A Whirlwind Romance With New Orleans

A close up of the iconic iron horse heads that line the streets in New Orleans.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any traveler in possession of a wanderlust spirit must be in want of a city like New Orleans. So, when the fates routed us to a brief stop in New Orleans, we found ourselves embarking on a cosmic journey that turned into a whirlwind romance with this enigmatic city.

A French Quarter Quandary

Welcome to the French Quarter, the pulsating heart of New Orleans, a neighborhood where every cobblestone street whispers tales of the past and every corner presents a new adventure. Much like aliens on a reconnaissance mission, armed only with a dubious map and an insatiable curiosity we embarked on a journey through the French Quarter’s most enchanting sites.

Jackson Square – The Historic Centerpiece

Overlooking the square, the St. Louis Cathedral; a stunning 18th-century cathedral that is a marvel of architectural beauty. Its triple steeples have stood as silent witnesses to the evolution of New Orleans.

Flanking the cathedral are The Cabildo & The Presbytère. These museums offer a deep dive into Louisiana’s rich history and Mardi Gras culture.

The square buzzes with local artists and street performers, each adding a unique flavor to the area’s vibrant tapestry.

Bustling Bourbon Street

Known worldwide for its bars and jazz clubs, Bourbon Street comes alive at night with music spilling into the streets, creating an electrifying atmosphere.

Visit famous spots like Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, one of the country’s oldest bars, where the past seamlessly blends with the present.

Royal Street – An Artistic Haven

Stroll down Royal Street to find a more subdued and elegant side of the Quarter, renowned for its art galleries, antique shops, and fine dining establishments.

Don’t miss the talented street musicians and performers that add a charming soundtrack to your Royal Street exploration.

The French Market – Shop and Snack

A haven for foodies, the market offers everything from classic crepes and gator-on-a-stick to shaved ice. Snack and slurp as you browse through a variety of stalls selling local crafts, souvenirs, and fresh produce.

The Hauntingly Beautiful LaLaurie Mansion

Known for its dark history and rumored haunts, this mansion intrigues visitors with its chilling past and architectural grandeur.

Faulkner House Books: The Next Chapter

Article for French Quarter Journal. Photo by Ellis Anderson

Faulkner House Books – A Literary Treasure

Once home to William Faulkner, this bookstore is a must-visit for literature enthusiasts, nestled in a quiet alleyway.

25th Anniversary of VOODOOFEST on Dumaine:

Article for French Quarter Journal. Photo by Ellis Anderson. Learn more at the FQJ Voodoo Authentica archive here.

Voodoo and Mysticism

Delve into the mystical world of Voodoo at shops like Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, offering an insight into this misunderstood and integral part of New Orleans’ culture. Learn about the history and practices of Voodoo in New Orleans, a blend of African, Haitian, and Catholic influences.

The Old Ursuline Convent

The oldest building in the Mississippi Valley, the convent is a beautiful example of French colonial architecture, with lush gardens and a serene atmosphere. Many legends swirl around the former inhabitants of the convent, making it a popular stop on haunted history tours. These ghost tours usually only stop outside the convent gates.

St. Louis Cemetery No 1: Photo by Ellis Anderson for French Quarter Journal

Click here for entire article and all photos.

Cemeteries, Ghostly Legends, and Haunted Tours

New Orleans doesn’t just flirt with the supernatural; it’s in a committed relationship. I joined a haunted tour, half-skeptic, half-believer, and wholly unprepared for the ghostly tales that unfolded. It was a bit like attending a family reunion where the ancestors weren’t just late, but a century dead.

The Mardi Gras Menagerie

Although I missed the actual Mardi Gras, its spirit lingered like a guest who didn’t know the party was over. Beads hung from trees like bizarre fruit, and I could almost hear the echoes of the recent festivities, a phantom parade in my mind’s eye.

As a tour guide of sorts, my goal is to show you the multifaceted personality of the French Quarter, a place where history, culture, art, and gastronomy converge to create an experience unlike any other. Whether you’re here for the history, the food, the music, or the sheer joy of exploration, the French Quarter has something magical to offer everyone.

The Auditory Odyssey

The air was thick with the scent of spice and a cacophony of sounds that could only be described as organized chaos. Jazz notes spilled out of every doorway, a siren song luring me deeper into the Quarter’s embrace. If music be the food of love, New Orleans was hosting a never-ending banquet, and I was a welcomed guest.

Gastronomic Gallivanting

Alright folks, here comes the flavor-packed expedition through New Orleans foods. In this city every dish tells a story, and every bite is a journey. Today, we’re diving fork-first into the culinary wonderland of the French Quarter. Let’s dig in!

A Festive Feast

The Gumbo Tales – A Stew of Epic Proportions

First up, we’re hitting a legendary joint where the gumbo pot’s been simmering for decades. Here, it’s all about that dark roux, the holy trinity of Creole cooking (celery, bell peppers, and onions), and a symphony of spices that’ll knock your socks off. Seafood gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo – you name it, they’ve got it, each with a depth of flavor that’s off the charts!

The Po’boy Paradise – Sandwiches That Rule

Next stop, a classic po’boy shop where the bread’s as important as the filling. We’re talking golden, crispy shrimp, piled high on fresh French bread, dressed with all the fixings. And don’t even get me started on the roast beef po’boy, dripping with gravy, a true masterpiece of messy, mouthwatering goodness.

Cajun Cabin


Jambalaya Jive – Rice That’s Oh So Nice

We’re scooting over to a spot where they cook up a jambalaya that’s a festival in a bowl. With perfectly spiced sausage, tender chicken, the freshest seafood, and rice that’s absorbed every ounce of flavor – it’s like a Mardi Gras parade for your taste buds.

Crawfish Étouffée Extravaganza – The Flavor Bomb

We’re diving into a bowl that’s so good, you’ll think you’ve been transported to a Creole grandma’s kitchen. Rich, velvety, with crawfish that’s been simmered to perfection – it’s a dish that’s speaking my language.

Beignet Bliss – Powdered Sugar Heaven

And what’s a trip to New Orleans without hitting Cafe Du Monde’? A must for these fluffy pillows of joy that are served hot and heavy with powdered sugar.

Pair it with a chicory coffee, and you’ve got yourself a one-way ticket to sweet, sweet paradise.

Muffuletta Mania – More Than a Sandwich

Let’s not forget the New Orleans original. We’re hitting a deli where these legends are stacked with layers of salami, ham, Mortadella, provolone, and that famous olive spread – oh boy, what a spread! It’s like a flavor bomb went off in the Big Easy. One of these fed the whole crew!

Stanley Restaurant, Lower Pontalba Building, French Quarter, New Orleans


Red Beans and Rice Rapture – The Soulful Staple

Lastly, we’re sampling red beans and rice, a dish that’s the soul of New Orleans cooking. Cooked low and slow, seasoned to perfection, with a kick that sneaks up on you – it’s comfort food that’s playing a tune all its own.

Bananas Foster Frenzy – A Flaming Good Time

We’re ending this culinary crusade with a show-stopping bananas foster. We’re talking bananas caramelized in a bubbling pan with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of rum, served over creamy vanilla ice cream. It’s not just dessert; it’s a performance.

The Inescapable Conclusion

In the end, New Orleans was like that one eccentric relative we all have – a bit unpredictable, sometimes overwhelming, but utterly indispensable at family gatherings. I left the city with a suitcase full of memories and a heart full of stories, already plotting my return.

So, dear reader, if you ever find yourself near New Orleans, embrace the detour. The city is a storyteller, and if you’re lucky, it might just choose you as its protagonist for a brief, but unforgettable, adventure.

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