Romantic Things to Do in the French Quarter

The Bombay Club, French Quarter, New Orleans

New Orleans is one of the most romantic cities in the world. And you’ve got a head start on a dreamy vacation if you’re staying in the French Market Inn, where brocade curtains frame the windows of charming rooms decorated in classic Quarter style.

While it may be tempting to ensconce yourselves amid the cushions on your comfy bed, a whole world of romance beckons from the streets just outside your door. The best part? You still have that lovely room to come back to when you’re ready to hit the hay.

Slurp Oysters at the Bourbon House Bar  (144 Bourbon St.)

You know what they say about oysters, right? Jumpstart your romantic evening with a dozen or two freshly shucked oysters. You’ll find them all over the Quarter, but the Bourbon House deserves a special mention for serving the mollusks with local caviar, and for its couples-friendly bar, which mixes classic cocktails like the Bourbon Sidecar.

Take a Jazz Cruise on the Creole Queen

Cruising the Mississippi at night is about as romantic as it gets, and the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen takes you back to the glamorous riverboat days, when high-rolling gamblers courted saloon girls. Take a spin on the parquet dance floor to hot live jazz, then stroll the decks and enjoy the skyline view under the stars. Choose the dinner option if you want to feast on a bounteous Creole buffet in the softly-lit dining room.

(Departs from Poydras Dock at Spanish Plaza; book in advance online)

Take a Carriage Ride Through the Quarter

Many a marriage proposal has been made, and accepted, on a leisurely ride through the streets of the Quarter in a mule-drawn carriage. Royal Carriages offers several different tours in carriages steered by savvy tour guides. But if you’re looking to pop the question, book a private tour with your very own personal guide. Your driver can even help you find the perfect Quarter backdrop for your proposal.

(700 Decatur St.; book in advance online)

Have a Candlelit Dinner in a Romantic Restaurant

For old-school Creole elegance, book a table for two at Antoine’s (713 St. Louis St.) or Arnaud’s (813 Bienville). Both restaurants are housed in historic buildings in the heart of the Quarter, and serve classic French dishes like Chateaubriand and Frog Legs Provencal. More in the mood for nouveau cuisine? Head for Bayona (430 Dauphine St.), chef Susan Spicer’s flagship restaurant, which serves beautifully plated dishes like Fennel Pepper-Crusted Lamb Loin in a lovely atmospheric setting.

Catch Live Jazz at The Bombay Club (830 Conti St.)

It doesn’t get more romantic than the swanky curtained private booths at The Bombay Club, where you can sip Bombay’s signature martinis or other classic cocktails while listening to the cool jazz stylings of some of the city’s top artists. Even the bar food here is elegant.

Get Your Fortunes Read in Jackson Square

Is this really the one? Will your love last forever? Tempt fate and get some answers from one of the colorfully-garbed soothsayers who ply their trade in Jackson Square. Crystal ball gazers, palmists, tarot card readers, and other diviners all set up shop here and will look into your future if you cross their palms with silver.

(Decatur St. in front of St. Louis Cathedral)

Book a stay at our historic French Quarter boutique hotel, right in the epicenter of all of the action!

 

Late Night Eats in the French Quarter

 

The French Quarter knows no meaning of last call, being open for business 24/7, and that means that a few restaurants are also open late. Here are a few of our favorite spots where you can eat after 9 p.m. in the French Quarter.

Buffa’s

1001 Esplanade Ave.

Around since 1939, the iconic Buffa’s is perched just outside of the French Quarter on Esplanade Avenue. It’s beloved by locals, has live music in the back room seven days a week, and excellent burgers. You can also get your New Orleans staples on like red beans and rice and blackened Gulf fish. One of Buffa’s signature dishes is bratwurst jambalaya — beer-soaked bratwurst added to a “super secret award-winning jambalaya recipe.”

Open 11-4 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11-2 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

Café du Monde

800 Decatur St. (French Market)

This mainstay needs no introduction and will eagerly satisfy your cravings with delicious beignets and a cup of cafe au lait, around the clock.

Open 24 hours.

Cane & Table

1113 Decatur St.

Cane & Table made a name for itself with its potent rum-based cocktails and eclectic, Caribbean-influenced small and large plates in the elegant space that evokes Old Havana. Park yourself in the gorgeous courtyard while you try some small plates or braised ribs. (The menu changes depending on the season.)

Last seating at 10 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday (closed on Monday and Tuesday).

Clover Grill

900 Bourbon St.

The tile-and-chrome diner has been representing what’s weird and wonderful about the Quarter since 1939. The no-frills food comes under the motto, “We love to fry, and it shows,” but it’s the scene you might want to come for, both inside and outside the diner.

Open 24 hours.

Coop’s Place

1109 Decatur St.

If you want a quick, inexpensive meal, with some local color thrown in, Coop’s Place is unbeatable. Located on the always-busy stretch of Decatur Street, Coop’s is both a divey bar and restaurant with a surprisingly extensive menu. One of the standouts is the seafood gumbo. It comes with Coop’s own dark roux, okra, filé powder, shrimp, oysters, and crab claws. (You can ask for extra seafood.) Follow the gumbo with Coop’s excellent rabbit and sausage jambalaya. Note: No one under 21 is allowed.

