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Nawlin’s & French Quarter Feasting

Mother & daughter travel deliciously through the Big Easy

Globetrotting with my mum is one of my favourite pass-times and we were well overdue for a trip. Top requirements were easy to agree on: photo ops, culture, great food – and anything warmer than our home in Ontario, Canada. We Google-mapped our way straight south as far as we could go and stopped at sub-tropical New Orleans – warm enough? Check!

Beads and flowersAnd that photo-op requirement? Well that explains why mum and I are perfect travel buddies. Neither one of us is capable of passing up all those great French Quarter photo-ops: local characters, balconies with blooms ... And yes, if you catch us at lunch, we'll both be photographing our food.

More googling and we knew that the famously fun French Quarter had culture covered too. Where else could you go for a voodoo reading, take in an all-nighter of jazz and jazz-vibe, or immerse yourself in the glitter and sequins of Mardi Gras?

Crawfish Po-boy and Bloody Mary with zing-zang - Chartres HouseBut, turns out the only way to truly experience that French Quarter vibe is to eat like a local. And I highly recommend you take this part of your vacation seriously – the locals do! French Quarter restaurants specialize in hearty food from a diverse ethnic and cultural population. Thanks to a French and Southern fusion, Cajan jambalaya is practically a staple. And European and African influences evolved into Creole cooking and that famously saucy gumbo.

With so many options, if you still find yourself craving a burger and fries I recommend you order in. But if you plan to throw caution to the wind, then let the feasting begin!

The Gumbo Shop

Awesome-Awesome' Chicken Andouille Gumbo, Hurricane, and hot-sauce - The Gumbo ShopTwo ladies dining on plane food and lugging suitcases can work up quite an appetite. The smell of something delicious lured us down St Peter Street. When you're hungry, St Peter Street leads you straight to The Gumbo Shop. 'Best of New Orleans' voted it winner in its' Best Gumbo category every year since 1999 – a good enough accolade for two hungry tourists!

Having just arrived, The Gumbo Shop was our introduction to the city – to the food, the culture, and to that famous Southern hospitality. We went Gumbo Shop all the way with Seafood Okra Gumbo for mum, and Chicken Andouille Gumbo for me. My choice was easy as Brandon, our waiter, assured me it was "awesome-awesome." He also assured me that 'Hurricane's' are not only a traditional New Orleans drink, but also "awesome-awesome" – one each for mum and I.

Winner of 'Best Gumbo'! - The Gumbo ShopThe Gumbo Shop introduced us to another French Quarter staple – hot sauce. Every table at every meal – including breakfast – had a selection of 'hot' for every taste – creole seasoning, pepper blend and just plain hot.

Visit The Gumbo Shop.

Daisy Duke's

Alligator omelet, grits, and biscuit at Daisy DukesDaisy Duke's claims "we don't do fancy." But what they do really well is down-home Southern comfort – from the 'Mornin' Darlin' as we arrived and good, strong coffee to start.

Breakfast was straight out of the bayou – 'Alligator' Omelet', grits and biscuits. And the breakfast drinks menu was straight out of the French Quarter – Bottomless Bloody Mary’s - Cajun-style. This means hot sauce AND a large crawfish dangling by its tail from the rim. Too early for a lesson on how to tackle all those creepy legs, so I stuck with my bottomless coffee instead.

Perfect nails for parading and serving breakfast - Daisy Dukes Daisy Duke's is your typical diner, but done French Quarter style – walls of old Louisiana brick, pics of Jazz musicians and jazzy music. Our waitress served breakfast with 2-inch purple jeweled nails. This is New Orleans after all and Jody had been parading. This time it was Mardi Gras, but next week she'll be serving breakfast with 2-inch green nails and parading for St. Patrick's Day.

Check out Daisy Duke's all-day breakfast specialties.

Cafe du Monde and Cafe Beignet

The specialty - Cafe BeignetWe had to try beignets or it would be hard to claim we'd toured the French Quarter. 'Beignet tossing' at Cafe du Monde was both education and entertainment – a huge vat splashes boiling oil as squared dough is tossed by the dozen, submerged, scooped, and smothered in powdered sugar. Beignet is Cafe du Monde's only food and a line-up of more than a hundred patrons suggests they must be pretty good.

Breakfast with the birds - Cafe BeignetAlso famous for the sweet treat is Cafe Beignet. Breakfast with the rising sun got us in before the line-ups. Our only breakfast companions fluttered in and out the wide open entrance and tweeted their demand for yummy crumbs. Try some other time of day though, and you may have to brave the crowds - Steamboat Willie has been known to rock the house with his famous Dixieland and New Orleans Jazz.
And the verdict on those famous beignets? OF COURSE they're delicious!

Find your sweet-treat spot on-line:

Chartres House

Mum realizes she loves parades! - Chartres House.The French Quarter is supposed to be fun – mom and I thought we had been living-it-up since we arrived. Turns out hangin' with the afternoon crowd on Bourbon Street was really rather low-key. We climbed creaking stairs to a great view of St Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. Chartres' crooked balcony tipped us toward the street just enough so we could enjoy a little sense of danger without actually sliding sideways.

With a little danger in the air, our Bloody Mary's with zing-zang went down fast. We went New Orleans all the way with a crazy big and tasty Crawfish Po-Boy and Boudin with Creole mustard sauce - too delish to miss.

Mayor of a New Orleans' Kenner suburb - Michael Yenni gets in on the fun.And this is when dinner on our precariously tilting balcony went from two ladies version of an adventure, to a wild and crazy street party. When beads headed for the balcony I dived – and came up proudly with my first Mardi Gras necklace. Mum saw my prize and it was game on. With bands and buggies, whistles and sirens, and our growing stash of beads, the St. Joseph's Day parade was New Orleans all the way.

We arrived back at our hotel much later bedecked in beads – and in love with 'The Big Easy'.

Check out Chartres House.

Where to Stay

Hotel Monteleone

The luxurious Hotel MonteleoneVacation at Hotel Monteleone with all the amenities including a spa and fitness center. After your workout, reward yourself with a Mint Julep at the Carousel Bar. As the name suggests, if you stay in your seat you'll go for a trip around the room!

Find your luxurious stay-cation at Hotel Monteleone.

The Quarter House

The Quarter House courtyard.The Quarter House is at the heart of all the action. Our St Joseph's Day parade turned the hotel entrance into a party-zone. You're also just minutes from famous Bourbon street, boutique shopping, and awesome jazz. Another plus – if 'Feasting in the French Quarter' sounds like your thing – you're just a short walk from a whole lot of feasting!

Visit The Quarter House.

What's your favorite food in the New Orleans’ French Quarter? We’d love to hear about your favorite foods and best eating spot – so we can add them to our next tour. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook – and let’s continue the conversation!

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