We all know that people love to come visit New Orleans. From old college roommates, second cousins and family friends, everyone wants to come experience the “amazing food, music and culture” ask, “what’s the city like after Katrina?” and, “is there really Voo Doo?”
The problem is that whenever your tourist friends come to visit, you wind up doing the same things. Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street, Cafe du Monde, the French Market blah blah blah. You know those places are cheesy but when someone has only a weekend to spend in the city, they want to bring home some Mardi Gras beads (in October), eat a beignet and try and send snapchats from any brass band playing, anywhere.
The Irish Channel is a much under-rated area of New Orleans, defined as the neighborhood between Magazine and the River/ First and Toledano. If you’re playing host for a weekend, or even just a day, here is a round-up of places in Irish Channel that will provide a more enjoyable experience for you while leaving your guests feeling like they saw some “authentic” New Orleanian life.
Parasol’s Bar and Restaurant 2533 Constance St.
Since you probably went out drinking the night before and as a result slept in, start the day with killer po-boys from Parasol’s as your first meal. Their firecracker shrimp is my favorite po-boy in town and their onion rings are amazing.This is one of the only po-boy places that has a vegetarian option. Not necessarily the best vegetarian restaurant in town, but if there is one veg in the group, the veggie burger should keep them satisfied.
Simon of New Orleans 1028 Jackson Ave.
If you live in the city, it is basically impossible to miss Simon’s folk art signs that can be found on the door of almost every business in town. Swing by his workshop and you’ll often find him and his employees (cool tattooed women and adorable granddaughters on weekends) hand painting the iconic signs that seem to be everywhere. While his pieces ($150 and up) probably won’t fit with you guest’s budget or in their carry-on, Simon sells magnets (3 for $10) that make for excellent souvenirs.
Defend New Orleans Store 1101 First Street @ Magazine St.
Speaking of souvenirs, nothing is better than a T-shirt your guests can wear back home. Visit the Defend New Orleans Store and pick up a some trendy threads ($22-$25 for shirts and tanks, $48 for hoodies). The store also sells a variety of other items such as hats, tote bags, coin purses, art prints, candles (one scent even called New Orleans), bottle openers, patches and stickers. Convince your friends to buy their presents here because 20% of profits from sales are donated to various charities, non-profits and institutions in New Orleans.
COFFEE AND DONUTS
District Donuts Sliders Brew 2209 Magazine St.
After all this shopping, you and your out of towners are bound to be ready for an afternoon caffeine fix. Head to District for some delicious cold brew (coffee, not beer. Don’t worry, beer later). While this is a newer joint, the stylish decor, strong coffee and killer desserts have made it a Magazine St. staple. You might still be full from the po-boys but make sure you split a donut because everyone has room for at least one bite.
Walk off that donut (come on, who actually eats one bite?) by visiting the various boutiques that line the last couple Irish Channel blocks of Magazine St. There are antique shops, clothing boutiques, and galleries all for your perusing. Check out Trashy Diva for a collection of vintage inspired shoes, dressed, accessories, swim suits and lingerie. Men should visit Aidan Gill for Men to smell all the expensive cologne and shaving supplies grown ups wear (Old Spice deodorant will do for now).
Magasin Cafe 4201 Magazine St.
Indulge in New Orleans’ second most popular cuisine (after fried food) by eating at Magasin Cafe for delicious and inexpensive Vietnamese food. Start with a round or two of spring rolls for the table and then be sure to try their brisket pho. This place is a real treat with great prices, service, ambiance and food.
The Bulldog 3236 Magazine St.
Enjoy after-dinner drinks by sitting in The Bulldog’s outdoor patio (with a very cool beer tap fountain). Everyone will find something they can drink as they have 50 beers on tap and over 100 more in bottles. On Wednesday night you get a free collectible glass with every pint your purchase. Check out their other specials here. While this bar can get loud, it’s certainly a crowd pleaser.
Tipitinas 501 Napoleon Ave.
End the night by dancing your booty off with a show at the classic Uptown venue, Tipitina’s. If it’s summer, enjoy a free show for Free Fridays. Otherwise, check out their calendar to see who’s performing and find out about ticket prices. Three bars, two stories and plenty of space for dancing!
Give them a real New Orleans experience that doesn’t include boobs or Bourbon Street. They’ll thank you later.