French Quarter

  • Written by Katy Reckdahl
  • Audio by Eve Abrams
  • Photos by Cheryl Gerber


Jackson Square

If New Orleans has a town square or a public green, it’s Jackson Square. That vision – the St Louis Cathedral facing the river, flanked by the Cabildo and the Pontalba buildings – was in fact the first glimpse most visitors had of New Orleans, seeing as most people arrived here by boat back in the day. Drop by, peruse the street art, listen to the musicians, get your tarot read and soak up the city.


701 Chartres St
10am-4:30pm Tue-Sun

The Cabildo, which fronts Jackson Square, can be called the historical keystone of the state of Louisiana without any hyperbole. The building itself is a national historic landmark built under Spanish rule from 1795-1799, named for the municipal governing body that was located there. Today it serves as a state museum dedicated to the history of Louisiana, with exhibits on indigenous peoples, the settlement and demographics of the state, and the history of slavery, among other topics. Before the building became a museum in 1908, the Cabildo served as city hall, courthouse and prison. On the second floor is the Sala Capitular, or “Meeting Room”, in which the controversial ‘separate but equal’ decision legalizing segregation was handed down during Plessy vs Ferguson in 1896.

Old Ursuline Convent

1112 Chartres St
10am-4pm Mon-Sat

Contrary to popular perception, very few buildings in the French Quarter are of direct French descent. The great fires of 1788 and 1794 destroyed much of the Quarter, which was subsequently rebuilt under Spanish rule; consequently, much of the Vieux Carre architectural heritage is Spanish-Caribbean in style. The Old Ursuline Convent, home to the Ursuline nuns who helped establish colonial New Orleans, is the notable exception to this rule. Today the handsome stone building serves as a museum for the Ursuline order and the diocese of New Orleans.



625 Chartres St
lunch and dinner, Wed-Sat, dinner only Mon & Tue

The home restaurant of Susan Spicer is one of the finest fine dining experiences in the city. Spicer is the rare celebrity chef who doesn’t seem to like being a celebrity, or the empire building that comes with the status. Instead, she focuses on providing a locally-sourced, delicious gastronomic experience in her baby: Bayona, a restaurant that manages to blend the finest homegrown New Orleans cooking traditions with the best of global ingredients and techniques. Spicer’s modesty and dedication to her craft are an inspiration for many chefs, and indeed, Bayona has a reputation of being a chefs’ restaurant, the place food preparers go to get good food.


430 Dauphine St
dinner daily, brunch and dinner Fri-Sun

Gastropubs – homey bars that combine good drink with good food – are often flawed in execution. When you’re trying to be a good pub and a good restaurant all at once, sometimes you stretch your influences too thin. Not so at Sylvain, which manages to blend the best in artisanal cocktails with some jaw-droppingly good comfort food (oh, to be feasting on that grilled garlic sausage and those black lentils…mmmm). Staff are friendly without being pretentious, and overall this is a sophisticated and well-executed dining experience than is still easily accessible to someone who cringes at the word ‘foodie.’


209 Bourbon St
11:30am-10pm, from noon Sun

“Look at these people,” our dining companion says. “They’ve been drinking since 11am.” It’s currently 7pm. A decidedly red-faced man makes a comment that we cannot type here, but suffice to say it causes his entire table to laugh, although a few ladies turn red as well. “The difference between a crazy man and an eccentric?” Our friend says. “A million dollars.” Welcome to Galatoire’s, one of those great bastions of traditional New Orleans dining, famous for its all-day boozy Friday lunches, which play host to many of the city’s elite. The decor has largely remained the same for a century and they only just started taking credit cards a few years ago. Most importantly, the food is delicious – as rich as Scrooge McDuck (crabmeat in melted cheese sauce, anyone?), and undeniably impeccable.


Molly’s at the Market

1107 Decatur St

This excellent bar is packed with locals and tourists who know a good drinking hole when they see one. The jukebox is full of great hits and the frozen ice coffee provides a nice balanced kick of booze and caffeine. See that urn behind the bartenders? It contains the ashes of the original owner. I love New Orleans.

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