A Travellerspoint blog

May 2017

Eat. Drink. New Orleans

Tasting our way through the French Quarter.

I don’t try to pretend New Orleans is something it isn’t. I realize that some people love it and some people hate it.

It stinks. At times, the smell seems like something solid and tangible, clinging to the wrought iron balconies and wrapping itself around doorways. The number of people in the quarter is constant and oppressive. Crowds pulse through the streets at all hours. Crime is real and remaining ever vigilant is necessary. Bourbon Street really is as bad as you’ve heard.

But it is so much more than that.

I love this city. Right there, blending with the stink and the crowds, is a palpable exuberance, a joie de vivre, a mingling of hot sauce and jazz that sits on your tongue and rings in your ears and makes you feel alive.

Our friends had only been to New Orleans once, where they had a less than favorable experience. They were forever left with the impression that New Orleans was a dirty city in a perpetual state of partying and debauchery.

There is so much more to this gritty city than that. I wanted to show them my version of New Orleans – a city brimming with art and architecture, rich in history and culture, a city filled with wonderful things to sip and savor.

With mutual friends in Dallas, we decided it was a perfect place to meet up for a long weekend.

As I always do, I focused my planning on the French Quarter.

Some will tell you never stay in the French Quarter. Some go as far as to say don’t even visit it at all. There is no parking, it’s too dirty, it’s too loud, it’s too dangerous, it’s too crowded, it’s too tourist-centric, and the best restaurants are in other parts of the city.

I think the French Quarter gets a bad rap. Sure….other areas of New Orleans may have more class, more luxury, more posh….but none of them have more pizazz. New Orleans may be unique and colorful, but the French Quarter is the epicenter. It’s the mother ship.

The Garden District may be the prim and proper lady, always impeccably dressed and consistently using the appropriate fork at dinner. She never says the wrong thing and always crosses her legs demurely as she sits.

The French Quarter, however, is her rowdy younger sister. She’s the one that has all the cool parties, wears too much make up, drinks bourbon in the middle of the day, sleeps until noon, and says whatever enters her mind no matter how inappropriate it is.

She wears sequins to the grocery store.

I know who you’d prefer to live with, but which one would you rather spend a weekend with?

Exactly.

34424875880_78757fd76b.jpg

Thursday:

33967997974_3876a24440.jpg

34771405186_445b4880d5.jpg

If the beautiful sunset that greeted us over the water as we landed at New Orleans’ Lakefront Airport was an omen of the weekend to come, we were in for a stellar time.

Ditto for the transportation that was waiting upon our arrival.

33967985754_bd30546ab4.jpg

34424878850_fdb403b29a.jpg

We were whisked away to a 3-story mansion in the heart of the French Quarter that took our breath away.

34678201981_fb1ff8d359.jpg

34678575051_49c5419e54.jpg

34001430253_131d920a8a.jpg

34678560641_1b8bf4b757.jpg

34001421183_1f9550679b.jpg

33967946724_7a71c484a1.jpg

34811058205_f45b634b42.jpg

34424842420_c1f8993a31.jpg

It was late, and we were hungry.

It was pure serendipity that we stopped at Orleans Grapevine for drinks and sustenance just as they began BACON HAPPY HOUR.

Happy, indeed.

34424795450_fec284d01e.jpg

With a courtyard filled with twinkling lights and delightful drinks like my sugared hibiscus champagne cocktail or Matt’s neon-lighted hand grenade martini, Orleans Grapevine set an instant tone of awesomeness for our trip.

34678512841_32c4229aaf.jpg

33967903354_cf29049b0d.jpg

34001375823_6b624bd574.jpg

34771327406_928b577872.jpg

34424803500_8f6903ac11.jpg

33967875114_89501116f0.jpg

34424783640_b42bd6421c.jpg

33967855144_de73f8901e.jpg

34001332163_04af41db01.jpg

We munched on fresh, hot bread, BACON, saffron mussels, BACON, gumbo, BACON, and crab cakes.

And BACON.

34424789320_9d00a717d0.jpg

With bellies full, we were off to One Eyed Jacks to meet up with our Dallas friends who had arrived before us.

34001321123_be219da061.jpg

We walked into a room with flocked crimson wallpaper; chandeliers; sparkly, scarlet banquettes; and pinup nudes painted on black velvet. The swanky vintage atmosphere was a nod to the building’s history as an old French Quarter movie house and speakeasy, but it looked more like a Mexican bordello to me.

One Eyed Jacks is home to the long-running and beloved Thursday-night “Fast Times '80s dance party,” and once I knew we were arriving on Thursday night….I knew we had to go.

34678429241_399e7173c9.jpg

33967834994_a085060443.jpg

One Eyed Jacks was a non-Bourbon Street bar with a rock and roll edge. It was the perfect place to get our New Orleans weekend party started.

The highlight of the night had to be this guy in his replica jacket and light up shoes.

34648505452_9502ac9371.jpg

I did feel a pang of guilt as I stumbled past the Saint Anthony Garden which is dominated by a large statue of Jesus, and wondered about those last couple of shots I drank.

34424767970_2d636fd2a7.jpg

When in New Orleans….

Friday:

34424711730_8083015ddd.jpg

Matt and I woke up early and decided to sneak off to enjoy our favorite early morning indulgence in the French Quarter: Café du Monde.

34678409111_f27be49304.jpg

You simply can’t go to Café du Monde after 8:00 a.m. The only time to go is before all the lazy tourists wake up from their hurricane hangovers, when all of the chairs are still on the tabletops and the streets smell like freshly sprayed bleach.

Some people prefer the beignets (and lack of line) at Café Beignet. Not me. They simply don’t do it for me. I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s the lack of freshly hosed streets under my feet or the quiet that replaces the bustling activity of a bevy of shuffling waitresses in little paper hats . Or maybe it’s the absence of a heavy mug filled with the perfect and bitter chicory coffee that I can only find at Café du Monde, but for me, the experience is only whole when I am sitting under that happy green and white awning, watching a waitress in a crisp white apron clear a preposterous amount of powdered sugar off a marble top table with a quick swipe of her towel as the sounds of a lone trumpet player in the street drifts past.

