If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, this is the travel guide you’ll want to follow.
Pete Fischer, the owner of Sydney's newest southern inspired restaurant NOLA Smokehouse and Bar, can't get enough of the feel, flavours and fun of New Orleans.
This is his second nod to the south after his cocktail den, The Swinging Cat, opened on Sydney’s King Street in 2016.
Having visited the city four times, he has well and truly cemented himself as the go-to tour guide of The Big Easy – the affectionate nickname for the city thanks to its easy-going way of life.
“New Orleans Mardi Gras is a reason in itself to visit. There's this underlying feeling of mysticism in New Orleans - a strange feeling but you can't put your finger on it and you can't find it anywhere else in the world,” Pete says.
Together with his wife Kate, the pair now visit once a year to get their dose of the fun-loving, laid-back south. So trust us, if there’s anyone’s advice you want to follow, its Pete’s.
Here’s his ultimate 24 hour guide to New Orleans and the greater Louisiana area.
8:00AM – Breakfast at Café du Monde
Get accustomed to the easy lifestyle by starting the day with a coffee and beignet – a tasty square, French style doughnut – at Café du Monde.
Located in the French Market, the café was established in 1862 and serves up traditional Au Lait, which is coffee mixed with hot milk.
When it comes to authentic food, you can’t go past the beignet which locals have grown up eating.
10:00AM – Take a tour of the plantation houses
Pete recommends visiting both the Laura (creole style) and Oak Alley plantations to get a good sense of the area’s rich culture and history.
Apart from the stunning 300-year-old oak trees that line the property, the plantation has numerous exhibitions to explore.
It’s a good idea to allow two hours to check out the area and guided tours take place on the hour.
1:00PM – Stop for lunch at Clover Grill
Whether retro diners are your thing or you just love comfort food 24/7, Clover Grill is a must-see. Apart from the authentic diner-style atmosphere this place is known for its cheap and cheerful eats along with authentic, southern hospitality.
Pete recommends this place purely because of the “basic food that tastes great and the super authentic service”.
If you’re in the mood, check out world-famous Bourbon Street - which is nearby and much tamer during the day. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore the area in a less crowded state and pinpoint where you might want to hit up for a drink later.
4:00PM – Time to see the swamps and feed some gators
If you’re all about adventure, get on board an airboat. A New Orleans swamp tour will give you a good feel for how versatile the city really is. Just 45 minutes away from the sinful food and the toe-tapping jazz, you will be immersed in a world of wildlife, including 17-feet alligators.
So what's Pete's top tip for the swamp tour? Don't forget the marshmallows! It's a favourite for the gators and most tour guides will have them on hand..
8:00PM – Kick back with a cocktail and some Dixieland Jazz
If there's one thing you must do in New Orleans, it's catch some live jazz. Arnaud's Jazz Bistro combines two of the best things about the Big Easy, fine dining and jazz.
Before you settle down for dinner in the restaurant's beautifully restored main dining room, grab a classic cocktail from Richelieu Bar or the French 75 Bar. The restaurant's a la carte menu menu offers everything from alligator sausage to seafood gumbo.
Pete’s top tips:
- Walk everywhere - You see so much more this way. If it's too far, take a cable car.
- Centralise yourself - My preference is to stay on Rue Royal or Dauphine. They're both one street back from Bourbon Street where it is much quieter. The Hotel Monteleone on Royal is fantastic, as is the Grand Hotel Dauphine.
- Don't be afraid to try everything - For me, the best thing I’ve ever eaten was the Banana Fosters at Arnaud's. They make it right there at the table and make quite a show out of it.
If New Orleans isn't on your immediate travel list, check out NOLA Smokehouse and Bar in Sydney.