Temperatures soar during August, the hottest month of the year in subtropical New Orleans. It’s a perfect time to stay inside, take advantage of the air conditioning and beat the heat at some of the coolest spots in the city!
Lunch at: Open less than six months, LA Smokehouse is one of several new hot spots kicking up the barbecue game in New Orleans, a city not typically known for its ’cue. Chefs (and owners) Aubin and Daniel Wender are offering all the usual suspects at their new Gert Town restaurant, plus a few ingenious creations you may not have tried before. A fast favorite would have to be the Grits & Grillades bowls made with your choice of smoked meats, like brisket or pulled pork, topped with your selection of one of four different sauces from Southern BBQ with smoked cheddar grits and fried okra to Abita BBQ with a sweet pepper fritto misto. 8300 Earhart Blvd., Ste. 103, (504) 265-8905, lasmokehouse.com
Sip at: Located in the historic French Quarter, Saint Lawrence offers elevated bar fare; more than 75 bottled and draught beers; select wines by both the bottle and the glass; and seasonal craft daiquiris. With doors thrown open to N. Peters Street, letting in the river breezes and the sights and sounds of the Quarter, Saint Lawrence is an optimal spot to start your evening. Sip on sensational frozen daiquiris like the ubiquitous Pimm’s Cup (in super slushie form) and a Peach Bellini made with peach puree, silver rum and sparkling red Lambrusco. If you’d like a little nosh with your cocktails, try the crab meat and tomato salad, signature fried chicken or a Bayou Cheesesteak on Leidenheimer French bread.
219 N. Peters St., (504) 525-4111, http://www.saintlawrencenola.com/
Catch a Cool Flick at: What’s cooler than lounging in a well cushioned chair in a darkened theater watching the latest movie on the big screen? Take in cocktails, snacks and full-blown entertainment at The Theatres at Canal Place downtown. Choose from a wide selection of films from A-list Hollywood releases to foreign and independent titles that you can experience in a top-of-the-line theater with digital surround-sound audio systems and stadium seating with plush, high-backed leather chairs. What will you see tonight? Something comic like Sausage Party, a drama like Florence Foster Jenkins, or something more romantic like Morris From America? It’s up to you! 333 Canal St., (504) 493-6535, thetheatres.com
Revive at: While a steaming cup of joe and hot, sugary doughnuts might not seem like a refreshing way to wake up on a blistering morning in the summertime, Cafe du Monde also offers icy, frozen cafe au laits that will have you hopping in no time. Open almost everyday, 24 hours per day for more than 150 years, this quintessential New Orleans cafe is the perfect place to sit in the shade and watch the world go by. Seeing red-faced tourists ride by in horse-drawn carriages down Decatur Street or buskers arduously performing while sweat mars their brightly painted faces is enough to want several frozen coffees — perhaps enough to brave a few fresh-from-the-fryer beignets piled high with powdered sugar — you never know how you’ll feel ’til you get there! 800 Decatur St., (504) 525-4544, cafedumonde.com
Get Wet & Wild at: Although you might deem a water park is just for kids, you’ll definitely change your mind after the first visit to Audubon’s Cool Zoo and Gator Run! Admittedly, the wild and wet splash park, featuring jumping water spouts, an alligator water slide, spider monkey soakers and water-spitting snakes, offer a perfect environment for your kids to cool down, but Gator Run is awesome for kids of all ages. With a 750-foot lazy river with two beaches, plenty of shaded (and unshaded) lounge chairs, four water cannons, two water curtains and jumping jets, adults can get their water-filled fun in too! 6500 Magazine St., (504) 861-2537, audubonnatureinstitute.org
Dine at: Located on the burgeoning Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in Central City, Primitivo is a casual restaurant — launched partly by locally renowned chef Adolfo Garcia — with a focus on hearth and home. With soaring ceilings and low lighting, Primitivo’s interior tends to remain quite cool despite the coal-fired oven you’ll find inside. Though the menu changes frequently to reflect offerings from local farmers and fishermen, this unique eatery offers dishes like roasted chicken hash with sugar snap peas; smothered catfish with turnips and jalapeños; fried green tomatoes with smoked crab and pickled shrimp; or field peas with tomatoes and bacon. 1800 O.C. Haley Blvd., (504) 881-1775, primitivonola.com
Brunch at: Part of the Besh Restaurant Group, Lüke is the nationally renowned chef’s homage to the old Franco-German brasseries that once were quite popular in the Crescent City. Louisiana-native chef Drake Leonards offers a delectable menu featuring an interesting mix of local, French and German cuisine. Start your brunch with Flammenkuchen, an Alsatian onion tart with bacon and Emmenthaler cheese or goat cheese-stuffed squash blossoms with Avery Island peppers and La Provence honey. Feast on items like a local crab omelet or crispy fried chicken biscuit with Tabasco honey, but don’t forget Lüke’s amazing cold seafood bar offering everything from whole Maine lobster and littleneck clams to jumbo Louisiana shrimp and fresh Gulf oysters. 333 St. Charles Ave., (504) 378-2840, lukeneworleans.com
Air Condition your Insides at: Be prepared to wait in a long, sweaty line that trails down Bordeaux Street, but know that when you finally exit Hansen’s Sno-Bliz to make room for other over-heated customers, your mind (and mouth) will be fully occupied devouring what some believe is the finest sno-ball in the city. Open since 1939, Hansen’s is a family owned sno-ball stand on Tchoupitoulas Street that has never failed to delight locals (and canny tourists) with house-made syrups and fresh-fruit toppings. Created with Hansen’s signature, finely shaved ice (which quickly became de riguer at all local sno-ball stands), these sno-balls are flavored with syrups like cream of wedding cake, root beer, strawberry shortcake, chocolate mint, cardamom, lemonade and much more. Add condensed milk, fresh fruit, ice cream or marshmallow — or just keep it simple — either way, it will be the coolest and the sweetest highlight of your day. 4801 Tchoupitoulas St., (504) 891-9788, snobliz.com
Dine at: Open just a couple years short of a century, Arnaud’s is one of New Orleans’ grand dames, a Creole traditional that was created by a French wine salesman Arnaud Cazenave and continued by the venerable Casbarian family who took over the business in 1978. The main dining room at Arnaud’s is a formal affair with glowing, wood-paneled walls and intricate tile flooring, so be sure to don your Sunday best to enjoy the culinary creations of chef de cuisine Tommy DiGiovanni. Feast on dishes like the signature Shrimp Arnaud — plump, Gulf shrimp in a tangy remoulade; Oysters Suzette with bacon and pimento; turtle soup with sherry; frog legs Provençale; Speckled Trout Amandine; stuffed mirliton and a classic crème brûlée. 813 Bienville St., (504) 523-5433, arnaudsrestaurant.com