Weekend Cheat Sheet: Stellar Staycation
Why bother packing your bags, spending ridiculous prices on airfare and settling for less-than-superb accommodations when you can stay right here for the weekend and be a tourist in your own town? Explore our fabulous city and discover wondrous places you’ve never known existed right in your own backyard.
Lunch At: Located in the Central Business District less than a block from Canal Street, Red Gravy is a small, quaint eatery offering a hearty breakfast or lunch to tourists and downtown denizens alike. The menu features classic Italian fare from Prosciutto di Parma to spaghetti Bolognese, but there’s also a taste of local fare like waffles and wings, and Tuscan shrimp and grits. Most notable though would have to be the magnificent meatballs best enjoyed between the bread with their signature red gravy and mozzarella on a sandwich they dubbed Mark. 123 Camp St., (504) 561-8844, redgravycafe.com
Divine your Destiny At: Open for almost a century, the Bottom of the Cup Tearoom in the historic French Quarter is a wondrous shop to visit whether you seek the secrets of your future or just want to buy some tea. Let expert psychics divine your fate through tarot, palm and tea leaf readings or just browse 100 flavors of tea from all over the globe. The impressive tea collection includes flavors like Tarajulie, Earl Grey, Rooibos, English Breakfast, Indian Spiced Chai, Lapsang, Peony White Needle and more. Bottom of the Cup Tearoom also offers the tools of divination to purchase for yourself from crystal balls and wands to tarot decks. When was the last time you pondered your fate?
327 Chartres St., (504) 524-1997, bottomofthecup.com
Sip At: While we’re sure you’ve seen The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone hundreds of times, have you ever taken a seat? Built in 1949, this iconic 25-seat bar revolves about four times per hour — so slowly you may not even feel it after a drink or three. Notable patrons who have ridden the brightly lit, highly decorated bar include Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. But there’s more to the Monteleone’s historic lounge than a just a historic ride … grab one of the highly sought-after seats and enjoy expertly mixed cocktails like the classic Sazerac or Vieux Carre or sip on something more contemporary like a French 007 with Mathilde de Pear and pomegranate liquor. Plus, on Friday nights, you’re bound to hear choice jazz from local musicians like Robin Barnes, Lena Prima, Amanda Ducorbier or Luther Kent.
214 Royal St., (504) 523-3341, hotelmonteleone.com
Revive At: While Cafe du Monde is the obvious choice for chicory-laden coffee and sweet, fluffy beignets, there are plenty of other good spots to get your fix. One of our favorites is Cafe Beignet, especially the location on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Located behind Musical Legends Park, Cafe Beignet is an optimal spot to relax in a lush courtyard, sip some cafe au lait, feast on French doughnuts and enjoy the music of local jazz band Steamboat Willie. They also offer full breakfast and lunch dishes from Cajun hash browns and an Andouille sausage omelette to po-boys and jambalaya.
311 Bourbon St., cafebeignet.com
Tour the Garden With: Take a long, educational walk through one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city. Gray Line offers a fantastic walking tour of the Garden District that is so fascinating, it might even teach longtime residents a few things about this storied area. Once known as the American section of town, the mansions and homes in the Garden District offer stunning examples of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture. Gray Line even has an exclusive deal to offer sightseers an inside tour of the Opera Guild Home on Prytania Street built in 1865.
Keep Cool At: Summertime can be sweltering hot in New Orleans, so instead of a big heavy dinner, why not opt instead for dessert at one of the finest ice cream shops in town, Creole Creamery? Chef and owner Bryan Gilmore is the master of all things cool and delicious at the original location on Prytania Street. Enter the pale green building replete with old McKenzie’s Bakery signage to discover an almost Willy Wonka-ish world of ice cream and sorbets. Choose from a constant rotation of seasonal flavors like salted caramel, Creole cream cheese, lavender honey, banana cane malt, white chocolate truffled popcorn, roasted pistachio and sarsaparilla.
4924 Prytania St., (504) 894-8680, creolecreamery.com
Brunch At: Located inside the Ace Hotel in the Warehouse District, Josephine Estelle is one of the hottest new places in town to get your brunch on. Whether your feast begins with a spicy Bloody Mary or hot, rich cup of cappuccino brewed with Stumptown Coffee, you’ll be off to a great start. Chef de cuisine Phillip Mariano has crafted a menu featuring dishes like asparagus with pimento cheese and trout roe, Mafalde pasta with “maw maw’s” gravy, quiche with goat cheese and green garlic or a simple JE Breakfast with eggs, grits, toast and a choice of bacon or maple sausage.
600 Carondolet St., (504) 930-3070, josephineestelle.com
Discover Alternate Perspectives At: Beat the heat and step inside to view the paintings of prolific singer and songwriter Bob Dylan at the New Orleans Museum of Art through July 31. Though you might be familiar with his music, Bob Dylan has also been an active member of the art community for many years. In this collection, Dylan explores the New Orleans experience, capturing glimpses of local life, lush courtyards and alleyways in the French Quarter. Of course, this is only one of many exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art … we invite you to discover the rest!
One Collins C. Diboll Circle, City Park, (504) 658-4100, noma.org
Relax At: Indulge in a relaxed evening filled with sumptuous sushi and other fine Japanese cuisine at Origami. Located on bustling Freret Street in the building that once housed Friar Tuck’s Bar, Origami was opened more than five years ago by seasoned sushi chef Mitsuko Tanner. Get an order of warm sake started and cruise through a menu featuring pan fried gyoza, beef tataki or their signature Origami Salad with squid, seaweed and spring greens tossed with ponzu and spicy mayo. If rice-laden rolls are your thing, try the Rainbow Roll stuffed with snow crab and topped with fresh tuna, salmon and yellowtail, or kick it up with the Jack Pot Roll wrapped in rice paper and deep fried with tuna, salmon, white fish, egg, spicy mayo and Sriracha.
5130 Freret St., (504) 899-6532, sushinola.com