34648480952_502316c50c.jpg

34678402161_4832555928.jpg

34678398061_d8b60a4979.jpg

34810953895_833e6d9c8f.jpg

34771234816_5265d1e144.jpg

34678376581_65ddd954a3.jpg

Cafe du Monde at the right time is a moment of powdered sugar perfection, and it is worth all the indignities of being a complete tourist.

Once the rest of our crew had roused themselves awake, we made the short walk to Stanley for a proper breakfast.

34810942345_c96759954f.jpg

Since the first time I discovered Stanley, it has been a “must do” breakfast on every trip to New Orleans. How can you not LOVE a place that puts ice cream on the pancakes??

34424725780_b60c93b3fd.jpg

I stuffed myself with a loaded bloody mary and the breakfast seafood platter, a mountain of cornmeal crusted Louisiana oysters, gulf shrimp and soft shell crab atop delicate poached eggs, Canadian bacon, and toasted English muffins slathered in decadent Hollandaise.

Yes, please.

33967781974_a2810d245f.jpg

34001244213_697c82bf83.jpg

We spent the rest of the morning trying to walk off our colossal breakfast.

34424832150_761915953b.jpg

34424720110_eddfc35c68.jpg

33967656324_48b4dcd231.jpg

34811045925_23a20c1316.jpg

34648500062_970ff12afb.jpg

34001237153_0cf55a2459.jpg

34771099036_9245bd65bc.jpg

34424642760_b89dedfa81.jpg

34424640030_e5e3a032c9.jpg

34810783635_c185b4f127.jpg

We were unsuccessful.

We decided it was best to simply eat again.

We found ourselves at Napoleon House.

34678329151_d40135b7f9.jpg

34810864155_7fc87d938f.jpg

33967737134_f2c7460f02.jpg

34771180476_c3b7cca27f.jpg

This historic restaurant has a wonderful courtyard and is THE place to sample the famed “Pimm’s Cup.”

It is also home to one of the best muffaletta’s in the city.

So we had both.

34810896935_920cab74ea.jpg

33967747534_f9209d21f4.jpg

34678314741_795f2ac934.jpg

33967743364_20e177211e.jpg

34810839215_9130c2403b.jpg

The only thing we could really do at this point was keep eating and drinking, so it was off to Bourbon House for oyster happy hour.

Matt was VERY happy.

33967702574_43bc98796b.jpg

34001182983_0d6bc8d4c1.jpg

34678263841_4dc9f4c9b8.jpg

Sure, these look like sissy milkshakes, but they are, in fact, the Bourbon House’s famed frozen milk punch: a boozy blend of ice-cream, bourbon, and vanilla topped with fresh nutmeg.

33967690694_d1d633771b.jpg

34424699160_95e45725e4.jpg

34424696290_b569c8ce59.jpg

34424671220_ec3e668065.jpg

Then it was back to the house for some much needed downtime (and stomach stretching exercises).

We strolled along Bourbon Street back to our place.

34810855165_d37e24994a.jpg

34678347291_54c48a5f8f.jpg

34424659980_19a0359d6f.jpg

34678238621_88043092bc.jpg

33967670764_176b007cb4.jpg

34770399586_d55c6ac643.jpg

As we sat on our balcony, a terrible looking sky rolled in, and simply rolled past.

It was quite dramatic.

34678197831_66b321fb6c.jpg

34771059486_c059282bcb.jpg

34424613120_9d495a9083.jpg

The skies cleared up just in time for dinner.

34678175361_1bffb6c3a5.jpg

34001118623_c26e47f180.jpg

34424608410_1defeb6226.jpg

We headed out..........Because we needed to eat again.

We made our way to Deanie’s, because I had heard about their legendary seafood platter.

34001114273_7b78d9ea12.jpg

34678149951_d29455bd56.jpg

34648195052_2b10b8f26e.jpg

The place was PACKED, but when we saw the plates loaded with fried seafood exiting the kitchen, we decided it was worth the wait. We grabbed drinks at the bar and grew hungrier by the minute.

34771001606_586c26624a.jpg

34678120021_17241fac59.jpg

33967595434_45860b47f1.jpg

Deanie’s had the most unusual complimentary table snack I think I have witnessed to date. Not bread, not crackers, not bowls of nuts or popcorn.
Deanie’s gave us a bowl of whole potatoes.

34810717585_f1bd637552.jpg

They were perfectly soft, dusted in spicy crab boil, and served with butter.

We followed that with a few pounds of crawfish.

34678104501_1152e85cb3.jpg

34648216242_c634f378c5.jpg

Then the barbecue shrimp.

The broth in the shrimp was absolutely one of the best things I have ever tasted. It was served with crusty bread to soak up the juice.

34678096821_0aee71cf23.jpg

And a GIANT SEAFOOD PLATTER.

It was a mountain of soft shell crab, oysters, shrimp, fish, crab balls, and french fries.

34678092281_fc0d5626b2.jpg

34770973326_c25d111b20.jpg

Of course we ate it all.

34770966166_30e1764f5c.jpg

Even if it did take us until almost 11:00 p.m.

34424526470_1aa2606ace.jpg

After dinner, we strolled down Bourbon Street toward home.

While I am not a fan of Bourbon Street as an actual destination, I do enjoy taking a stroll along it when I am on my way to someplace else.

Our friends also felt a burning need to experience the electric green sweetness of a hand grenade. It’s something everyone should experience.

