New Orleans, the city of jazz and cajun/creole cuisine, surely didn’t disappoint.
This was my first time to the South and I was thrilled to see what this culturally vibrant city had to offer. Tommy and I arrived the day before Thanksgiving for a long weekend to explore Louisiana! We checked into our Airbnb, a quaint apartment a block away from Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
Our first night we ate at celebrity chef John Besh’s restaurant named Lüke in the downtown area which was inspired by French and German brassieres that used to occupy New Orleans.
We started off the meal with a southern classic, a bowl of seafood gumbo. The stew had a great depth of flavor with chunks of shrimp and sausage served on top of steamed white rice. Super satisfying.
The blue crab and corn fritters were crunchy on the outside with a moist interior served with an amped up ranch sauce flavored with tabasco.
The flammekuchen, a traditional Alsatian dish, was basically a thin crust pizza loaded with bacon, caramelized onions, and melted funky Emmentaler cheese.
Another southern specialty we had to try was shrimp and grits. Their version had shrimp with jalapeño cheese flavored grits and andouille sausage.
Of course we had to get a side order of fried potatoes because we’re obsessed with anything potato related.
Even though we were stuffed (this food ain’t light) we had to order the bread pudding as it’s another southern favorite. Warm ooey gooey bread pudding drenched in hot buttered pecan sauce topped with melting vanilla ice cream. Hell yes.
The food at Lüke was simple southern food that hit the spot. Lüke was a great restaurant to start off our trip so my rating is a 8/10.
The following day was Thanksgiving where we enjoyed lunch at Le Pavillon Hotel where they offered a buffet style meal.
The food wasn’t the best that I’ve had compared to other buffet style places but was still enjoyable. After all that Thanksgiving food, we walked around Jackson Square, a historic park in the French Quarter.
Later that day we enjoyed traditional New Orleans style jazz at the iconic Preservation Hall in the French Quarter. Since this is a popular tourist attraction in New Orleans, I recommend buying tickets in advance because otherwise you’ll end up waiting in line for hours!
Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take videos/photos during the hour long performance but it was a great musical experience for any jazz lover. Each night there are several acts, depending on the time you go, where they perform famous New Orleans jazz songs. Super entertaining and fun!
The next day we grabbed a quick lunch at Parkway Bakery and Tavern, a New Orleans favorite for some po’ boys. Po’ boys are classic Louisiana submarine sandwiches that consists of roast beef, chicken, or fried seafood. We ordered the fried shrimp and fried catfish po’ boy with a side of golden french fries. The fried catfish po’ boy was on point!
After lunch, we decided to get out of the city and explore the Louisiana swamps. Gators and wild boars, oh my! Honey Island is a little less than a hour away from the city where we were able to explore the flora and fauna of the swamp.
We didn’t get to see any alligators due to the season but we did get to see a family of adorable wild hogs! The entire experience was incredibly fun and worth the effort of venturing out of the city.
That night we wanted to try some southern barbecue and Blue Oak BBQ didn’t disappoint. Located inside of Chickie Wah Wah, a live music venue, this joint knows their shit. Everything we ordered was finger lickin’ good.
After we enjoyed the food and the live band, we went back towards the French Quarter to witness the mayhem of Bourbon Street. If you want to party, Bourbon Street is the place to be. Lined with bars and strip clubs, you’ll experience all types of people getting rowdy especially since it’s legal to drink outside. Be sure to try the hurricane drink at Pat O’Brien’s!
The next day we explored all parts of New Orleans from the French Quarter with cute shops and boutiques to the beautiful Garden District with mansions.
Afterwards, we headed toward the National World War II Museum, which focus on the events of D-Day. The museum and the exhibits are extremely well made and both Tommy and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit there; we spent over two hours exploring the museum!
The National World War II Museum is one of my favorite museums I’ve ever visited. Every part of the museum was engaging and therefore a must see when visiting this city! Later that day, we headed back to the French Quarter to the famous Café du Monde for some afternoon beignets.
