Mardi Gras Tips or Advice? New Orleans restaurants?

Traveler’s question: I’m heading down to Mardi Gras tomorrow. I’ve never been to New Orleans and I’ve done no research whatsoever. Anybody have any specific recommendations to share?

1) Wear old, sturdy shoes. They will get very dirty and your feet will get stepped on. For bars, if you get out of the quarter (you should) Igor’s, on St. Charles around Louisiana, is a great spot from 4 to 6 a.m. You can even do your laundry. Cooter Brown’s, near the intersection of St. Charles and N. Carollton, is a fun bar, too.

Walk over to Frenchman street and drop into Snug Harbor – maybe the best jazz club in town. Go late. House of Blues is good. Go to their website and see who’s playing.

2) K-Paul was a great restaurant. A real casual place called Rita’s Olde French Quarter had real good food. It’s cliche by now, but you should get beignets and coffee at Cafe du monde one morning (or late night). Those things are delicious. And try a muffaletta. Central Grocer is considered the best, but I actually liked the place next door even better.

Visit Galatoire’s. It’s pricey and you need a jacket but you won’t understand the city until you go there. No reservations. They’ll ask you who your waiter is. Wing it.

3) Don’t get arrested. Don’t piss in the street or get into a fight or flash while standing next to a cop or touch a NOPD horse. The rest is cream cheese. You can’t screw this up. Get some beads, get drunk, hook up if you want and go nuts. It’s a fun time.

4) Watch your wallet and don’t carry all your money around with you. (I did that). Staying safe also means not going into cemeteries without a group or tour guide. If you’re drinking alcohol, you should be drinking water as well.

5) Get a good cheap lunch at Johnny Po’ Boys. (Which is on my list from a long time ago). Also, Domilise’s Po-Boys for great fried shrimp po boys and frozen goblets of beer.

6) Get to the parade routes early, the side streets are often less crowded. You might need a mask if you get queasy from car/truck fumes. (I didn’t have the fume problem). Canvas bags are better than plastic, if you need a bag for carrying souvenirs like the coins, cups, and beads they toss from floats.

7) Try to get on a balcony at one of the bars and stay up there. I enjoyed watching Bourbon Street from above far more than wandering the street. The “Cats Meow” will give you a great view of the corner of Bourbon and St. Pete’s which is probably the busiest area.

There is a bathroom and bar upstairs there. I went in 1999 and spent most of the weekend up there watching the madness down below. (I was there for about a week before Mardi Gras – Bourbon Street was fine until Fri. or Sat. night before Fat Tuesday. Then it got crazy crowded).

8) Take a tour or two. Go up the Mississippi on a steamboat (drink beer on deck to sober up from the night before and get a muffaletta from central grocery to eat on board). Take a swamp tour – byob.

9) Casamento’s on Magazine Street has really good seafood. Fried oysters are the best in the city. Definitely not fancy. Higher up the food (and price) chain is Cochon. very good food, excellent martinis. you can always take the street car up Charles st., past Loyola and Tulane in the Garden District, to Brigtsen’s. This place will cost you but it’s worth it. Reservations required. Exact change only on the street car!

10) You might consider saving come money by getting your beads in advance. The ones in demand (and if you want to trade beads for pictures of the opposite sex flashing this is important) can cost $5-10 each so if you’re gonna go through 20 or 50 bead necklaces you’re talking about real money. Marijuana leaves, flashing lights, glow-in-the-dark bones, etc. Also, if you’re taking pictures you might want to risk bringing a decent camera – disposables aren’t always that great for night photography. Also, flashing is not a one-sided thing. Men can flash for beads as well as women – it’s just a little less common.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Jon McDougal says:

    #1 Tip: Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket.

    #2 Tip: Don’t be a jackazz. If you aren’t, it’s all good.

    Take the opportunity to visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar. 941 Bourbon. It is the oldest pub in the US of A.

    Mother’s Restaurant at 401 Poydras St is worth the walk. (About 4 blocks outside The Quarter.)

    And if you want a very unique experience, visit the Creole Creamery at 4924 Prytania Street. Kid friendly!

    -Jon

  2. Tammy says:

    Dickie Brennans! Awesome steakhouse. 716 Iberville Street 504-522-2467

  3. Mike says:

    This person has no idea what they’re getting themselves into.

    While some of the tips above are certainly relevant, this person is about to join the second largest party in the world…and they didn’t plan anything?

    Living in New Orleans, experiencing eight Mardi Gras relaxing, working in the quarter,partying on VIP balconies, and getting dirty in the streets, not knowing where in the city this person is actually staying and how much money they plan on spending, there’s no point in making plans now.

    A few big tips:

    Don’t get arrested, always know where to find the nearest bathroom. Always have some cash with you – some places will make you pay to use the bathroom if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’re in a sea of people keep your money and cards close.

    Use United Cabs when possible (they’re the most trustworthy company in the city).

    Buying beads is for suckers – take in the parades and you’ll get tons.

    From today you have a few more days – just have fun. At this point make friends with some locals and let them lead the way…

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