34770951556_9db56ddf41.jpg

34424502650_3881e657ec.jpg

33967524794_ab82bfbf7e.jpg

Bourbon Street is a mesmerizing blend of fun and depravity. It’s a place lined with bars whose music spills onto the sidewalk and competing sounds create a cacophony of noise, where signs advertise HUGE ASS beers, where drunken groups of 20-somethings help each other stumble down the street pausing only when one group member needs to throw up on the sidewalk; and where people walk around casually dressed as pirates or aliens, and where it seems perfectly reasonable to do so. It’s a place with smoke-filled nudie clubs and a live band in every corner. There are endless baubles and boas, cheap go-cup windows, and dried alligator heads. It smells of desperation, heat lamped pizza, and neon electricity.

34771020176_08e9e21c70.jpg

34810738015_7caff5795f.jpg

34001085843_6611b115e5.jpg

The street was filled with girls with high heels and low self-esteem and idiot frat boys that seem to multiply by the hour. Proprietors with balding mullets stood outside open doorways advertising drinks with douchey names and offering 2 for 1 specials if you were only willing to step inside.

I knew better than to step inside. Entering one of those places would do nothing more than make me want to instantly run for the door, which I wouldn’t be able to do because my feet would be stuck to the floor by 15 years’ worth of spilled drinks, and where I would pick up a latent STD from the barstool.

Instead, we grabbed a hand grenade to go from a window and made straight for home.

A walk down Bourbon Street always makes me feel like a need a long shower afterward to wash off the sweat, smoke, and despair .

It was time to rinse of the night and go to sleep.

Saturday:

Apparently, we had to rinse off the night the next morning as well.

33967491194_e3b671374c.jpg

When your house is in proximity to Bourbon Street, even the quiet end of Bourbon Street, you can count on some mutant to leave the remains of his Lucky Dog by your front door after a night filled with booze and beads.

When a restaurant advertises that the BYOB brunch allows the first bottle for free but charges a $15 corkage for the second, you bring the biggest bottle you can find.

34000997183_071592882e.jpg

EAT offers a delicious brunch in a bright and airy space that was only a block from our house.

Good thing, because I couldn’t have carried that champagne bottle far.

34424466260_3b533c8539.jpg

Our bubbly was quickly put on ice and we were given a carafe of OJ.

33967516084_21d1fac439.jpg

34678058001_dc14da4c74.jpg

34000982803_bf6413bb48.jpg

Our banana fritters were brought out in a paper bag, perfectly dusted with crunchy sugar and cinnamon, and served with a bowl of creamy peanut butter and Nutella.

34000970553_e3119a073b.jpg

I opted for the Eggs Cochon: delicious pulled pork cakes over mustard greens, served with two poached eggs, Creole hollandaise sauce, grits and one of EAT’s giant homemade biscuits.

Matt ordered the Chantilly pancakes.

I just loved hearing him say, “Chantilly pancakes, please.”

34000965063_5d19557acd.jpg

34770887756_ff8dc83b98.jpg

34678049071_c8f7df316d.jpg

34648112142_d9f88b1227.jpg

Brunch over, we hit the streets with mimosa go cups in hand. We headed to Jackson Square to peruse the local art and street vendors.

33967483394_68ea0e3974.jpg

33967479074_213001dfe5.jpg

34810589285_fb863ace89.jpg

34648084342_f5f96a2556.jpg

If the French Quarter is the epicenter of New Orleans, then Jackson Square is the epicenter of the epicenter.

34648068242_8bceff696f.jpg

34770827136_b153df206a.jpg

34000898363_a8334cde36.jpg

The colorful streets around the square are filled with original art and street performers – some good….some not so good….but all interesting.

34770844386_dceb9fb02f.jpg

34810569525_47a9842594.jpg

33967440194_22f197b6a5.jpg

34677989741_a25537c4e4.jpg

34000866223_cc74807793.jpg

Our wandering led us to the French Market where we shopped everything from handmade jewelry and paintings to $5 sunglasses.

34810536035_386626daee.jpg

34000876503_c6103ab4f2.jpg

34000846083_70f83eb995.jpg

Before we knew it, our go cups were empty. This called for a dash into Molly’s on the Market. I instantly fell in love the second I tasted the frozen Irish coffee.

34677986181_5e25bab24e.jpg

34000858323_5eba564dd4.jpg

34000851493_fea6d3c5bf.jpg

It had been at least 2 hours since we had eaten, so we popped into Central Grocery so that our group could try the “other” muffaletta.

Many people think the muffaletta at Napoleon House is the best. I can’t disagree that the fluffy toasted bread and melty cheese were spectacular.

But Central Grocery is still my favorite. Maybe it’s because it was my first, maybe it’s because the shelves are lined with dusty cans of tomato paste and gallon jars of capers, maybe it’s simply the unlimited supply of Zapp’s chips and root beer that you can buy beside your sandwich….all I can tell you is that THIS is my favorite muffaletta.

34424376530_661c2b11f8.jpg

34000838163_60951141c7.jpg

33967373004_b8f38c5894.jpg

34677956411_b01ae9037e.jpg

34647960282_50bbc75f09.jpg

34000813233_5c97b8aa2d.jpg

34770719776_2db500f438.jpg

We shared a bite and then hopped the streetcar to Mother’s.

Why?

To eat again, that’s why.

34810437765_68205acb36.jpg

When it comes to dining, New Orleans is an embarrassment of riches. You can’t walk 10 feet without bumping into something delicious.

And in this city, it’s not about eating fancy or expensive…it’s about eating WELL. The best bite you have all day might come from a counter in the back of a convenience store.

34810433655_afca169c9d.jpg

34770692636_411259bf97.jpg

34677933031_42988b5c81.jpg

33967326104_895e9240b1.jpg

Mother’s is old school and is the perfect blend of divey and delicious. It serves up mountains of comfort food like po’ boys and macaroni and cheese that you order in a cafeteria-style line. You know a meal is going to be good when the interior looks this dumpy, yet there are 20 people in line in front of you.

With so many options on its huge menu, it can be hard to decide what to get. I find it easy, however. I always get the debris po’ boy, dressed.

