Spend springtime in New Orleans discovering new favorites from bites and sips to fun-filled festivals.
Lunch at: On the ground floor of the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute in the Warehouse District lies NOCHI Cafe by Gracious. Co-owner of Gracious Bakery Megan Forman has tapped chef Michael Doyle to handle an expanded menu with a focus on local produce. Doyle, who was once the owner/chef of Maurepas Foods in Bywater (it’s now closed) is offering dishes like a lamb sausage sandwich with zhoug and pickled onion on ciabatta, seared butternut squash with lentils and labneh, and grilled cauliflower with quinoa and a dukkah-crusted soft egg. 725 Howard Ave., (504) 635-0033, nochi.org/cafe
Revel in art and music at: Now in its 7th year, the Buku Music + Art Project is an annual celebration held near the river at Mardi Gras World celebrating the progressive subculture of New Orleans. Held this year March 22-23, Buku will feature acts like Lana Del Rey, Excision, Dashboard Confessional, Gunna, Mayday Parade, Denzel Curry and many more. Art installations will also be featured throughout the parade grounds, allowing festival-goers to immerse themselves in both the aural and the visual arts. thebukuproject.com
Sip at: Enjoy an afternoon sipping on craft cider at Broad Street Cider in Central City. Opened by Jonathan Moore and Diana Powell in July 2017, this bright, comfortable cider brewery doesn’t feel so much like a bar, but like a place to gather with good friends, play board games and enjoy craft cider made by Moore himself. Try flavors like Strawberry Fields; Cherry Jubilee; Coffee Viscount (made with coffee and chicory); mead and so much more. 2723 S. Broad St., (504) 405-1854, broadstreetcider.com
Revive at: Small-batch roaster French Truck Coffee, launched by Geoffrey Meeker only four years ago, recently opened another cafe in the building that formerly housed CC’s on Magazine Street. This is the third locale in New Orleans with a fourth planned for the CBD. Drop in for a cup or two of well-roasted and brewed java, and enjoy it out in the courtyard with a pastry, while watching the passersby. And, in celebration of Mardi Gras season, French Truck has created a special blend, the Big Chief. For every bag sold, $1 will be donated to the House of Dance & Feathers, a long-standing organization dedicated to cherishing and preserving the rich culture of New Orleans and the Mardi Gras Indians.
2917 Magazine St., (504) 399-9890, frenchtruckcoffee.com
Pig out at: Easily one of the biggest and best fundraising events in town, Hogs for the Cause at the UNO Lakefront is an annual charity event featuring an intense barbecue battle with 90 different teams competing to be the Grand Champion of smoke. While you eat your fill, you’ll also enjoy live music from bands and musicians like Trampled by Turtles, Samantha Fish, Dumpstaphunk with George Porter Jr., Boyfriend and Bishop Gunn. Hogs for the Cause works with both local and national children’s hospitals to offer monetary relief to families with children who have brain cancer. hogsforthecause.org
Dine at: Treat yourself and someone special to an intimate evening at Meauxbar, a lovely French bistro in the historic French Quarter. Part of the LeBlanc + Smith family of restaurants, Meauxbar is headed by Chef John Bel who is preparing dishes like scallop crudo with strawberries and harissa aioli; beef tartare; braised lamb in a porcini sauce with spaetzle; and roast chicken breast with stewed chickpeas and lemon yogurt. 924 N. Rampart St., (504) 569-9979, meauxbar.com
Brunch at: Serene, comfortable and spirited, The Elysian Bar inside the new Hotel Peter and Paul in the Marigny is an excellent way to start your Sunday. Sip a hot cuppa joe brewed from Congregation Coffee Roaster beans and delight in Chef Alex Harrel’s well-crafted cuisine—all while kicking back in a comfy cushion inside the Rectory or relaxing at a small table in the courtyard. Sample plates like a duck egg omelette with Cajun caviar and triple cream cheese; fried Brussels sprouts with bagna cauda and smoked almonds; or stewed apple with mascarpone and crème fraiche mousse. 2317 Burgundy St., (504) 356-6768, theelysianbar.com
Celebrate tradition at: Presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival & Foundation, the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival in Armstrong Park is an event featuring New Orleans traditions that spring from the African diaspora. From Mardi Gras Indians and African dance to brass bands and soul-funk, this unique festival also offers performances from Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Rebirth Brass Band to the Kumasi Afrobeat Orchestra and The Nayo Jones Experience. Festival-goers also will enjoy soul food vendors, an arts market and lots of activities for kids. jazzandheritage.org/congo-square
Relax at: Tis the season … for crawfish! Get your fill at Clesi’s Restaurant & Catering in Mid-City. Bring the whole family and bask under the springtime sun, while piles of well-seasoned, boiled seafood is brought before you. In addition to boiled and fried seafood platters, Clesi’s offers options from boudin bites and debris fries to burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. They also offer a good bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo, and a fabulous lemon and green bean arugula salad. 4323 Bienville St., (504) 909-0108, clesicatering.com