Open on Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday – Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Cosimo’s

1201 Burgundy St.

This cozy, dog-friendly neighborhood bar mixes up a huge mahogany bar, colorful locals, a pool table in the back room, darts, and seriously good bar food like boudin balls and pizza. There are also taco Tuesdays and crawfish when in season. Trust us, this one is a gem.

Open 4 p.m. – Monday through Thursday; 2 p.m. – 1 a.m. on Friday; 2 p.m. – 5 a.m. on Saturday, and 2 p.m. to midnight on Sunday.

Cuñada

833 Conti St.

Cuñada (“sister-in-law” in Spanish) is a tiny family-owned Mexican spot with tacos, carnitas, and other specialties plus agave-based margaritas, and a wide variety of Mexican beer.

Open till midnight seven days a week.

Déjà Vu Restaurant and Bar

400 Dauphine St.

Déjà Vu serves up New Orleans staples like biscuits and gravy, po-boys, burgers, and seafood plates. Breakfast is served all day, too, plus there are poker machines, a jukebox, big-screen TVs, and plenty of people-watching.

Open 9 a.m. till 11:30 p.m. daily.

Effervescence

1036 N. Rampart St.

Effervescence opened its tall doors on N. Rampart St. in March of 2017 and has become the destination for high-to-low sparkling wines from all over the world, champagnes, small plates, and live music. The setting is modern and polished, and there’s ample outdoor seating. There’s also a full bar, and dozens of still wines by the glass and bottle. The small plates are meant to be shared — like the Gulf seafood plate or crispy Brussels sprouts (the menu changes, this is just an example). Effervescence is also a good spot to try caviar, from the prized osetra to the local (and more affordable) bowfin.

Open 4-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Erin Rose 

811 Conti St.

Erin Rose is a low-key watering hole favored by the locals, located just a few doors away from Bourbon Street. Check the memorabilia galore and try the bar’s excellent frozen Irish coffee or a Bloody Mary (made with the house secret recipe). Of course, there’s Guinness on tap plus a selection of local brews. The bar is home to the popular Killer Poboys (look for the takeout window in the back). Everything on the small but mighty menu is delicious.

Open till 7 a.m. seven days a week.

Justine

225 Chartres St.

This stylish and popular brasserie is one of the latest additions to the French Quarter dining scene, opened by husband-and-wife team Justin and Mia Devillier. The high-end late-night menu changes, but typically includes French-centric delights like escargots and mussels, plus premium steak and pan-roasted fish.

Open 5-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; till 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Quarter Master Deli

1100 Bourbon St.

This takeout/delivery 24-hour institution is also known as the Nellie Deli. Quartermaster’s menu is full of burgers, overstuffed po-boys, house-made salads, and other New Orleans-style Southern fare like BBQ chicken and ribs. There are also hearty breakfast and late-night menus.

Open 24 hours.

Palm & Pine

308 N. Rampart St.

The late-night menu offers delicious cocktails like smoky paloma and caipirinha; the food menu offers elevated versions of things like burgers and chicken sandwiches.

Late-night menu is served on Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The Bombay Club

830 Conti St.

Located in the elegant Prince Conti Hotel, the Bombay Club offers some of the most refined food you’ll find in the French Quarter after 9 p.m., served among polished wood and high-end cocktails. Small bites include such classics as meat pies and gumbo plus European nods like ploughman’s board. The sheer number of martinis on the menu alone will blow you away, and there’s live music too.

Bar is open till midnight Wednesday through Sunday.

Verti Marte

1201 Royal St.

If it’s late at night and you “need” a po-boy, head on down to this tiny 24-hour takeout-only deli on Royal St. with a loyal following. There’s plenty to love on the menu of this bastion of calories, but you can’t go wrong with the epic specialty sandwiches like the vegetarian Green Giant and the mountainous All That Jazz — with grilled ham, turkey and shrimp, plus two kinds of cheese, grilled veggies, and the special “wow” sauce on grilled French bread. Free delivery to the French Quarter, the Marigny, and the CBD; cash only.

Open 24 hours.

Book a stay at our historic French Quarter boutique hotel, right in the epicenter of all of the action!

The Rules of Mardi Gras

We are approaching peak Carnival time! There’s a whole slate of parades to watch in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday, and things to keep in mind while gearing up for the revelry.

Here we list both informal guidelines here as well as a few actual rules — i.e. ordinances related to Mardi Gras. The laws are meant to keep everyone safe and give everyone a fair chance of catching some good throws. Knowing them will also help you avoid getting arrested or fined, having to move your setup during the parade, and being (rightfully) judged by fellow revelers.

