French Quarter Adventures
See, eat & sleep New Orleans’ most famous neighborhood
CHERYL GERBER PHOTO
From festivals and beautiful weather to new menus and exhibits, spring brings a long list of reasons to venture into the Vieux Carré. The French Quarter provides a unique historical and cultural backdrop for the fun and entertainment locals and tourists are able to enjoy alongside one another.
Looking for an adventure this spring? “The French Quarter Business Association website, FQBA.org, is a great resource for finding out what’s going on in the French Quarter,” says Brittany Mulla, Executive Director of the FQBA. With a calendar of events and around 300 members, visitors to the site will find events and specials at various restaurants, hotels, stores and more.
This May, locals and visitors alike will want to keep an eye out for the “Get Away in the Vieux Carré” campaign promoted by the FQBA. An effort to bring locals into the neighborhood for “stay-cations” and the French Quarter experience, raffles will be available with winnings such as hotel stays, lunches and dinners, and other entertainment packages.
With a wealth of historical images and information, The Historic New Orleans Collection is a go-to resource for all things related to the city’s unique past.
This spring, the THNOC is opening a new photography exhibition exploring the connections between New Orleans and its Latin Caribbean cousins. Featuring the work of local award-winning photographer Richard Sexton, the free exhibition opens April 15 in THNOC’s latest gallery space, the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art at 410 Chartres St. The new space offers French Quarter visitors a chance to immerse themselves in local and regional visual art.
Martin Lawerence Gallery
A block over, the Martin Lawrence Gallery offers visitors a look at fine art from around the world. Offering a large collection of modern masters such as Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Miro, as well as Andy Warhol, Erte, and artists they publish, such as Robert Deyber, Felix Mas, Renee Lalonde, Francois Fressinier and others, Martin Lawrence Galleries are known for their inventory of quality pieces. In addition, artist Robert Deyber will be in attendance for a reception on April 11.
“This is a really fun show for us,” says Mary Coxe, Gallery Director. “People love his work because of the play on words. We sold 26 paintings during his first show in New Orleans.” Coxe recommends calling for invitations.
For an exhibit you can both see and taste, venture down to Aunt Sally’s Pralines’ new, expanded location just outside of the French Quarter. While treats are still sold at their 810 Decatur St. original location, the new CBD St. Charles location features a new, industrial-sized kitchen designed to maintain the traditional cooking method on a larger scale.
The Historic Creole Praline Tasting Tour, an hour-long tour through time, explores the history of the family business, now in its third and fourth generations of ownership, as well as the art of praline making; a praline tasting rounds out the tour. Tickets for adults run $19.99 and include a six-pack of pralines (a $13.99 value). Make reservations for the tour by calling (800) 642-7257.
Speaking of New Orleans flavor, there’s a new restaurant making a big splash in its first year of business. Kingfish is one of the latest ventures of Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts with New Orleans-born Executive Chef Greg Sonnier at the helm of the kitchen.
Aptly named after the nickname for Louisiana’s famous governor, Huey P. Long, Kingfish shows off Sonnier’s culinary creativity and Louisiana’s eccentricities. With a large horseshoe-shaped bar and world-famous mixologist Chris McMillan, Kingfish celebrates the cocktail as well as the cuisine.
“The restaurant has the large, brick walls you see all over the French Quarter and an open, exposed kitchen, where you can see chef Greg in the middle calling out dishes. You feel a part of the kitchen,” says Zeid Ammari, COO of Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts.
Situated a few blocks away in a more than 200-year-old cottage is Bayona, acclaimed restaurant of chef Susan Spicer.
“An example of the rare and famous ‘Brick and Post’ construction, Bayona is one block from Bourbon Street, yet a world away from the revelry,” says Regina Keever, Event Coordinator. “It is an oasis filled with charm, award-winning cuisine and service for the worldly diner.”
Bayona’s menu moves across a spectrum of styles and influences using local ingredients to craft flavorful and balanced yet complex dishes. Spicer takes inspiration from across the globe, which is evident in Bayona’s daily specials.
