Headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? Don't head for all the tourist traps. Take it from a local.
These are the real must eat and drink hotspots in the Big Easy.
What To Eat
Everyone talks about Commander’s Palace and Mother’s. Bleh.
If you want a super touristy, fancy dinner, go to Commander’s Palace. But stay away from Mother’s.
I'm not sure why so many people recommend it. It's soul food, cafeteria-style. Avoid it.
Here are a few places we couldn’t get enough of, which locals rave about as well:
Start with the artichoke hearts.
Don't feel bad when the waitress giggles as you order the giant seafood platter at Deanie’s for just two people. You will soon know why.
This tower of fried seafood arrives at the table looking like a personal challenge from Poseidon.
The platter’s menagerie of sea creatures are fried in a flavorful combination of yellow flour, buttermilk and seasonings.
Go for it.
We can’t say enough good things about it.
Its gumbo is off the chain (that’s still a saying, right?), and has chicken, sausage, okra and pure yummy-ness.
If you are lucky, the restaurant might have some Doberge cake. It's delicious.
Get it, and forget the king cake.
This is the eats cafe. The owners have a full restaurant close by called Cafe Amelie, but you might want to make reservations. It gets packed.
Italian food in New Orleans?
Our good friend, Danielle -- who is a NOLA girl herself -- suggested this place. She was right.
Chef Nicolas outdid himself. Order the veal. It is tender, and the sauce is drool-worthy.
Not feeling the veal?
Everything is beyond delicious, including the cheesecake dessert.
Make sure you call or use OpenTable to make a reservation.
If you don’t order the jumbo lump crab cake, you are losing in life.
Don’t like crab cakes? Order it anyway.
It has to be 99.99 percent crab, which is hard to find.
Usually crab cakes are 50 percent crab (if you are lucky).
The satsuma-glazed yellowfin tuna will also knock your socks off.
It originally opened in 1946, and recently emerged from an extensive renovation that was spared no expense by new co-owners, Terry White and Ralph Brennan.
It boasts eight glamorous dining rooms, each steeped in New Orleans architecture and ambiance.
Order the New Orleans barbecue lobster appetizer. It's made with creole spiced butter, lemon confit and thyme, and comes with a toasted baguette. Hell yes.
The star of your night will be the main course. Order the sweet potato pappardelle.
The pasta is cooked perfectly al dente. The roasted Mississippi shiitake, sheep’s milk cheese, garlic confit and brown butter sauce will make you want to lick the plate clean.
See that line forming on the street, blocking the sidewalk? Yup, that’s for Acme.
Prepare to wait. It’s worth it. We promise.
Get the chargrilled oysters and a pound or two of crawfish.
What trip to New Orleans is complete without a delicious po’ boy?
Parkway is the best. It doesn’t skimp on the oysters, shrimp or whatever you decide to stuff your bread with.
Our favorite? The surf and turf topped with gumbo.
Every local we asked sent us to the same place.
It's a bit out of the French Quarter, but we Ubered it and got there in about 10 minutes.
What To Drink
The oldest bar in America sits on the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Phillip.
Everyone thinks of Pat O’Briens for hurricanes, but should be talking about Blacksmith.
It's been known for the the original hurricane since 1722.
It's not made of powder mix. It's just a delicious mix of fruit juice and liquor.
Try the voodoo daiquiri if hurricanes aren’t your thing.
This is the home of the famous hand grenade. What’s in it?
Something made of melon and seven or nine kinds of liquor, depending on who you ask.
Just because it’s green or comes in a funky green cup, that doesn’t mean it’s a real hand grenade.
Hand grenade drinks are only sold at Tropical Isle and the Funky Pirate.
Watch out because these fruity drinks will sneak up on you.
3. Avenue Pub
Looking for a great craft beer bar? This place is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It has 31 rotating taps on its tap list and nine constant favorites. It always has some great bottles in stock for on-site consumption too.
Looking for some rare beer not sold in your area? Stein’s has got you covered.
We picked up some awesome local beer at a little over $1 a piece.
Make sure you stop next door at District Donuts for some incredible cold brewed coffee, fancy donuts and sliders.
5. NOLA Brewing
NOLA Brewing is a local brewery in the heart of the city. It is making big noise in the Big Easy.
Some of the many options available to you include sours, IPAs, stouts and BBQ.
NOLA Brewing has now incorporated a second floor deck that oversees the Mississippi River. It has a second bar that sells canned beers.