Personal Effects Must Be 6 Feet From the Curb

It’s totally OK to bring a backpack or cooler to a parade, but remember to store them a little off the curb. Those first few feet of grass or sidewalk are meant for everyone trying to enjoy the parade and catch beads. Also, occasionally, the parade floats have been known to jump the curb; your personal effects could be damaged in the event this happened. This rule also applies to ladders.

No “Saving” Spots

Some parade-goers stake out “their spot” along the parade route with chairs, trash cans, sofas, rope, yellow tape, spray paint — whatever comes in handy (have you heard of Krewe of Chad?). Not only this is very uncool and frowned upon but there’s an actual ban on roping off territory if you are in the public right of way.

The curb and the neutral ground are fair game to all who attend the parades. If you want to have a good spot, you’ll have to come early and wait in the spot to keep it. Seasoned revelers usually show up at least two hours before the parade rolls (and much earlier for the most popular parades like the Muses, Endymion and Bacchus).

Don’t Move Other People’s Stuff

Please do not move unoccupied chairs and ladders, as well as unattended coolers and personal belongings along the parade route to carve your own spot. We can guarantee that someone is watching this space and will be right back. Plus, families tend to use the same spots year after year. And they might also have little kids or seniors or disabled persons in their group and need the space to accommodate everyone comfortably.

Don’t Interfere With the Parade

Running along with the moving float for a short while, begging for a Muses shoe or a Zulu coconut, is socially acceptable, but don’t run into the street between the floats to pick up a covetable throw. Floats are massive and can’t just stop quickly. You can get seriously hurt.

Also, getting in a band’s way, hanging on a float, joining the parade by marching along, acting aggressively toward anyone in the parade, or jumping over the barricade are all surefire ways to get yourself arrested.

No Nudity

You’ve probably seen or heard about the way some people come by beads. Police officers might be somewhat lenient about that sort of behavior on Bourbon Street, but it isn’t tolerated along the parade routes. Keep all your clothes on!

Contrary to popular belief outside of New Orleans, Carnival is overwhelmingly a family-friendly holiday. Many New Orleanians take their kids to parades, and a good rule to apply here is, if you wouldn’t do something in front of kids in your hometown, you shouldn’t do it here (exceptions to this rule include screaming, dancing and waving your arms to score beads).

Plus, in this day and age, you will probably end up on the internet, and not in a good way. We can’t stress this enough: Do NOT flash for beads.

No Glass Containers

As the night (or day) progresses, trash from the parades tends to pile up on the streets and curbs around the route. Glass bottles and even cans are potentially dangerous when discarded on the ground, although the official ban only applies to glass. You can always pour your drink into a plastic cup, or order one to go from one of the many bars you will find along the parade route.

Plan Wisely for Transportation and Parking

During Mardi Gras, and during the parades especially, parking violations are vigorously enforced. Parking on Napoleon and St. Charles is prohibited on both sides of the neutral ground, not just the parade side, starting two hours before the parade. This rule is strictly enforced, and you will be towed. Also, do not double-park or park in driveways, in front of water hydrants, within 15 feet of curb corners, or too far from the curb.

The French Quarter is closed to vehicular traffic during Mardi Gras weekend (the weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday, which falls on February 21, 2023) except for residents and hotel guests with special parking passes. You won’t get past the police barricades.

Please also remember that parking lots fill up fast during parades and tend to charge more than usual. Bus and streetcar routes and schedules also often change during Carnival season. And cabs might be delayed due to the demand and traffic congestion, so plan ahead or consider walking or biking, if it’s feasible.

Respect the Authority

The local police are consummate pros at handling all kinds of behavior during the Carnival and had seen it all. They are also amazing at controlling the crowds and tolerating all that goes on as long as it doesn’t involve breaking the law.

So, as you enjoy the festivities please do remember that the rules like no glass, no public urination, and the drinking age will be enforced. You will get arrested if you act obnoxiously, threaten anyone, act overly intoxicated, or break the law in any other way. The police presence is very robust at the parades, and in the French Quarter during the Mardi Gras weekend.

Finally, if you’re out and about enjoying the parades and the parties on Mardi Gras Day, don’t be surprised when midnight strikes and you’re asked to clear off the street. Mardi Gras is officially over and the street cleanup begins, though you are of course free to continue partying indoors.

“Ain’t No Place…”

One of the most famous Mardi Gras songs is the Benny Grunch classic, “Ain’t No Place to Pee on Mardi Gras Day.” As the saying goes, it’s funny because it’s true — or at least it can feel that way. There are some public restrooms along the parade routes — the most prominent ones are around Lafayette Square near St. Charles Ave. and Poydras St. You might think that you can sneak into a hotel or a restaurant, but those places usually strictly reserve their restrooms for guests or paying customers.

If you don’t want to wait in long lines, some restaurants, bars, churches, or other businesses offer single-use or day-long bathroom passesDoing your business in public is a definite no-no, as you will get in trouble if the police catch you (also, it’s gross). And, this is an official rule: There can be no private portable toilets on neutral ground or other public property.

Parade Etiquette

The cops won’t come for you if you break these unofficial “rules,” but if you want to keep the peace with fellow parade-goers, it’s a good idea to maintain good Mardi Gras etiquette.

