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Earlier this week, I visited one of my favorite places in the country — NOLA, better known as New Orleans, Louisiana. (You all may remember my love for New Orleans from this post.) Anywho, I had a GREAT time, as I always do. I love New Orleans for the food, the sights (cultural, historical and people watching) and the southern hospitality.

This time I went to New Orleans for Essence Music Festival. I traveled with two of my closest girlfriends and we had a blast! Dancing through the night, laughing, eating and exploring all that New Orleans has to offer — pretty much sums up our trip. Here is just a glimpse of my NOLA experience.

The Food

The food in NOLA is amazing!! The pictures above are from Cafe du Monde, where I got beignets to go; Le Bayou, where I tried raw oysters for the first time; and the Gumbo Pot, where I had gumbo yaya (seafood, chicken and andouille sausage) and a catfish poboy with remoulade sauce (don’t forget the remoulade sauce!!). As well, almost every place I went to that served hurricanes, I had one. Hurricanes are the unofficial New Orleans beverage and they are good. Just be careful as some can be potent.

Also, if you’re looking for late night eats (and you will be), I recommend two places. One is Willie’s Chicken Shack, located right next to a dance club called The Beach on Bourbon. The chicken is fried to perfection and the biscuits melt in your mouth, literally. The second spot to try to located on St. Louis Street, in between Fatz Cats and Razzoo on Bourbon. There’s actually two spots here. One is for wings and one is for pizza. Both are good, but you all know how I love my wings. At this place, you can get wings in a variety of sauces…. whatever your preference is. These locations come highly recommended for late night eats.

Southern Hospitality

I stayed at the Omni Royal Orleans during this trip. I love this hotel because it’s only a block away from Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter, the staff is great and they have a really nice rooftop pool (Pool photo credit: Holidaycheck.com).

I’ve stayed at this hotel before and always enjoy my experience. The hotel is also convenient to many sites, such as Jackson Square, where one can hop on a 30-minute mule tour for $15 per person.

Disclaimer: A friend of mine works for the hotel, but these opinions are of my own and no compensation was provided for this mention.

Now, I will make a special mention of the restaurant, Cafe Soule. My friends and I went to this restaurant numerous times during our trip. It’s located on St. Louis Street and serves a French and American cuisine. Upon my first visit, I had a shrimp, spinach and provolone omelet, calamari and mimosas. The food was delicious! We actually stayed so long that the bartender, Jefferson, made us their new beverage, watermelon mojitos… and boy, were they good.

Upon my next visit, I had the calamari (again) and a cosmopolitan — another win. I also need to send a special thank you to the Executive Chef, Ernest Jack, III, for the crepe we tried. I only had a bite, but it was heavenly. The crepe was filled with chocolate, bananas and strawberries. Yum, yum, yum.

Should you visit New Orleans, make sure Cafe Soule is on your list of restaurants to try. You will not be disappointed. The food is good, the staff is great (Hey Jefferson, Ernest and Bruce!)… and if you visit on a Friday or Saturday night, be sure to stop by their Paris Room. It’s a lounge upstairs that has an outside terrace. It’s trendy, chic and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

The Sights

Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

This is just a glimpse of the sights I saw in NOLA. From Bourbon Street at night, to catchy t-shirts, to parties at Razzoo, to the streetcars on Canal Street. New Orleans is really filled with so much to do and enjoy. NOLA will always have my heart for this.

Have you been? What are some of your favorite places to go in New Orleans? Would love to add them to my list…

– G

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