25 Reasons We Love New Orleans
You thought a hurricane or two could keep this city down?
9. Iris fidelis
Louisiana's state flower is the magnolia, but the fleur-de-lis is the ultimate expression of New Orleanian loyalty. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the iris has been a top choice for tattoos. For a less permanent memento, check out Mignon Faget jewelry (multiple locations, mignonfaget.com) and Scriptura stationery (5423 Magazine St., 504/897-1555, scriptura.com).
10. Storied history
It's nearly impossible to make it through a day without hearing about the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, or the pirate antihero Jean Lafitte, or how much of the French Quarter's architecture is actually Spanish. Get beyond local lore at The Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research center. 533 Royal St., 504/523-4662, www.hnoc.org, free, tour of the permanent collection $5.
11. Home cooking
Zoning laws allow businesses in some residential neighborhoods, so restaurateurs set up shop in cozy houses. Enjoy rabbit-and-andouille gumbo in what feels like a friend's dining room at Brigtsen's Restaurant (723 Dante St., 504/861-7610, brigtsens.com, gumbo $8.75). Dick and Jenny's is a clapboard cottage where soft-shell crabs come in a Thai green curry sauce (4501 Tchoupitoulas St., 504/894-9880, dickandjennys.com, entrées from $16).
12. A ringing endorsement
"We're known internationally but not so much locally," says Jill Abbyad, who has run Chimes Bed & Breakfast with her husband for 22 years. Guests enter through a side gate and access the rooms from a communal courtyard. 1146 Constantinople St., 504/899-2621, chimesneworleans.com, from $99.
13. Let the good times roll
Mid City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl is one of the hottest venues for Louisiana-style music and dancing. The ambience is retro, and the clientele is multigenerational. Thursday is Zydeco Night. 4133 S. Carrollton Ave., 504/482-3133, rockandbowl.com, $18 per lane per hour.
14. Rifling through architecture
A shotgun house is a narrow, often one-story affair with each room situated behind the other. (The idea is that if you fired a shot at the entrance, it would travel through every room and out the back.) The city's shotguns tend to be colorfully painted; a row of them strikes a picturesque pose. Driving through the Upper Ninth Ward, Bywater, Faubourg Marigny, Irish Channel, Uptown, and Riverbend neighborhoods provides concentrated viewing. New Orleans' Favorite Shotguns, by Mary Fitzpatrick and Alex Lemann, is a useful companion; buy it at the Preservation Resource Center. 923 Tchoupitoulas St., 504/581-7032, prcno.org.
15. Just off the boot
A wave of Sicilian immigrants in the early 20th century created some beloved food traditions: muffulettas at Central Grocery Co. (923 Decatur St., 504/523-1620, $13), spaghetti with red gravy and Italian sausage at Mandina's Restaurant (3800 Canal St., 504/482-9179, mandinasrestaurant.com, $12), and gelato and cannoli at Angelo Brocato Ice Cream & Confectionery (214 N. Carrollton Ave., 504/486-1465, angelobrocatoicecream.com).
16. Stars in stripes
Seersucker is a summer staple in New Orleans. Perlis, a favorite local clothing retailer, is the place to go to outfit the entire family. Flagship store, 6070 Magazine St., 504/895-8661, perlis.com.
17. What's old is new
A close cousin to the old-fashioned, the modern-day Sazerac is a cocktail incorporating rye, Peychaud's Bitters, pastis, sugar, and a lemon twist. Try one at the Hotel Monteleone's rotating Carousel Bar. 214 Royal St., 504/523-3341, hotelmonteleone.com.