Bead Rule No. 1

This is one of the unspoken “rules” — don’t pick up beads that have fallen on the street or ground. There are a couple of safety issues involved with this rule. Picking up a bead or throw from the street puts you in direct line of the tires of the tractors or the floats. Also, the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras can get… Well, let’s just say “unsanitary.” Do yourself a favor and wait until you catch something in the air. There’s plenty to go around.

Bead Rule No. 2

For the “good throws” — most often signature beads, but also stuffed animals, sparkly Muses shoes, anything that lights up from Bacchus, etc. — you should never get in the way of someone else’s catch. If the rider wants to throw you something from the float, they’ll make eye contact with you, usually make an exaggerated “I’m looking at you” sign, and throw in your direction. The good part is, if someone else catches a throw destined for you, unless they’re clueless, they will respectfully give it up and hand it to you.

The Optional Bead Rule

This one is more good-natured than the first two bead rules. As the parade progresses, you should wear all of the beads that you catch. You’ll look silly at the end of the night, but it will also be a mark of pride. The people with the most beads must’ve worked really hard to get all of them, right?

The Family Rule

As we keep saying, Mardi Gras is a family event. Many people make it a day with their whole family, kids included. There are some places that are unofficially yet almost exclusively “Family Zones,” usually located near the beginning of parade routes and in residential zones, but children are welcome everywhere. So, try your best to remain on something like good behavior — there might be kids nearby. Also, never reach over a kid to catch a throw — that’s just mean.

And, the Number 1 Rule of Mardi Gras, above any official and unofficial rules, is to have fun! Costumes are encouraged throughout the season of Mardi Gras. Put on your fanciest wig and glitteriest outfit, and go out there!

Book a stay at our historic French Quarter boutique hotel, right in the epicenter of all of the action!

Best Pizza in the French Quarter

Photo by Saundarya Srinivasan on Unsplash

Good pizza isn’t hard to find in New Orleans, although it’s not one of the city’s signature offerings, like gumbo or a po-boy. There’s no loyalty to any specific style (deep dish vs. thin crust, for instance), and the pizzerias run the gamut of high-end to classic parlors to casual neighborhood spots to the late-night after-party soakers.

The French Quarter has its share of restaurants that serve decent to excellent pizza, with a wide variety of vegetarian options and specialty pies that highlight the local ingredients and take advantage of the abundance of Gulf seafood, Cajun meats, and other culinary staples New Orleans is known for. Here are several options in the French Quarter we recommend.

Crescent Pizza Works

407 Bourbon St. (at Conti)

This is another late-night Bourbon pizzeria, where pies have names like Big Cheesy and Chicken Bacon Krunch. The BBQ pork pizza will chase your hangover away with pulled pork, two types of cheese, cinnamon apples, and a generous serving of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. The ever-popular Chizzaburger combines Angus beef, onions, mozzarella, pickles, ketchup, and mustard.

Fat Boy’s Pizza

714 St. Peter (by Preservation Hall)

Fat Boy’s is a chain with many locations in Louisiana and the neighboring states. Its claim to fame is serving humongous slices. Fat Boy’s pies measure 30 inches across, so if that doesn’t soak up all those Hurricanes nothing will. That said, there are veggie pies on the menu plus the seafood option with Gulf shrimp.

Louisiana Pizza Kitchen

95 French Market Pl. (by the French Market)

Each location of this local chain is owned and operated separately, and this Louisiana Pizza Kitchen fires its gourmet pizzas in a wood-burning stove. Many ingredients are locally sourced, all the meats are organic and free-range, and a whole-wheat crust is available. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list and a selection of specialty beers from local microbreweries. Besides pizza, the restaurant has a whole menu of sandwiches, salads, pasta, and so on.

Specialty pizzas showcase the local cuisine with their takes on staples like jambalaya and Gulf seafood. The standouts are a fried oyster pizza, topped with P&J oysters, artichokes, and grilled eggplant; and a smoked salmon pizza that inventively combines tomatoes, capers, caviar, red onions, and cream cheese.

Mona Lisa

1212 Royal St. (between Barracks & Gov. Nicholls)

This is a great dine-in option if you want romantic and laid-back with some New Orleans flair. The building that houses the restaurant has undergone many reincarnations, housing a machine works business and a cigar shop at one time. It still retains its charm and historic elements. The restaurant’s walls are adorned with dozens of paintings and drawings of the Mona Lisa, some of which came from the patrons. Mona Lisa has been in the neighborhood for several decades, earning a loyal local following with its simple and solid Italian fare.

