As I mentioned last week, when I took a recent drive through City Park on a Saturday there was not a parking spot to be found. People were out in droves, packing the park to take in the spectacular weather and fragrant blooming beauty of spring in New Orleans.
The crowds are not just in the park. They are everywhere.
If Spring Fever has hit you and you are ready to get out and socialize here are some ideas as you plan your weekend. It is supposed to be another weekend of splendor with sparkling skies and cool, soft breezes.
Filled with local food, art, music and fun, the annual Freret Street Festival takes place Saturday, April 6, from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. along a seven-block stretch spanning Freret Street from Valmont Street, to Napoleon Avenue. Each block will be packed with food and craft vendors, children’s activities, and live musical performances on three stages including Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, Little Freddie King and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. New this year, the festival will kick off with a second line and Mardi Gras Indian walk from one end of the fest to the other at the start of the day. Looking for a festival companion? Festival attendees can play with and adopt dogs and cats from Zeus Place (4601 Freret St., 504-304-4718, zeusplace.com). The best part? This festival is free! Just show up.
Over in Central City, Toups South (1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 504-304-2147, toupsouth.com) recently revamped its Happy Hour, which is available every day except Tuesday and Sunday, 3-7 p.m. Indulge in creative seasonal cocktails, including $5 wines-by-the-glass and $6 signature cocktails. Creative value-driven offerings include Bubbles & Crack ($10), which features a glass of sparkling wine with half a bowl of Toups’ excellent cracklins (my guilty pleasure); and the Set Up where guests can play bartender. Each Set Up comes with a choice of spirit served in a Wheatley 6 oz. flask ($17) or a Sazerac 7 oz. bottle ($20) accompanied by a choice of house made soda including cola, root beer, pineapple & grapefruit or the rotating weekly concoction. Additional snacks include small plates of inventive southern regional cuisine priced at $5 – $15, including pommes frites; sourdough biscuits with crab fat butter; pork rinds; daily specialty sausage; and house-made corn dogs.
Located in the Central Business District, Compére Lapin (in the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery Hotel, 535 Tchoupitoulas St.,599.2119, comperelapin.com) is ideally located to welcome the post-work crowd with its own value-driven Happy Hour, Monday – Friday from 3-6 p.m. Cocktail specials include $6 glasses of select wines, as well as $6 classic cocktails including daiquiris, Old Fashioneds and Martinis. Chef/co-owner Nina Compton also offers a stellar selection of snacks, all priced at $5 each. Tasty bites include conch croquettes with pickled pineapple tartar sauce; spiced pig ears with smoked aioli; roasted jerk corn and crispy dirty rice arancini with sour orange mojo. Yum.
Chef Nina Compton (James Beard “Best Chef: South”) and chef/partner Levi Raines also have the Happy Hour scene at Bywater American Bistro (BABs, in the Rice Mill Lofts at 2900 Chartres St., 605-3827, bywateramericanbistro.com). Offered Wednesday through Sunday from 5-6 p.m, specials include $5 gin and vodka martinis, classic hand-shaken daiquiris, Old Fashioneds and a daily selection of wines. Warm weather cocktails like pineapple pineapple and a champagne cocktail with black tea and blood orange are also on offer. Snacks and light bites include cheese plates and house made charcuterie like oxtail presse, foie torchon and country pâté.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love.