You have a day to yourself in New Orleans, so laissez les bons temps rouler, starting with breakfast at French Quarter institution Brennanu2019s. The two-course Brennanu2019s Breakfast starts with a choice of turtle soup or baked apple, followed by eggs hussarde (a variation on the Benedict topped with red-wine-based marchand de vin sauce). Or go a la carte and try one of the recent menu additionsu2014like the egg yolk carpacciou2014that helped executive chef Slade Rushing become a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef of the South three years running. Either way, for the grand finale, opt for a fiery tableside preparation of bananas Foster, a dish that was invented here in 1951.
New Orleansu2019s vibrant art scene has become even more dynamic post-Katrina thanks to events like Prospect, the international arts triennial launched in 2008. This yearu2019s show, The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp (through February 25), explores the Big Easyu2019s unique hybrid culture in the context of the 2018 tricentennial. The showu2019s 73 works appear across 17 sites, although thereu2019s a concentration at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center in the Warehouse District, both an easy walk or streetcar ride from the Quarter.
Lunch is at Turkey and the Wolf, the waggish sandwich shop that Bon Appu00e9tit crowned Americau2019s best new restaurant in 2017. The menu features high-low mash-ups of brown-bag and diner favorites, including a towering fried bologna sandwich stacked with vinegar-soaked and fried potato chips and a collard green melt slathered in pickled cherry pepper dressing. Instead of a soda-stocked fridge, youu2019ll find a bar that pours fun cocktails like the E-Hondau2019s Hundred Hand Slap, a mix of pecan vodka, satsuma shrub, Amaro Meletti, lemon, and soda named for the Street Fighter series sumo wrestler.
Itu2019s a short walk through the stately mansions of the Garden District to the Henry Howard Hotel, a restored 19th-century Greek Revival townhouse. Each of the 18 rooms pays homage to Crescent City culture: Brass instruments hang like art on walls covered in custom toile wallpaper that depicts city icons like the St. Charles Streetcar (which stops less than a block away) and second-line parades. After a nap and some freshening up, relax with a book in the elegant parlor or on the columned porch, or take a stroll down to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, one of the cityu2019s oldest above-ground graveyards.
Dinner is at the Warehouse Arts Districtu2019s Compu00e8re Lapin, where Top Chef finalist Nina Compton draws inspiration from both her childhood in St. Lucia and NOLAu2019s Creole culinary tradition. The delectable surprises on her menu include curried goat over sweet potato gnocchi and jerk-spiced black drum with sunchoke puru00e9e. Start with the conch fritters, which expertly balance a creamy texture with a pickled pineapple tartar sauce, and wash them down with a Copper Bunnyu2014a bright mix of Absolut Elyx vodka, pineapple-jalapeu00f1o tequila, ginger, lime, and Mumm Champagne served in, yes, a copper bunny.
If jazz is a religion, the French Quarteru2019s Preservation Hall may be its most sacred cathedral. Established in 1961 by two Pennsylvania transplants to protect and perpetuate the cityu2019s traditional jazz culture, the hall hosts more than 1,500 performances a year by both its National Medal of Artsu2013winning Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a pool of talented local musicians. The no-frills venue is all about the music: Itu2019s BYOB for drinkers, and donu2019t even think about snapping a photo with your phone during that trumpet solo.
After the show, dodge Bourbon Streetu2019s daiquiri-slugging tourists and duck into Arnaudu2019s French 75, the bar adjoining 100-year-old Arnaudu2019s restaurant, where white-tuxedoed bartenders will make you feel a world (and a century) away from the ruckus outside. Slide into a seat at the antique bar and let head bartender Chris Hannahu2014who helped land the bar its James Beard Awardu2014make you its namesake drink, a shimmering blend of Courvoisier VS cognac, Mou00ebt & Chandon, sugar, and lemon that will buoy you all the way home.