It’s September. That means you’ll most likely find Rocio Mora at a Saints game on Sunday screaming loud and mighty, or glued to the television at home watching with her family. The rest of the week, she’s shooting and editing videos for her YouTube channel @RisasRizos and her loyal band of curly, natural hair followers. While Rocio calls New Orleans home, most of her audience is scattered across the nation in Miami, New York, and Chicago. But she’s always looking for a reason to share what she loves most about her hometown with them. We are proud to call her one of our own here, and doubly proud to celebrate her work during Hispanic Heritage month and beyond. We caught up with Mora this month on GoNOLA to find out more about what she loves the most about her city.
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
My Grandmother. She’s no longer with us but she’s actually the reason we moved to New Orleans. She loved this city so much and now that I think about it, a lot of my memories of growing up in New Orleans are with her: time spent by the lake in the spring, eating snoballs, Sundays at the Riverwalk and the Quarter, crawfish boils, Mardi Gras parades, etc. She was a big fan of the Saints, too!
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
I was actually born in Baltimore, MD. It was my grandmother who made the first leap to New Orleans back when I was about three or four and from that moment, her daughters followed. I’ve been here ever since. New Orleans is the only city I know to call home.
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
Mid-City. I’m big on festivals and some of my favorite are in Mid-City. Some of my favorite restaurants and bars are in Mid-City. I grew up on the Westbank so Mid-City was close enough to get away before crossing into “too-far-Metairie.”
4. If it’s a beautiful day, where are you going to spend it?
First, I’m going to find a snowball and then spend my time roaming the streets of the French Quarter. That’s probably my absolute favorite thing to do in New Orleans. Even though I grew up here, rediscovering shops, bars, or restaurants that I’ve never been to before awakens my inner explorer and I find ways to fall in love with New Orleans all over again.
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans.
I may be slim, but I love to eat. I’ve gone to several restaurants in New Orleans and I’ve had “best meals” at many of them. I guess it all depends on the type of cuisine but if I had to pick just ONE, it would be my aunt’s gumbo. It’s better than any restaurant I’ve ever been to. I once drove all the way from Baton Rouge because I heard she was making gumbo. Tia’s Gumbo is the best – I’ll fight anyone on this.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
You can find me at The Ruby Slipper for brunch.
7. What’s your favorite type of po-boy? Where do you get it?
Okay, don’t judge me: I’m pretty basic when it comes to my po-boys. I’ll take a fried shrimp poboy, mayo only. Parkway is where I get my po-boys! As basic as I may want my poboy, I’ll wait in line for a good 30 minutes to get it!
8. You’ve got friends visiting, and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
Frenchman. The answer is always Frenchman.
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
Rusty Nail! A lot of great memories come from Rusty Nail nights, even the memories I don’t remember!
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail, and where do you go to get it?
Pimm’s Cup! While Napoleon House is my OG favorite place to get it, I have no shame in asking my bartender to make mine a certain type of way, no matter where I go! I like my Pimm’s Cup to have a little kick to it so I always ask for mine with ginger beer!
11. What’s your favorite dessert or sweet treat in the city?
I’m a sucker for Sucré. I’ll schedule time to make it to Sucré just to sit and indulge in their Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake dessert. Then I’ll take a box of macarons home because one does not simply walk into Sucré and leave without macarons.
12. Best spot to see live music?
Frenchman Street! You never know what you’re gonna get!
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
14. Favorite New Orleans festival?
The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival.
15. What’s your ideal New Orleans date night?
Dinner is always a good idea! It feels like this city has a new restaurant open every week. After dinner, stopping somewhere to check out live music would be ideal for me. Food and music – that’s all I need to be happy!
16. What are your favorite local shops?
Phina on Magazine Street has turned into my home away from home lately. My apartment is starting to look like the shop itself. I can find all kinds of special New Orleans-themed décor from Phina, as well as New Orleans related books, toys, and outfits for the young ones in our family! If you’re looking for a gift to give, Phina is where you need to go!
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
Studio Be. If you want to feel the spirit and magic of New Orleans, go check out Studio Be. You’ll find the work of visual artist Brandan “Bmike” Odums who hands down is one of the most talented artists I know. His work is moving, uplifting, and inspiring on so many levels.
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
Wherever my family and friends watch. There’s something about being surrounded by people I know and love that will scream at the TV as loud as I would and that I can trust to call 9-1-1 in the 4th quarter when our boys give me back-to-back heart attacks. Bonus… usually there’s my aunt’s gumbo involved in game-watching parties and that’s always a win. If I had to pick a bar to watch the game at though, it’s definitely the Rusty Nail.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans, and why?
I feel like this is a trick question. I fall in love with this city every day. I recently moved to the Warehouse District and have been seeing New Orleans from a new perspective. This city is my home and it’s filled with so much magic. It’s like a healthy marriage (just don’t quote me on this because clearly I’m not married); they say that choosing to love means intentionally embracing everything about the other side. I choose to receive the magic of New Orleans in my life. The good, the bad, and the ugly potholes… I find something to love about New Orleans every day.