New Orleans awaits you at AAO 2021. In a city that tops many foodies’ lists of best places to eat, where do you start?
Fortunately, your fellow young ophthalmologists from NOLA have your best interests — and stomach — at heart. Here is an insider’s list of all their best activities and restaurants for YOs to discover. Just a reminder to bring your appetite along with your ID and vaccine card — many of these venues will require both.
Samuel Homra, MD
- Audubon Park is a great running/biking/walking path that circles a par 62 golf course. At one end is the Audubon Zoo. Behind the zoo is a small waterfront park called “The Fly.” New Orleans allows open containers of alcohol (as long as they are in plastic cups), so bring your favorite beverage or games and head to The Fly to watch the sunset over the Mississippi River while cargo ships travel up and down.
- Ride a Blue Bike around the city. This pedal-assisted e-bike program allows you to quickly travel to different neighborhoods for much cheaper than any of the rideshare apps. Just watch out for the potholes!
Eat and Drink
- Turkey and the Wolf. Chef Mason Hereford won a James Beard award for making eclectic sandwiches. The fried bologna and the collard greens sandwiches are the best.
- Cochon Butcher bills itself as a “tribute to Old-World butcher and charcuterie shops.” Located behind the parent restaurant Cochon (also very good), the Butcher does house-made meats for all of their sandwiches.
- Blue Oak. Best BBQ in the city by quite a bit. Check Instagram for the daily specials before going.
- Willa Jean. Opened by Chef Kelly Fields, another James Beard award winner, they do southern food very well. She has since left the restaurant, but the great food remains.
- La Boulangerie. A French bakery, they make great sandwiches and salads along with a large case filled with pastries.
- Marjie’s Grill. Southeast Asian meets southern BBQ. This eclectic restaurant produces some of my favorite dishes in New Orleans and for a great price.
- Maïs Arepas. This tucked-away restaurant creates some fantastic Colombian cuisine. Their cocktails are equally as good.
- Pêche. If you are looking for classic Louisiana dishes made like they are supposed to be made, then Peche is the place to dine.
- Compere Lapin. After competing on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Chef Nina Compton opened this as her first restaurant in New Orleans. Now both she and her restaurant have won many awards — and for good reason. This upscale Caribbean restaurant creates incredible food. If you can’t get a reservation, you can try its sister restaurant Bywater American Bistro.
- Saba is nestled in a quiet neighborhood of New Orleans. This restaurant creates delicious Israeli and Middle Eastern dishes.
- Hot Tin has a rooftop bar with gorgeous views of the city.
- Bacchanal is a wine bar centered around an outdoor patio and stage. It has live jazz nightly and is worth whatever wait there might be at the door.
- The Delachaise Wine Bar. Located on St. Charles Avenue, it has a decent beer selection and an extensive wine and spirits list. Have a drink on the patio while watching the street cars go by.
- The Tchoup Yard. Outdoor bar that serves everything including frozen drinks.
There are lots of others, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Nicole A. Legare, MD
Take a Tour
For a fun night in NOLA, start at Domenica for dinner and get the roasted cauliflower with whipped feta appetizer (Even if you aren’t a huge cauliflower fan, I promise you’ll love this!) and any pasta or pizza.
Hop next door to the classic Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel and order what is considered to be the world’s first mixed drink and official drink of New Orleans, a “Sazerac.” Then take a stroll across Canal Street and up Royal Street to Hotel Monteleone for a ride and drink at the Carousel Bar.
You can keep walking up Royal Street or head one block over to Bourbon Street for a few blocks of people watching and bar hopping. Keep heading towards Jackson Square. Time to stop for a late snack at the famous Cafe Du Monde for a warm beignet and a coffee.
No need to get a table, just walk to the to-go line in the back (it may seem long but moves quickly!). Don’t forget that it is cash only. Enjoy your beignet while taking a lap around Jackson Square or continue your journey towards some great live music.
Keep walking up Royal or hop in an Uber to Frenchman Street, where you can enjoy some of the best live music in town. Some of our favorite spots include Bamboula’s, the Spotted Cat and the Maison.
Grab a Streetcar to the Garden District
Take a ride on a streetcar even if just for one or two stops, or ride down to the Garden District to see the quintessential architecture of New Orleans including large white columns, beautiful iron work and Romeo and Juliet style galleries.
A few houses to see are:
- Walter Grinnan Robinson House, 1415 Third St.
- Brevard-Rice House, 1239 First St.
- Joseph Carroll House, 1315 First St.
