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The Urbanist’s New Orleans: What to Do

Map by Remie Geoffroi  

Leave Bourbon Street to the Tourists
Part alt-college town, part faerie-anarchist commune, the Marigny/Bywater neighborhood attracts both semiotics majors and gutter punks. In this faubourg, palm trees are lit with blazing sunshine, handmade costumes are as common as skimpy sundresses, and the vibe is always a little trippy.

1. The AllWays Lounge & Theatre
2240 St. Claude Ave.
One night might offer square dancing, the next could showcase an erotic disco circus inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire.

2. St. Roch Tavern
1200 St. Roch Ave.
The cheekily named vegan restaurant within, O! Vegasm, is open every day but Monday, but the real fun comes Saturday nights when underground queen Big Freedia’s D.J., Rusty Lazer, runs the sweatiest sissy bounce party in town—ripe physically and olfactorily with crust punks.

3. Mimi’s in the Marigny
2601 Royal St.
This neighborhood bar—often blamed for sparking the area’s gentrification—hosts an always-packed soul-funk dance party on Saturday nights.

4. Mudlark Public Theater
1200 Port St.
A black-box theater that’s also home to Big Dick’s House of Big Boobs DIY strip club.

5. The Country Club
634 Louisa St.
Come for the bottomless Mimosas; stay for the topless suntanning at the clothing-optional pool (day passes from $10).

6. Satsuma Café
3218 Dauphine St.
The go-to joint for juice cleanses, quinoa salads, and hippieish freelancers pecking away at MacBooks.

7. Dithyrambalina
1027 Piety St.
An interactive “shantytown” installation built by sound artists and sculptors using salvaged materials. Reopens April 14.

8. The Front Gallery
4100 St. Claude Ave.
This multiroom patio-equipped space recently hosted an edible-insect installation where dairy goats were hailed as guests of honor.

9. Good Children Gallery
4037 St. Claude Ave.
A community hub exhibiting local and global talent.

One City, Two Ways
Bryan Batt, whom locals know as the co-owner of home-furnishings boutique Hazelnut and everybody else might recognize as Sal from Mad Men, parses his hometown.

Commander's Palace and Café Atchafalaya  

Outdoor Festival

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival ( has gotten so big—if the weather’s beautiful, forget it. I couldn’t be there for the first fest after Katrina, but my parents got to see Irma Thomas sing ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ ”

Au Current:
Hogs for the Cause ( started with people just having a pork roast on the levy, trying to raise some money. But in four years it’s grown into this enormous event; there’s everything made with a pig you could imagine.”

Shopping Mecca

Magazine Street is a six-mile strip of clothing boutiques, antique shops, galleries, and restaurants—almost all of which are locally owned.”

Au Current:
“There’s been a resurgence on Oak Street uptown. It has the feel of a small town, with lots of coffee shops and vintage and antiques stores.”

Brunch Spot

Commander’s Palace (1403 Washington Ave.) is the grand dame of fine dining; the jazz brunch on Sundays is divine. Glass walls on the second floor look out on the courtyard; sitting up there feels like being in a tree house.”

Au Current:
“I love the self-service Bloody Mary bar at Café Atchafalaya (901 Louisiana Ave.). They give you a glass with vodka, every possible accoutrement, and I don’t know how many hot sauces. The fried green tomatoes are fantastic, too.”


“Many people love the crusty old St. Louis cemeteries and make pilgrimages from all over to leave offerings for Marie Laveau.”

Au Current:
Metairie Cemetery is where I’ll be one day. The Victorians really know how to do death; their aboveground monuments are spectacular.”


“People line up for Pascal’s Manale (1838 Napoleon Ave.). Like a lot of the better oyster restaurants, they have their own beds in the area.”

Au Current:
Bourbon House (144 Bourbon St.) does oysters with caviar and melted Parmesan. And don’t dare leave without trying a Bourbon milk-punch shake.”


Maurice French Pastries (3501 Hessmer Ave.) makes galette des roi, or king cake, with almond-flavored filling.”

Au Current:
“The gelato at Sucre (3025 Magazine St.) is to die for, and the pastries are little works of art.”

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