SDSU Aztecs Fan's Guide to New Orleans
Are you heading to New Orleans to see SDSU play the University of Louisiana Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns in the New Orleans Bowl on December 17, and are looking for an alternative to the offerings on tourist-centric Bourbon Street? Here’s a few tips on how to party like a local in the Big Easy.
MUSIC AND CLUBS: New Orleans IS music. It’s always in the air, providing the soundtrack to every adventure, spilling out open doorways of clubs and issuing from the instruments of street corner buskers.Whether it is the Dixieland Jazz that has come to define the CrescentCity, New Orleans funk, or delta blues, you can get your fill all over town. Stand-out venues are the historic Preservation Hall, at 726 St. Peter St. in the French Quarter, Tipitina’s, (501 Napoleon Ave.) and the clubs on Frenchmen Street, in the neighborhood known as the Marigny (pronounced mar-eh-nee). D.B.A, at 618 Frenchmen St. is one of the few smoke-free clubs in New Orleans, and John Boutte, who wrote the theme to the hit HBO series Treme often performs there. Other great jazz names to look for around town are trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty (both of whom made recurring appearances on Treme), and funk trumpeter Shamarr Allen. Another musical genre that defines Louisiana is the Cajun and zydeco music of the area known as Acadiana, of which Lafayette, home of the Ragin’ Cajuns, is the heart.The best place in New Orleansto dance some zydeco (the music is so lively and fun you can’t help but dance!) is Mid City Lanes Rock’n’Bowl (yes you can bowl AND dance!), 3000 S. Carrollton Ave. in the Uptown District, where Thursday nights are always Zydeco Night. On December 15, Grammy winners Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, who will also be headlining San Diego’s Gator By the Bay Festival in May, will have the place jumping! Kermit Ruffins brings his jazz trumpet there on December 17. Food: From gumbo to grits, and bread pudding to beignets, food in New Orleans is a serious affair, and celebrity chefs like John Besh, Paul Prudhomme, Susan Spicer and Emeril Lagasse are the creative forces behind some of the Big Easy’s most well-known eateries. There are many lesser publicized (and less pricey), truly excellent restaurants to sample, however, as well. Ye Olde College Inn next door to Rock’n’Bowl at 3000 S. Carrollton, takes the farm-to-table movement seriously with many menu ingredients harvested from their own farm. Be sure to start your meal with Fried Green Tomato Shrimp Remoulade Napoleon, a dish that just seems to drawl, “Chér, y’all are in Loosiana fo sure now!” One of the best places to devour the quintessential oyster or shrimp po-boy sandwich is Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, (739 Iberville St.) in the French Quarter. Tourists may flock to Acme Oyster House across the street, but Felix’s is where the locals know they will always get succulent oysters and great, simple bayou-style food at reasonable prices.
For a truly elegant meal with exquisite wine selections, Le Meritage (1001 Rue Toulousse) in the Maison Dupuy Hotel in the French Quarter, showcases Chef Michael Farrell’s Southern Coastal Cuisine by arranging the menu according to the type of wine with which it should be paired. For instance, “full bodied whites” pair beautifully with roasted cauliflower soup, seared sea scallop yellow curry, or lobster ravioli with asparagus, peas and corn. Wines may be ordered in full or half pours, and dishes are available as small or large plates. No visit to New Orleans is complete without a stop for warm beignets (fried, donut-like squares piled with powdered sugar) and steaming café au lait at Café Du Monde, in the French Market located at 800 Decatur St. Sights to See: Hop on the St. Charles Streetcar for $1.25, and ride it from the French Quarter to the Garden District and Uptown, past Greek Revival mansions and raised cottages, Tulane University and Audubon Park, and beyond the shops at the Riverbend. You can ride the streetcar to within two blocks of the art galleries, boutiques and bistros of Magazine Street in Uptown, and saunter through the Garden District ogling the gracious homes beautifully decorated for the holidays. Historic New Orleans Tours, tourneworleans.com can show you everything from alligators and swamps to voodoo venues and the city’s famed cemeteries. If you’re a Treme fan, be sure to ask for the Treme tour. On the evening of December 18, bring your singing voice and join in the candlelit caroling at 7 p.m. in front of St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. The rest of the time, stroll through the open-air artist colony in the square and enjoy street performers playing music, miming or dancing for tips. Laissez les bon temps rouler!