Between the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, for the next few weeks N'Awlins will be World HQ for even more insane fun than usual.
Go beyond the supercramped, supertouristy Bourbon Street for the real best of the Big Easy.
NOLA's culinary traditions are so deep and so varied that you won't have time to sample them all. But if you get a po-boy from Domilise's, king cake from Domenica (order it a few days in advance), and fried chicken from Willie Mae's Scotch House, you can leave with your head held high and your belly all full.
Willie Mae's Scotch House, 2401 Saint Ann St. (N. Tonti St.), Treme (504-822-9503)
Domilise's Po-Boy & Bar, 5240 Annunciation St. (Bellecastle St.), West Riverside (504-899-9126)
Domenica, 123 Baronne St. (Canal St.) French Quarter (504-648-6020)
Only a city like N'Awlins could give birth to both the sazerac and the grasshopper. The Sazerac was invented in the hotel bar at the Roosevelt, and their bartenders still make the best one you'll ever have. Getting a good grasshopper is a pain, but a French 75 (or three) at Arnaud's is worth the wait.
The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel, 123 Baronne St. (Common St.), French Quarter (504-648-1200)
Arnaud's, 813 Bienville Ave. (Bourbon St.), French Quarter (504-523-5433)
There are several krewes to check out on Mardi Gras, but Rex is the oldest and most impressive. Their colors are most deeply embedded in New Orleans culture, and they also started the concept of the daytime parade. If you're looking for something a little more outsized, Endymion's parade this year will feature the largest float ever built, and if you want music, the Krewe of Mid-City has the best.
Routes and times here.
The French Quarter is choked with tourist traps, but it's also got the best places to crash. Want 19th century continental sophistication? Book at the Hotel Monteleone. Rather lay your head to rest in a place with more southern charm? Try the Cornstalk, which looks like it could have an acting credit in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St. (Iberville St.),
The Cornstalk Hotel, 915 Royal St. (Dumaine St.), French Quarter (504-523-1515)