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New Orleans’ intoxicating charm can be credited to its soulful music, incredible food, and just the right amount of grit. Before setting you loose on this magical city, we’d like to get to know you better. So, are you a foodie, a shopaholic, a history buff, or an urban explorer?
By Amanda Gleason
Learn to Cook, Louisiana Style
In New Orleans, “the trinity” refers to onions, celery, and bell peppers, the three ingredients that kick off nearly every Creole and Cajun dish. Dig into the history of chicken gumbo, red beans and rice, bread pudding, and other area cuisine with a cooking class at Langlois Culinary Crossroads, a converted 1850s Italian grocery in the Marigny. Here, local chefs tap into the bayou’s abundant supply of shrimp, crawfish, and fresh produce to create traditional fare as well as modern takes on revered classics. Can’t get enough? Visit the onsite shop to take home fine Italian olive oils, clay vessels for baking bread, and smoked salts made in-house.
Harrah’s New Orleans Besh Steak, one of eight outposts by local culinary legend John Besh, is the epitome of a modern steakhouse. Reserve the Chef’s Tablefor a personalized menu.
W New Orleans - French Quarter SoBou has earned accolades for its cocktail program, but don’t overlook the food. Exhibit A: Yellowfin tuna cones with pineapple ceviche.
Loews New Orleans Hotel Chef Carl Schaubhut earned his chops at the iconic Commander’s Palace restaurant before coming to Café Adelaide, where his modern Creole dishes turn heads.
Browse Magazine Street
This stretch of storefronts has long been known as NOLA’s hottest shopping district, but this is one neighborhood that hasn’t gone out of style: New boutiques continually root down, peddling stylish wares that range from midcentury modern furniture to British antiques and etched glassware. “Magazine Street caters to the whims and eclectic tastes of the locals,” says Kevin Gillentine, president of the Magazine Street Merchants Association. “Take a minute to chat with the business owners during your stroll. We’re dying to offer advice on where to find those rare items you’ll cherish forever.” A few of our favorite newcomers: Friend, a purveyor of hip casual menswear, and Magpie, where you can score dapper estate jewelry.
It’s in the Bag
Three more shops that hit the spot
Hattie Sparks The secret to this Uptown boutique’s success? Owner Hattie Collins Moll taps local designers for finds ranging from porcelain dishes to recycled-metal jewelry.
Exodus Goods Colorful prints dominate the hip women’s apparel in this French Quarter gem, owned in part by Brooklyn-based sisters Lizzy and Darlene Okpo, the duo behind couture line William Okpo.
Söpö The name is Finnish for cute, but that’s not all this Mid-City shop is known for. Among the wide variety of treasures: masculine candles and leather-bound journals.
Discover a Local Tradition
In 1856, six New Orleans businessmen established a secret society to celebrate Mardi Gras, naming themselves The Mistick Krewe of Comus (Comus after Milton’s play Comus; “krewe” as a variation of the word “crew”). The next year, their floats rolled through the streets for the first time. Since then, more than 60 krewes have followed suit, but the fun isn’t limited to Carnival season. Krewe of Boo’s Halloween parade gets moving on October 30. “Expect world-class floats, marching bands, and an after-party with music, drinks, and food,” says Brian Kern, captain of Krewe of Boo. “We’ve got the Mardi Gras spirit during Halloween.”
Other havens of old New Orleans
Steamboat Natchez Riverboats have navigated the Mississippi River since antebellum times. Board this cruiser for a dinner jazz excursion, complete with narration of the river’s historical sites.
Mr. B’s Bistro Fourteen area restaurants are currently owned by members of the Brennan family, a gastronomic dynasty that began in New Orleans in the 1940s. This French Quarter gem, one of their endeavors, is known for Creole classics.
Bourbon Orleans Hotel Countless ghost sightings have been reported at this historic hotel in the French Quarter, which was a theater and then a convent in a former life.
Lend a Helping Hand
Every day in New Orleans, volunteers from the St. Bernard Project are hard at work fitting fixtures, installing floors, and painting walls at construction sites across the city. Since launching in 2006, the nonprofit has rebuilt more than 550 homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, relying on hard workers who spend anywhere from a half-day to a month leaving a lasting footprint on the Crescent City. “I came to New Orleans six months after the destruction to volunteer and found hardworking families who’d been stripped of their dignity,” says co-founder Zack Rosenburg. “I knew I couldn’t just pack up and go home.” Out- of-towners are an essential part of the team. Simply sign up via the website a week before your trip.
Three more ways to experience NOLA
Audubon Nature Institute This nature lovers’ paradise comprises 10 museums and parks—including an insectarium, aquarium, golf course, and zoo—situated around the city.
Prospect.3 Kicking off October 25, this citywide celebration of art brings works from established and contemporary artists to about 15 venues around town.
Rodrigue Studio Late Louisiana native George Rodrigue earned international fame for his Blue Dog paintings. The first incarnation of that quizzical canine, 1984’s “Watchdog,” can be found here.
Getting There Fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).
Getting Around Grab a cab or use the streetcars, which run on St. Charles Avenue, Canal Street, and along the riverfront.
Getting Out The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival takes over Lafayette Square from October 17–19, bringing with it musicians, arts and crafts vendors, and the best ’cue around.
Share Your Snaps Post your New Orleans pics on Instagram using #southwestmag.
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