In a town known as “The Big Easy,” where people are free to be what they want and do as they please, we were more than impressed by the calibur of musicians, artists and exhibitionists who lined the streets from dusk until dawn, bearing their souls and sharing their gifts with anyone who would take the time to stop and notice.
There was this one duo in particular that we just could not peel ourselves away from. Tanya and Dorise, in the video below, had us sitting on the curb of Royal Street listening and dancing for over 30 minutes after our schmancy Breakfast at Brennan’s. Eventually we had no choice but to splurge and buy their CD, which we haven’t taken out since.
Almost as impressive as the music was the unique and colorful art displayed on and around Jackson Square. It was fascinating to watch as the artists worked in silence amongst the rolling crowds.
Andrew, the massively talented caricature artist in the photo below, explained how he loves “funny looking” people. We listened to him laugh as his masterpieces came together, in his 13 years of drawing he said only had 9 people cry after seeing their portraits…
As we continued walking through the tightly packed streets, the closer we got to Bourbon Street, the more random and “interesting” the people, and llamas… and ponies? became:
You gotta watch this dude:
Needing a break from all of the craziness and stimulation that comes so naturally to The Big Easy, we uncovered two gems that gave us that open aired, peaceful escape that we crave. City Park, which we biked to from The French Quarter, is 1,300 acres of bike trails, playing fields and picnic spots galore. Located right next to the NOMA, it also has a sizable lake in the middle where you can SUP, rent paddle boats, kayak and even fish!
Another spot we discovered, The Fly, runs right along the bank of the Mississippi and is tucked behind the Audubon Zoo. At sunset this place is filled with runners, walkers and Tulane students sprawling out on the lawn with bottles of wine and PBR. We came here to enjoy a sunset walk and ended up popping a cork and grilling until the sun went down.
The Bacchanal can be described as a hybrid store, restaurant, bar and live music venue. This Bywater gem is a popular destination for wine-loving, brewski-seeking locals and in-the-know visitors, luckily a friend had recommended it to us. Some other unique spots in this area are Elizabeth’s (go for breakfast), Dr. Bob’s and Crescent Park (go for sunset).
Considered “New Orleans’ best kept secret,” Algiers Point is the city’s second oldest neighborhood with cafes, shops and homes dating back as far as the 1840’s. With the French Quarter located directly across the Mississippi River, you can take a quick and enjoyable ferry ride ($2/ person), and avoid the hassle of trying to find an over-priced parking spot along with the rest of the crowd.
Now for the highlight of our post. Like a miniature oasis sitting on the corner of Magazine and 9th, The Rum House is a one-of-a-kind Caribbean inspired joint that serves up the best tacos and laid-back atmosphere the city has to offer.
Upon arriving to the colorfully-lit, jam-packed restaurant, we were warmly greeted by the kind hostess who lead us over to the bar to enjoy a tasty drink while we waited for our table. Every weekday, from 3-6:30 it’s “Island Time,” meaning there are insane drink specials:
One sip of Erin’s Key Lime-Coconut Rum Punch and we knew we were in for a treat! I decided on the Top Shelf Margarita and well, that can never disappoint.
A couple sips later and were being seated to our cozy little seats. Hungry and ready for something hearty we ordered the “Damn Good Nachos,” which were, if we may say so ourselves, damn good. It’s important to note that these nachos are SO LOADED and CHUNKY that they can be enjoyed as a meal for two, and our portion wasn’t even a full order!Be sure to ask for their Jamaican Paw Paw Hot Sauce. This perfectly mild mix of jabañero peppers, papayas, carrots and honey is out of this world! Pretty sure Drew would have drank it if he could. You can even pick up a bottle to take home!
Fun Fact: Whenever Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to town he always eats at The Rum House, and he always sits in the far-back booth, and he always orders a heaping mound of these nachos all to himself… I’ll bet that every time he leaves he says,”I’ll be back.” 🙂
Drew, always seeking a bit of adventure with his meals, ordered the Lamb Vindaloo (red curried lamb and mint yogurt chutney, topped with sliced plantains), Fried Oyster (cornmeal dusted Louisiana oysters, topped with caper relish and spicy remoulade), Crispy Fish (beer battered Mahi Mahi with jalapeño coleslaw) and Seared Scallop (scotch bonnet onion marmalade, topped with fried leeks) tacos. His favorite? The Lamb Vindaloo, he really liked how the”unusually refreshing” mint flavor accented all of the tastes on his plate.
With the Mr. Biggs Plate he had the choice of one of their many delicious sides. Drew chose their cheesy and creamy manchego polenta, which was SO GOOD. Along with that they served their version of a “beef patty,” which was more of a beef enchilada, a nice, savory surprise for someone looking for a bit more culture with their meal:
Always on the lookout for a stellar execution of a classic dish I went for the Taco Trifecta: Jerk Chicken (chopped jerked chicken topped with house-made mango salsa), Calypso Beef (island marinated flank steak, topped with guacamole and lime cream) and Flanked Fish tacos (grilled Mahi Mahi, asparagus, creole tomato chutney and a fresh dill tarter sauce) with a side of their delicious Jerked Rasta Veggies, the perfect combo for a satisfying meal that still left room for dessert.
My favorite? The Calypso Beef, which is unusual for me as I tend to be swayed by my love of fish tacos, but these were so perfectly cooked, so tender and marinated so well, and that guacamole on top! I just couldn’t help myself. Drew actually really loved my Jerked Chicken taco too. He even said it might have been his favorite one of the whole bunch… that chicken WAS pretty stellar. Fun Fact: The little taco stands they come in are the perfect design for being able to hop around from taco to taco, it gave us the chance to savor all the flavors instead of having to gobble them up as fast as possible to avoid a hot mess on our plates/in our hands.
Feeling pretty full but committed to enjoying their freshly-baked Banana Bread Pudding, we went for it… and while we were at it we made it à la mode… might as well live it up while we’re in The Big Easy right!As our chilly scoops of French Vanilla ice cream toppled over on the warm and caramely rum sauce, it wasn’t long before everything was melting together into the soft and cushy folds of the sweet and doughy bread pudding.
It’s incredible how one of the most happening places in town can also offer the most relaxing atmosphere. I guess with such good food, drinks and service, there’s nothing left to worry about! Except enjoying yourself, and the people you’re with, as thoroughly as possible of course.