Day 179: Eating our way through New Orleans.
Being back in New Orleans is a pretty big milestone for us. Since leaving Florida, we don’t have many plans to stay anywhere more than a couple of days. New Orleans is the only big city we planned to spend more than a couple of days at until we got back to the west coast. Once we leave Louisiana and head into Texas, there are going to be more transit days and for longer distances.
Our first full day here we are determined to make it a good one. When you are in New Orleans, a good day is a day full of good food.
When we were here last time, it was just after Mardi Gras and we were only a month into the trip in 2010. We found out that staying across the river at Bayou Segnette in the west bank was pretty convenient as there was a free ferry that took us right into downtown with only a $5 fee to park all day.
This time around, we are looking at a totally different story. We are dealing with the Super Bowl, which is being played at the Super Dome in a few days, as well as Mardi Gras celebrations which have already started. When we got to the ferry parking lot, they wanted $20 for parking. Forget that, we will just drive across.
Driving across the bridge into downtown only costs $1 for toll on the bridge. Parking is not the easiest to find in the middle of French Quarters as there are lots of narrow one-way streets as well as permit-required, resident-only parking on most streets. If you are willing to walk a little bit, street parking is pretty easy to find on Rampart Street. It is the big 4-lane road that runs along the edge of French Quarters. It is $3 to park for 2 hours and 5 minutes from Bourbon street and free after 6pm.
Even mid-day on a weekday, the street artists are out and hustling to make a buck. The crowds that have congregated here for these 2 events that have coincided is apparently very good business for them.
Inside Jackson Square, CBS has the entire area barricaded from the public for the entire week. Since they have the broadcasting rights for the Super Bowl on Sunday, they decided to bring all of their live shows here to tape in New Orleans. There are temporary television studios set up wherever there is space in the area.
We couldn’t care less about CBS. We are here to eat beignets.
A big cafe au lait and a plate of fried dough doused in powder sugar. This is why we are here.
Ava has been waiting for this moment for months. It was kind of tough to get her to understand that we could not just drive to New Orleans for a quick beignet from earlier parts of our trip. In the last few months, she has been learning a lot about the different states and seeing them on a map which has built even more anticipation for this moment.
When Mila was here last time, she was not eating any solid foods. We have taken her to Downtown Disney in Anaheim for beignets but this is her first authentic Cafe du Monde beignet experience.
Looks like Mila was on a pretty good sugar high after our late morning snack. She was ready to hand out money to everyone including this robot who happens to be a 49er’s fan.
It’s a good thing a walk through Jackson Square was not high on our list of things to do here. They had security standing guard at all of the entrances. I guess I will have to wait to complete my autograph collection of the ladies from The Talk.
We made out way up the street to the corner of Royal and Toulouse. We found a cool jazz band playing live music right on the street. It appears to be the same band we watched play at the exact same location almost 3 years ago. A few of the members appear to have been replaced, or at least have changed their look significantly, but the music is just as great as we remembered.
They are The Smoking Time Jazz Club and if you are ever in New Orleans, you know now where to find them.
Not to be outdone by Mila, Ava dropped a little moolah into their tip bucket during their performance as well. Here she is being thanked by one of the band members.
Even though we don’t get to have a night life during our travels because of the kids, we love being in New Orleans during the day. We get to see some of the greatest street performers play beautiful music. This woman is a magician on her clarinet.
Just as our 2 hour parking meters were up, we made our way to the van and drove it across town to the Garden District to another one of our favorite stops during our last visit. Juan’s Flying Burritos for a late lunch. The food was good but did not quite measure up to our memory of it. But to be fair, we have had some pretty amazing food on this trip and it is possible that our bar is been raised just a bit.
If you thought we were happy to call it a day with Juan’s Flying Burritos, you are sadly mistaken. We made our way back to the west bank which happens to have a pretty large Vietnamese population with a lot of great Vietnamese restaurants. After running some errands around town, we found a great little place to get Pho.
Their rare beef pho was delicious. Soup was poured hot into the bowl and the thinly sliced beef is placed in there raw and cooks to a perfect medium rare in the hot broth. It might not be your typical New Orleans cuisine but if you are staying at Bayou Segnette State Park at the westbank, you should check out their great Vietnamese eats in the area.
over and out,
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