New Orleans Day 1: Muffulettas, Beignets & Bourbon Street

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Our trip to New Orleans started around 3:45…am…we had a 6am flight to catch! Ben was thrilled, clearly. ;)

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After a brief layover in Chicago, we were off! (Oh, pre-vacation filled with jambalaya/beignets/biscuits/alcohol puff-free face – I miss you!) Anyways, I digress… ;)

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As soon as we took off, nervous flyer Ben got a mini bottle of his favorite draaaank, Maker’s Mark, to help settle his nerves and get our vacation started a little early. Whee!

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Isn’t that the cutest little bottle you’ve ever seen?! Presh. ;)

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I opted for water. It’s the smart choice for flying, didn’t you know?

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2 hours later – we arrived in New Orleans! As soon as we stepped off the plane, we felt the whoosh of humidity. “We’re in the bayou!” we exclaimed!

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During the drive to the hotel we could just tell we were in the south. I don’t know how or why, but we just could. It was cool. I started feeling like I wanted to watch Forrest Gump for some reason. Wrong state, I know. ;)

At any rate, about 20 minutes later we arrived at our home away from home, for the next 5 days and 4 nights – the Best Western St. Christopher! 

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Located about 20 feet off of Canal Street (sort of the Las Vegas Boulevard of New Orleans) and 50 feet away from the French Quarter – we felt like we were in the middle of all the action, but since we were tucked off a little ways on a side street, it was actually very quiet!

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The decor was opulent, yet charming,

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and the details and finishings made it truly unique.

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Behind the front desk was a big dining area where we had a full continental breakfast each morning, and fresh coffee and tea available throughout the day. Super fab.

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We headed up to our room, shed our heavy coats, changed into our warm-weather outfits and hit the road!

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We were beyond starving at this point, so we headed straight for the Napoleon House in the heart of the French Quarter. We had received several, good recommendations and knew it would be a perfect lunch locale. 

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The Napoleon House is located in a 200 year old building that once belonged to the mayor of New Orleans. He offered it as a place for Napoleon to stay during his exile – Napoleon never came, but the name stuck around!

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The inside is very, very cool. With Beethoven blaring in the background, you soak up the almost saloon-on-a-ship like atmosphere.

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A saloon-on-a-ship in the 1800s, mind you. ;)

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Every seat has a view of the French Quarter outside and from our table we watched horse drawn carriages, carrying curious tourists, clop by every 5 minutes or so.

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Enough people watching – we were there to EAT! :D

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So many things to choose from! I stuck with the Napoleon House specialty though, and ordered the Italian Muffuletta with a side of Jambalaya.

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SO EXCITED AND SO HUNGRY!!!!!!!!!!!!

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About 5 seconds after the food arrived, I had my muffuletta in one hand and a fork for the jambalaya in the other – they were both outstanding!

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My muffuletta was made from fresh bread slathered in a salty, marinated olive salad, then layered with ham, salami, pastrami, swiss and provolone cheese. Aka, the best sandwich known to man. And I didn’t have any other jambalaya while in NOLA, so I can’t compare it to anything else, but this stuff was BOMB. Tender rice with a light tomato-y flavor, spiced just right, with sliced sausage.

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Ben ordered the Roast Beef Po’ Boy with Gravy. There’s a lot of sauce and gravy going on in New Orleans – but this gravy knocked it out of the park. Rich, thick and smothering this tender roast beef.

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His sandwich also came with some Zapp’s – local, kettle-cooked chips that are available everywhere down there and come in a variety of flavors. Most of which we tried during our time in New Orleans – muwahahahaha! When in Rome.

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We were sufficiently stuffed after lunch, so we hit the streets of the French Quarter to walk, digest, and take a look around. The French Quarter is the oldest and most famous neighborhood(s) in New Orleans. When NOLA was founded in 1718, it was centered around these very streets.

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Located in the center of the French Quarter is the stunning Jackson Square!

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Named after Andrew Jackson, the open park contains the St. Louis Cathedral, The Cabildo (old city hall) and The Presbytere (old priest housing turned courthouse turned museum.)

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It’s also a hangout for local artists to showcase their artwork, musicians to gather for a jam, street performers to show off for a buck, and tourists to wander around and soak it all in.

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Jackson Square is also right across the street from CAFE DU MONDE!

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My number one mission for our New Orleans trip was to go to Cafe Du Monde, which has been serving fried, doughnut-like Heaven cakes Beignets, 24/7, since 1862.

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My sweet tooth demanded that we order some on. the. spot.

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About 5 minutes after we sat down – they arrived.

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Piping hot, fritter-like, light as air Beignets mounded high and cascading with powdered sugar. OMG – we literally started giggling!

