Nate and I made a decision when we got close to our first wedding anniversary. We would always celebrate our anniversaries in a different city. The first year, we went to Savannah and had the best time! For our second anniversary, we were stumped. The weather wasn’t going to be cooperating in many places that were within a drive to Birmingham, and it was too chilly for anything outdoorsy. Enter New Orleans.
While neither of us had been to Savannah, both of us had been to NoLa separately, in a party hard fashion. We decided New Orleans would be a way different place, if we didn’t go to party, but instead explore and, well… EAT.
We stayed at the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette, right off Canal Street and across from the famous Roosevelt.
Even though we promised we wouldn’t party hardy, our first night in New Orleans, we decided to take our second annual anniversary ghost tour, and it happened to be right off Bourbon Street. So of course we had to get a hand grenade while we were there!
We woke up early the next morning and dropped in to CrossFit Nola to work up a major appetite for the day, because every sane person decides to workout on vacation for fun and to get a t-shirt (really the main reason to drop into a box when you’re traveling).
Our first stop was at Willa Jean. Frose Y’all shirts greeted us as we were immediately sat in a restaurant full of natural light and Southern meets fresh food charm. I had the BBQ Shrimp Toast (grilled sourdough + burrata + gulf shrimp + NOLA style BBQ) and Nate, the Huevos Rancheros (corn tortillas + black beans + avocado + red chile + charred tomatillo + cotija cheese + fried eggs). Both were amazing and practically licked clean. On our way out, we stopped at the bakery counter to get something sweet for later, but immediately ate the chocolate croissant and praline brownie after walking out the door.
From there, we wandered around Jackson Square and the French Market, took a street car and inevitably wound up at Harrah’s. All of this totaled a good three miles, so we decided we worked up enough of an appetite to eat again.
Parkway Bakery and Tavern was not in walking distance to anything we would be visiting so we took an Uber over. Actually, we tried to walk the 2 miles out there, but gave up somewhere near a cemetery because at that point, we had already walked aimlessly for hours and worked out. Anyway… Parkway had been recommended to us as the ONLY place to get Po’Boys in New Orleans (or as they like to call them Poor Boys). When the Uber driver picked us up and relayed the same message, we knew it had to be true. When we saw the line circling out and around the building, we REALLY knew it was true. Parkway Bakery and Tavern had been open, on and off, since 1911. Originally just a bakery, the restaurant claims to have invented the “Poor Boy” in 1929, to feed the workers of the Amerinca Can Company. The line moved quickly and they got your food out pretty fast. I had the signature sandwich, Slow Cooked Roast Beef, and Nate enjoyed the Golden Fried Shrimp. When they say you need a napkin, they weren’t kidding! By the end of the meal, my wrapper looked like a crime scene. Nate loved the fry on his shrimp.
After a walk back to the hotel and a much needed nap, we began the official night of celebration for our anniversary. First stop, The Sazerac Bar, located in The Roosevelt! The room was all wood-paneled, with a very art-deco vibe that left you feeling like you just took a step back into time (although the prices will kindly remind you that you are in the 21st century). I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned drink with egg whites, so I got the Ramos Gin Fizz and Nate, the Sazerac (how could you not, when you’re at THE Sazerac?). We managed to find a seat and enjoyed our cocktails before venturing onward.
The Commander’s Palace is an iconic blue building and had that old school charm of a fine dining establishment. Jackets are preferred, the lighting is dim (sorry for the bad photos) and you better let them pour your wine for you. We both started with a bottle of the restaurant’s own label of Cabernet and the Oyster & Absinthe “Dome,” something that someone at CrossFit had recommended to us that morning. We were skeptical, but once we tasted it, we knew the rest of the meal was going to be fantastic. Next up, Nate got the Gumbo Du Jour, that he says was the best gumbo he has ever eaten, and I got the Harvest Salad, also delicious. Our main course, Nate chose the Filet Mignon, also exclaiming that it was one of the best steaks he’s ever had, and I got the Osso Buco. Not only did everything taste delicious, but the presentation was beautiful and the serving, always timed to arrive in front of you at the same time. The grand finale was First of the Season Strawberry Shortcake and (after so much indecision) the Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé. They even gave us some fun paper chef hats! By the end of the meal we were so full and food drunk (maybe a little drunk drunk too), we decided to skip our after dinner plans to go back to Harrah’s, so I could unbutton my pants (I was in a dress).
We couldn’t not go to Cafe Du Monde and woke up very early the next day to go before we left the city. If you don’t want to wait in long lines, 8 am on a Tuesday is a great time to go. We enjoyed our Cafe au Lait and beignets on a very foggy morning in what I imagine might be the quietest time of the city.
On our way back, we got some Kings Cake (voted best on the Gulf Coast!) to bring back to our offices with us from Rouses Market. We were very popular that next day.
And because we did not eat enough the past day and a half, we made a last minute decision to have a second breakfast (because how long can beignets fill you up for?!) at St. Roch’s Market. St Roch’s is a food hall that you just wouldn’t expect was there. But inside the all white aesthetics and multi-cultural lineup felt like a different world. It was hard to choose which of the booths to go to, and I so wish we had been there for lunch, but we both got something from JuiceNOLA and were one last time wowed. The Toast Supreme (mashed avocado, cherry tomato, black beans, corn, cotija cheese, avocado chipotle dressing, fried egg, chimi cherry sauce) wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before, but the freshness of the ingredients made it spectacular!
All in all, it was a really wonderful trip and a great roadtrip for our cotton anniversary. The trip largely centered around food, and next time we go, we would definitely plan some more activities. I love that we live in a part of the country where we can hop in the car for a weekend trip somewhere new and exciting! Cheers to many more in the future.