How I Spent Three Days in New Orleans
This summer, I spent one week in New Orleans, and I'm ready to fully review the entire experience. I spent Saturday through Saturday in NOLA and after a lot of sleep and laundry, I jotted down some notes while the trip was still fresh on my mind. Those notes evolved into a full blog post, so here's my full recap.
I went to New Orleans for a work conference, and extended my stay for a few extra days to fully experience the magic of New Orleans outside conference rooms. The conference was incredible, I learned so much and met some great School PR professionals from around the country.
After the conclusion of the conference, I spent three days with Emma and Erick exploring the city. The entire trip was perfect, and even with one full week in town, I still feel like there's a million more things we could've done!
In this article:
Where to Eat
Here's a review of all the best restaurants I visited during the trip. Clearly New Orleans has no shortage of amazing food options, and I only began to scratch the surface. I still feel full after all the amazing restaurants we visited.
Is this, by far, the best plate of shrimp and grits I've ever had in my life? Is this, by far, the best plate of shrimp and grits to ever exist in our mortal realm? Absolutely, yes, to both questions.
We went to Surrey's twice during the trip, and both times I ordered the shrimp and grits. Much like eathing from the tree in the Garden of Eden (don't fact-check me, biblical scholars), I left with the knowledge that I will never eat anything as good as that ever again in my life. The fresh squeezed juice, especially the watermelon limeade (🤤), was equally delicious. The wait on a Sunday morning was around 30-40 minutes, but the French Truck Coffee down the street had a near-perfect cold brew that held me over until we could grab a table. Once inside, the food was ready within minutes of ordering. When reading the reviews before going, I thought one reviewer was being dramatic when she said she had to come back to this restaurant three times during her brief stay, but believe me, if I could've returned a third time, I would have. (Dear Surrey's, please open up a location in Chattanooga, thank you.)
During the conference, this restaurant was right down the street from our hotel, and we popped in for a quick dinner one evening before returning to the hotel to catch The Bachelorette. Friends, I am nothing if not consistent, especially when it comes to my television habits. There was a line out the door, but it moved very quickly, and we were seated within 15 minutes.
I had to get a Po Boy, and thoroughly enjoyed this "peacemaker" Po Boy with half shrimp, half oysters and spicy mayo. I would highly recommend this for a quick stop for lunch or dinner, and for some traditional New Orleans seafood.
This is another place close to the conference hotel that I walked to for lunch one afternoon. I had to try a muffuletta while in town, and I'm glad I chose Welty's for this rite of passage. My mom would often make muffuletta growing up, so this was also nostalgic and cozy to eat.
From the crunchy and soft bread to the delicious olive blend (and I don't even like olives), this muffuletta was unmatched. They also had huge, delicious looking salads, plenty of other sandwiches, fresh mango lemonade, and some brownies I regret not giving a try. I could barely finish half of this sandwich, so take a friend with you to split the meal!
At night, I dream of sushi rolls. Some of you are counting sheep, and I am counting salmon rolls jumping over clouds into a wasabi meadow. Weird metaphors aside, just know that I love sushi. So, when I saw a 5-star rated sushi restaurant pop up on Google Maps within walking distance of our hotel, I knew exactly where we'd be eating dinner that night.
I tried two rolls and the calamari fries, and it was all mouth-watering. I tried the Black and Gold, and the Crunch Roll, and I can't choose a favorite between the two.
I also really enjoyed the vibes here. You could sit in the indoor dining room, at the sushi bar (where you could watch the chefs prepare the sushi) or on their outdoor patio. Their happy hour deals were decent, and the cocktail I had was a delicious companion to the sushi.
A special shoutout to my brother, Blake, for this recommendation. While the decor of this place screams "I stopped by a Goodwill"/abandoned McDonald's, the food couldn't have been more appetizing.
I tried this vegan Chick'n sandwich, and wow. In a time of never-ending chicken sandwich wars, I have to believe that none of them compare to this non-chicken sandwich in New Orleans.
Based on appearances alone, their burger and vegetarian collard green melt sandwich are also worth a try.
Erick and I are big MasterChef fans, so when we discovered that one of the judges, Aaron Sanchez, had a restaurant in New Orleans, we put it at the top of our list to try. After spending most of the week eating way too much delicious food, I was in the mood for a salad.
When I say this is the best salad I've ever had, I'm not even close to exaggerating. The steak was so tender and flavorful, and the pickled carrots and onions were a true delight. I could eat this salad every day. I also can't deny that their queso, guacamole and jalapeno margaritas are all worth ordering.
7. Café Beignet
No meal would be complete without dessert, of course. We skipped the tourist-packed Café du Monde and spent one afternoon lounging at Café Beignet, eating some fresh, hot beignets and listening to live jazz music. I recommend them for their incredible beignets and speedy service.
What to Do
Let's be honest, most of this trip revolved around where we ate. But here are a few excursions we took besides just walking around + eating good food that I'd recommend to anyone.
Honey Island Swamp Tour
This was probably my favorite activity of the trip! We drove around 30 minutes outside of downtown New Orleans to the Honey Island Swamp, where we embarked on a two-hour boat tour. The boat took us deep into the swamp, and we saw several alligators, raccoons, turtles and heard the distant sounds of some wild boar. It was relaxing to just chill on the boat, and exciting to see alligators jump out of the water right next to us. Click here for more about Honey Island.
World War II Museum
I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I'm a sucker for a good museum, so when I saw this highly-rated National WWII museum, I knew I had to give it a try. Honestly, I think we were expecting to only be in the museum for a couple of hours, but we ended up staying for five full hours until we had to leave because the museum closed. They offer a heavily discounted second-day rate, and I know we would've gone back a second time if it hadn't been our last day in town.
There is so much to look at in this museum, it seems to go on forever. We didn't even make it to all the exhibits before closing time, as there was so much to read and watch and look through. The exhibits cover all aspects of the war, including art soldiers and POW made out of war materials, first-hand accounts from veterans, letters sent home to families, and so much more. I really enjoyed the 4D film narrated by Tom Hanks, and the café made a great stop for lunch. 10/10 would recommend stopping by here during your trip to New Orleans.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Sheraton New Orleans. In order to avoid moving around, we decided to book another few days in the same hotel where my conference was held. I didn't know what to expect, but I really enjoyed my stay! This is a tall hotel, equipped with fancy elevators that took us to the 20th floor. We had great views, comfy accommodations and a super nice & safe place to stay in a prime location.
All in All
On the last night of our trip, we ate at a random, nearby restaurant within walking distance. As we were standing outside, trying to decide what to do next, a random guy approached us and let us know that a comedy show was about to start in the next half our in the venue right next to us. We cancelled our Uber, and decided to purchase tickets to the show.
I am not one to go with the flow. Ask any of my friends, it's just not my thing. I like to have a plan, and I struggle to be spontaneous. However, that night I think I relaxed (marginally), and we ended up having the most magical time. The comedy show had us laughing out loud, and afterwards we ended up in the casino, where I won $300 on a slot machine.
I think that sums up my experience with New Orleans. Although I tried to have a detailed itinerary before leaving, as I always do, so many of these experiences happened on a whim. And so many of the best parts involved just walking around the French Quarter or finding a restaurant within walking distance after a long day.
*Insert cheesy wrap-up line about how it's probably called the Big Easy for a reason*.
I think the best thing you can do is to let New Orleans surprise you. Visit all my recommended places, of course, but enjoy the journey and have a good time.
In loving memory of Surrey's, I want to know, what's the best thing you've ever eaten for brunch? Leave a comment and let me know!
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