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Then we stopped giggling and demolished. In about a minute. I’m so sorry that I didn’t even get to take a picture of the insides of the beignets so you could see how light, airy and fluffy they were. I was too busy stuffing my face. Life changing I’m telling you!

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Soon enough, it was time to head back to our hotel, clean ourselves up, shake the powdered sugar from our hair (literally, it gets everywhere!) and head out for our first evening in New Orleans.

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First stop – Harrah’s Casino!

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I know, I know – however, it was close to our hotel and seeing as how we love Las Vegas, we wanted to see how it compared.

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Mmmm it didn’t, really. We went through the front door and walked straight out the back door.

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And got down to business – BOURBON STREET!

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Bourbon Street runs the length of the French Quarter and is home to many, many bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and cough, strip clubs, cough. What you’ve seen and read about Bourbon St. is all true – however, on that Thursday night, as we were strolling down the street, we found ourselves totally into it!

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Just turn your head as you pass by the Hustler Club… ;)

Seriously though – the lively, brass tunes, jazz and club beats permeated the street and you couldn’t help but get into the excitement. Because that’s what it was – exciting!

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Per a recommendation from my Dad, we stopped at the Royal Sonesta Hotel’s Desire Oyster Bar for a bite to eat, and a beverage to drink!

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The Royal Sonesta is a gorgeous hotel right on Bourbon, that actually has several restaurants and bars associated with it.

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The Desire Oyster Bar features fresh Louisiana seafood and Creole dishes.

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All the bars and restaurants in the French Quarter have floor to ceiling French doors that they open up during the day so everyone can see in, and out. It makes for the best people watching. ;)

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We took up residence at the bar.

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And after hours of flying, walking around and exploring – it was finally time to partake in the fun. You know I got myself a Hurricane

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New Orleans is credited with inventing the Hurricane, so I had to give it a try. Sweet, tropical and oh-so refreshing!!

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Then we dug in, again. :) A gentlemen sitting to Ben’s right had just received a big bowl of Red Beans and Rice when we arrived and I almost asked him for a taste, it looked so good! I did the next best thing, and ordered it myself. Rich and spicy, big hunks of sausage and shrimp, and topped with fluffy white rice. One of my very favorite meals of the entire trip!!

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Ben opted for another Po’ Boy Sandwich! He couldn’t decide between a catfish or crawfish po’ boy so our waitress hooked him up with one of each. Can you say southern hospitality? This was as big as it looks and amazing. So fried, but SO AMAZING! We popped those crawfish tails like popcorn!

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Then we got to walkin’. The thing about the French Quarter is that you can take your drink with you anywhere, and there are little stalls on the street that you can order drinks from whenever you run out. We got some more hurricanes at this little stand, and were on our way.

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We strolled through the French Quarter, peeking through the gates of the narrow homes lining the streets, to view the fountains bubbling away in their quaint courtyards. Admired the iron work on the intricate balconies adorning each home, and basically had the most perfect night ever.

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Oh, and we drank beer. Huge Ass Beers to be exact. 

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And they were good!

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Finally, we headed to The Royal Sonesta’s Le Booze Bar and settled in for a couple drinks. A Pimms cup here, a Mojito there…we had a blast. :mrgreen:

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After several other stops to listen to some music and refill our cups – two weary travelers returned home, 100% satisfied with our first day in good ol’ New Orleans!

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Stay tuned for recaps of of New Orleans’ historic Garden District, a Plantation Tour, a trip to Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant NOLA and many more pictures of the French Quarter! :D

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Comments

  1. Jenny 03.30.2010

    Omg! When the bf and I went to Nola we ate at desire… And I drank a hurricane and ate red beans and rice! Small world:)

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kristin. Kristin said: New Orleans Day 1: Muffulettas, Beignets & Bourbon Street http://tinyurl.com/y8fsndf […]

  3. So you’re telling me that other parts of the country don’t have Zapps? That makes me sad.

    Loved your recap! Can’t wait to see the rest. NO is my alltime favorite city.

  4. Looks like SO much fun, I love Cafe du Monde. New Orleans is the best!

  5. Looks amazing!!! The food – WOW!!! Looking forward to more recaps. I’m so glad you had such a fantastic time!

  6. I have a french friend who makes the BEST beignets and I love her for it. Like little sugary pillows :-)

  7. Melanie 03.30.2010

    A deli here in Ames (West Street Deli) has had the muffuletta as a special a couple of times – delicious!!! I would love to try an original at the Napoleon House sometime! :)

  8. Jenna 03.30.2010

    I LOVE those Zapp’s! I always eat them directly on my sub :) SO tasty!

