With all of the running around — shopping, wrapping and cooking — that seems to go hand-in-hand at this time of the year, remember to take time out for yourself and the ones you love.
Lunch at: Chef Marlon Alexander is slinging seafood, cocktails and wine at Cru, one of the many delicious vendors located downtown at Pythian Market. Slurp fresh oysters sourced from New Brunswick, Canada; Fairfield County, Connecticut; or from right here in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Then feast on caviar served with blini and crème fraiche, or delight in savory raw fare from lobster ceviche with melon gastrique to the tuna tartare with shallots and jalapeño relish. 234 Loyola Ave., (504) 266-2856, crunola.com, pythianmarket.com
Work out the knots at: Spoil yourself, just for an hour or two, at the Waldorf Astoria Spa inside the Roosevelt New Orleans. Everyone needs a break from the holiday rush, and a stellar massage will have you relaxed and replenished in no time. Try the Diamond Rose Ritual, which includes exfoliation and regeneration using Damask rose oil, reputed to help with depression, anxiety and circulatory problems. Or maybe you’d like to double your pleasure with a four-handed massage. Two therapists perform a choreographed massage done in synchronization, sending you off into a world of rhythm and bliss.
130 Roosevelt Way, (504) 335-3190, therooseveltneworleans.com
Sip at: Wind down in preparation for the weekend with a cocktail (or three) at one of the city’s snazziest spots, The Sazerac Bar. This landmark lounge inside of the Roosevelt New Orleans has kept the drinks flowing for decades and was recently voted as the best hotel bar in the country by thousands of voters in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards. Try a classic like the French 75 with cognac and Champagne, or sip on something a little more trendy like the St. Martin crafted with Russell’s Reserve 10-year-old bourbon and Aperol. 130 Roosevelt Way, (504) 648-1200, therooseveltneworleans.com
Revive at: A wonderful way to get your morning fix is with java and pastries downtown at Willa Jean. Aside from serving exquisitely brewed Intelligentsia Coffee, Chef Kelly Fields also offers her morning patrons gobble-worthy baked goods like banana bread with whipped butter; granola and yogurt; cornbread with Poirier’s cane syrup; and fluffy biscuits smothered in sausage gravy. 611 O’Keefe Ave., (504) 509-7334, willajean.com
Pick up something just for you at: Discover fashionable clothing, jewelry and other accessories at Pied Nu on Magazine Street. Named after the French phrase for bare foot, this gorgeous shop is a luxury clothing and lifestyle destination that epitomizes the laidback lifestyle of its namesake. In an effort to create a top-notch experience for guests, Pied Nu offers pieces from Milan-based designer Laura Urbinati, jewelry from Anthony Nak, bags by Clare V and body products from Compagnie de Provence. You know owe yourself a spectacular treat every now and then. 5521 Magazine St., (504) 899-4118, piednunola.com
Dine at: Stay inside or grab-and-go for an outside adventure with items from Picnic Provisions & Whiskey, a brand new restaurant on the corner of State and Magazine streets near Audubon Park. Created by James Beard Award-winning Chef Tory McPhail; Ti Martin, co-owner of Commander’s Palace; and Darryl Reginelli, owner of Reginelli’s Pizza, this casual spot has been making waves with dishes like jumbo lump blue crab roll with Green Goddess ravigote on Dong Phuong brioche; crawfish boil hot fried chicken; and campfire cookie dough s’mores. With a great selection of wine and some killer cocktails, it’ll be a picnic worth repeating. 741 State St., (504) 266-2810, nolapicnic.com
Brunch at: If you’re a fan of diner-like breakfasts, you’re sure to love Horn’s in the Marigny. Owned and operated by the same folks who brought us the famous Slim Goodies on Magazine Street, Horn’s offers a fun menu with plates like the Crabby Wife (two eggs atop crab cakes drenched in crawfish étouffée) or the Guatemalan (made with eggs, black beans, plantains, avocado, salsa and warm corn tortillas). Wash it all down with a cup of French Truck coffee or a beautiful Bloody Mary, and let the day begin! 1940 Dauphine St., (504) 459-4676, hornsnola.com
Go for a cruise at: Pedal around the Marigny and Bywater on a rental from A Bicycle Named Desire. Located on Elysian Fields Avenue, this nifty little shop offers a chance to explore the city on a classic cruiser bicycle. This bike rental shop also offers scheduled and guided tours taking riders on a six-mile journey mapped by the Historic New Orleans Collection and The Helis Foundation. Why not see where two wheels and a spirited sense of adventure can take you? 623 Elysian Fields Ave., (504) 345-8966, abicyclenameddesire.com
Relax at: One of the latest restaurants to open in the French Quarter, Longway Tavern is the creation of the visionary proprietors Robert LeBlanc and Liam Deegan. A French Quarter neighborhood spot with a long history of entertaining strangers, this new incarnation is not only an awesome bar, but Chef John Sinclair is in the kitchen making dishes that will tingle your taste buds. Try the Caesar salad with egg yolk and crispy chicken skin; a Wagyu steak sandwich slathered with horseradish and roasted mushrooms; or the fried calamari served with Swiss chard, blistered grape tomatoes and charred lemon.
719 Toulouse St., longwaytavern.com