The Unofficial Guide to New Orleans

The Unofficial Guide to New Orleans

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470380017
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 02/24/2009
Series: Unofficial Guides Series , #224
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

EVE ZIBART is a native of Nashville who began her career as a reporter at age 17 at The Tennessean in Nashville. She moved to Washington, and the Washington Post, in 1977 and has served as critic, editor, and columnist at various times for the newspaper’s “Style,” “Weekend,” “TV,” “Metro,” and “Magazine” sections. For the past decade, she has roamed Washington’s restaurants, carryouts, bars, and nightclubs, with the occasional foray into museums and legitimate theater. In addition to her Post columns, Eve has written or cowritten eight books and regularly appears in a variety of lifestyle magazines. In spite of God’s repeated physical admonishments, Eve continues to play a variety of sports, split her own firewood, and haul rocks into what she hopes will become a Japanese garden within her lifetime.

TOM FITZMORRIS has written a weekly restaurant review column in New Orleans for more than 30 years. He is also the host of the daily three-hour Food Show on WSMB radio, and he publishes the New Orleans Menu Daily at www.nomenu.com. He has written 20 dining guides and cookbooks about the New Orleans food scene. Tom was born on Mardi Gras.

WILL COVIELLO is the arts and entertainment editor for Gambit Weekly in New Orleans. He has covered entertainment, arts, culture, and news for various local and national publications. He came to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in 1992 and never left.

Read an Excerpt

Let the Good Times Roll

A fine spring evening in Jackson Square. As the sun gradually lowers, the shadows of St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo stretch across the flagstones, brushing the tables of the tarot readers; young couples with souvenir hurricane cups stand around a man playing saxophone, its case open in front of him.

And there it is, the mystique of New Orleans in a single vignette: empire, religion, music, voodoo, and alcohol. Laissez les bons temps rouler -- let the good times roll.

And yet there are some who say that what passes for "good times" is rolling too long and too strong these days. There is a battle raging for the soul of New Orleans, most visibly in and around the French Quarter; and while it is not a contest between good and evil, at least not in the classical sense, it will in the next few years determine whether the character of this unique city is lost, restored, or permanently altered.

That the character of the Vieux Carré has already changed is clear from a few hours' acquaintance. An odd confluence of factors -- renovation of some older houses into upscale condominiums and the gradual decline of others; a much-publicized increase in street crime and heavy investment by outside commercial interests into redevelopment, frequently uprooting smaller local firms -- has reduced the number of the French Quarter's permanent residents from about 15,000 a generation ago to fewer than 3,300 today. And of those, a dispiriting percentage are derelicts, street kids, and drunks, all looking for handouts and all with their vanished ambitions etched in their faces. A high tide of cheap-souvenir and T-shirt shops has swamped Bourbon Street, and glossy, private club-style strip joints, several bankrolled from out of town, are squeezing out the older, more authentic burlesque houses. At the same time, the number of bars offering heavily amplified rock and blues music, their doors open and competing for volume dominance, makes the retreat of jazz and Dixieland more obvious. Sit-down bars that specialized in classic New Orleans cocktails such as hurricanes and Sazeracs, touristy though they may have seemed before, now appear almost quaintly sophisticated in the face of carryout frozen margarita and daiquiri counters with their crayon-colored mixes spinning in laundromat-like rows.

Yes, souvenir shops are brighter than bars, but they certainly have less character. Sure, live blues is great, but it's more Texan than Louisianian. Mardi Gras, once the most elegant and elaborate of festivities, has become the world's largest frat party, its traditions degraded, its legends distorted, and its principal actors, the Grand Krewes, overshadowed by the mobs of drinking and disrobing "spectators." Several of the oldest and most prestigious krewes have withdrawn from the celebration, and travel agents say as many residents flee New Orleans during Carnival as tourists come in.

