When you’re in NOLA, your day should start with a cold-brew, followed swiftly by a bloody mary. Okay, mimosas will do the trick as well. You’ll also need grits (duh), biscuits (double duh) and other accoutrements in the form of bacon, eggs, and maybe crawfish étouffée. My God, why isn’t this how mornings start everywhere? Here are my recommendations for a few places to get your morning protein and buzz going before you hit the town.
Stumptown Coffee: I found that the coffee at many breakfast places we went to was good, doable, but not amazing. I’m a coffee fiend and I love starting the day with a strong espresso or delicious cold-brew, and I never wanted to wait until we sat at the restaurant. Especially if you’re walking under the Louisiana sun, you'll want an iced cup of joe in hand before the trek. Stumptown is attached to the hotel we were staying at, the Ace Hotel, which I highly recommend if you like a dark, boutiquey vibe. Ok. Back to the task at hand. Coffee. The cold-brew was so good I drank it black, and I’m usually one to add a stream of whole milk to coffee. Stumptown is in the Warehouse District, so if it’s a shlep from where you are, you can check out spitfire, french truck cafe or cake cafe & bakery instead.
Mother’s: Mother’s is a place that’s been around forever. It’s huge, with photos of famous people that have eaten there all over the wall. The line seems daunting, but it moves very quickly. There are “ham cracklins” available for you to sample as you wait on line. Don’t say no. I learned that they are really crunchy (free) bacon bits. The servers are friendly, and will likely refer to you as some variation of sugar, baby, or honey. The menu is vast, but my friends and I all landed on the breakfast special. It consisted of some type of ham (burnt, baked, grilled) + grits + eggs + biscuits. When the plates slid across the diameter of our table, boy were we happy with our decision. I poured Crystal hot sauce all over the heavy plate and was in heaven. While basic, all the components of the plate supported one another. The eggs provided unctuous umami that seeped everywhere possible. The hunky ham was salty and sweet, and last but certainly not least, warm biscuits that need no explanation. If you’re more in the mood for lunch food, get the Po' boys. They're GINORMOUS and loaded with all sorts of cold cuts. I saved my Po' boy appetite for the seafood kind, but everyone noshing on these looked v e r y happy.
The Ruby Slipper: I didn’t make it here because the line was outrageous, but Brandon (my fiancé) went a few weeks later and said hell yes, it’s worth the wait. Get bloody’s while you stand by, and be sure you’ve got sunglasses and a hat. When you’re finally inside, B recommends you get the shrimp & grits, chicken St.Charles, eggs cochon, and cinnamon swirl pancakes (for the table). Also, you can download an app called nowait that lots of restaurants use in Nola to put yourself on the list before you get there, so you can skip most of the line.
Lüke: You can't go wrong with a John Besh restaurant in New Orleans. This recommendation comes straight from Brandon, who urges you to sit at the chef’s table. “Start with the oysters, because you're living large at Lüke. Then move onto shrimp and grits, which are served in an adorable cocotte. Don’t add the jumbo lump crab meat on top, it’s not worth the extra $13. The soft-shell crab BLT is one of the best combinations in the world, served open-faced with the whole crab staring right 'atchya. The porchetta sandwich doesn’t sound like much on the menu, but it is worth an order. Very soft bread and juicy meat. MMM. Their brussel sprouts are famous and they’ll give you the recipe if you’d like it. Stuffed french toast for the table, obviously.”
The Court of Two Sisters: Boozy brunch? Yes please. Jazzy, boozy brunch? Are you kidding me? Who could say no? While the court of two sisters is a bit touristy and more expensive than what you might spend elsewhere in Nola, I thought it was worth it. Make reservations to sit in the courtyard and listen to live music all morning long. For $35, you get a full breakfast buffet with fancy items like shrimp, seafood étouffée, eggs Benedict, and more. The buffet food was surprisingly very good and high quality. The waiters all wear white jackets, so it feels fancy. Drinks are about $8-$12 each, but a bottle of champagne is only $35 so… what's that? You're on your way? Excellent. I also loved that this is the kind of place you sit and sip and eat and repeat, for hours on end. A great start to a slow morning before the afternoon gets hazy.
Please do let me know if you end up checking out some of these NOLA hot spots! I'd love to hear what you thought 🙂