There are four vegetarian pizza options, plus the seafood one with tilapia, shrimp and baby clams. The Mona Lisa Special is a meat-lover’s bliss — with pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, and loaded with vegetables. Another popular specialty pizza is the Da Vinci, with Italian sausage, bacon, artichoke, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Vieux Carre Pizza

733 Saint Louis St. (at Bourbon St.)

The hole-in-the-wall Vieux Carre Pizza uses housemade dough and its own marinara sauce. Besides pizza, it has an affordable menu of pasta, po-boys, fried or baked chicken wings, salads, and more. One of the most popular specialty pies, the Bourbon Special, is loaded with chicken, feta cheese, spinach, and pesto. The Vieux Carre also has basic specialties like vegetarian and Hawaiian pizzas. It’s open late (3 a.m. Mon.-Thu. and Sun; 4:30 a.m. Fri.-Sat.). Delivery and online ordering are also available.

All of these places are in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter, short blocks from French Market Inn. Book a stay at our historic French Quarter boutique hotel, right in the epicenter of all of the action!

 

 

 

7 Best Museums in the French Quarter

The Cabildo, French Quarter, New Orleans

As the summer temps are starting to soar above 90F, going anywhere the air conditioning can reach you sounds appealing. However, the Louisiana heat shouldn’t deter you from making the most of exploring the French Quarter. Take it indoors with these seven museums, all within walking distance from one another, to stay cool and learn about local history at the same time.

1. The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is housed in a two-story historic building that was the site of the apothecary shop of Louis Joseph Dufilho, Jr., America’s first licensed pharmacist. The museum features a diverse and extensive collection dating back to the 19th century. The first floor contains surgical instruments, books, patent medicines, perfumes, and cosmetics, among other artifacts. The second floor showcases the pharmacist’s quarters including a physician’s study and sick room, plus a collection of spectacles and locally excavated bottles. There’s also a lovely courtyard. Guided tours are available Tuesday through Saturday ($10 admission).

2. The Cabildo

Both the Cabildo and the Presbytere, which flank the St. Louis Cathedral, are run by the Louisiana State Museum. The Cabildo replaced the building claimed by fire there in 1794, and served both as the seat of government during Spanish colonial rule and as the site of the signing of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Now the building houses such precious artifacts as a painting of Marie Laveau by Frank Schneider; a self-portrait by Julien Hudson, an antebellum artist and free man of color; and a rare Napoleon’s death mask ($10 admission).

3. The Presbytere

Built in 1791 in a style to match the Cabildo, the Presbytere served as a courthouse in the late 19th century and now contains several exhibits. The dazzling “Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana” tells the story of Carnival traditions in Louisiana, including Cajun Courir de Mardi Gras, Zulu coconut throws, Rex ball costumes, and much more. The “Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond” exhibit documents the natural disaster, its aftermath, and the ongoing recovery with interactive displays and artifacts ($7 admission).

4. Arnaud’s Restaurant Mardi Gras Museum

The Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum is named after the daughter of Count Arnaud (local and honorary title only), who was the reigning Mardi Gras Queen of more than 22 balls between 1937 and 1968. The museum is located inside Arnaud’s Restaurant and is free to the public during business hours.

Since 1983, this unique museum showcases 13 of Mrs. Wells’ Mardi Gras queen costumes, plus the family Carnival costumes dating back to 1940s, including four king costumes of her father’s. The collection also includes dozens of vintage photographs, Mardi Gras masks, and related Carnival memorabilia such as party invites and favors.

5. New Orleans Jazz Museum

Built in 1835, the Old U.S. Mint uniquely served as both a U.S. and a Confederate Mint. The building is now a museum (free to the public) and research facility. It also serves as a site for music festivals and performances. The permanent collection showcases coins and stamping presses. Upstairs, you’ll find the “New Orleans Jazz” exhibit featuring priceless pieces like Louis Armstrong’s first cornet and Fats Domino’s Steinway grand piano, plus historic recordings and rare film footage.

6. The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, public research center, and publishing house, spread over three campuses in a dozen of historic buildings in the French Quarter. It’s free to the public (except for the guided tours). The Royal Street campus (533 Royal St.) houses the main museum with a permanent exhibit on state history plus rotating exhibits on history and art.

The Chartres Street campus (400 and 410 Chartres St.) houses art galleries and the Williams Research Center, which holds thousands of original documents, manuscripts, photographs, and other artifacts, as well as over 35,000 library items. The THNOC also offers docent-led and free self-guided tours of historic buildings and courtyards at several locations in the French Quarter.

7. The Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans

The free Irish Cultural Museum explores the rich history of the city’s Irish residents dating back to the 1700s. The collection includes maps, photographs, genealogy resources, a documentary, and interactive kiosks. The historic building features a balcony and a courtyard. On the premises is also a coffee and whiskey bar, St. Patrick’s Coffee House.

All of these museums are in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter, short blocks from French Market Inn. Book a stay at our historic French Quarter boutique hotel, right in the epicenter of all of the action!

The Neighborhoods Next to the French Quarter

Lafayette Square in CBD, New Orleans

By some counts, there are as many as 73 neighborhoods in New Orleans. They are divided by the lakes, bayous, and the Mississippi River; by the railroad and streetcar tracks; and, sometimes, by arbitrary geographical boundaries. In modern times, the unofficial geography of “By the Lake” and “Little Palermo” of the 19th century got more defined, and towns like Lafayette and Carrollton got incorporated into the city of New Orleans.

