In a recent column, I mentioned that I sent a Facebook friend my tips on New Orleans, a city I visit often. “Talk about teasers,” Steve Hepokoski of Maple Grove wrote in an e-mail, reflecting the sentiment of many I received. “Are you going to share your ‘many’ favorite spots with the rest of us?”
Absolutely. First up: City Park, built in 1854 and bigger than New York City’s Central Park. Go for the miniature golf, sculpture garden and Spanish moss dripping from sprawling oaks. Stay for the beignets. Morning Call, a storied beignet shop, occupies a charming old building with marble counters and views of swans circling a pond.
In the French Quarter, stop by Lucullus (on Chartres), an antique store devoted to French culinary finery, from crystal to gleaming copper pots. Gorgeous stuff. Equally stunning is the interior courtyard at the back of the store. Such mossy, bricky courtyards are hidden throughout the Quarter, but visitors can rarely access them.
Two blocks down is the 90-year-old, aromatic Hové Parfumeur. Its Spanish moss- or magnolia-scented soaps beat T-shirts as an authentic souvenir.
For lunch, head straight to Cochon Butcher in the Warehouse District (next to the Quarter). Among its collection of terrific sandwiches and sides is the best muffuletta in the city. The chef behind the operation, Donald Link, is a Cajun whose white-tablecloth spots are also stellar. Try Herbsaint or his new restaurant, Pêche (which, I’m sorry to say, I have yet to visit). It’s already earned two James Beard Awards: Best New Restaurant and Best Chef, South.
Other dining options? Restaurant August, if you want to blow the bank (reserve a table in the chandeliered front room); Mandina’s for old-school New Orleans fare and patrons. In that ’hood, stop by Angelo Brocato for gelato and other Sicilian treats.
My tip on music: Keep your ears open. It’s everywhere. Now, let the good times roll.