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New Orleans is full of historic neighborhoods, but the French Quarter is arguably the best-known and most visited neighborhood destination. It’s home to historic structures like St. Louis Cathedral and The Cabildo, but it’s also home to the neon lights of Bourbon Street’s Bourbon Cowboy and The Cat’s Meow. I’ve lived in a fourth floor walk-up apartment in the heart of the French Quarter with my husband and my tiny dog, Thor, for the past two years.
Yes, we deal with crowds and the occasional rouge bachelor party, but most of the time we enjoy wrought-iron balconies teeming with flowers and greenery and the buskers playing saxophone on our block. There are endless ways to move beyond Bourbon Street and experience the French Quarter like a full-time resident – get started with a few of my favorite spots.
My day doesn’t really start until I get that first cup of coffee in me. On Saturdays my husband and I wake up bright and early (ok, maybe not that early) and walk over to Spitfire for a cappuccino. On our way back, we start planning breakfast.
I love going out for breakfast, but it’s not practical every day. Luckily, there’s a Rouses on Royal Street where I can pick up fruit, eggs, and some of my favorite local brands – Bellegarde bread and Savoie’s cajun sausage are staples for us. On days that we do go out for breakfast, you’ll find us at Croissant D’or ordering a quiche or at EAT on Dauphine Street. Pro tip: EAT is BYOB with no corkage fee for the first bottle, so you can easily turn that breakfast into a full-fledged brunch.
I buy most of my clothes, shoes, and accessories in the French Quarter, because window shopping in my neighborhood on Saturday afternoons certainly beats browsing Amazon! For clothes – from athletic wear to ball gowns – I hit discount designer shop U.A.L. I supplement that with some statement items from Hemline and shoes from Trashy Diva. For jewelry, you’ll find me at Porter Lyons, a local designer and Tulane graduate. If I need a gift, like a Big Freedia candle or some locally-made body glitter, I head to Glitterbox NOLA.
I LOVE eating at iconic New Orleans restaurants like Brennan’s and Galatoire’s, but our wallets just can’t handle these spots every day. If we’re craving a classic New Orleans meal but need to stick to our budget, we hit Napoleon House for jambalaya or a muffuletta. If we want something spicy, we head to Nine Roses, which serves some of the city’s best Vietnamese food (full disclosure: we go here at least once a week.) If we’re craving pasta, we’ll hit up Mona Lisa on Royal Street for some of their spicy red sauce, and if we’re in the mood to splurge a little bit, we’ll head to Meauxbar on Rampart for a cocktail and a bowl of their daily yakamein or to G.W. Fins for whatever fish is on special that day.
I get my hair cut at Mickey Nolan Salon. It’s a classic New Orleans spot with style and I always leave feeling beautiful. When my nails need a touch-up, I usually head to Riverside Day Spa, but if I want my manicure to be the first thing people notice about me, I book an appointment with M.A.D. Nails. Surprise yourself and get the artist choice gel art manicure.
My favorite way to work out in the French Quarter is to walk or jog around the neighborhood and people-watch. You might catch an impromptu second line, hear a band busking on the sidewalk, or see some local artists selling their wares. If I’m in a zen mood, I head to The Cabildo, which offers yoga classes on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 8:30am. A second yoga option is Magnolia Yoga Studio, on the edge of the Quarter, which offers hot yoga and occasional wellness courses.
The French Quarter offers happy hour options with both food and drink specials. Since everything is walking distance, hopping from happy hour to happy hour is a great way to try everything at once. If my husband and I are craving a really top-notch cocktail, we head to Cane & Table or Bar Tonique. If we’re really in it for the food specials, we’ll head to Broussard’s or Angeline. Orleans Grapevine hosts a “bacon hour” twice daily, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and again from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., so that’s our spot for a late night bacon fix.
Realistically, I’m not art shopping every week, but it never hurts to look! I’m partial to the galleries on the lower section of Royal Street closer to Esplanade Avenue. Gallery Orange is a contemporary gallery that holds regular evening openings and receptions. Right next door is Craig Tracy Gallery, which showcases photographs of elaborate body painting by local artist Craig Tracy. Frank Relle Gallery just down the street features haunting photography of southern Louisiana’s natural landscape.
A Note on Dogs
We love walking through the French Quarter with our dog, Thor. Most shops and galleries are dog friendly and may even offer a treat or two. Many bars and coffee shops, especially those that don’t serve food, will also welcome dogs, and many restaurants have outdoor seating options where you can dine with your pup. If Thor deserves a treat or maybe needs to up his Mardi Gras costume game, we head to Southern Paws. If we want to watch a Saints game with friends, we bring Thor with us to Cosimo’s, which serves great drinks and bar food. The kitchen is separate from the main bar, so dogs are allowed indoors and I can enjoy some jalape˜ño poppers with Thor on my lap.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my local life in the French Quarter – check out my Instagram account @frenchquarterlife for more adventures!