With cooler weather and shorter days, fall is the perfect season in New Orleans to enjoy dining and playing — al fresco. Enjoy your weekend exploring the outdoors!
Lunch at: Break free from the confines of your dreary cubicle and head to the Riverbend for lunch at Ba Chi Canteen. Grab a spot on the outdoor patio, and enjoy the afternoon breeze while sipping a Vietnamese iced coffee. The family behind the famed Tan Dinh on the Westbank have brought their exquisite knowledge of Vietnamese cuisine to Uptown, so you can feast upon their heavenly crispy pork egg rolls, rare flank and brisket pho and hearty vermicelli bowls filled with shredded lettuce, carrot, cabbage, bean sprouts, peanuts and your choice of meat (from spicy lemongrass shrimp to charbroiled pork). 7900 Maple St., (504) 373-5628, facebook.com/bachicanteenla
Sip at: Newly opened on Oak Street, Ale is a brew-centric gastropub that shares a courtyard with Oak wine bar next door. With 30 craft beers on tap, plus quite a few scotches, bourbons, whiskeys and other spirits, Ale has that “man-bar” feel — but, ladies, don’t let that discourage you from imbibing your favorite brew. Also, if you’re looking for some high-quality grub, Chef Mike Ball is whipping up twists on classic bar favorites, like Chisesi ham and Gruyere hot pockets, soft pretzel with beer-cheese fondue and Two Run Farm beef debris fries with white cheddar cheese. 8124 Oak St., (504) 324-6558, facebook.com/aleonoak
Take a ride on: From the Carrollton neighborhood all the way to the Vieux Carre, the St. Charles Streetcar offers an open-air ride day or night that’s sure to bring a smile to your face either from novelty or nostalgia. Listen to the streetcar go ding-ding and clackety-clack as it rolls slowly past stunning Greek Revival mansions, Creole townhouses, raised center halls and more — all situated amidst churches new and old, restaurants, shops and bars — beneath the oak tree canopy. Hop off for a night on the town in the French Quarter, or get right back on to ride past it all again. At only $1.25 per person, it’s a bargain price for a leisurely glimpse at what makes New Orleans so wonderful.
Revive at: Located Uptown in a beautiful, soft pink, Victorian home, Cafe Luna is a quaint coffeehouse where you can lounge on the porch, drinking brews roasted by Orleans Coffee Exchange and French Truck, or house made chai, while watching the traffic stream by on the corner of Magazine Street and Nashville Avenue. Listen to the wind rustle the leaves of the trees overhead while munching on house made goodies, like authentic bagels, muffins, quick breads, croissants, scones and more. Cafe Luna is open everyday from 7 am to midnight — just try not to hog the porch seats all day long … there are others who’d love to enjoy the magic! 802 ½ Nashville Ave., (504) 333-6833, cafeluna504.com
Be a tourist at: How much do you know about the city of New Orleans? Even if you’ve lived here all of your life, there’s bound to be historic figures and architecture that you’ve never really met. Whether you’re a tourist, or just a local acting like one, spend the afternoon learning more about this city — specifically the Garden District, with Free Tours by Foot. Freelance tour guides offer two-hour, almost daily walking tours divulging the mysteries of the Briggs-Staub House, The Rosegate House, Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 and more in a one-mile journey through the past. Plus, the tour is essentially free to take, since participants can decide what the tour was worth to them when it’s over. Plus, Free Tours by Foot has knowledgeable, exuberant guides who do their best to ensure your experience is more than satisfactory. What will you decide? 2613 Laurel St., (504) 222-2967, freetoursbyfoot.com
Dine at: Spice up your night with dinner at Del Fuego Taqueria on Magazine Street. Sit outside on the patio under the stars, and kick off the evening with one of the bootleg margaritas (made with Sauza Blue Agave Tequila Silver, house-made triple sec and fresh limonada). Let Chef David Wright wow you with Cochinita Pibil de Costenos (St. Louis ribs slow-cooked in banana leaves with an achiote-spice rub), Los Tres Hermanos burrito (with carnitas, carne asada and chicken) or the loaded guacamole (with toppings such as cracklin’s, pomegranate seeds and bacon. 4518 Magazine St., (504) 309-5797, delfuegotaqueria.com
Brunch at: Indulge in one of the most popular brunches in town at GG’s Dine-O-Rama on the corner of Magazine and Eighth streets. Although you may have known it as Gott Gourmet, GG’s hasn’t changed much more than its name. And Chef David Gotter is still offering up consistently delicious refined comfort food. Take advantage of all that GG’s has to offer for brunch while lounging at a sidewalk table, and watching the daily hustle and bustle on the streets. Try the fresh berry buttermilk pancakes with candied pecans and whipped cream, the ham and Brie Eggs Benedict, good ol’ biscuits and gravy with Creole Country brand sausage, or jumbo shrimp and smoked Gouda grits with sautéed andouille and a lobster cognac-butter sauce. 3100 Magazine St., (504) 373-6579, ggsneworleans.com
Explore cities of the dead at: It is the month of Halloween, after all! The Crescent City is filled with cemeteries, and the dead live among us in seemingly random blocks all over town. Most everyone has heard of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District or St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 where Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau is said to be buried, but what about the St. Roch Cemeteries in the Faubourg Marigny, the St. Mary Cemetery in the Carrollton neighborhood or even Odd Fellows Rest at the other end of Canal Street? We invite the curious to explore our ancestors resting in hauntingly beautiful, yet old and venerate, aboveground tombs — but please, always be respectful to those who live there. nolacemeteries.com
Relax at: Brothers Brendan, Patrick and Gene Young are serving up a bounty of barbecue at Squeal Bar-B-Q on the corner of Oak and Cambronne streets. Kick back on the porch, drink in hand, and delight in the scenery, scents and sounds of Oak Street. With no need to dress up, Squeal is a great place to bring the family and relax on a Sunday evening and let someone else man the grill. Get your hands dirty with a plate of St. Louis ribs, hickory-smoked brisket, a sausage sandwich or (my favorite) the barbecue pork tacos with coleslaw and chipotle. 8400 Oak St., (504) 302-7370, squeal-nola.com