  9. Court and Whit 03.30.2010

    I’m on spring break this week, but we are not going anywhere. New Orleans looks like a blast, I look forward to reading more. Also thank you for posting our guest post:)

    -Court&Whit
    http://eatngroove.wordpress.com

  10. Yvette 03.30.2010

    You should totally host a travel/food show. You truly know how to appreciate and describe with such awesome detail. I have been eating all these things since I was a toddler and I couldn’t do as good of a job. A very long time ago you could pull up in the family car to get Beignets, Cafe Au Lait and chocolate milk for the tikes. It was often a Sunday evening end of the day treat. Brings back the most precious memories of my Mom – she loved Beignets so much. She would literally plead with my Dad to take us.

  11. Lauren 03.30.2010

    YAY!!! You’re home!! Missed you girl.

    Wow, looking at just day one of this trip, I can tell you guys had the BEST time! :)

    Can’t wait to see more. :)

  12. Ms. S 03.30.2010

    Looks like so much fun! :) I can’t wait to read more.

  13. What a vacay! I love looking at your pics and reading your recap. It totally reminds me of when I was in NOLA during Mardis Gras last year!

  14. Jenna 03.30.2010

    Wonderful food, gorgeous scenery, good drinks and hot weather, what more could you ask for? Looks like it was a blast, dear!

  15. So glad you had so much fun! I love your updates! So detailed and great for your readers!!

  16. Andrea 03.30.2010

    This post makes me wanna go on vacation SO BAD!! What the heck is a “po boy” other than a giant sandwich?!

  17. Midgetkeeper 03.30.2010

    Love the re-cap, looks like you had a great time. Makes me miss New Orleans.

  18. Sounds like Day 1 was a BLAST!! Yay for the South!!!! Boo for the humidity… but you learn to live with it.
    Hurricanes are the BEST!!! But they are so sweet, you don’t realize you’ve had too many until… you’ve had too many haha
    The beignets look AMAZING!

  19. *Andrea* 03.30.2010

    everything looks so delicious! i visited NOLA on a ‘deep south’ school trip in high school and loved it! so beautiful and such a rich culture

  20. Wow – that was just one day?! Sounds amazing. I had a Muffaletta at the same place and also fell in love with beignets when I was there 9 years ago. I would love to go back! We ate breakfast at Cafe du Monde every morning we were there. Did you know you can buy CDM beignet mix? Haven’t tried it, but might be worth a shot!

    • Susiehomaker 01.08.2012

      I’ve tried the @home CDM beignet mix, its a LOT harder than it looks lol. they were delish but didnt come out as fluffy :(

  21. Molly 03.30.2010

    You must have had soooo much fun! I wanna go there now, real bad! Can’t wait for more recaps :D

  22. Kristin 03.30.2010

    Great post! I feel like I had the exact same trip there a few months ago.

    1. I found those Zapp’s chips (in TWO FLAVORS) at the Altoona Hy-Vee the other day! In huge bags! You bet I bought them both :D

    2. My boyfriend is very anti-flying and I never thought to get him liquored up first. Haha. Great plan.

    3. Desire was my all-time fave, and I bought the garlic hot sauce to bring back to DSM… I use it all the time, but it just isn’t as good in Iowa!

    4. I have a picture of myself with powdered sugar all over me too! HA! Those things are crazy delicious.

    5. How weird was it to see the almost-naked girls trying to get you to come into the strip clubs on Bourbon?! Don’t see that in Des Moines, that’s for sure!!! Insane!!!

    Can’t wait to see the rest–looks like you had a great time! :)

    Kristin C.

  23. Wow, what a great post – so many photos and food!
    LOVE the Huge Ass Beers heh!! That made me chuckle :)
    I’m glad you had fun, I can’t wait for part II :)

  24. sara 03.31.2010

    so glad you’re back & that you had a good time!! N.O. looks amazing– now, I want to go!!

  25. […] Comments « New Orleans Day 1: Muffulettas, Beignets & Bourbon Street […]

  26. Kaitlin 03.31.2010

    This looks like such an awesome trip, I can’t wait to read more about it!!

  27. Dylan 03.31.2010

    Yay!! I love reading your recap and seeing New Orleans through someone else’s eyes! I’ve lived in Louisiana for 5 years and my boyfriend lives in NOLA, so I spend every weekend there. I’m so glad y’all had fun!!

  28. AP 03.31.2010

    This makes me miss New Orleans SO SO much! It looks like you guys had a great time! Can’t wait to hear the rest.

  29. AP 03.31.2010

    Seriously, it’s been 14 years since I have been there. Arggghhh! Note to self – master beignets.

  30. amy 03.31.2010

    Looks like such a fun trip!
    I was wondering where you got your purple short sleeve cardigan and that adorable khaki jacket you are wearing …both are sooo cute!