Altogether, New Orleans is in danger of becoming a parody of itself, a mini-Epcot or Busch Gardens' Old Country simulacrum. The posters and prints feature wrought-iron fences, but the real courtyards are gated and locked tight. Steamboats play recorded music intentionally out of tune -- "old-fashioned" in the hokiest sense. Self-appointed tour guides mix all their legends together: the statue in St. Anthony's Garden behind St. Louis Cathedral, memorializing French sailors who volunteered as nurses during a yellow fever epidemic, has even been explained as "the Mardi Gras Jesus" because the statue's outstretched hands are supposedly reaching for throws! And now life imitates, well, imitation: a 100-acre theme park called Jazzland is under construction only a few miles out of town.

And yet for all the tawdriness and commercialization, one cannot help falling under the city's spell. It is a foreign country within American borders, not merely a multilingual hodgepodge like Miami or New York, but a true Creole society blended through centuries. It is Old South in style, New South in ambition. It has a natural beauty that refutes even the most frivolous of franchised structures, a tradition of craftsmanship and even luxury that demands aesthetic scrutiny and surrender, and a flair for almost exquisite silliness -- like those Jackson Square psychics with their Pier 1 Imports turbans -- that keeps all New Orleanians young. Fine arts, fashionable cuisine, voodoo, vampires, and Mardi Gras. It's all muddled up, sometimes enchanting, sometimes infuriating.

We hope to help you find the real New Orleans, the old and gracious one, that is just now in the shadow of the Big Too-Easy. We want to open your heart, not your wallet. We think you should leave Bourbon Street behind and visit City Park, one of the finest and most wide-ranging public facilities in the United States. We want you to see Longue Vue House as well as St. Louis Cemetery. We'd like you to admire not only the townhouses of Royal Street and the mansions of St. Charles but the warehouses and row houses of the Arts District -- the combined Greenwich Village and TriBeCa of New Orleans. We hope you'll walk Chartres Street in the evening shade, watch the mighty Mississippi churn contemptuously past the man-made barriers, and smell the chicory, whiskey, and pungent swamp water all mixed together the way Andy Jackson and Jean Lafitte might have the night before the great battle.

So get ready, get set, go. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Table of Contents

