Isolated from the rest of the US since its founding in 1718, New Orleans is more European than American. It’s populated by mélange of people who like their food spicy and their music pulsating. Perfect for a girlfriend getaway this city rocks 24/7. The bars on Bourbon Street have no closing hour and the coffee comes strong and early in the morning.
The best 5-star spot to rest your weary heads…if you want to rest…is The Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street, right around the corner from the craziness that is the French Quarter. It’s located in a historic 1907 Beaux art Maison Blanche building that used to be a department store. It is classic elegance with a stunning outdoor porch area, a massive spa, and divine dining options. The service on-property is dynamic. I came back from an early morning run and passed through the doors to find this inviting cart stocked full of ice cold water. That’s what I call attention to detail.
Warm and friendly, Executive Chef Frank Grey, though east coast born and bred, makes southern food better than any southerner. My girlfriend, Christina Cindrich, and I dropped in for a visit to Chef Grey’s M Bistro kitchen. We prepped the chicken and sausage gumbo and his fresh and creamy BBQ Shrimp and grits (the secret’s in the Gouda) with just the right amount of heat. Plan to have at least one meal here during your visit because the Ritz Carlton food is NOT your typical hotel food.
A few miles from the French Quarter is Magazine St. It is a long avenue, stretching six miles, with lots of quaint little shops and restaurants tucked inside vintage homes. One of the finest and newest players in the Magazine food scene is Cavan.
Only two year’s old it boasts an equally young chef, Bubba. At only 25 years old he is shaking up the ‘Nawlins food scene. His fried chicken is died-and-gone-to-heaven good. Besides that, the charred oysters, grilled white fish, and the double stack burger…are delicious hearty dishes. Even if you think you can’t take another bite…you will.
Staying at the Ritz Carlton is a luxurious affair. The spa is the largest in the city at 25,000 square feet, 22 treatment rooms and an impressive menu of more than 100 treatments. Christina indulged in their special voodoo treatment which is infused with indigenous absinthe scented oils.
Once done with the pampering hit Royal Street in the French Quarter. It has been dubbed the best antique shopping in the world. Daytime in the French Quarter is for meandering the streets and getting a taste of the city. Start the morning at Cafe du Monde for coffee (The frozen coffee is the best!) and beignets. The coffee is classically loaded with Chicory and the beignets, the official donut of New Orleans, is served exactly the same way since they opened in 1862. Open 24 hours, naturally…it’s New Orleans, you can get your fill of the sweet treats anytime day or night.
There are a variety of NOLA tours you can take. We opted for the Taste Bud tour visiting Tujaques, the second oldest restaurant in the city. It’s where the grasshopper was invented in 1918 and home to the bowl of New Orleans, a famous Monday tradition. Not going to tell you what it is. You just have to try it!
Visit the oldest sweet shop in the Nola, Laura’s Candies, established in 1913 they offer classic Southern Pralines and rich chocolate Mississippi Mud. The final stop is the Old Coffee Pot to try traditional Calas cakes. It is the only place in the city that still serves them every day and exactly the way the slaves made and sold them two centuries ago to earn their freedom. The company also started offering the brand new Original New Orleans Seafood and History Food Tour. There is no other food tour company in New Orleans ONLY dishing up Seafood. No matter which tour you choose you’ll pass loads of highly entertaining buskers and performers.
And as the day turns to night get ready to hit Bourbon Street for the most ruckus bar crawl of your life. The entire street lights up with machines turning blended drinks, jazz spilling out of a little hole in wall clubs and visitors dancing in the street.
If bar hopping isn’t your scene sign up for the Haunted History Tour and ask for guide Lisa Andresen. It is guaranteed to spook you right back under the security of your comfy RC bedsheets.