How to Spend Labor Day Weekend in New Orleans
Listen, New Orleans is my favorite city in the world. I’ve opined so many times on this blog about how different the culture is in the city. I swear every corner has some kind of historical significance and it’s like I’m in a alternate world. The people are so friendly and welcoming it’s like I’ve known them forever. This trip was different than the last. This time, Robert and I went on a road trip with our friends Richard and Delilah. I’d never driven to that part of Florida or even out of the state in that direction. We left early in the morning and it was insane how quickly we got to Louisiana once we were out of Florida. Would I do a road trip to New Orleans again? Yes.
This trip wasn’t the typical “tourist” excursion. We stayed in an Airbnb in the Gentilly area so we were right with the people. The trip may be the most authentic one I’ve been on in a long time. This is how to spend Labor Day weekend in New Orleans:
Where to Go
Located in a warehouse in the Bywater area of town, Studio BE combines visuals of the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements. The first time I heard about it was in a video I watched about Essence Fest a few years ago. The visuals include paintings, murals, and videos. Studio BE is a great way to see another side of New Orleans that isn’t touristy or “fun”. Everything is thought provoking and conjures up emotional responses. While the city has a party-vibe, it’s not exempt from the way many of the Black residents have been treated over the years.
Bugs are everywhere you look in Florida. Ants, spiders, bees, etc. fly among us. I’m a big kid on the inside and I enjoy museums of any kind so the insectarium is right up my alley. It’s interesting to see all the different bugs of the world in one place. The creepiest ones were definitely the roaches naturally. They had hissing cockroaches and they were so large; I wouldn’t want to be there if they ever got loose. The most fun part was the butterfly garden because they’d fly around in their own little world. The butterflies do land on people but none landed on me *sad face*. I’m not sure how many species were in the garden but they were all so pretty and delicate.
Where to Eat
Enough said. A trip to New Orleans isn’t an actual trip if you don’t make it here at some point. Who doesn’t like fried dough covered with an entire cloud of powdered sugar. I felt like I let the city down the first time we went because I only ate 2/3 of an order but we all went back the next day. Robert and I just shared an order of beignets that was enough for me to feel like I made up with the people of New Orleans.
We literally drove from Tampa straight here. Robert managed to find a parking space right outside the restaurant. The moment we walk in, it’s started to get crowded but we managed to find a seat near their bar area. I ordered Shrimp Creole with cheese grits and it was INSANE. Y’all…those grits were so creamy I wanted to take a whole bowl of it home. Usually etoufee has a crazy kick of spice to it but this one has a subtle kick that I can get used to. NOLA is the only place in the world where the combo of shrimp, veggies, and grits go together perfectly and no one questions it.
I’d been following this restaurant for a couple years now and with each photo of a new dish or the latest celeb to make an appearance, I couldn’t wait to get there. We took a quick Uber ride there where a line started to grow the moment we pulled up. I’m sure I mentioned a few times it has the same vibes as 7th + Grove in Ybor. The mimosas were flowing and everyone was just having a great time. My sweet potato Pancakes were the fluffiest ones I’ve ever had in life I swear; they’re really like eating clouds. I don’t remember the last time I had sweet potato pancakes but these were insanely impressive. Plus, when is bacon never not a good idea for any meal???
Our Uber driver who took us to Morrow’s recommended this one to us. After walking around all day, we went back to our AirBnb for a bit for a quick recharge before deciding to eat dinner here for the last night we were in town. Fortunately for us, Pizza Delicious was a 15 minute walk from Parleaux. It’s funny how much this place feels like it could be a local pizza joint in Seminole HeightsI had a slice of Peppadew and Arugula with a regular pepperoni.
There’s so many locations of Tropical Isle in the French Quarter around Bourbon Street, you’re bound to walk in on one at some point. THE drink to get is, of course, the Grenade (the official unofficial drink of NOLA) but the Horny Gator is a fun drink to taste. It’s mixed with vodka, pomegranate and green tea so you’ll be feeling real good after you’re done drinking it. For me, the drink and the little gator are perfect homages to Florida.
I appreciate the play on “Vieux Carre” aka the French Quarter. It’s a small, quaint microbrewery in the Marigny area with a biergarten in the back. There’s a deck with a few games for people to play and just hang out. Beer is becoming an acquired taste of mine; I prefer them sweeter. Robert got a flight of beers while I sipped on a frozen drink. The interesting part of the brewery is seeing the brew process up close. Their fermenters are next to the bar for everyone to see so it feels like a crash-course in brewing.
During our Uber ride here, there were a couple times our driver looked at us crazy because she thought we were going to New Orleans East where stuff pops off. She relaxed when we told her where we were really going. We pulled up around 8pm and it was packed. Robert and I shared their Prosecceaux di Pesca-Tart Peach Ale and it’s right up my alley. It’s supposed to taste similar to a Bellini so I can see myself ordering this as a brunch drink.
A fave from the first time Robert and I came, we stopped here during one of our jaunts on Bourbon at night. Of course, we planned on doing some drankin so it’s best we filled our stomachs with food to soak up the liquor. What’s great about their po’ boy sandwiches are they’re large enough to share. The fried foods are all spicy but I know the “spicy” in New Orleans is on another level. The “Yankee”(mild) is right in the middle. As I’m writing this, memories of eating it are flooding back in and now I wish I was there eating it again *heavy sigh*.
The great thing about NOLA is it’s super walkable. Delilah wanted to go to the bakery so we walked 10 minutes from Morrow’s. The houses in the area are so unique and historic it’s easy to marvel at them all. Robert and I came here for breakfast our first trip to the city. We wanted to grab a slice of King Cake but they didn’t have any available since it wasn’t Mardi Gras. I settled on a donut with a honey glaze and chocolate ganache. It’s gooey and messy…2 of my favorite things about desserts or baked goodies. Would I order it again…YES. It’s just the right size where it doesn’t feel like an overindulgence.