Re: Ask The Mineshaft: NOLAdvice

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The rest of the letter:

The hotel that I will be at is in the warehouse district, a couple of blocks from Lafayette Square, and I'd be particularly interested in anything that would be easy to reach from there using public transportation (I'm going to try to avoid renting a car, since I'm staying at the hotel at which the event that I will be attending is occurring).

Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:27 PM
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Tour the batture, and just soak up the complex historiography of riparian land use.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:30 PM
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I'll probably be headed that way in a a few months, so I'm interested in seeing responses as well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:37 PM
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My advice: make a quick, cursory pass through the French Quarter and up Bourbon Street and then get the hell out. The Faubourg Marigny is far more fun has much less tourist-trappy. It's full of bars with great live music and real drinks, not the crappy bands and cement mixers full of daquiris that have taken over the Quarter. If you're there on a Monday, DBA's house act Glen David Andrews is worth checking out.

My favorite restaurant in the city is also in the Marigny, La Peniche. It's a casual neighborhood joint serving Southern fare and everything there is excellent (get their biscuits and gravy, even if it's as an appetizer for dinner). One of my other favorite New Orleans restaurants is Ninja Sushi in Uptown, although it would be understandable if you wanted something more regional. Cafe du Monde is even better late night drunk food than breakfast.

For bars outside of the Marigny, Tujague's is a must for old-school mixology and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is the only worthwhile bar in the Quarter (not to be confused with the gay leather bar named Lafitte's one block over).

The one thing that is totally touristy but also totally awesome: The New Orleans Historical Society cemetery tour. (But not one of the more touristy ones that make shit up. The facts are interesting enough on their own.)


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:39 PM
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(not to be confused with the gay leather bar named Lafitte's one block over)

Which is not worthwhile, I take it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:43 PM
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The gay leather bar named Lafitte's may be of interest to the Mineshaft, but it is still not to be confused with it.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:44 PM
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The Faubourg Marigny is far more fun has much less tourist-trappy.

Interesting...


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:47 PM
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My only advice is to find other bloggers to meet up with. I had an awesome time meeting AWB and Bave when I went to NYC. Meeting up with people gave some structure to my visit that wasn't just touristy sight-seeing and I ate delicious foods at places I would have never known about.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:52 PM
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For all practical purposes this will be my first visit.

I guess this probably refers to having gone through in transit elsewhere, but it's more fun to imagine other reasons why earlier visits don't really count.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:55 PM
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If anyone's interested, years ago I wrote up recommendations for visitors to NOLA, and I've kept my suggestions relatively up to date. I'm happy to share these with anyone who e-mails me. I'm also available for guided tours of the city, though my rates are somewhat steep.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:55 PM
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7 - It's still an entertainment district, but one that locals actually go to. It's the difference between going to DC and going to Adams Morgan vs. H Street NE.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:56 PM
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Never been to NOLA. My friend lived there, blogged about stuff to do, and now he seems to have taken down his old blog or something. Oh well.

I'm strongly considering a week-long Escape To New York this winter. When I have the dates figured out, perhaps we can set up a meet up?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:59 PM
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It's the difference between going to DC and going to Adams Morgan vs. H Street NE.

While Georgetown is so overrun with tourists that it doesn't even bear distinguishing.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:07 PM
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The last time I was there (years and years ago; I wasn't old enough to legally buy a drink), I had brunch at the Court of the Two Sisters, which is totally touristy and yet still great fun. Were I going there as an adult, I'd check out Gumbo Pages for some food and booze recommendations from a (former) local who likes his food and booze. (Pay particular attention to the po' boys.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:14 PM
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You know what's depressing (to me, at least)? I was all set to respond, but then I remembered that I have no idea whether the bits of NOLA I love even still exist. Well, I have one suggestion that I know is still around, if you're a reader: Faulkner House Books. You can't find a more knowledgeable bookseller anywhere in the world. (Yes, I'm saying that a salesman's conversation is good enough to warrant listening to his pitch . . . but it is.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:23 PM
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It should naturally be assumed that the location mentioned in 15 is now cursed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:24 PM
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Apologies if this is obnoxious, but if your work schedule permits, you might see whether these folks can suggest a good way to spend a day. Whatever else volunteering accomplishes, it might give you a nice structure within which to strike up conversations with locals and get their perspectives on the city.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:27 PM
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Meeting up with people gave some structure to my visit that wasn't just touristy sight-seeing

I'm going for a work related training event, so I will have a structure to the visit other than sight-seeing. That isn't to say that I'm opposed to meeting people.

it's more fun to imagine other reasons why earlier visits don't really count.

I went in HS with the math team. I essentially never left the hotel (and had a far less interesting time than the previous year). See paragraph 3 for an additional anecdote from that visit.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:28 PM
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Apologies if this is obnoxious, but if your work schedule permits, you might see whether these folks can suggest a good way to spend a day.