- Bradish Johnson House/McGehee School for Girls, 2343 Prytania St.
Walk down Royal Street during the day and pop into some of the art galleries. If you like museums, the National World War II Museum is one of our favorites.
Pêche. Excellent seafood downtown in the Central Business District (CBD).
Auction House Market is across the street from Pêche. It has a small bar in the center with food truck-style options.
Try Turkey and the Wolf in the Lower Garden District for some of the best sandwiches in town!
Atchafalaya in the Garden District has an excellent brunch but try to make a reservation.
Take a streetcar ride to St. Charles Avenue and stop at Superior Seafood in the Garden District for happy hour and raw oysters. Also get a classic Frozen French 75! While in the Garden District, be sure to stroll the streets and see some of the beautiful New Orleans architecture.
Getting to Superior Seafood by Streetcar From the French Quarter
From Canal Street at Carondelet
Take the 12 St. Charles Streetcar at Canal and Carondelet and then get off at St. Charles at Napoleon. Superior Seafood is located at stop 24.
Martine C. Domangue, MD
“Recover, rebuild, rebirth” is a slogan well known to the town known as the Crescent City, a city built below sea level and frequently in the “cone of uncertainty” during hurricane forecasting.
So, what is it that keeps locals inspired? New Orleans is a melting pot, not just in cultural diversity but also in the food, art and music industry. The city is built on creativity and the celebration of life, or as we say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bons temps rouler” (“Let the good times roll”).
The list below is by no means comprehensive but may give you a brief glimpse of a few places that make New Orleans special.
Quintessential New Orleans
Here are my picks for venues that are quintessential NOLA. These restaurants are blessed with memorable settings and homegrown cuisine:
- Crescent City Steaks, Commander’s Palace, Ralph’s on the Park, Jacques Imo’s, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, Le Petit Grocery, Clancy’s, Atchafalaya, GW Fins, Pêche, Restaurant August, Shaya (Israeli restaurant), Compere Lapin, Bywater American Bistro, Vincent’s Italian Cuisine (best Italian place) and Blue Oak BBQ
- Antoine’s Restaurant, Galatoire’s Restaurant, Doris Metropolitan, Jewel of the South, Sobou, Muriel’s Jackson Square, Irene’s (all in the historic French Quarter)
- Jack Rose and Hot Tin. Both have great food, and Hot Tin has a cool rooftop bar.
- Four Seasons restaurant and bar. New and hot.
For Casual Lunch and Drinks
Many restaurants and bars have open patios and verandas. Check the links to see if there’s outdoor dining and drinking.
- Bearcat has a phenomenal brunch, worth the wait.
- Paladar 911 and Willa Jean are also great for brunch and bloody marys.
- Bacchanal is a local place with live music, a large wine selection, great food and outside seating.
- Looking for a po’boy sandwich? Try R&O Restaurant and Catering, Parenton’s Po-Boys, Parkway Bakery & Tavern, Domilise’s Po-Boys and Bar, Killer Poboys, Ye Old College Inn (also former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ favorite Poboy spot).
- Cochon Butcher. Classic boudin, great sandwiches
- The Blue Crab Restaurant & Oyster Bar is a great spot on the lake with top notch chargrilled oysters and live music (Landry’s Seafood House, next door, also has great drinks!)
- Clesi’s Seafood Restaurant & Catering and Seafood Sally’s are great casual spots for seafood.
- Tchoup Yard. With outdoor seating, great drinks and good bar food it’s a must.
Can’t Miss Coffee
If you’ve never had chicory in your brew, now is the time to try it. It’s a NOLA tradition to mix it with your morning cup of joe.
- Café Bon Ami. Confession: It’s owned by my sister-in-law, but unquestionably my favorite latte in town
Options to All That Eating and Drinking
Make an effort to walk through NOLA’s elegant and historic neighborhoods. You won’t regret it. Here are my favorites:
About the Authors
Samuel Homra, MD, is a resident at Louisiana State University and graduate of Tulane University. Currently a PGY2, he has had some time to collect an extensive list of NOLA restaurants and bars.
Nicole Legare, MD, is a chief resident in the ophthalmology residency program at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. She was born and raised in central Florida and moved to the Big Easy to start her ophthalmology residency almost three years ago. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, a general surgery resident, and their 2-year-old son. Dr. Legare will graduate from residency in 2022 and pursue a career in comprehensive ophthalmology.
Martine C. Domangue, MD, received her undergraduate degree from Tulane University and her medical degree from Louisiana State University Medical School. She is currently an ophthalmology resident (PGY4) at LSU.