In the heart of the action, located directly on Bourbon Street, is Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak, a traditional steakhouse and the latest expansion of Galatoire’s Restaurant.
“We focus on the standards and do it right,” says Executive Chef Michael Sichel. “What’s cool about Galatoire’s is that this comes with 106 years of tradition, and we’re establishing a steakhouse with that merit. It’s not new – it’s new and old and nostalgic.”
Maintaining the upscale, popular atmosphere of the original Galatoire’s, 33 Bar & Steak is connected to the original restaurant on every floor and features a bar on Bourbon Street.
There is nothing like a long nap after a big meal or a comfortable bed to collapse in after a night of entertainment. Accommodations in the French Quarter vary in style and offerings as much as the shops and restaurants.
Located in a quieter residential section of the French Quarter, Hotel St. Pierre provides guests with a relaxed setting reminiscent of another time.
“Hotel St. Pierre is set in 13 historically authentic and charming buildings, which include Creole Colonial cottages dating back to the 1700s, set amid lush tropical courtyards, pools and fountains,” says Jodi Lafranca, Director of Sales and Marketing. “It has the feel of a bed and breakfast – you’d never guess it has 70 rooms.”
With rooms set around six distinct courtyards, Hotel St. Pierre can book groups in their own areas so they feel like they have the place to themselves. Featuring historic architectural elements, most rooms have French doors opening onto courtyards or balconies overlooking the mesmerizing cityscape.
Hotel Le Marais offers guests an upscale, boutique experience described as an amalgamation of classic and modern. “The hotel is a fresh look at what the best of the French Quarter can be – new, modern in style, but still grounded in the historic nature of its location,” says Marc Becker, Area Director of Sales & Marketing for New Orleans Hotel Collection.
Four-star amenities and a focus on being both personal and personable add to the hotel’s draw. “An incredible courtyard with heated saltwater pool and bar access is a perfect touch,” adds Becker.
The New Orleans Hotel Collection offers a discount for guests booking directly with the hotel, called their “hospitality rate” (visit NewOrleansHotelCollection.com/beverage for details).
Recently renovated in 2012 and featuring more than 10,660 square feet of function space on the hotel’s first floor, the Hyatt French Quarter offers the possibility of large meetings, weddings and events of any size. It features two outdoor venues: a pool courtyard and French Quarter courtyard. Additionally, its atrium features original bargeboard, exposed beams and is a popular local wedding spot for ceremonies and receptions.
“One thing that sets us apart is our dining,” says Gina Chimeno, Director of Sales and Marketing. The hotel offers Powdered Sugar, a market-style restaurant available for breakfast, lunch, dinner and grab-and-go. The hotel also features Batch, a bar with a dining menu and aged spirits. Additionally Redfish Grill and Hard Rock Café have entrances from the hotel lobby, and guests can charge to their room from either restaurant.
Venture down to the Vieux Carré and reacquaint yourself with the places that keep tourists returning year after year. Known for its mystery and charm, it’s a neighborhood that can never be known too well to enjoy.
French Quarter Business Association: Jax Brewery Millhouse, 600 Decatur St., Suite 310, 309-1423, FQBA.org
The Historic New Orleans Collection: 533 Royal St., 523-4662, HNOC.org
Martin Lawrence Gallery: 433 Royal St., 299-9057, MartinLawrence.com
Aunt Sally’s Pralines: 810 Decatur St., 524-3373, 750 St. Charles Ave., 944-6090, (800) 642-7257, AuntSallys.com
Kingfish: 337 Chartres St., 598-5005, CocktailBarNewOrleans.com
Bayona: 430 Dauphine St., 525-4455, Bayona.com
Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak: 215 Bourbon St., 335-3932, Galatoires33BarAndSteak.com
Hotel St. Pierre: 911 Burgundy St., 524-4401, FrenchQuarterInns.com/HotelStPierre
Hotel Le Marais: 717 Conti St., 525-2300, HorelLeMarais.com
Hyatt French Quarter: 800 Iberville St., 586-0800, FrenchQuarter.Hyatt.com