French Quarter

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

SEE

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.

Cabildo

701 Chartres St
504-568-6968
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
504-529-3040
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.

EAT

Bayona

625 Chartres St
504-525-4455
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.

Sylvain

430 Dauphine St
504-265-8123
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.’

Galatoire’s

209 Bourbon St
504-525-2021
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.

DRINK

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.

Our Local Publisher Partners

The Arts Council of New Orleans

The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.

WWNO

WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.

WWOZ

WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.

PRC

Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.

NOMA

As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

Southern Food

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.

X

Thanks.

was added to your favorites.

VIEW YOUR PROFILE

 


Share On Twitter Share On Facebook