brothel, Sylvain is a small unassuming restaurant with exposed brick walls and a quaint brick courtyard for optimal al fresco dining. Executive Chef Alex Harrell has no difficulty wowing brunch-goers with dishes like a Fried Chicken & Buttermilk Biscuit with honey butter and sage gravy, Crispy Pork Shoulder with Coosa Valley Grits, Braised Short Rib Hash and Brioche French Toast with a fruit compote and maple syrup.
Shop around: There are few places in Louisiana (let alone the whole country) that offer such diverse shopping as the French Quarter. For example, every weekday, several blocks of Royal Street are closed to traffic, creating a pedestrian shopping mall filled with antique shops, jewelry stores and art galleries — enough to keep high-endurance shoppers busy for hours on end. Only a few blocks away, Decatur Street is overflowing with T-shirt and souvenir shops, specialty local food shops offering items like chicory coffee and fresh pralines, not to mention the entire French Market, selling everything from fresh produce and spice blends to local arts and crafts. Plus, there are always those little shops tucked away from the main throughways, places like used bookstores with tomes piled to the ceiling, Wiccan stores that smell of incense and sage or even voodoo shops offering fortune-telling and special talismans to ward off evil.
Relax at: Cruise out to the lakefront to lounge on a high wooden dock overlooking a gorgeous sunset while feasting on seafood at The Blue Crab. One of several restaurants to return to the newly reinvigorated West End area of the Lakeshore neighborhood, The Blue Crab is a return to the classics with crisply fried (or grilled) seafood fished straight from the Gulf. Enjoy a chilled Abita Amber while munching on jalapeno hush puppies, Basin BBQ Shrimp or a Blue Crab Platter with fried shrimp, oysters, catfish, soft-shell crab, a crabmeat croquette and a sprinkling of fried crab claws for “lagniappe.”