Cajun and Creole food is abundant in New Orleans so why not make it a quest? I was in search of the best cup of gumbo and am delighted to announce I found it at Mulate’s, http://www.mulates.com, near the convention center! Try a bowl of their Zydeco Gumbo, which is roux-based with shrimp, chunks of sausage, chicken and okra. It had just the right amount of heat … enough to make my nose drip … but just one nostril which was perfect. You may want to make your quest all about red beans & rice, meat pies (had one … delish), alligator, boudin balls (hubby’s personal favorite), crawfish etouffee, jambalaya or even oyster po’boys. Another restaurant I recommend is Mother’s, http://www.mothersrestaurant.com, at 401 Poydras Street. No need to dress up if you are going to Mother’s. They have been around since 1938 and know how to cook New Orleans cuisine. And they have some downright righteous gumbo! If you find yourself hungry for breakfast in the morning why not stop in at Oceana, http://www.oceanagrill.com, located at 739 Conti Street, in the French Quarter. We split the St. James Crepes loaded with shrimp and crabmeat. Thank goodness the waitress warned us it was plenty for two!
Okay … so you have to sleep somewhere when in New Orleans. The French Quarter has lots of great options. If you want to get a few hours of great sleep we steer clear of places on Bourbon Street. We are not late-night party animals. Actually, we try to stay away from most places adjacent to Bourbon Street. If you like garbage trucks, motorcycles and party-goers all through the night go ahead … I dare you! We love the Monteleone Hotel, http://www.hotelmonteleone.com, located at 214 Royal Street. With over 600 rooms you can easily request a quiet room and be assured to get one. Be sure and check out the Carousel Bar. Opened in 1949, it is the only revolving bar in New Orleans and makes one complete revolution every 15 minutes.
We found several interesting transportation options while in New Orleans. The street car ride down St. Charles’ Garden District is lots of fun. There are also romantic horse-drawn carriages clip-clopping all through the French Quarter. Jackson Square seems to be where they hang out. But for short hops around the Quarter why not try a bike taxi? FYI bike taxis can accommodate 2 riders and charge one dollar per block per person. If you’ve walked all day, a ride back to your hotel may well be worth the buckage! Our favorite pedaler was Russell, a 3-year pedal veteran in the bike taxi world and also college graduate with a double major. He can’t find a job so Russell pedals people around 60 hours a week. He toted us from Harrah’s Casino to Café du Monde for some late-night beignets. And yes … they accept tips!
We love to attend Mass in a city we are visiting. On our last visit to New Orleans we attended Mass at St. Louis Cathedral, http://www.stlouiscathedral.org, located at 615 Pere Antoine Alley, in Jackson Square. St. Louis was founded in 1720 and is the oldest Cathedral in North America. This time we stayed on Poydras Street in the Business District. The hotel was walking distance to St. Patrick’s. http://www.oldstpatricks.org, located at 724 Camp Street. The lovely church dates back to the early 1800’s and has the most amazing stained glass! There are three beautiful murals behind the altar painted in 1841 that are worth feasting your eyes on, particularly the one that depicts The Transfiguration.
I saved the jewel of New Orleans for last. The National WWII Museum http://www.nationalww2museum.org is located on Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp and Magazine Street. The museum itself is filled with interesting WWII history presented in state-of-the-art fashion. My favorites were the occasional alcoves with bench seating. They show mini-movies, or slides, and a personal narrative. Also, be sure and reserve tickets for the 4-D movie “Beyond All Boundaries” narrated by Tom Hanks. The movie is 45-minutes long, and literally, a moving experience. I will not give any surprises away. Don’t forget to head across the street where six WWII-era aircraft hang from the ceiling. That is also the location of “Final Mission: The USS Tang Experience,” the most decorated submarine during WWII. This interactive exhibit (tickets also required) is located in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. You will learn about the final mission of the submarine. Each person is given a card of one of the crew. You will report to a station on the sub and participate in the final mission. The story is quite moving. Only a few survived. Find out after the mission if you were one of them. A special exhibit entitled “Guest of the Third Reich: American POW’s in Europe” is also very interesting and should not be missed. This exhibit ends July 7, 2013. The museum houses a soda shop (Jeri Nims Soda Shop) and a full-service restaurant (called American Sector) as well as several excellent gift shops. A museum expansion is scheduled to open later this year, with another expansion opening in 2014, so you will be going back for years to this amazing museum and loving tribute to all who served.