34000794253_842c2594fe.jpg

34000792683_59322c0026.jpg

Debris is roast beef cooked until it begs for mercy. It’s the juicy bits, crispy fat, and charred goodness that falls off a roast beef when it’s cooked to death. These are served swimming in pan drippings.

My sandwich was drowning in roast beef shavings and gravy and was “dressed” in zesty cabbage, pickles, mayo, and creole mustard.

34770675736_191f10f1b7.jpg

Believe it or not, we followed that with oyster happy hour and a delicious Sezerac.

33967311264_d85058ffba.jpg

34424303970_590f4b2e6d.jpg

We were here to sip and savor, so we stopped at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 next.

The bar was kitchy cool and the drinks were creative and tropical with awesome garnishes like a frozen coconut milk tiki and fresh orchids.

34810407185_5c88b678b6.jpg

33967301614_09883d58a5.jpg

34677877351_e878b6ccc2.jpg

33967289034_bb092bf10a.jpg

34000773593_6d26934401.jpg

33967295614_68b1313ed2.jpg

Because our house was located near the quiet end of Bourbon Street, there was then the inevitable Bourbon Street stroll that we seemed to do every day.

We took it all in.

34770631806_dd03026369.jpg

34000762073_c4611dcb7a.jpg

34770616446_31bbd75a64.jpg

34000747103_cd6a62e32c.jpg

34810372825_0acd85307a.jpg

34647849132_bcd84ee05b.jpg

34770602116_175568cfde.jpg

33967235054_a373d2a8a8.jpg

34677834481_74c75bb51c.jpg

By the time we got home, we were ready for fat pants and naps.

Our balcony provided us a perfect place to waste the afternoon before it was time to clean up and head out for dinner.

33967225874_40ef1bddec.jpg

Before dinner, I made everyone pose for cheesy photos.

34677810371_7ef0ed49c1.jpg

33967213594_3d1088b537.jpg

33967204404_61657274ac.jpg

33967195144_35c5db3975.jpg

34000707563_c482062fc1.jpg

34000681423_9d15817239.jpg

33967218994_feba477153.jpg

34000665023_65f4fae35c.jpg

34424216010_d97bf69f85.jpg

34677764981_d56be8c9ff.jpg

We like to call this one “Burger King Regret.”

34810340855_e817a01476.jpg

We felt the need to step it up a bit and eat something that did not come in a paper sack, so we had dinner reservations at Sylvain.

34677761741_8fbcfc9bdf.jpg

33967175544_072ec2a49e.jpg

34000642603_68feaace0f.jpg

I was instantly drawn to the “Champagne and Fries” appetizer. Sure, it was $90…but it was CHAMPAGNE…..AND FRIES!

34677748001_e5213777c0.jpg

The southern antipasti plate and pappardelle Bolognese were also quite delicious….but …..CHAMPAGNE! FRIES!

34424187440_dfa6ae30f8.jpg

33967151924_6809845ba4.jpg

I tried to be more refined by making reservations at a restaurant so in demand that it required a CREDIT CARD to hold my reservation, but the truth is, in my heart, all I really want are some sweat pants and tater tots.

After dinner, we headed to Preservation Hall where I had pre-purchased the Big Shot seats to 1) put us right in the front and 2) avoid having to stand in that horrific line.

With “go drinks” in hand (Preservation Hall does not serve drinks but does allow you to bring your own) we spent the next hour enraptured by the sights and sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Preservation Hall is an exceptional French Quarter experience, in my opinion. For an hour, you feel carried away to another time and place. You forget the bustle and noise of Bourbon Street just around the corner and instead feel transported to an intimate speakeasy where the sounds of a clarinet drip like honey onto the bare hardwood beneath your tapping feet.

It’s just a little bit of magic.

34677735721_8aac7ed45a.jpg

34677732621_144e9ff7d7.jpg

We ended the night at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, seated around the candle-lit piano in back with voodoo daiquiris in hand, tossing $5 bills into the basket to scream out the name of our favorite songs for the piano man to play.

34677727891_c6d77db989.jpg

34424163140_0364bf8d83.jpg

He said he knew 18,000 songs.

I think we sang all of them.

Sunday:

34000596693_390bed989a.jpg

A night of singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of my lungs had left me hoarse.

I felt the best cure was an overstuffed bloody Mary from Café Lafitte in Exile, just around the corner from home.

34647736452_e22f6f4817.jpg

This bar claims to be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States, and they serve up a perfect bloody Mary on Sundays, shaken with all manner of spices and secret ingredients and literally stuffed with a load of pickled goodness.

We grabbed our stuffed Marys and headed to SoBou for “brunchertainment.” The Legs and Eggs Burlesque Brunch is something that could only happen in New Orleans.

34424136320_b3865cceb7.jpg

34677712301_0696cc4e09.jpg

34424083600_32c176bb10.jpg

SoBou?

Try SoBOOOOOZY.

34770447796_af8934006c.jpg

34000551053_2648010663.jpg

I’m not sure what I loved most: the giant flask of hooch punch (the special that day was a refreshing blend of blueberry, coconut, rum, and basil) or the bedazzled cabaret dancer that kept shaking her tail feathers in our pancakes.

34770445066_68a993069a.jpg

34424119630_0b876449fc.jpg

34810217205_ff351ea423.jpg

The spirited brunch is a lengthy 2-hour, 3 course affair with a live jazz band the Dapper Dandies and, dancing by Bella Blue.

33967081824_1499ee0c61.jpg

34770412536_1759c0b357.jpg

My meal started off with the panzanella salad with spicy greens, roasted tomatoes, drenched croutons, and a five hour egg. Matt started off with the buttermilk biscuit doughnuts with a smoky bacon & cream cheese frosting.

34770433536_b08844567f.jpg

34424106580_80f4e25c90.jpg

Next up, I had the famed “Legs and Eggs,” with crispy confit chicken legs over crunchy brown sugar crusted french toast with poached eggs. Matt? Strawberry and banana pancakes. At least he didn’t have to say, “Chantilly pancakes, please,” this time. If he had uttered those words while holding that tiny little crystal cup of lavender punch, I might never have recovered.