These beignets were piled high with powdered sugar, talk about a sugar rush! After our little snack of beignets, we walked around the French Market, an outdoor food and flea market, and then around Frenchmen Street, a charming street with numerous jazz clubs.
My favorite meal of the trip was our dinner at Cochon, a cajun restaurant serving up southern classics. This restaurant is poppin’ so be sure to make a reservation in advance.
We started off with their fluffy warm parker house rolls with butter. The salad of charred broccoli with crunchy watermelon radishes and sweet golden raisins was a great combination of flavors. The next appetizer of fried alligator was my first time trying alligator; it actually tasted similar to chicken but with a slightly tougher texture but not in a bad way. The fried alligator nuggets were coated in a delicious chili garlic mayonnaise with thin slices of raw onion and fresh herbs.
The rabbit and dumplings was comforting and hearty with soft dumplings, shredded rabbit, and stewed vegetables in a gravy like sauce.
The court boullion was a lighter main course but still delightful with pieces of catfish stewed in a tomato sauce with white rice and herbs.
The two sides were pretty heavy but packed a lot of flavor. The twice baked potato was pillowy in the inside and the braised greens were earthy and meaty with pieces of bacon.
Even though we were pretty stuffed, we had to get desserts. The chocolate chess pie had a rich chocolate flavor with a crumble on top, whipped cream, and an orange caramel sauce underneath. The hummingbird cake, a classic southern dessert, was outstanding. Moist cake flavored with warm spices and pecans with a bourbon anglaise and cream cheese frosting. So good.
The food at Cochon was scrumptious and satisfying serving great southern food so my rating is a 8.5/10.
Our last day in New Orleans we had to try the famous muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery which originated from Italian immigrants. A traditional muffuletta consists of sesame bread with layers of marinated olive salad, slices of mortadella, salami, ham, Mozzarella cheese, and Provolone cheese. These sandwiches are huge so a whole one is more than enough to share.
Then we ventured out of the city to see some of the state’s most historic plantations, Laura, a Creole Plantation and Oak Alley Plantation. Laura Plantation has a traditional Creole style house where numerous generations of the Duparc family lived. During our tour we were able to see the Duparc house, the 200 year old sugar plantation homestead, the slave cabins, and a few of the gardens. The tour itself was amazing where we learned so much about the plantation’s history and past inhabitants.
Next we visited Oak Alley Plantation, a less traditional plantation compared to Laura Plantation. The name comes from its distinguished double row of 300 year old southern live oak trees.
Our last night in New Orleans, we dined at Commander’s Palace, one of New Orleans classic old school establishments.
The turtle soup was pretty tasty with a deep rich flavor finished off with sharp dry sherry.
Their signature dish of shrimp and tasso henican was decent but the shrimp was overcooked.
The pecan crusted gulf fish was a bit of a disaster; parts of the fish were unfortunately undercooked and inedible. The sweet corn was creamy and delicious but not enough to save the dish.
The beef filet was cooked nice and served with rich buttery mashed potatoes and earthy roasted mushrooms. Good but uninspiring.
The side of garlic spinach was one of the most solid parts of the meal.
Now their famous soufflé was also a disappointment. As a soufflé I expected pieces of bread pudding dispersed throughout the dessert. However all of the bread pudding was on the bottom and the airy egg whites on top.
The highlight of the dinner was the pecan pie. Gooey pecan pie with caramel and chocolate sauce with candied pecans topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
Our meal at Commander’s Palace was disappointing to say the least. Even though Commander’s Palace is a New Orleans staple, I felt the dishes were underwhelming for the most part. I would have rather tried August Restaurant, another restaurant by celebrity chef John Besh. Overall, my rating is 6/10.
My New Orleans trip was one of the kind. As my first time to the South, I experienced a different American culture from what I’m used to here in the Bay Area. New Orleans was a lively city with historic attractions and an exciting nightlife.