Even for a city like New Orleans that has recovered from disasters. popular, meteorological otherwise, the last couple of years have been difficult for three centuries. But today, the country’s most riotous city is stepping forward with a sense of relief and renewed confidence, seducing visitors with time-honored charms and a few bright new trinkets.
Notably, the spirit of thoughtful elegance and experimentation has left its mark on the hospitality industry, with bespoke boutique hotels springing up in areas outside the French Quarter, and major international players including Virgin hotels and Four Seasons hotels and resorts opening outposts near the French Quarter. heart of the old city.
A place that runs on tourist dollars and fun has had to take some notable losses during the pandemic, especially in the restaurant world. Among them were K-Paul’s Louisiana Cuisine, a French Quarter restaurant that closed in 2020 after decades of spreading Creole and Cajun cuisine. The most avid foodies mourn the loss of Upperline, Joanne Clevenger’s casually elegant eatery in uptown Uptown, which fitted the area like the best kind of wrinkled button-down shirt.
But fear not: no one will go home hungry. New restaurants and old ones are buzzing again as tourists flock back to the city and locals return to their love of their city.
In terms of culture, returning visitors will be impressed with the new museum dedicated to the history of Southern Jews, and several art and technology attractions offer immersive and virtual glimpses of what it means to be in New Orleans.
Eat and sleep
While the French tend to get the highest bills, the Hispanic world has also had a huge impact on the culture of New Orleans, from the Spanish colonial era to the crucial months after Katrina, when Mexican and Central American laborers helped rebuild the city. One of the most popular new restaurants in town, Lengua Madrepays homage to Chef Ana Castro’s family roots in Mexico City. Her gourmet five-course tasting menu ($70) promises to bring out the two cities’ culinary and cultural ties: one of her mottos is “New Orleans is home, Mexico is life.” The menu changes all the time, but this is where you are. most likely to find mustard greens on tlacoyo.
Pandemic precautions, including wearing masks and proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test, have been lifted for restaurants and bars. The legendary bastions of the city’s Creole cuisine are among them Dookie Chase Restaurant, Galatuar as well as Arno – are gaining strength and masterfully perform the best hits. Elsewhere, visitors will find fresh experiments and whims. A new Uptown restaurant called Mister Mao, from a transplanted chef and “Chopped” TV show champion Sophina Uong bills itself as a “tropical roadside restaurant” that is “unabashedly inauthentic” with Southeast Asian, Mexican and Indian influences: remember pakora, pumpkin seed Maya sikil pak sauce, Khmer grapefruit and mango salad chatting with each other simultaneously. table. New pop-up in trendy Bywater district Chance in Hell SnoBalls (motto: “Ice treats for a world on fire!”) happily pushes the boundaries of a New Orleans summer treat with homemade flavors that include sweet corn with thyme and a version of “Tom Kha” with basil, ginger, mint, lemongrass, lime and coconut milk.
The old port city accepts such a mess, even if it honors its traditions. Indeed, for many years the Israeli-American chef Alon Shaya earned home boy status in New Orleans by serving labneh and high-end hummus in the country of jambalaya and crayfish etufe. There’s something special about the pace and serving of New Orleans brunch that Mr. Shaya seems to capture. So there was a lot of anticipation for his new project, Miss River which opened in August 2021 at the new Four Seasons New Orleans. He refers to Miss River as his “love letter to Louisiana,” proposing duck, gumbo andouille, and buttermilk-covered whole fried chicken served in a Fitzgerald-era jazz-era dining room.
four seasons, which also opened last year, is a big story in its own right: 341 high-end rooms (double rooms starting at $395) in a converted downtown office tower formerly known as the World Trade Center. It boasts the second noteworthy restaurant, Shemen a la Merby talented Louisiana chef Donald Link, and a rooftop crescent-shaped pool overlooking the Mississippi River.
On a different scale, setting the tone for the urban boutique hotel movement, is Hotel Petr and Pavel (doubles from $159 in summer), which opened on the outskirts of Marigny in 2018 and occupies several old buildings (a former school, a rectory, a monastery and a church). A visit can feel like experiencing an imaginary fictional remix of their real story. The same can be said for two more recent studies of hotel hyperreality: Chloe, a converted 14-room mansion (for two people from $550) on St. Charles Avenue (whose atmosphere rhymes closely with The Pillars, a beloved longtime hangout mansion-hotel down the street); and Hotel Saint Vincent (double room recently started at $305), located in the 19th century Garden District Orphanage, which until recently was a budget hostel. All three have great places to drink and bask in interior design micro-fantasies, each evoking a particular iteration of Wes Anderson’s sub-tropical chic.
Culture and fun
The rule of good times in New Orleans remains the same: trust your instincts to improvise, avoid fruity spirits served in bright, innovative cups, and listen to your ears, especially the sounds of street parades once again sweeping through your neighborhood. radio station WWOZ FM 90.7 remains the best resource for tracking such events and activities in music clubs. New on stage and old at the same time – this is a renovated Toulouse theater, in the heart of the French Quarter, where until recently an establishment called One Eyed Jacks was located. Long before that, New Orleans piano legend James Booker gave regular concerts there. New management commissions an eclectic mix of 21st century R&B, indie rock and other delights.
Two new attractions aim to explain and expand the New Orleans experience. Yamnola (from Joy Art Music New Orleans) is an immersive art space with 12 rooms, each dedicated to the city’s cultural richness. view orleanslocated atop the Four Seasons, offers panoramic views of the city and high-tech presentations of the city’s history and culture.
A more concrete historical dive can be found in the new house Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, which offers pleasing nuances to the history of a region that is all too often exceptionally broad-haired as a pure Bible Belt. Based in a Jewish summer camp in Mississippi, the museum has moved to downtown New Orleans and was inaugurated in 2021. His new home makes sense in a city where Jews have played an important if underestimated role in education, health, commerce and culture, and it complements the nearby National World War II Museum which, with numerous expansions, has been transformed into a world-class tourist attraction, which is reason enough to visit New Orleans on your own.
Elsewhere, the city continues to recover from a period of hardship that included not only the pandemic but also Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm that hit Louisiana in August. New Orleans escaped the massive disaster it experienced during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But there were also serious injuries on the cultural scene. Among them was Backstreet Cultural Museuma handmade love letter to the black New Orleans carnival and culture of disguise.
The museum was closed for several months after the building it housed, an old funeral home in the Treme area, was damaged by a hurricane. But in a recent interview, Dominique Dilling, the museum’s chief executive, said a revival is in the works, with a new site chosen in the heart of Treme and a grand reopening celebration set for July 9th.