5 New Orleans Neighborhoods to Explore
On our seventh (Jeremy) and third (Stephanie) trip to the Crescent City, so we made a concerted effort to make it off Bourbon Street and out of the French Quarter to explore some of New Orleans’ other unique neighborhoods and try some new restaurants. Of course, we couldn’t neglect all of our old favorites! Below are some of our suggestions for enjoying a long weekend in NOLA that hits up five different New Orleans neighborhoods.
Jeremy and I are fans of the in-flight magazines on whatever airline we’re traveling that trip. Funny enough there was a feature article on the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans that we both happened to read on the way there. Neither of us had heard of this up-and-coming hipster area, but it sounded like there was a lot to explore.
It was one of the only neighborhoods in New Orleans not to flood during Hurricane Katrina and is populated by colorful cottages and artsy coffee shops. It’s also home to a True Detective-esque art installation called the Music Box Village. A weird and wonderful collection of ramshackle structures, each with their own levers and buttons that create different noises and sounds.
The project was created and built by the New Orleans Airlift, a non-profit art-driven initiative whose mission is to collaborate to inspire wonder, connect communities and foster opportunities through arts education and the creation of experimental public artworks. While the tourist fee was a bit high for this part of town, we were happy to pay to support the local artists. There were even artists present the day we were there, tinkering and adjusting their inventive instruments.
The Irish Channel is a very short walk from the Garden District, and a neighborhood we discovered on the way to dinner our first night. In our Uber, we passed dozens of cute shops, restaurants and bars that we didn’t even know existed before this trip. With our dinner lasting quite late, we vowed to come back later in the trip to discover more of this neighborhood.
Shaya, the restaurant that brought us to the Irish Channel was named the best new restaurant 2015 by the James Beard Awards and was previously manned and led by its namesake Chef Alon Shaya when we visited. Normally in New Orleans we go all out with Southern and Creole food and figured this time Shaya’s Israeli-focused menu might be a nice change. The hosts of the travel podcast I listen to, Extra Pack of Peanuts, absolutely raved about the place and its amazing spread of dips and fluffy pita bread. Reservations book up months in advance but the podcast suggested calling the night of to see if there were cancellations. Lucky for us, there was an 8:30pm reservation available!
Once we tried the infamous pita bread, we wanted to utilize it as much as possible! Instead of ordering entrees we decided to order a series of spreads and small plates so we could have a large variety of items We decided upon three salatim (spreads), a delicious lamb ragu hummus, the falafel, and crispy halloumi. Everything was layered with flavor and we were amazed how well connected each of the dishes were to the next. I only wish I had taken more photos to share! We’d both highly recommend Shaya as a restaurant to try in New Orleans, especially when you’re burnt out from all that heavy Southern food.
Garden District and Magazine Street
Most people think of Abita when they think of a local New Orleans beer, but there are a ton of local craft breweries opening around town. We decided to try out NOLA Brewing Company which is located on Tchoupitoulas street, not too far from Shaya and Magazine Street shopping.
It was a perfect way to spend the afternoon outside of the French Quarter drinking some beers and exploring some of the local boutiques on Magazine Street.
We also took some time to walk up and down the streets in the Garden District admiring the beautiful homes and even chatting with a few local residents.
Jeremy and I are huge fans of a walking tour company called “Free Tours by Foot”, and we decided to take the music and Treme tour this time in New Orleans. It’s an area with a lot of history and our tour guide was extremely knowledge about both the history of the neighborhood and the music that was born there.
Earlier in our trip we even spent an hour or so hanging out in Treme for Jazz in the Park. Once a week in the summer, there are a bunch of food and craft stalls along with a band playing that you can attend for free. You should note though that no outside food/drink are allowed and we saw multiple tourists and residents turned away with their big cocktails and six-packs of beer. Overall it was a great way to pass some of the afternoon that made us feel like locals.
After our tour in Treme, our guide gave us a lowdown of all the live music happening that weekend in the French Quarter and our ears perked up when he mentioned Kermit Ruffins, a fantastic trumpet player Jeremy knew from the HBO show Treme.
The concert didn’t start till late so we really had to make sure we rallied after a full day of NOLA eating and drinking. We managed though, you only turn 30 once and afterwards we finished the night off with beignets at Café Du Monde.
Eat Amazing Food
So this definitely isn't a neighborhood, but I couldn't write a blog post without including some of the great places we ate at throughout our visit.
- Mothers – good Southern cooking and the butteriest biscuits you’ll find in NOLA!
- Mr. Eds – Great place for chargrilled oysters and classic Southern cuisine
- ACME Oyster House –Worth the wait for the cheapest oysters in town and a festive atmosphere
- Shaya – Some of the best Israeli food I’ve had outside of Israel and hands down the best pita I’ve ever had
- Willa Jean – A bit fancier of a brunch spot with really inventive twists on classic brunch favorites
- Johnnys PoBoys – Get the po’boy with roast beef with debris and lettuce tomato and mayo