The city is a culturally rich tapestry of its neighborhoods, with some of the oldest ones clustered around the French Quarter. They make up the core part of what makes the city unique and draw visitors to its architecture, history, food, and magic. New Orleans remains on the list of the most visited cities in the U.S., receiving millions of visitors annually, who spend billions of dollars here.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the three neighborhoods adjacent to the French Quarter, and what to see, do, and eat there.

CBD/Warehouse District

Boundaries

The City Planning Commission defined the CBD as a 1.18 sq. mi. area bound by Iberville, Decatur and Canal Streets to the north; the Mississippi River to the east; the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Julia and Magazine Streets, and the Pontchartrain Expressway to the south; and South Claiborne Avenue, Cleveland Street, and South and North Derbigny Streets to the west.

History

The Central Business District (CBD) was once the plantation of Jean Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville, founder of New Orleans. The land changed hands until Bertrand Gravier subdivided the plantation after the fire of 1788, and named the subdivision Faubourg St. Marie after his deceased wife. After the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the area experienced an influx of Americans, who built brick townhouses and Protestant churches.

What it’s like today

The modern CBD is a long departure from its 18th-century, largely residential ancestor. It’s now home to many office high-rises, restaurants, boutique hotels, retail stores, and lots of historic commercial and residential buildings.

What to see and do

The area contains the South Market District, an upscale shopping destination, and Orpheum, Joy, and Saenger theaters. The area around Canal Street, which borders the French Quarter, is home to numerous retail stores and restaurants, as well as the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Insectarium, and the Harrah’s casino.

Clusters of art galleries on Julia Street known as the Warehouse/Arts District, host openings on the first Saturday of the month and special annual events like White Linen Night. There’s also much to see at the Contemporary Arts Center, the World War II Museum, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The Superdome, the Ernest Morial Convention Center, and the Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk are all located in the CBD.

Get a taste of how Mardi Gras is done by touring Mardi Gras World, find a statue of the Confederacy of Dunces hero Ignatius J. Reilly at the site of the now-closed D.H. Holmes department store on the 800 block of Canal St., or simply walk the trendy Warehouse District, restored to its former industrial glory — to get the feel of what was the “American Sector” of the city.

CBD is remarkably easy to access from other areas of the city too: Cross Canal Street, and you’re in the French Quarter. Several streetcar lines can take you to Mid-City, Marigny, and Uptown. If you walk to the river, you can take a ferry to Algiers on the West Bank.

Where to eat, drink and hear music

The culinary destination hits keep coming, especially in the Warehouse District, so there’s no shortage of innovative restaurants to choose from. Donald Link’s Cajun-Southern Cochon on Tchoupitoulas Street has some of the best pork ribs in the city.

The curried goat by chef Nina Compton at Compere Lapin is divine and draws from the Caribbean culinary influences of the chef’s native St. Lucia. Herbsaint is always a good choice for the upscale-French dining experience, and Domenica has some of the best pizza in the country.

The nightlife in the CBD is best represented by Republic NOLA, a music venue and nightclub in a former warehouse space. The Howlin’ Wolf, located on S. Peters Street in the old New Orleans Music Hall, is also a must-stop.

Treme

Boundaries

The 442-acre Treme is defined by Esplanade Avenue to the east, North Rampart Street to the south, St. Louis Street to the west, and North Broad Street to the north.

History

It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, settled in the late 18th century and heavily populated by Creoles and free people of color. The area was named after Claude Treme, a French hatmaker and real estate developer who migrated from Burgundy in 1783.

What it’s like today

Treme is known for its music clubs and soul food spots (some double as both), Creole architecture, and cultural centers celebrating the neighborhood’s African-American and Creole heritage. It’s a vibrant, diverse neighborhood, home of many a second-line parade and the star of popular HBO’s namesake series.

What to see and do

The beautiful St. Augustine Church is the most famous African American Catholic church in the city (though not the oldest). It was founded by free people of color in 1842. Don’t miss the Tomb of the Unknown Slave, a tribute to the victims of the African diaspora, located on the church grounds at 1210 Governor Nicholls Street. Two blocks away, on the same street, is the New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture and History.

Treme is also home to the excellent Recreation Community Center. You’ll find an incredible collection of Mardi Gras Indian costumes and other cultural memorabilia at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, founded (and manned for many years) by Sylvester Francis.

One of the city’s most famous “cities of the dead,” St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, is located at Basin and St. Louis Streets. (You may remember it from Easy Rider.) Civil rights activist Homer Plessy and voodoo queen Marie Laveau are buried in this cemetery, which was founded in 1789. Across N. Rampart Street from the French Quarter stretches the 32-acre Louis Armstrong Park, home to the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, the iconic Congo Square, Armstrong’s statue, and several annual food and music festivals.

