new orleans recommendations: gen

Last year, Dalton and I decided that we wanted to do something beyond our normal date night in for our anniversary. We ended up leaving Patrick with my parents and embarking on a night out in New Orleans. When I began planning to write this post, I wrote down an outline of everything we did from Saturday evening until Sunday morning, and it turns out we visited over 10 places in under 24 hours. I still can’t believe it. Today I put on Muppet Babies for my toddler so that I could take an eight minute nap. Am I the same person? It boggles the mind. I have great hope that one day, after this pregnancy is finished, I can enjoy that level of energy again. 

The Cornstalk Hotel

We stayed the night at this charming, historic, allegedly haunted hotel in the middle of the city. I got a miraculous last-minute deal on our room the morning we drove in to New Orleans. The whole place is scary in that at every moment it feels like you might encounter a ghost or a cockroach, but it was just the perfect hotel for the romantic adventure we were looking to have. We plan to stay here again, due to the location, the service, and the balcony most of all. More on the balcony later. 

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The manager took photos of us all over the property. We have more pictures of us together from this night than we do from our wedding. Thanks, Sandra!

The manager took photos of us all over the property. We have more pictures of us together from this night than we do from our wedding. Thanks, Sandra!

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Our game plan was to visit as many happy hours as humanly possible. I researched the time and location of each one and we sketched out a rough itinerary for the evening. First stop, 

SoBou

Short for South of Bourbon, this glowing little restaurant/bar was the perfect place to start our evening. It was mostly empty with some assorted hipsters, and the atmosphere was casual enough that having a couple of appetizers and some cocktails felt like the perfect thing to do.

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We ate gumbo, pork tacos, and wings while we watched people walk down the street- a fascinating activity in NOLA. Dalton got his first Sazerac of the evening, and I ordered a celebratory Prosecco. We toasted each other and talked about food and traveling and probably Patrick. Dalton paid the bill as dusk fell, and we walked down the street to

Kingfish

The vibe here was slightly older than SoBou- fewer hipsters and more men in business attire, but still fairly casual. This appeared to be a great restaurant to sit down and have a full meal, but I think it was probably even more enjoyable to sit at the bar and order more appetizers and cocktails, which is what we did. At this point, we were beginning to relax and realize that WE WERE ON A DATE! It reminded me of when we were just getting to know each other. Dalton ordered boudin, which I hate. I ordered another gumbo, and I only let him have one bite. After another Sazerac and a tequila sour (my favorite), we moved on to happy hour at 

Broussard’s 

But they were closed for a private party. This ended up being good fortune for us, since we passed by 

Sucre

A location not on our original itinerary, I actually had no idea this place existed in the quarter, having only ever been to the one on Magazine Street. This dessert apothecary is well known for their macarons and their glittery king cakes. On this magical night, we discovered that there is also a restaurant on the second floor of this location called Salon by Sucre, and all you need to know is FRENCH FRIES. 

Here they are. We ordered sliders too but honestly they got outshined.

Here they are. We ordered sliders too but honestly they got outshined.

After the fries, we were pretty satiated for the moment and in need of some stimulation to keep our tired parent bodies active. We explored the nearby streets and came across 

Spitfire Coffee

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Also not on our original itinerary. Kath included it on her recommendations list. I concur with her assessment of it and would like to add that we waited at least 20 minutes for our coffee, but I don’t regret it because look, a leaf! 

Look, a leaf!

Look, a leaf!

We took our coffee back to the hotel and drank it on the balcony. That balcony. It made our weekend. It will reappear later in this post.

After our coffee interlude, we decided to visit one of my favorite NOLA tourist traps,

Pat O’ Brien’s 

I have great memories of going here with bachelorette parties of old. There’s something about singing Sweet Caroline with a bunch of strangers that makes me want to vote and compliment other women’s outfits and let people go in front of me in the parking lot. I just feel like a citizen of the world. We enjoyed a beer, a Rainstorm, and a rousing rendition of Africa by Toto, and then we were hungry again. 

The piano bar at Pat O’Brien’s

The piano bar at Pat O’Brien’s

Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar & Bistro

The big draw here is that they do a late-night bacon happy hour. What that means is that after Dalton and I ordered two glasses of wine, the bartender plunked a glass of crispy, delicious bacon onto the bar. It was just as magical as it sounds. From there, we moved to the restaurant’s courtyard, where we shared a fish and gnocchi dish that I wished were bottomless. We also spotted a saint. 

Pope John Paul II enjoying a casual dinner with friends.

Pope John Paul II enjoying a casual dinner with friends.

After Orleans, I was ready to call it a night. Dalton, however, was not. He had become very curious over the years about a place called 

The Gold Mine

For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting here for every bachelorette party ever, picture a small, dark bar. Every surface is coated with a thick layer of sweat, beer, and something unidentifiable and sticky. It’s a disgusting and gloomy place before 11PM, but as the evening goes on, it somehow becomes the best dance club in town. I gave in to Dalton’s curiosity, we paid the $5 cover charge, and I bought him a Flaming Dr. Pepper, because that’s basically another unwritten cover charge for the uninitiated.

Dalton’s first time at The Gold Mine

Dalton’s first time at The Gold Mine

The Gold Mine is beloved for its perfect blend of millennial hits. We danced to “Calling Baton Rouge,” “Always Be My Baby,” and “I’m the One” before well and truly calling it a night. The next morning, we walked to 

St. Louis Cathedral

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and attended Mass. The cathedral is where Kath and Jonathan got married, and I always think of them when I go there. The entirety of the place is covered with symbolic imagery and beautiful art, and I always get spiritually swept away just looking at everything. Plus, it was just the two of us, so I could actually pay attention the whole Mass. If Dalton and I ever go to Mass without Patrick, we always leave feeling refreshed and prayerful and also homesick for our baby. This morning was no exception, but it was great to be able to discuss the homily on the walk back to the hotel, since both of us had actually heard it. We got coffee at our hotel, and then we sat out on the balcony to enjoy it and a newspaper in the beautiful November weather. A musician played across the street, and it felt like he was giving a private concert just for us. I think this was my favorite part of the whole stay. And that’s saying something, because our last stop before heading home was 

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Cafe Amelie

The best part of Cafe Amelie is the courtyard, and even though we were third or so in line when the restaurant opened for brunch, we didn’t get to sit outside because it was for reservations only. That was okay though, because there was brunch. I ordered a Bloody Mary, and we both drank more coffee, and we reminisced about the night before. We had been so many places in just one evening, which was so exhausting and exhilarating for our homebody selves. Our third anniversary is quickly approaching. It’s been about a year since we’ve been on a real date, so I think we’ll probably do something exotic, like dinner and a movie. 

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New Orleans at night

New Orleans at night