34677684341_d675696026.jpg

34000563623_e01502e804.jpg

I am not sure why every restaurant does not offer dessert with breakfast. It was genius.

I had the “Pecan Pie Not Pie” which was a jar of pecan pie filling topped with chocolate covered cracklin’ & peanut butter whipped cream. Matt had the chocolate coma bar which came with a darling little house made marshmallow.

34000543463_81db9806fb.jpg

34810170365_21e74a2660.jpg

We walked, strolled, browsed, and shopped until we discovered it was OYSTER HAPPY HOUR TIME!

34770391076_9dfa55ed40.jpg

34770383746_1971eca4ae.jpg

34770376126_e7c2b7d1e1.jpg

34424048100_fac42a63d8.jpg

33967055454_9af8e76f82.jpg

34770340326_45b4bc29e9.jpg

34677613981_94f3a8fcf8.jpg

34000490373_4bb050e728.jpg

34647648472_15ef884d96.jpg

Then it was back to the house for booze fueled naps (much classier than passing out).

We roused ourselves in time for happy hour at Cane and Table. Cane and Table is one of the most recommended bars on the craft cocktail scene in New Orleans, and that landed it on my “must do” list.

34677609841_b3d2c4e98c.jpg

34810128095_a42d996798.jpg

34647620862_de8329dd78.jpg

A cozy little cocktail bar built into an old carriage house with a rustic patio out back, Cane and Table was instantly charming.

34000451493_9b545b20d7.jpg

34677597901_f24c2de6a2.jpg

34770289016_e4f6e240a3.jpg

33966999894_80b50ca6eb.jpg

We decided it was too hot to sit outside and opted for the cool, dark interior of the bar. The cocktails were wonderfully unique and right up my alley. One option was the “daily punch” which was literally served from an antique cut glass punch bowl on the bar.

Loved.

34423972910_7b0a9c423c.jpg

I convinced Matt to order the Boss Colada, made with fresh pineapple and lime, Angostura rum, Baska Snaps, orgeat, and Peychaud's bitters. There is nothing wrong with ordering a drink simply because it is lovely.

34423993640_44c91df796.jpg

34000438773_4149f28245.jpg

34677587311_e1a12a89af.jpg

Next, we headed next door to Coop’s place for some eats.

While there is typically a long line at Coop’s, we hit it just right and simply walked in and were seated.

34647564212_25fc9fa5d4.jpg

34677532481_0fb562c1d3.jpg

33966972224_f0cf68e008.jpg

Coop’s is one part restaurant and 3 parts dive bar. You have to be 21 to enter, so you could say it’s a bar that serves some food. It was dark and divey with a dozen rickety tables and a big wooden bar.

The service was friendly and the food was our favorite of the trip.

We started with marinated and fried blue crab claws.

33966969484_b09a3d93fb.jpg

That was followed with a hot bowl of delicious gumbo.

34770233766_22a5053d05.jpg

And then there was the “tasting plate” – a sampler of all the goodness that Coop’s has to offer: shrimp creole, red beans and rice, rabbit and sausage jambalya, and crispy creole fried chicken.

That chicken was intensely delicious.

34677520291_a0e1b83d13.jpg

34677515571_e377048087.jpg

For dessert, we grabbed a round of $5 frozen Irish coffees next door at Mollys.

34810084415_3182a37cfa.jpg

34000415943_8d58ef5daa.jpg

33966992614_ea421c0225.jpg

33966982914_6b01810cfa.jpg

We walked to Frenchmen Street, where we wandered into a couple of different art markets before heading to Snug Harbor for some jazz.

34647536622_7aefb3163c.jpg

34810039225_bc062832aa.jpg

34000365723_812fcbf97d.jpg

34810033795_e487fba9d4.jpg

34810030305_80ebf3640c.jpg

While I did love Snug Harbor, I didn’t find the experience as personal as Preservation Hall. It was simply a nice jazz show.

33966948714_9ffb9dca0b.jpg

34000379283_531eeba7bf.jpg

It was our final night in New Orleans so we decided to go out with a bang and stopped at Port of Call for late night burgers and loaded potatoes before calling it a night.

34770179776_90a4fb0fdc.jpg

34000339573_55f4a5d90d.jpg

34647502042_9ee238735b.jpg

34810006385_4463bf69f3.jpg

34770149266_f444acdcc9.jpg

Oh what a night!

33966925794_27bc094ee5.jpg

Monday:

34677470221_f57325b794.jpg

It was time for one last carb and fat filled meal.

We needed to hit the road air, so we went for something quick and easy.

I still maintain that the beignets at Café Beignet, while perfectly okay, are nothing like the beignets at Café du Monde.

34423821160_d97bbc51b3.jpg

34647458692_89d5bc9fd3.jpg

34809998185_e901e80453.jpg

However, Café Beignet had a delightful music-filled courtyard and offered up other breakfast goodies like waffles and breakfast sandwiches.

33966916204_d43dc3a3b5.jpg

New Orleans had shown us a good time filled with delicious food, great cocktails, and days filled with sunshine and live music in the streets.

But we needed to leave before we all ended up with type 2 diabetes.

Three days in New Orleans had been enough. I had to throw in the white napkin.

If I stayed here any longer, I wouldn’t fit into my pants.

Posted by vicki_h 13:59 Archived in USA Tagged jazz new_orleans cajun creole mardi_gras french_quarter bourbon_street nola big_easy Comments (0)

Hitting the backspace button: Let's go back to Abaco!

A Quick Easter Break On My Favorite Little Island.

Now that we have our own place on Guana Cay, we try to get down there every chance we get. So when we had an opportunity to make a quick, last minute trip over Easter weekend, we jumped on the chance.

I was on Cloud 9…I was heading to Bikini Hut!