Where to eat, drink and hear music

Treme is said to have invented jazz, and it’s still a great place to hear live music. The Candlelight Lounge is an excellent option for Creole food and brass bands. Kermit’s Treme Mother in Law Lounge on N. Claiborne belonged to the late R&B and jazz legend Ernie K-Doe and his wife Antoinette. When both passed, Kermit Ruffins bought it and continues the tradition with live music and BBQ.

The family-owned (since the 1960s) Willie Mae’s Scotch House may look like a white-painted shack, but it serves some of the best friend chicken in New Orleans and other delicious soul food. Another legendary soul food restaurant is Dooky Chase’s. The late chef Leah Chase’s Creole staples include gumbo z’herbes, which is not easy to find on the restaurant menus in the city. It’s a meatless version of gumbo made with several types of greens.

Not far away on Orleans Avenue, Greg and Mary Sonnier reopened their famous restaurant, Gabrielle, which used to be in Mid-City on Esplanade Avenue but has been shuttered after Katrina. And, speaking of Esplanade, Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe is a popular choice for a casual soul-food breakfast.

The Marigny

Boundaries

The Marigny is defined by North Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue to the north, Press Street to the east, the Mississippi River to the south, and Esplanade Avenue to the west.

History

The Marigny is named after Bernard de Marigny, a French aristocrat with well-documented joie de vivre, whose plantation and its subdivisions formed the area in the early 19th century. Just like Treme, the neighborhood was inhabited by a vibrant mix of Creoles and free people of color.

What it’s like today

Faubourg Marigny is one of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods with an eclectic mix of residents. It’s peppered with excellent bars and restaurants, covetable historic houses, iconic music venues, and funky B&Bs. A viable alternative to the French Quarter for where to stay while visiting, it should also be lauded for the lack of retail chains, its walkability, and the fact that it’s one of the oldest gayborhoods in the South.

What to see and do

Just taking a walk down Royal or Chartres streets might be immensely rewarding because of all the Creole cottages, funky little stores, and bars and restaurants. Or take a stroll down Frenchmen Street any time of day. Most music shows start later at night, but you don’t even have to enter any clubs to hear an excellent brass band — it’s often spilling out on the street corners.

The Marigny is also home to a sprawling indie record store, Louisiana Music Factory. On Elysian Fields by Frenchmen is Washington Square, a lovely little park with swaths of green and a small playground. The Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue is a multi-story community center that contains restaurants, a bookstore, a botanica, a performance space, a co-op, and more.

Where to eat, drink and hear music

Frenchmen Street and St. Claude Avenue have the highest concentration of live music venues, including the legendary Spotted Cat and d.b.a. Though regularly packed, Frenchmen Street is still an unsurpassed destination for local music and nightlife. Many nightclubs double as excellent restaurants, like the upscale Marigny Brasserie (sidewalk dining!), the popular Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro with its big acts and Creole fare, or the Three Muses (small plates, great jazz shows).

Mona’s Cafe, an inexpensive Middle Eastern restaurant and international market combo at the foot of Frenchmen, is a must-stop for falafel, and the cozy and romantic Adolfo’s is not easy to spot (it’s upstairs from the live-music hangout dive Apple Barrel), and has some of the best seafood on its Creole/Italian menu.

Marigny Opera House on St. Ferdinand Street, a popular performance venue with great acoustics converted from the church that was built in 1853, hosts everything from puppet shows to Sunday musical meditations.

Marigny is home to a slew of neighborhood bars you wouldn’t want to leave, like the Friendly Bar, Buffa’s (with live music and bar food), the R Bar, and many more.

SukhoThai is a popular neighborhood restaurant with exposed brick and specialty Thai cocktails, or head to the Bao & Noodle on Chartres Street on the edge of the Marigny for Chinese tapas. The AllWays Lounge & Theatre, Siberia and the Hi-Ho Lounge on St. Claude are all great choices on any given night for indie bands, DJ nights, burlesque, and experimental music and theater shows.

Book a stay at our historic French Quarter boutique hotel, right in the epicenter of all of the action!

Bourbon Street Bucket List

The 13-block of Bourbon Street stretches from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and is packed with bars, clubs and restaurants. There’s more to the most visited street in the French Quarter than neon signs and brightly colored drinks in gigantic souvenir cups. Bourbon Street is home to some of the oldest bars and best restaurants in New Orleans. And after the recent renovation of the eight blocks of the Upper Bourbon (starting from Canal), it’s shinier and more walkable than ever. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, here are some suggestions for your bucket list.

EATING

Oysters and Other Gulf Seafood

Bourbon Street’s culinary offerings are a mix of high and low, with some local flair thrown in. The two seafood restaurants run by the Brennan family that are located on Bourbon Street would be solid choices for all things Gulf seafood and oysters in particular. The Red Fish Grill on the first block off Canal Street offers good happy deals and is child-friendly. Signature dishes include Shrimp Creole and double chocolate bread pudding. Brennan’s Bourbon House (on the same block) has an oyster bar and a large selection of small-batch and single-barrel bourbons.

