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Friday Gallery: NOLA

Sorry guys, I’ve mostly fallen off the radar these last few weeks, what with the getting ready to go disappear into the wilds of Mississippi for a week, and the actually being in the wilds of Mississippi, and the trying to juggle catching up with schoolwork and vacationing in New Orleans and flying home and getting back to the work routine. But now I’m… not actually caught up on school, but caught up enough that I can take a break and regroup and look at my pictures.

I did not take as many pictures as I would have liked. I did take quite a few.

Seriously, y’all: thirteen bars and restaurants in four days, basically. Highlights:

Atchafalaya: Just about as close to a perfect high-class Southern Sunday brunch as I have ever encountered. If the weather at all permits, sit outdoors. The hour-plus wait was, in fact, worth it and then some; but really, make reservations.

Beachbum Berry’s Lattitude 29: OMG THIS BAR. This is serious tiki bar. Classic cocktails delivered with competence and humor in a great atmosphere. Superb rum list. Only one drink here because we had ABANDONED THE UNDER-21s (oh no!) and needed to catch up with them (they found a mall and a Starbucks) but this is definitely a regular go-to spot in the French Quarter.

Juan’s Flying Burrito Creole Tacos: YUP. This is a neighborhood favorite – the neighborhood being between Magazine and Annunciation, between Felicity and Jackson, in the Lower Garden District – as we found out after we ate there, and it is superb, and I speak from the heart of the Land of Precious Tacos, Colfax Avenue.

NOLA PoBoys: “All of our food is spicy.” OKAY THEN. We split an alligator and an oysters-smothered-in-bisque, which were both absolutely delicious. (Especially the bisque, and they were not kidding about smothered.) Right across Bourbon Street from Cafe Lafitte in Exile, it kinda looks from the outside like it is a tourist trap pretending to be a dive, but it is in fact a total dive, and I mean that in the best way.

Cafe DuMonde: You know what? It may be kitschy, but it’s fabulously kitschy. Sitting on the patio on a gorgeous spring afternoon, drinking French Market chickory coffee, licking powdered sugar off of our fingers, listening to a masterful execution of “When the Saints Go Marching In” on the trumpet by a busker and talking about the experience of travel and how it changes our perspectives and enhances our lives, was a moment I was really glad to be able to have given my kid.

DeVille Coffee House and Creperie: This place is gorgeous, and the food is absolutely spot-on. A lovely, select variety of savory and sweet crepes. The Crepe Suzette was exactly what a Suzette should be. The salmon, dill, and caper made me cry a little.

This visit to New Orleans was such a lovely balance of discovering new things and going back to places I fell in love with the last time. There was a lot of museum crawling , and that was delightful, and there were a bunch more museums and historic and cultural sites I would have loved to have taken in but just didn’t have time (I could write an entire post just on the National WWII Museum, which was just a total emotional-roller-coaster-geekout and we didn’t see more than half the museum and I will definitely go back). The hostel (which has changed hands but otherwise seems to have changed not at all since the last time I visited) is just as quaint and cozy as I remembered.

New Orleans is strangely like Denver in some ways – or, at least, that part of the city (Lower Garden District and Irish Channel and out the other side of the Central Business District and into the French Quarter) is very like my part of Denver (City Park West and Cheesman Park and Cap Hill and into our CBD and out the other side of the CBD into LoDo and Five Points). Largely intact architecture of about the same period in both cities, some gorgeously restored, some rather decrepit, and a lot of diversity, both ethnic and economic, in very close quarters. A mix of low-key local-frequented shops and restaurants and bars, and hip artsy little districts and tourist corridors. A central core of big administrative and cultural sites. Some truly stunning parks. Just a very strong sense of place, of being utterly integrated into the natural environment despite being so aggressively urban, oriented on the mountains here, the river there.

This is a city I can go back to over and over and fall in love with anew with each visit over the years. I felt very comfortable; it was a place that made sense to me. That was a very different experience from my first trip, which I largely spent feeling lost and disoriented. Certainly a lot has changed in me in the past six years too.

Published in food life intersections sense of place

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