New Orleans Roadtrip, May 2021

I absolutely love visiting New Orleans! The culture and vibe of the people, food, and place make it all so unique and enthralling compared to the day to day of other cities in the US. Every time I go I learn something new, connect with something or someone different, and dive even deeper into the cultural melting pot of the south.

Since we’ve been in COVID over a year John and I decided to do a roadtrip from Austin, stopping in Houston to stay at my sister’s place, and continuing onto NOLA to basically eat ourselves to death. We’ve done the drive before and while although parts can be so unbearable, it’s much cheaper than flying. True story flights were $600 roundtrip when I checked out of ATX! Plus, the drive reminds us of True Detective Season 1 so we rewatched it prior to our trip for inspiration.

We went over Memorial Day weekend since we had an extra day built in, so we knew this was going to be a short trip. We loved staying over in the Irish Channel by the Garden District when we visited in 2016, so we opted for an Airbnb in the same area.

First thing first we hit up Mahoney’s on Magazine Street for some delish po-boys. I am not normally a po-boy type, but when I want one I want it while I’m in NOLA. The crispy crunchy shrimp with the fixins and soft bread with hot sauce and mayo. It’s amazing and trust me on this – this is one thing you need to try when you are there!

We then headed over to Frenchman Street once things started opening up around 5pm for early drinks before getting too crowded. We are fully vaccinated but most people in NOLA don’t wear masks, so we wanted to have time before things there got real crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the debauchery of my 20s and drunken nights in NOLA – but not this trip! We were going for a more casual day drinking vibe with chill nights at nice restaurants.

Maybe I’m older or maybe the pandemic had me feeling safe and sound in my clean home, away from all the germs, being around people felt super weird! Isn’t it strange the things we did all of the time before that feel dangerous now? Blowing out candles on a birthday cake that will be shared with others, working out in a gym and sharing weights, riding public transportation and holding onto the rail. It made being in the Frenchman district feel super adventurous!

After an interesting happy hour with a full cop arrest and intervention on the sidewalk, we walked through the art market, bought a few unique items, and then walked across the French quarter, window shopping along the way.

We made our way towards Lafayette park in the Warehouse district for dinner at Sofia, voted best new Italian restaurant of 2019. It didn’t look like much online or once we got there, as it’s more casual, but let me tell you this was the best pasta we’ve had in ages!

We still talk about how good Sofia was to this day! I haven’t yet found my place in Austin with delish fresh pasta that is to die for. But until then I’ll keep searching for the perfect noodle…

Afterwards we walked through Lafayette Park (which I had never done before) and snapped the most beautiful spooky shots. I love the mystery and magic of NOLA each and every time I visit. I always do a ghost or voodoo tour, but we didn’t have the time this go-around. But NOLA is so spooky you don’t even need to go on a tour to feel how vibrantly haunted it is.

Afterwards we went to this snazzy little cocktail bar + lounge called Bar Marilou and it was the cutest lil spot! Due to COVID you had to make reservations in advance for limited capacity inside. I’m so glad we did this because this was one of the coolest NOLA bars I’ve ever been to. We got caviar and enjoyed the end of our day of driving and exploration before heading back towards Magazine Street.

After a long night of good rest we were pumped for a whole day of exploration in the Big Easy. We walked through the Garden District to admire the beautiful homes. Every time I’m in the area and see them I think about Anne Rice and Interview with the Vampire. She lived in the Garden District for a long time and then moved to San Francisco. And also – Interview with the Vampire was filmed in both locations! She must be a really neat lady. I love thinking about what a conversation with her would entail!

Obsessed with this rhinestone fringe bandana from Gato Denim.

It was a hot day and many people were out and about. I initially wanted to go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets but the line was outrageous (and I mean, OUTRAGEOUS), so we checked out the view and decided to save the beignets for later.

The first thing we did was get a decent brunch in the French Quarter followed with a visit to the Museum of Death. I had heard about it and thought it sounded interesting, as you know I’m a huge fan of true crime documentaries. A good friend of mine created the Netflix docu-series about Henry Lee Lucas (The Confession Killer) and I knew there would be some weird gems inside that I had to share!

The Museum of Death was a bit more of a roadside attraction than I thought it would be. They did have some cool original artworks from murderers on death row, and more detailed information/police composite sketches/crime scene details that were interesting, but they also had a lot of campy stuff in poor taste that felt a bit strange. All in all it was $15, but it’s not someplace I would visit again.

Walking around Bourbon was so weird on a Sunday mid day, because it wasn’t really all that busy. We were able to walk right into the historic Pat O’Briens for a super-duper strong hurricane.

Of course, we explored all of the French Quarter, even walking by the infamous haunted LeLaurie mansion!

I love the architecture of old New Orleans. So much rich culture and history. It was founded by prostitutes and thieves from France and also burned down twice 6 years apart! So much mysticism exists it permeates from everything you come across.

We drank along our route in the French Quarter, as one does, exploring and shopping throughout the niche NOLA markets. We tried to get beignets several times but it just wasn’t in the cards for us that day. So many people were waiting in endless lines at every beignet cafe we came across! That city loves those beignets…

Meanwhile, our last night in NOLA was spent out on Magazine street – which I had never experienced before! We freshened up at our Airbnb before walking over to the cutesy neighborhood. We got a beer at the Bulldog Bar before heading to Cavan, an adorable vintage house-turned into bar and restaurant, for cocktails. While we only had cocktails, next time I come back I want to dine here. The inside was magical full of Victorian chandeliers and bright bold interior design.

This side of NOLA was way more my speed. It was cute, cozy, a bit more eccentric and less crowded / less touristy. I would 100% stay here and hangout here again. Our dinner reservations were just around the corner at Atchafalaya, a real NOLA creole & Cajun restaurant.

Everything was so damn delish! Eat here, you won’t regret it.

After several days and meals of Cajun and heavy cream southern concoctions, we slept like babies from food comas. Our last morning before hitting the long drive on I-10 back to Texas was spent waiting for those damn beignets (for 45 minutes!) and finally exploring some cemetaries. While John was pretty pissed we waited so long for those beignets, he loved their pillowy softness and totally would get them again.

Thank you New Orleans! We ate, we drank, we explored – we wore our masks when we could and we enjoyed the twisty winding roads of the old French Quarter and beyond. Thank you for always being a fun culinary hot spot! Until the next time we cross paths (probably in several more years)…

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