34182246826_9c6414341f.jpg

An early morning flight had us on sunny Abaco by 9:00 a.m. By 9:30 we were loading our bags onto the boat, and by 10:00 we were off and running. We headed straight for Firefly on Elbow Cay for an early “welcome home” lunch.

34229284775_f604087df7.jpg

33418571933_b02301f17a.jpg

33387312924_ec46690000.jpg

33418479183_2d6e678124.jpg

33845076900_ef1d70bc0f.jpg

33845039060_d0c6b85cf6.jpg

34188517666_55efe5d441.jpg

We enjoyed frosty cocktails in the warm sun, took a quick dip, and had a long and lazy lunch.

I love the food at Firefly. Most of the offerings you find on the Abaco culinary scene are fairly similar…..fish sandwich with fries…..burger with fries….conch with fries. While it’s no secret that I love some fried food, it’s nice to know there are a few restaurants where you can find some creative options. Firefly definitely stands out as one of the best. We enjoyed ginger-sesame crusted tuna tataki followed by crispy coconut fried lobster with fresh mixed greens and the blackened catch of the day with sweet potato fries.

Not a paper plate in sight!

34188441346_0e317a1015.jpg

34098267091_1399fe3897.jpg

34098245041_fc1f703814.jpg

33387207104_c86e83a7cb.jpg

34228941705_7ba7752761.jpg

33418203323_f230c7c580.jpg

34228905595_08406d86b5.jpg

33844862250_bba66c00c8.jpg

34228825375_59b7a2a002.jpg

34228878425_d23c53d236.jpg

33387103894_9f5f3f9ef9.jpg

After lunch, we hopped over to Hopetown, intending to visit the Reef Bar and do a little shopping before heading to Guana to settle in.

34227856325_4ec587776d.jpg

33843720150_47f4987e01.jpg

33417076273_d52490d255.jpg

Hopetown was CRAZY! I have never seen that many people in town before. The Reef Bar was covered up. We realized it was spring break for a lot of families, so we downed one cocktail, took in the views, and jumped back on the boat in search of peace and quiet.

33843663960_b6b8f47e40.jpg

33385957974_80d9591134.jpg

33385897064_843f03613c.jpg

34227769065_a8b5366ef7.jpg

34096873091_9687abeca0.jpg

34227655955_408ae5dd00.jpg

33385835804_b60009bf15.jpg

33416812743_94bb03a71a.jpg

33843470170_156c8e19d1.jpg

34096691381_344209f6d9.jpg

33416712453_201c3d2ed5.jpg

34096656981_336a93f742.jpg

34096626801_8dcc052a11.jpg

33843358070_ecf0d170f5.jpg

We didn't exactly find peace and quiet. We had friends on the island and we saw their boat in the shallow lagoon on the south end of Guana Cay. We decided to try to creep in despite the fact that it was low tide.

We proceeded to get stuck, had to have our friends pull us off the sand with their boat, and I blew out my favorite flip flop when Matt told me to "GET OFF THE BOAT AND PUSH!"

Once we were safely back out to sea, we limped back to Guana in shame.

Hopetown had been a bust and the Lagoon had been a bigger bust.

We were ready to get to our little island and call it a day. We hoped it would be quieter than we had found Elbow.

It was.

Our little island was wonderfully peaceful when we arrived.

34096541691_b3a25fd6a1.jpg

34186763176_ace7d7af75.jpg

34227091155_944ca9251f.jpg

We unpacked and settled in, cleaned up, and headed to Grabbers for that first glorious Guana Cay sunset.

33385574734_faa5a238d9.jpg

33843246820_1c62d124f1.jpg

34070182402_732a1bb382.jpg

Afterwards, we met friends at Kidd’s Cove for a feast. We celebrated their last night on the island and our first with my favorite potato salad, peas n’ rice, salads, and fresh caught snapper.

34227246465_7ec9e1d3b0.jpg

34070077502_9108fd4e0f.jpg

33385446404_87b3d07c2f.jpg

33416416573_b8950da42c.jpg

34186572286_8af15840c2.jpg

The next morning I woke up early to see the sunrise and realized I had lost my voice and a splitting headache. I couldn’t be getting sick. I was on vacation!

34186541526_bfdd292aeb.jpg

I had no time to think about being sick. I had packing to do. Sure, we had just arrived, but Matt had convinced me to try spending the night on the boat that night and I needed to rally. I took some Advil and got our stuff together for our overnight trip.

It’s amazing how much stuff I needed to spend one night on the boat.

33416316183_384162e3dd.jpg

We had never slept on the boat. It had a nice cabin and it was one of the reasons we decided on the boat we did. We felt like it was a good time to try it out, since this trip was just the two of us. It would be a good way to test run it and see what worked and what didn’t.

Let me just end the suspense….nothing worked.

We had decided to venture to Treasure Cay and spend a night in the marina. It would be great, Matt said. It’s a nice day, he said. We’ll have shore power, he said. We have a nice cabin with a nice bed, he said. We have a working bathroom, he said.

Lies.

34069952212_3fda4ce43c.jpg

34096225441_57b59afc66.jpg

33416189223_78f5971d4a.jpg

33385206314_8e7f150f1c.jpg

34226944335_f90ac62401.jpg

It didn’t start off too badly. The waves were a little bigger than normal, but just enough to elicit joyful shrieks and laughs. But as we picked up speed, the waves got bigger and the wind got stronger and the shrieks were no longer joyful.

The sea was angry that day, friends. Very angry. I was a acutely aware that as a very small woman with no means to secure myself to the boat, I was in a vulnerable position. I tightened my grip on the metal handle in front of me (for which I’m sure there’s some actual boat term but that I prefer to call the “Oh Shit” bar) and held on for dear life.

Our plan was to first go to Treasure Sands on the far end of the beach for lunch and lounging before making our way back to the marina for the night. We got all the way to Treasure Sands before realizing the water was far too rough to stop there.

This meant we had to go ALL THE WAY back to Don’t Rock. Against the wind and against the waves. That’s when the $hit really hit the fan. I knew I was in trouble when Matt told me to just go below, shut the door, and hold on.

