As the first in a three-part series of spontaneous, get-up-and-go trips, New Orleans native Lady Reiss Fuller divulges top haunts and happenings for the city’s most celebrated gathering.
Hotel Poncharhtrain. Located on N’Awlins famous St. Charles Avenue, this Garden District icon is your posh basecamp for Mardi Gras weekend. The Hot-Tin rooftop bar, decked out in 1940s retro décor, is the place to be. Sip handcrafted, southern-inspired cocktails with a 270-degree view of the Mississippi River and downtown New Orleans. “My friend Cooper Manning is one of its investors, and this is such a special place to be during the parade,” says Fuller.
Herbsaint. Donald Link’s restaurant, Herbsaint dishes modern, French-southern New Orleans, fare “incredible for both lunch and dinner,” Fuller says. Located in the Warehouse District, (also on historic St. Charles Avenue), Herbsaint is continually named to national “Best Of” restaurant lists, and the Louisiana jumbo shrimp is a must.
Clancy’s. A local’s uptown mainstay, Clancy’s is “traditional New Orleans fare, with a super local vibe,” says Fuller. Expect white linen and impeccable service. Just what to order? The smoked soft shell crab almandine.
Frankie & Johnnie’s. This is your go-to for fine seafood uptown, with a history as interesting as the fare. Opened in 1942 by Johnny Morreale and brother-in-law Frank Gaudin, the restaurant was the original haunt of dock workers and merchant men. Today it hosts a see-and-be-seen mix of oyster-hungry locals and tourists.
Commander’s Palace Restaurant. Located in SoBu (south of Bourbon), this iconic eatery is so famous it has been featured in a documentary and book about late proprietor Ella Brennan. This is where celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse cut his chops, and today, Executive Chef Tory McPhail serves up haute creole. “It’s two blocks off the parade route in the Garden Palace, and oh-so-tasty,” adds Fuller.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. “If you want a break from all the action, grab a coffee from PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans (the Zulu Coconut blend is inspired by the Mardi Gras parade) and take a stroll through this old cemetery, which is simply stunning,” Fuller suggests. Located right across the street from the aforementioned Commanders Palace, this gorgeous landmark bridges New Orleans’ storied past and present.
Tipitina’s Uptown. A visit to New Orleans isn’t complete without a nightcap at the infamous Tipitina’s, which has staged the likes of Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, and Professor Longhair. The Mardi Gras lineup all but ensures a rocking time.
The Howlin Wolf. A New Orleans mainstay since 1988, the Howlin’ Wolf is one of the city’s most recognized, locally owned music venues, named after iconic bluesman Chester Burnett. Open late-night, seven days a week, the Howlin’ Wolf Den serves mouthwatering bacon cheddar beignets.
An avid yogi and instructor, Fuller’s top pick for practicing your downward dog is Free to Be Power Yoga. She likes the uptown locale on Magazine Street, which features such rejuvenating classes as the Free to Be Beats Flow. In typical N’Awlins fashion, music is your muse during this heated flow class.
Ritz-Carlton New Orleans Spa. “Whenever I’m in my hometown, I always go to this French Quarter spa because it’s such an experience,” says Fuller. Brush off the weekend with the Voodoo Ritual, which employs absinthe, cypress, moss, vertiver, and incense to weave a spell of escape during a full-body massage.