24/7 Breakfast

For the pub grub and fast food, anything on the breakfast menu plus those famous little square burgers on steamed buns at the fast-food chain Krystal (116 Bourbon St.) would serve you well. The retro diner Clover Grill (900 Bourbon St.) has a huge breakfast menu and only-in-the-Quarter ambiance. Both are 24/7.

Balcony Dining

For balcony dining with a view of the French Quarter, head to Cornet (700 Bourbon St.) or Pier 424 Seafood Market Restaurant (424 Bourbon St.). Both restaurants serve traditional Cajun and Creole fare like gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and other local favorites. Pier 424 also has oysters, blackened specialties, boiled seafood, and plenty of po-boys on its menu (this might be your chance to try an alligator po-boy).

Galatoire’s: Old-World Upscale Creole

If you’re going to try just one restaurant on Bourbon St., make it Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon St.). This fine-dining institution should be on everyone’s New Orleans bucket list. Since its opening in 1905 generations of New Orleanians had been lining up for the Creole classics like crab maison, duck crepes, foie gras, and turtle soup. Galatoire’s old-world, decadent ambiance is something to experience.

DRINKING

Absinthe

The Old Absinthe House (240 Bourbon Street) dates to 1806 and has hosted its share of famous patrons, including Oscar Wilde and Franklin Roosevelt. Sidle up to the classic copper bar and have one of the potent signature absinthe cocktails. Enjoy the old-fashioned yet quirky saloon ambiance.

Hurricane and Hand Grenade

Having one of those is pretty much a must if you’re hanging out on Bourbon Street, so do it right by going to the source. Sip your Hurricane in Pat O’Brien’s courtyard (624 Bourbon St.), and make sure your Hand Grenade comes from one of the Tropical Isle locations on Bourbon St. (435, 600, 610, 721, 727 Bourbon St.). The Bourbon and Orleans location has one of the largest balconies with a view of St. Louis Cathedral (you may have seen it on TV because it’s often used for live broadcasts).

One of the Oldest Bars in America

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon St.) is a must-stop, period. Housed in a crumbling Creole cottage on the corner of Bourbon and St. Philip streets, it was built between 1722 and 1732, making it one of the oldest structures used as a bar in the U.S. Legends swirled for centuries that this location was used by the infamous Lafitte Brothers, Jean and Pierre, as a base for their privateer operation in Barataria. The bar has a unique ambiance and is popular with locals and visitors alike. If you’re feeling brave try the signature drink called Purple Drank, a frozen daiquiri concoction.

MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT

Jazz

If you want straight-up jazz, the Jazz Playhouse (inside Royal Sonesta at 300 Bourbon St.) is a reliable choice. It’s located on the lobby level of the hotel and serves craft cocktails.

The Musical Legends Park (311 Bourbon St.) also hosts live music shows among its life-size bronze statues of local musical legends like Louis Prima, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Fats Domino, and others. While you’re at it, have some beignets and cafe au lait at the outside seating at Cafe Beignet inside the park.

Maison Bourbon (641 Bourbon St.) is an old-school jazz club “dedicated to the preservation of jazz” (the outdoor sign says). Take in the gleaming bar, the brick walls and the beamed ceilings. It also has a courtyard and a big balcony.

Fritzel’s European Jazz Club (733 Bourbon St.) is another great spot for live jazz and Dixieland. It’s been around since 1969, and it’s reflected in the memorabilia and the black-and-white photos lining the walls. Seating is limited because the space is intimate, but there’s more seating outside in the back where you won’t be able to see the action but still hear it pretty well. Nightly shows start at 8 p.m. on Sunday through Tuesday and 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. There are afternoon shows as well and they tend to be less crowded.

LGBTQIA+

Once you walk past St. Ann St. you’ll start seeing the rainbow flags. The LGBTQIA+ section of Bourbon St. has two popular dance clubs across from one another, Oz (800 Bourbon St.) and Bourbon Pub & Parade (801 Bourbon St.). Both have several dance floors, drag shows, DJs, and wraparound balconies for people-watching. The Pub serves as the annual headquarters of Southern Decadence. Just down the block, Cafe Lafitte in Exile (901 Bourbon St.) is open 24/7 and hosts disco parties and karaoke nights. It’s been around since the 50s, which makes it one of the oldest gay bars in the country.

Karaoke and Riding the Bull

Speaking of karaoke, The World Famous Cat’s Meow (701 Bourbon St.) is THE karaoke spot to be if you must indulge and don’t mind the rowdy crowd. The party atmosphere is helped by drink specials. Riding the mechanical bull is another one of the favorite pastimes on Bourbon St., and you can try your luck at Boot Scootin Rodeo (522 Bourbon St.). The honky tonk also has a large dance floor.

Psychic Readings

See what the stars have in store for you at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo (739 Bourbon St.). Psychic and spiritual readings are available daily starting at noon. In addition to the city and ghost tours, the Bloody Mary’s Tours office (941 Bourbon St.) also offers psychic readings.

Book a stay at our historic French Quarter boutique hotel, right in the epicenter of all of the action and blocks away from Bourbon Street!