The next 20 minutes were violent. The waves pounded the boat hard enough to knock me into the ceiling repeatedly and to cause the microwave to keep flying open and shooting the glass tray across the cabin. I feared I would be decapitated at any moment.

I spent the majority of the ride wedged in with pillows while using my arms as a brace against the ceiling to keep me from flying up and hitting my head. My teeth were banging together. I was pretty sure I was going to die from a head injury caused by an airborne flashlight that had worked its way out of its cubbyhole.

34226955445_0c9151c50c.jpg

It would have probably been smarter to turn back, but we were committed.

I thought about grabbing the air horn to send Matt a distress signal, but I was pretty sure things were worse up top.

Thankfully, I am not prone to motion sickness.

When we finally pulled into Treasure Cay marina, Matt was grim faced and saltwater soaked from head to toe, and my arms felt like I had done 2 hours of push-ups.

So…sure….it wasn’t a great start.

But as we cruised into the marina, things immediately started looking up. It was calm, sunny, and beautiful.

33385162844_8ff52432dc.jpg

34069767062_2598465fee.jpg

34095999761_521e0b18c2.jpg

33842767670_03d24a503d.jpg

I set out to explore while Matt tied the boat off and got us checked in at the marina office.

34226787715_8b17a703b5.jpg

33415851623_ce04d667a3.jpg

34095836081_c7b04d1563.jpg

Treasure Cay is definitely the closest thing to a “resort” that I have seen on Abaco, but it wasn’t resorty by any means. It was still just good old Abaco.

34095820931_a2d1e9e28b.jpg

34069474682_81453b4914.jpg

34095788181_8bbbb83dce.jpg

34095765181_552280f841.jpg

34226504865_d93582e848.jpg

34226557475_37fcab78c2.jpg

34095653511_65a1698994.jpg

33842396400_334f53ed90.jpg

34069312812_7a9d9af805.jpg

34226327015_5a4ecf804d.jpg

33383222214_28d4350508.jpg

34094270501_f77bb27790.jpg

“We have a small problem,” Matt said as I returned to the boat.

After the ride over, I really didn’t think any additional problems were acceptable.

“Our power cord isn’t long enough to reach the dock so we won’t have shore power.”

That meant no lights, no microwave, no toilet, no a/c.

Let me translate that into Vicki-speak: Darkness, mosquitoes, 15 minute walk to the bathroom, and no coffee.

This was dire.

“Well,” I said, “At least it’s a cool night and we have a comfy bed.”

“That was another thing I wanted to tell you….”

Apparently, the center cushion that turns two narrow, uncomfortable benches around the table into an actual bed was not on the boat.

What was supposed to be this:

33383156314_d7795f9aae.jpg

Was, in fact, this:

34094257211_eca10f38a3.jpg

And I was feeling worse by the minute. The headache that was ever present was now being joined by a horrible sore throat.

No matter.

We were here now and there was no way in hell I was heading back out into the Sea of Doom for another boat ride.

Instead, we decided to make the best of it and grabbed a taxi to Treasure Sands. If we couldn’t have overnight luxury, we’d have afternoon luxury!

33384472524_cfee44f768.jpg

34069170792_520c588b20.jpg

33384371444_f01bd36abb.jpg

33415247643_7078f00ab3.jpg

34095240151_989e35ef61.jpg

34185255776_db81e9dee3.jpg

After the horror of the morning, Treasure Sands was pure bliss.

Treasure Sands was posh, uber hip, and an oasis of relaxation. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Poolside champagne made me forget that boat ride had ever happened, and made me temporarily forgot that we had an uncomfortable night in front of us.

34068706922_6011cc6259.jpg

34225838185_d5bc29bb9c.jpg

33841644590_9460e1717c.jpg

34068581162_464578f635.jpg

33383763414_b9c81a5c26.jpg

34225644115_4a8da09694.jpg

34184853036_ff9a8fedcf.jpg

33841456570_d6fb4ee36e.jpg

34094698451_230ba256a0.jpg

34225679225_b9c84c4517.jpg

34068530772_a3802d9a3f.jpg

Like Firefly, Treasure Sands is one of the better dining options in the Abacos. We enjoyed a decadent lunch. I opted for the open face hot fish – fresh hog snapper delicately fried “Nashville hot chicken” style and served with tangy pickles. Matt went for the always delicious lobster club. Both were served with their parmesan garlic fries.

34068511432_72caa05572.jpg

34094823751_e73c1bdc82.jpg

34094994051_71a44366f7.jpg

34185083406_c3237eda59.jpg

33383548674_487386b7c6.jpg

34094638121_1b35653ce6.jpg

34094574961_2dc910c814.jpg

34068222012_eb6ea5a57b.jpg

34225479365_31b7304cb2.jpg

34094593141_28fdbc101f.jpg

33383423774_4866c61bd2.jpg

33383394974_8dc27d37ca.jpg

34184654456_8bff8d1f67.jpg

33414421313_b87d02dedf.jpg

33383329364_7f7ee77d60.jpg

34067975072_f7f371930e.jpg

33414327163_b21afdfe30.jpg

We lounged late into the afternoon.

Mainly to avoid going back to face this:

34094257211_eca10f38a3.jpg

But eventually, we made our way back to the marina where we grabbed showers and opened some wine to enjoy with the sunset before dinner.

For a moment, I forgot about the lack of power, the long midnight walk I’d be making to the bathroom, and the two tiny, hard sleeping spaces we had waiting for us below and I realized how much I could enjoy a night on the boat. It was a beautiful night.

34067857832_f878e4050e.jpg

33840949840_38602f56a4.jpg

34094208111_7dddc83926.jpg

33840884230_6eb009545a.jpg

We walked from the marina to Coco’s for their Friday Night Fish Fry and started the evening with a hard-earned Treasure Bomb Shot. It tasted like cough syrup and made me wish I had some. I was feeling worse by the minute.

