If you’re looking for a long weekend getaway this summer, despite the heat, I recommend New Orleans. I am not a local, but I can confidently say that visiting this city is quick and easy. The airport is conveniently located, and the city itself is very small and walkable.
My husband and I enjoy New Orleans in large part because of its food. Not only does the city offer unique and delicious bites, but the food is also shockingly inexpensive. Each time we leave New Orleans, we generally feel ill from a week of serious gorging.
One of our favorites is Verti Marte[i]. On Royal Street near Esplanade, this tiny, grimy hole-in-the wall market offers zero room to stand. If you make your way to the back (which should take about six steps from the entrance), you will see a tall counter behind which is a huge menu of sandwiches.
We like to grab one sandwich to share, the “All That Jazz” (a medley of grilled ham, turkey and shrimp, swiss and american cheese accompanied by grilled mushrooms, tomatoes, on grilled french bread with their original “wow sauce”)(about $10), and walk it over to a bench in Jackson Square to enjoy. Huge and messy, this sandwich feels very New Orleans.
For something more civilized, we adore Cochon and Peche, aptly named for their respective themes. At Cochon[ii], favorites include the wood-fired oysters with chili garlic butter ($14), the fried alligator with chili garlic mayonnaise ($12), and the rabbit and dumplings ($23). For something more casual, the Cochon Butcher around the corner from Cochon offers delicious sandwiches you must try if in town.
The related venture, Peche[iii], also delivers. We in fact might prefer Peche to Cochon—perhaps that’s simply our taste for seafood. We opted to get many small plates at Peche, and loved them all. From the smoked tuna dip ($7) to the hushpuppies ($6), every dish we ate was right.
Surprisingly, dessert at Peche still managed to stand out. I generally become grumpy if something pure chocolate is not available to me. Give nothing pure chocolate presented itself, we decided on the salted peanut pie ($9) (salted peanut ice cream and chocolate sauce). This pie truly surprised me. Simply put, I became one with the pie. I cannot properly articulate the reasons for its greatness, but should you go to Peche, you must order this pie.
For something a little fancier, August[iv] garners our approval. New Orleans is a casual town, and we thus generally keep it casual on our visits. However, August delivers a surprisingly yummy meal in an unusually upscale environment (that is not overly stuffy or off putting—I believe I wore shorts). For an inexpensive bite here, I highly recommend the Friday lunch tasting menu.
Finally, if you are looking for a classic in the French Quarter, we must give a nod to Nola – one of our favorites for dinner and dessert. While we generally do dinner here at least once per trip, we end up landing here for some late night dessert a few additional nights as well. I have always been a sucker for the Warm Ooey Gooey Cake[v] ($8). However, the Crème Brûlée Trio[vi] ($9) and Banana Pudding Layer Cake[vii] ($8) are also faves.
[i] 1201 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116
[v] Moist chocolate cake, marshmallows, toasted coconut, coffee ice cream.
[vi] Vanilla bean with fresh berries, coconut with coconut truffle, mocha with chocolate-almond biscotti.
[vii] Graham cracker crumble, fudge sauce, chantilly cream.