  31. Danielle 03.31.2010

    So far, it looks like you have been to the best places New Orleans has to offer. I am actually going to New Orleans next week for the French Quarter Fest, this will be my 8th in a row going to Nola!! I am only going for 4 days, but my dining destinations are Cafe Du Monde, Nola (Emerils shrimp and grits are amazing), Mothers , Acme Oyster House, and either Central Grocery or Napoleon House for a muffaletta. Next time you make a visit to the big easy, try out Coops Place, http://www.coopsplace.net/
    I think you 2 would enjoy it there :)

  32. Kristin 03.31.2010

    I just read this an HOUR before lunchtime. Big mistake! Fabulous photos and written details. This post absolutely just put New Orleans high on my travel list.

  33. andie 03.31.2010

    A friend of mine sent me over here because she knew this would make me smile. I always love reading/hearing about someone’s first visit to New Orleans.

    I’m a NOLA girl, born & raised, and it’s always so fun to hear all about someone’s first visit to my home town!

  34. emily 03.31.2010

    Love seeing bits of your new orleans trip! you all are doing ALL the right things!! that is for sure!! we are on our way there for Jazz fest at the end of april :) cannot wait!

  35. […] thrilling and I’ve been thinking about it for oh, a week or so, ever since we got back from New Orleans – Cajun Shrimp & Corn Maque […]

  36. Jessie Deluxe 06.28.2010

    OH MAN! Thanks for all these beautiful posts!! Its like I was there all over again xo

  37. […] and I have been missing New Orleans like woah lately. It’s seriously rivaling my love for all cities in California. That’s. […]

  38. […] through CookingLight.com the other day and spied this Southern-inspired recipe, then I used my Huge Ass Beer cup from NOLA the other day for something, and I was totally […]

  39. […] I have been thinking about this for a while; namely, since this past summer when I picked up a running magazine and saw the series featured, but what kicked me into gear recently was a post from a blog I love: A Healthier Happier Bear, where she outlined some of her upcoming races for the year.  Why those races?  Well, frankly, running down the strip sounds pretty neat, plus the weather would be interesting to experience – and honestly, I have to admit a big motivation of doing the NOLA race is a justifiable reason to visit Cafe Du Monde, as Iowa Girl Eats outlined on a visit she took there. […]

  40. […] This thing was HUGE (I can’t even imagine how many people the full sized sandwich would feed!) and so. freaking. delicious. Dare I say, better than anything we had in New Orleans?! […]

  41. […] Dad lent me Charles Kuralt’s America book when Ben and I went to New Orleans a few years ago, in which Charles describes some of the most memorable places he’s been to […]

  42. briana 12.29.2011

    Where do you reccommend staying in New orleans??? Im planning a trip in April…

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.03.2012

      We stayed at the Best Western St. Christopher and it was PERFECT. Right across the street from Bourbon St so we were close to the action without being right in the middle of the noisy drunkeness. :)

    • Susiehomaker 01.08.2012

      Brianna my husband and I always stay in the Holiday Inn on Royal St. It’s one block away from Bourbon and the craziness but close enough to “crawwl” back if needed lol and if you look online a lot of the time you can get discounted rates on Orbitz. The hotel is absolutely beautiful, immaculately clean, very friendly knwledgeable staff all make for a reat place to stay.

  43. Susiehomaker 01.08.2012

    Next time in NOLA you need to try a hand grenadde or several, and go to Acme Oyster House on Iberville St. to have some of the best oysters ever and thier 10 Napkin Roast Beef Po Boy (literally THE BEST I’ve ever had). If you save your souvenire cup for your hand grenade you can get a refill at $2 off the price. Also, there is ALWAYS a LONG line outside of Acme, a good sign that it’s truly a great eatery, if you let them know you’re willing to eat/sit at the bar you get in MUCH faster!

  44. Susiehomaker 01.08.2012

    @Brianna my husband and I always stay in the Holiday Inn on Royal St. It’s one block away from Bourbon and the craziness but close enough to “crawwl” back if needed lol and if you look online a lot of the time you can get discounted rates on Orbitz. The hotel is absolutely beautiful, immaculately clean, very friendly knwledgeable staff all make for a reat place to stay.

  45. […] whooping it up on Bourbon Street with huge ass beers, to learning more about the history of the South on several plantation tours, and exploring nearly […]

  46. Jamie L. 07.06.2012

    I love this! It makes me homesick! New Orleans is one of the best places in the country to visit, there is just nothing like it. I’m originally from Louisiana, and am dying to plan a trip back ASAP! So glad you enjoyed it to the fullest!

  47. […] Moving on! All you need is 2 teaspoons bourbon and 1-1/2 teaspoon maple syrup to give this sweet corn unbelievable depth of flavor and a hint of something really special. If you don’t want to buy a whole bottle of bourbon, Maker’s sells those wee, itty-bitty bottles that would be perfect for this dish. Man I love those things – look how cute! […]

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