I was born in New Orleans, and raised in Houston most my life. Houston is home, I love it here and grew up here. From South Park to Pearland I love my city and can't imagine having the experiences I've had anywhere else. But New Orleans is my hometown, and I love everything about the city. My mom's side of the family is from other parts of Louisiana so we always go back to visit when we can. Our family usually gets together for Good Friday at my great Aunt's house in Crowley for good food, fun, and music. We really have all the Creole and Cajun food you can probably think of! It's obviously had a big impact on why I love food so much and started cooking.
Crowley, and New Orleans, along with other small towns and cities in Louisiana, are different. From the dialect, accent, music, land and even some popular dishes all have their own style. For instance, Crowley and Lafayette are big on Zydeco music and line dances, and New Orleans is big on Jazz, Blues and even bounce is popular. There are swamps, country towns/parishes, larger cities and suburbs. After Katrina, New Orleans came back strong. It was a hard time for so many, and I can never forget what happened, but the city bounced back and still has the heart and soul as before. So if you go, respect the people, the culture and the city.
Where to stay:
If it’s your first time, you can’t go wrong with staying in the French Quarter. The Garden District is also very nice. Check out Airbnb, for a cozy little apartment in the Quarter and be walking distance from various restaurants and attractions. My favorite place to stay is https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4190386?wl_source=list&wl_id=175696625&role=wishlist_owner&guests=2&adults=2&children=0&infants=0 The host is pretty cool and there’s no hassle, he gives you all the info you need; the place has a balcony, kitchen, washer and dryer, towels and blankets. It’s literally right off Bourbon St. and has a balcony for the best experience.
The last time I went we stayed in the 9th ward and if you get a chance, drive through there and see how much its been cleaned and redone since the hurricane.
Where to eat:
One of my favorite restaurants in the Quarter is Pat O’Briens. Their twist on shrimp and grits is amazing. It’s fried cheese grits in like a shrimp sauce. You can also get their famous hurricane and keep the glass as a souvenir if you want.
Another great place to eat if you want to support black owned, small business owners, is We Dat’s on Canal St. The owner, and his brother and employees are awesome. They have great customer service and great food. I love the hot lemon pepper wings and shrimp with the ranch sauce. You can check out his IG, @wedatfoodtruck and see all he does for the city also, his story is pretty cool.
Of course you have to get a hand grenade, and a New Orleans Daiquiri. You also have to find some pralines; there are some places that let you try before you buy. I personally like to buy them at small stores like little mom and pop shops.
But Mister Apple on N Peters St. has pretty good ones along with the candy apples and chocolate covered candies and strawberries. Don’t leave without trying something from there!
Chinese kitchen is a popular place and has amazing eggrolls.
Atchafalaya has pretty good brunch and sometimes has brunch and drink specials. You can also find other places on Eventbrite if you’re wanting to host brunch.
Also, Café Du Monde, Commander’s Deanie’s, Amce Oyester house, Vietnamese food and more!
For more places, you can always check out Thrillist https://www.thrillist.com/eat/new-orleans or Nola Eater https://nola.eater.com/maps/best-new-new-orleans-restaurants-heatmap or just ask the locals; they will tell you where their favorite spots are!
What to do:
Find a Swamp tour! There are so many different ones that vary. Some allow you to even pet the baby alligators. It’s pretty fun to get that close to them and see how big they can get.
Ride the Ferry and explore the Westbank and the Algiers Point.
Go to the Harrah’s or the Casinos in Lake Charles on the way there or back, The Golden Nugget and L’auberge have really good buffets too.
Peaches record store is one of my favorite stores if you’re into music & old school novelties. Walk around the other part of the Quarter, and Jackson Square.
Essence fest. Is also an amazing experience if you can go. Explore downtown New Orleans while your at it.
And of course Mardi Gras. It can be a little overwhelming if you’re not used to the crowds and craziness, but I think everyone should experience it one time. You just have to get used to the drunk people and the smell. Have fun, but be safe, don’t go by yourself and watch your surroundings.
There’s so much more to New Orleans than just the French Quarter. Just go and explore and take in all the goodness of the city, and stop by the small towns on the way in. It’s been a while since I’ve been around the locals also so I don’t remember the names of all the good places to eat in the neighborhood, but there is always someone around to let you know where you should go.
Click through the photos below to see some of the fun I've had!