All the restaurants mentioned so far are local, even national treasures. Here’s another. Muriel’s Jackson Square sits next to St. Louis Cathedral, built in 1718, and the Cabildo where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. In 1814, owner Mr. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan lost the property in a game of poker, so he committed suicide on the second floor where he’s reputed to still inhabit the building. His memory is celebrated in the upstairs, over-the-top Seance Lounge. The ex-bordello with an Aladdin’s harem decor is a plush and cushy place to have cocktails before dining on pecan-crusted alligator with pepper jelly and slaw of mirliton.
beyond the quarter West of the French Quarter, the Arts & Warehouse District is exactly that. Over the last decade, the spacious warehouses have been converted into loft residences and a colorful array of museums, galleries and cutting-edge restaurants.
The go-to places: Emeril’s flagship restaurant, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and WWII Museum, Louisiana Children’s Museum, and the artist studios along Gallery Row. Check out the hip European motorbike shop, too, where Tulane students buy all their Vespas. As good as place as any for local scoop.
Centrally located right between the District and Quarter, within easy walking distance to both, the four-diamond Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel is like no other in town. The stylish, youthful lobby takes a page from the lobby social scenes in New York, Miami and LA, with private rooms and a confident artistic flair celebrating a sort of retro Creole design motif. Meanwhile, the rooms are the opposite with very pale white/beige color palettes but with the same CB2 dedication to minimalist moderne. A spectacular setting for Richard Florida’s “creative class” clients. Package rates start as low as $129 nightly.
This area is the future of New Orleans, with tons of raw space between downtown and the Garden District, ripe for hot new restaurateurs like David Link. The James Beard award-winning chef opened the new Cochon last year, and operates the unbearably good Herbsaint, serving gulf oysters with bacon ’n bearnaise.
Now, if we had 20 or more pages, we could get a little into the food around here. So you’re on your own somewhat. The duck etoufee at Upperline is a good place to start. Near the Garden District, the fine-dining restaurant occupies an 1877 townhouse, and owner JoAnn Clevenger has been a fixture here after 40 years of running the place. She tossed a few back with Tennessee Williams and his posse back in the day so she has some stories of her own. Upperline is New Orleans—as authentic as it gets and off the tourist map. Your clients will thank you after their first mouthful of etoufee, and reservations really are recommended.
During a recent dinner, author Julia Reed was throwing a party here for her new book, “The House on First Street,” about her life in the Garden District after Katrina. People love to throw parties here. Suggest clients read it before arriving to understand why people can’t forget this city. Clevenger and her cooking are two big reasons.