List of Mapsx
About the Author and Contributorsxi
Acknowledgmentsxii
IntroductionI
Let the Good Times Roll1
About This Guide3
How Come "Unofficial"?3
Creating a Guidebook3
How Unofficial Guides are Different4
How This Guide Was Researched and Written5
Letters, Comments, and Questions from Readers6
"Inside" New Orleans for Outsiders6
How Information is Organized: By Subject and by Geographic Zones8
Part 1Understanding the City26
A Too-Short History of a Fascinating Place26
The French Flag27
The Spanish Flag28
Three Flags in Forty Years29
"The Whites of Their Eyes"31
Free Blacks, Slaves, and Mulattos31
The War Between the States and Reconstruction33
The 20th Century and the New Millennium34
Parishes, Neighborhoods, and Districts35
The French Quarter (Zone 1)36
Central Business District (Zone 2)37
Uptown below Napoleon (Zone 3)38
Uptown above Napoleon (Zone 4)38
Downtown/St. Bernard (Zone 5)39
Mid-City/Gentilly (Zone 6)40
Lakeview/West End/Bucktown (Zone 7)40
New Orleans East (Zone 8)40
Metairie below Causeway (Zone 9)41
Metairie below Causeway/Kenner/Jefferson Highway (Zone 10)41
West Bank (Zone 11)41
North Shore (Zone 12)42
The Fictional City42
Part 2Planning Your Visit to New Orleans44
When to Go44
Pick Your Party44
Weather or Not ...45
Gathering Information46
Using the Internet47
New Orleans on the Internet48
Major Travel and Information Sites48
Some Reservation Sites to Check Out50
Travel and Local Information Resources50
Search Engines and Directories51
A Calendar of Festivals and Events52
Special Considerations56
What to Pack56
Playing Host58
Exchanging Vows59
New Orleans for Families59
Tips for International Travelers61
Tips for the Disabled62
For the Nose that Knows62
Part 3New Orleans's Major Festivals63
Mardi Gras Mania63
Jazz and Heritage Fest74
Halloween75
Creole Christmas76
Cajun Country Festivals78
Part 4New Orleans Lodging79
Deciding Where to Stay79
Some Considerations80
Getting a Good Deal on a Room82
Value Season82
Special Weekday Rates82
Getting Corporate Rates82
Half-Price Programs82
Preferred Rates83
Wholesalers, Consolidators, and Reservation Services84
How to Evaluate a Travel Package85
Helping Your Travel Agent Help You86
If You Make Your Own Reservation87
Hotels and Motels: Rated and Ranked88
What's in a Room?88
Hotel Ratings91
How the Hotels Compare92
The Top 30 Best Deals in New Orleans101
Hotel Information Chart104
Part 5Visiting New Orleans on Business132
New Orleans Lodging for Business Travelers132
Convention Rates: How They Work and How to Do Better133
The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center134
Getting Food137
Part 6Arriving and Getting Oriented138
Coming into the City138
By Plane138
By Car140
By Bus or Train141
Where to Find Tourist Information in New Orleans141
Getting Oriented141
Finding Your Way around the French Quarter143
Things the Natives Already Know144
New Orleans Customs and Protocol144
Talking the Talk145
Dress146
Eating in Restaurants146
Tipping (and Stripping)147
New Orleans on the Air148
How to Avoid Crime and Keep Safe in Public Places148
Crime in New Orleans148
Crime Prevention Planning150
Personal Attitude152
Self-Defense152
More Things to Avoid153
Carjackings153
Part 7Getting around New Orleans154
Public Transportation154
Walking the Walk156
Public Accommodations157
Part 8Sight-Seeing, Tours, and Attractions158
Guided Sight-Seeing159
Walking Tours159
Bus Tours and Trolleys160
Carriage Tours160
Special-Interest Tours161
Swamp Tours163
River Cruises165
Self-Guided Tours166
Exploring New Orleans's Diversity166
Neighborhood Walking Tours170
Plantation Tours and Excursions186
New Orleans Attractions189
Zone 2The Central Business District190
Zone 3Uptown below Napoleon (Garden District)190
Zone 4Uptown above Napoleon/University (191)191
Zone 5Downtown/St. Bernard192
Zone 7Lakeview/West End/Bucktown192
Zone 10Metairie above Causeway/Kenner/Jefferson Highway193
Attraction Profiles196
Part 9Dining in New Orleans228
Chowing Down in the Big Easy228
A New Orleans Culinary Calendar230
Hype and Glory231
New Restaurants232
The Restaurants232
Our Favorite New Orleans Restaurants: Explaining the Ratings232
Our Pick of the Best New Orleans Restaurants234
More Recommendations241
Best Sunday Brunch241
Best Breakfast242
Best Hamburgers242
Most Striking Architecture242
Best Cafes for Desserts and Coffee243
Best for Children243
Best Local Color243
Best Muffulettas244
Best Outdoor Dining244
Best Pizza245
Best Casual Seafood Houses245
Restaurant Profiles246
Part 10Shopping in New Orleans307
The French Quarter308
Other French Quarter Collectibles311
Magazine Street313
The Warehouse District315
Malls of Americas317
Part 11Exercise and Recreation320
Working Out and Playing Hard320
Walking320
Running and Jogging321
Biking321
Tennis322
Golf322
Gyms and Health Clubs322
Other Recreational Activities323
Spectator Sports324
Part 12Entertainment and Nightlife325
Performing Arts325
New Orleans Nightlife326
The Quarter326
The Jazz Scene330
What Else Is There?331
A Note on Safety333
Nightclub Profiles335
Index364

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The Unofficial Guide to New Orleans 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Chelsea1980 More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful guide to anyone that will be visiting New Orleans. I am from Louisiana and travel there regularly and the book represents the area well. Not totally up to date being it was last edited in early 2009 but still a wonderful resource. I love the whole unofficial guide series. I have purchased one for every vacation destination I have been on and will continue to do so in the future. :)