Not obnoxious, but I'm unlikely to do it.

I don't travel well, and I expect to be in a jet lag daze for much of the time that I'm not working.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:30 PM
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It should naturally be assumed that the location mentioned in 15 is now cursed.

It survived Katrina, I'm sure it can survive me. (I think.)


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:30 PM
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I don't have any plans to go there, but I find the "previous visits don't count" situation interesting, since I was (I'm told) taken there when I was about six months old. So someday I will have to go "back".


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:41 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:47 PM
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Map of New Orleans neighborhoods (pdf).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:55 PM
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I have no idea whether the bits of NOLA I love even still exist.

Ditto. I haven't been there in nearly twenty years. Still, the Unity Temple on St. Charles is weirdly cool if you like mid-century modern architecture; the vibe at Borsodi's coffee shop--if it still exists--is worth soaking up; the Maple St. Bookstore is/was a charming little store; and the Blue Bird Cafe was my favorite place for brunch.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:27 PM
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IF YOU'RE GOING TO NEW ORLEANS, DON'T REBUILD IT


Posted by: OPINIONATED SIFU | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:38 PM
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It's the difference between going to DC and going to Adams Morgan vs. H Street NE.

This is so funny to me, because my sister lived in (or possibly ~2 blocks from) Adams Morgan in the very early 90s, and it was so, so not touristy. I mean, I've gathered how much it's changed, but still - it's like hearing ~10 years ago that Chelsea was all full of yuppies*. I'm sorry, what?

* Or that South Beach was the hippest place on earth. You mean the place with all the motels full of drifters?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:42 PM
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BTW, just as a placeholder, I'll be in NJ for the first full weekend in November. I'll almost certainly not get into the city, but maybe an NJ meetup? AB will be getting an insider tour of Lewellyn Park, if there are any planning geeks around. And/or if Lewellyn Park is near anybody.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:45 PM
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25: too late.

Also, Ari can tell you about how my views have more nuance than that.

Also, I hate you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:49 PM
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It's not particularly near me, but I'm game for a meetup.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:51 PM
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Eat.

Eat a garlic oyster po-boy at Liuzza's By the Track. Or eat some spanish food at Lola's, across Esplanade from Liuzza's.

If you're in the Quarter at lunchtime, get a muffuletta from Central Grocery on Decatur (across from the French Market) and eat it on the levee while you look out across the river.

If you want some stupendous meat dishes, eat at Cochon on Tchoupitoulas. (Save this for your last night in town.) Get some BBQ at The Joint on Poland Avenue.

Wash it all down with some TurboDog.

And when you're done eating, have some dessert cause you don't want to go away hungry.


Posted by: mistersmed | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:03 PM
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Jetpack's views have more nuance than that. Always already.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:06 PM
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29: OK, I'm looking to see what's partway between New Brunswick and East Orange. Do you have a car? Close to 287 would work well for me. Anyone know anything? That's totally not my part of Jersey.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:31 PM
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Anyone know anything?

You and eb in the other thread, both exploring the eternal mysteries of life.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:36 PM
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26 I lived in DC a couple years after that and Adams Morgan had no tourists, just a ton of local DC folks with a skew towards the proto hipster types. I was also amused a few years back when Yggles and others were talking about how just a few years back the U - 14th st neighbourhood was a no go area. It wasn't the safest place around, and it was very mixed - burned out buildings and lots next to fun bars, but pretty much the same crowd as Adams Morgan, though in much smaller numbers.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:37 PM
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I don't have a car, but NJTransit runs from New Brunswick to Newark with stops in Edison, Metuchen, Rahway, Linden, and Elizabeth (that I can recall offhand; there might be a couple more). Any of those would work for me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:39 PM
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Also Metropark station in Woodbridge.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:40 PM
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Right, Metropark. Parking garage meetup!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:41 PM
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Be sure to wear spy movie style coats.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:43 PM
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Consider it done.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:44 PM
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Who gets to be Deep Throat?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:46 PM
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You guys should have a meet-up at one of the Turnpike Service Areas. Surely, someone can give teo a ride. Sbarro for everyone!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:33 PM
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Yes! The Joyce Kilmer Service Area here we come! I have never seen a service area more lovely than a tree!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 12:47 AM
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Lombardi has a Sbarro's IIRC.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 1:41 AM
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As for NOLA -- everyone who has ever passed through that city has the beignets and chickory coffee at Cafe du Monde and I must say I enjoyed them and was glad to have the de rigeur tin of chickory coffee when I got home. I tend to be of the belief that mainstream tourist things are often worth doing. But if there are better beignets and chickory coffee to be had, by all means, let it be known, insiders.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 1:46 AM
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Some local perspective, if I may.

