a new orleans tradition

Photo by Anne Jansen

I’d never heard of a beignet before I started planning my trip to New Orleans. Then, all of a sudden, everyone I asked said I had to try the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. What an experience! I arrived outside the cafe on a Sunday morning around 10am, and there was a line half a block long. Figuring it’d be worth it, I stood in line. It took a surprisingly short time — maybe only 10-15 minutes — and suddenly I was being seated at a cute little table. I ordered the beignets (a plate of 3 for $2.14) and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. When my order was brought to my table, the waiter set it down and waited for payment (cash only, due upon receipt of food). Then he left me to my meal, and it was super yummy. It reminded me a bit of abelskievers — 3 to a plate doused in powdered sugar, but the similarities end there. The beignets were warm, fresh out of the…well, whatever they take them out of (I don’t think it’s an oven, but saying “fresh out of the deep-fryer” doesn’t sound very appetizing). Warm, sweet, and light. You HAVE to try these if you get a chance!
Café Du Monde on Urbanspoon

no place like home

Photo by Anne Jansen

Just around the corner of Canal Street and Magazine Street, there was a surprise waiting for me: the Ruby Slipper Cafe. It’s a cute little cafe tucked away in a quiet corner bordering the French Quarter. They had the BEST PANCAKES I’ve ever had — they were the daily special: Cookies ‘n’ Cream Pancakes. They took the cookie part of Oreos and crushed them up, baked them right into the pancake. Then they took the cream part of Oreos and melted them down, poured the syrup right on top of the pancakes. They were absolutely amazing. They were positively heavenly, and perhaps the most creative take on pancakes I’ve ever had the opportunity to eat. If you have the chance, head to the Ruby Slipper Cafe and try out their special pancake of the day.

While I was there, I also had an Abita root beer. Abita’s a local brewery, and the root beer was tasty. Sweet without being saccharine, nicely carbonated, and with a nice aftertaste. If you see this stuff in your local convenience store, pick up a bottle and try it out. It’s quite good, as far as root beer goes.

 

Photo by Anne Jansen

Finally, the interior of the cafe is also really cute, so here it is — for your viewing pleasure. It’s clean, airy, and nicely decorated with beautiful chalk menus and stories (like the story of how the cafe got its name — because when the owners returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, they felt that nobody said it better than Dorothy did: there’s no place like home).

 

Photo by Anne Jansen

The Ruby Slipper Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

mumbo gumbo

Photo by Anne Jansen

Oh yes, I went to the Gumbo Shop while I was in the French Quarter, and it was a great experience. Besides being super cute (see bottom picture), it was delicious! I ordered their black beans and rice (with a corn salsa), and it was simultaneously scrumptious and inexpensive! It was so affordable, in fact, that I ordered this drink:

 

Photo by Anne Jansen

That’s a virgin strawberry daiquiri, made with fresh Louisiana strawberries…and it was TASTY! Notice that drip making its way down the side of the glass. I licked it up after I took this picture. That’s how good this drink was! And it was the perfect refreshing beverage for the end of a long, hot, humid day filled with walking and snapping photos.

To top it all off, the Gumbo Shop has character, too! For proof, look at my next photograph. I’d suggest you give this place a try if you’re looking for some gumbo, some local flavor, and an affordable but yummy place to eat.

 

photo by Anne Jansen

Gumbo Shop on Urbanspoon

 

napoleon’s legacy

Photo by Anne Jansen

By far the best culinary experience I had in New Orleans, the Napoleon House is housed in a building that is nearly two-and-a-quarter centuries old. Their menu selection was varied, offering everything from New Orleans’ famous Po’ Boy sandwiches and Muffaletta to Cheese Plates (pictured above) and other light dishes, this was my favorite restaurant in the Paris of the South.

 

Photo by Anne Jansen

I liked it so much I even tried a sip of their house-recommended drink, the Pimms Cup — a refreshing treat of Pimms (a British gin-like liquor), lemonade, a splash of lemon-lime soda, and a cucumber garnish. In addition to being pretty, this drink was strangely refreshing — and this comes from a girl who doesn’t like the taste of alcohol. That says a lot.

But the best part about the Napoleon House is its character. As I mentioned earlier, this place is oozing character from every pore, and that truly made the experience. If you are in the French Quarter, you definitely need to stop by the Napoleon House, even if it’s just for a snack.

 

Photo by Anne Jansen

Napoleon House Bar & Café on Urbanspoon

open air breakfast

Photo by Anne Jansen

In a city as beautiful as New Orleans, being able to eat in an open-air cafe is a real treat. At Pere Antoine Restaurant & Cajun Kitchen, this is exactly what I got to do (see picture below for a better idea of the ambiance of this lovely little restaurant). They serve breakfast all day, and that’s exactly what I ordered — the croissant breakfast sandwich with home fries and a side of bacon (which I gave to one of my table-mates) despite the abundant dinner options on the menu. While the food was only somewhere between average and good, the atmosphere was incredible (and the prices were reasonable). For the rest of the trip, every time I walked by Pere Antoine’s I looked in and wanted to sit at a table and take in the sights. If you’re in New Orleans and you need a quick bite with a nice dose of charm, this is a great place to go!

 

Photo by Anne Jansen

Pere Antoine on Urbanspoon

 

pricey pie

Photo by Anne Jansen

I recently attended a conference in New Orleans where I stayed at the Sheraton on Canal Street. Overall a good experience, but the in-hotel restaurant — the Pelican Bar — was pricey. Pictured: 5 Cheese Pizza. Delicious (a little Domino’s-ey when it comes to the cheese), with a really tasty red sauce. Fluffy, light crust (and I’m usually not a fan of crust) and yummy meltiness. Good ambiance, but slow service. Still, not bad for a hotel restaurant. Not bad at all.

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