Things will be a little crazier as Halloween approaches; especially with the Voodoo Festival starting Oct 30th. Expect everything to be a little more crowded towards the weekend. Crime is up so be alert (although there's usually increased police presence in the Quarter.) The Quarter is pedestrian-friendly but cabs are cheap (United Cab 504-522-9771 is the go-to company for locals.) Weather's been great, 70s in the day and low-mid 60s at night (this can change in a second, however.)

Food: All of the suggestions in 30 are good, ESPECIALLY Cochon. For medium/high end I would add L√ľke, Lilette, Herbsaint, Bayona and Iris. Cafe du Monde, yes! (watch out for pickpockets when it's crowded.) Green Goddess is tiny but has a very talented and imaginative chef. Breakfast- and lunch-wise, La Peniche isn't what it used to be pre-K but it is open very late. The Bluebird is gone (owner retired) but Surrey's on Magazine is excellent.

Restaurant listings by cuisine and neighborhood are available here.

Drink: There's a number of boutique cocktail joints in operation; Bar Tonique on Rampart St was one of the first. I'm hearing good things about the Hermes Bar at Antoine's.

Music: the best bang for your buck is the 600 block of Frenchmen St (in the aforementioned Marigny) - multiple clubs (dba, Spotted Cat, Apple Barrel, Snug Harbor, Cafe Negril, etc etc) most of which charge little or no cover. And you can take your drink with you (dba has the best beer selection.) Adolfo's is a tiny but great Italian restaurant above the Apple Barrel. If you're there on the 29th say hi to the guy playing upright downstairs, that'll be me :)

WARNING: Frenchmen is nearly impassable on Halloween night but who cares, look at the costumes, it's fun!

- Donna's on Rampart has great jazz.
- Kermit Ruffin's Thursday set at Vaughn's is a lot of fun but call ahead to make sure he'll be there. Starts late, 11PM+.
- John Boutte's 7PM Saturday set at dba is great.
- Snag a free copy of Offbeat for music listings.

Bourbon is a mess but not devoid of fun. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is great. Stop by the Funky Pirate to see Big Al Carson; he's the last of the bluesmen on the street, a wonderful performer and a super-nice guy. Fritzel's offers good trad jazz. Preservation Hall is on fire with a new music director; I saw Andrew Bird sit in with the house band a few weeks ago.

Other entertainment:

- The Haunted French Quarter tours are lame. The cemetery tours (from 4) are right on, though.
- Historical house tours, try the Hermann-Grima house in the Quarter.

God, I don't know, there's so much. It's a ramshackle mess of a city but I love it so. Hope you have a great time!


Posted by: rcs | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 2:40 AM
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45: I second the recommendation of Frenchmen St. for music. Mom and I find things to do by asking local liquor store clerks, and the guy in the FQ said to go to Snug Harbor. We ended up having an incredible night; the guy on sax was scary-good, the crowd was mostly old jazz dudes exchanging nods with him, and we walked out feeling like we'd seen something nearly magical.

I clearly remember Mom swooning over the BBQ shrimp at Pascal's Manale, and we also had a really lovely dinner at Louis XVI. Yes to beignets and cafe au lait, as well as to the historical graveyard tour. Commander's Palace had 25-cent martinis during lunch.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 4:20 AM
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Grew up in Baton Rouge and frequently went down to N'awlins, but it's been so long that many things would have been gone even without Katrina.

That said, everyone is right about the beignets at Cafe du Mond, and if you have something other than a muffaletta for lunch (with a possible exception for a fried shrimp or crawfish po boy) you have missed one hell of a good sandwich.

Coop's Place, on Decatur just across from the French Market is a good semi-dive. And thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I know that it's still going. Yay Google Maps!


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 12:27 PM
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Donna's Donna's Donna's YES! Not just jazz but also brass bands. Before they configured the stage differently you actually had to walk through the band to use the bathroom. Also people walk in from the street to get some food to go, go away and come back with their musical instrument and sit in on the set. Fantastic. Treme Brass Band, Soul Rebels, Rebirth - all well worth it. Shannon Powell Trio are regulars there on Sunday nights IIRC.

Would recommend checking out the WWOZ music calendar if there are particular evenings you might have free.

For beer and decent priced grub I like Coop's in the Quarter, on Decatur near the French Market (French Market being not a bad place to pick up tchotchkes if such items are requested for those back home). The hot sauce stores are pretty ridiculous to check out.

If you want wigs, sunglasses, or glitter devil horns, go to Fifi Mahony's.


Posted by: KJ | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 12:37 PM
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Watch Easy Rider in preparation for your trip and then go and do likewise. Except for the part where you get brutally murdered by a slack-jawed yokel, obvs.


Posted by: pain perdu | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 1:14 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 1:20 PM
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