34184340426_4c459a6911.jpg

33840775740_a742c821cd.jpg

33840747080_2f499e64c1.jpg

I drowned my sorrows with a frozen blue margarita and then fed them some hot conch fritters.

33840822790_a7068d84a9.jpg

33840802130_dc960ef761.jpg

34093959271_cb0e859803.jpg

33413903503_9243eb2e60.jpg

33840637540_bfdf352278.jpg

34224783405_2a54f9254c.jpg

For dinner, I went with traditional Abaco fare and got the blackened catch, cole slaw, and mac n’ cheese. Matt got daring and ordered the Fish Fry special.

I draw the line at eating things that still have eyes.

34184095076_894d4e4e0e.jpg

33382739464_67caeb4c0a.jpg

34093816761_184e431e93.jpg

We returned for our night on the boat.

I’d love to say, “It wasn’t so bad.” I’d like to convince you that I am a good sport and made the best of a less than ideal situation.

I am not a good sport.

It was miserable.

It was a combination of my increasing congestion, a now incessant cough, and trying to sleep on a narrow sliver of hard vinyl.

It’s important to note that I am a finicky sleeper. I need everything to be exactly perfect for me to drift off: pitch black, cool, silent, with a firm pillow, a thick comforter, and a soft mattress. Matt has equated my sleep set up to being no less complex than launching the space shuttle.

The boat cabin was warm and small with light and sound from the marina flooding into every hatch that had to remain open lest we suffocate without the a/c. The “bed,” we’ll just call it that for fun because we all know that wasn’t a bed, was excessively small and ferociously hard. Because I only brought bedding for ONE bed, not 2 separate beds, we had to split the bedding, so it was completely insubstantial.

I’m not sure who was more miserable, me, who coughed all night long and woke myself up with a loud congested snort every time I managed to doze off, or Matt who had to lay awake and listen to me cough all night long and snore myself awake every 23 minutes.

Oh, and did I mention that it was a FULL MOON? A very huge, bright, shining in the hatch above my head FULL MOON?

Let’s not even talk about the long walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

It was a long night.

33382683854_5ba9a53ce2.jpg

But we survived it. As the sun rose over Treasure Cay, I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer.

34093750251_e36ed4a343.jpg

34224617005_538fba14d2.jpg

We made our way to the small quick market and perused the laughable and awkward medicinal offerings. I found a $24 bottle of DayQuil and an $8 bottle of some unrecognizable nasal spray.

It would have to do.

It’s amazing what a little medicine can do. I felt 90% human and went in search of coffee, since we didn’t have any power.

I found myself at Florence’s and remembered reading about the legendary cinnamon rolls generated by this modest cafe. I popped in for coffee (heaven!), breakfast sandwiches, and ….mmmmm……..cinnamon rolls.

34093692681_9d6fbe80ba.jpg

34067332692_2a20ab0217.jpg

34183884176_fd69169447.jpg

34067280622_c66be10ea2.jpg

Obviously, whatever illness I had did nothing to my appetite.

After some coffee and sugar, I felt 99% human.

At least for the time being.

We made our way back to Guana and marveled at the beautiful day.

33382532514_b500c1f5c7.jpg

With no plans for the day, we headed to Mermaids on the Rocks for lunching and lounging.

If you recall, it opened just last month, about a week before our March visit.

I still really loved the place.

34183808706_c8b3451892.jpg

34224409105_cbb525ec15.jpg

34224303175_62d0b874a7.jpg

Tish, the bartender, mixed us up some fantastic cocktails that we enjoyed with their killer view.

We knew their dinner was good, so we wanted to try lunch. It was fantastic.

34183766436_11db846b64.jpg

33382430034_9b96da3088.jpg

33382408344_139b5c6711.jpg

34224346415_693bc7402a.jpg

Oooey, gooey loaded nachos, a cheesy burger, and a panko coconut fish sandwich made for lunch perfection.

Their crystal clear pool made the perfect place for a post-lunch siesta.

34067038742_ac0f847d64.jpg

33840103130_0294a24f01.jpg

34093401731_67025ede16.jpg

We followed Mermaids with trip to Grabbers for a dip in the water.

34067019802_b6d9efafef.jpg

33382262474_3f47a52869.jpg

34093274921_264d81f82e.jpg

34183490736_364343c0a4.jpg

33382187814_62fcb8dcc2.jpg

34183416136_90e20be26f.jpg

My DayQuil was starting to wear off, so we headed home. I grabbed some Vicks and Advil at Guana Grocery to round out my vacation cocktail that I hoped would get me through the rest of the trip.

33413144433_e343759ac5.jpg

After some down time, we headed to Grabbers for sunset and drinks.

Do we get tired of going to the same places over and over?

No.

34066823852_f8b4261692.jpg

33839823280_05ce98153d.jpg

34183305776_7c6d16d626.jpg

34066747742_0dbae53fe7.jpg

34223935115_0109343445.jpg

34093000291_7853766d8e.jpg

33381989304_0a3cf2451f.jpg

34223869105_40b5167893.jpg

34066616422_306fdffb6e.jpg

34092938951_64fe09cb1d.jpg

34066554432_77879e6cf5.jpg

We followed that with rib night at Orchid Bay.

33381860984_c43af79585.jpg

34066500052_c7c3db2241.jpg

The next morning was Easter Sunday. We hadn’t thought to bring church clothes, so we headed to the beach to have our own sunrise service.

34183004076_360bdb4b4d.jpg

As the sun rose higher into the sky, I was not only thankful for the gift of God’s son and my salvation, but for all the gifts he has blessed my life with.
What a beautiful reminder of what really matters.

34066418902_48a3225959.jpg

33412747553_4bcec7fa66.jpg

33412706893_9ba08bce64.jpg

33381666254_f167fc624b.jpg

Not interested in another bone jarring boat ride, we decided to keep ourselves parked on Guana for the day, as the wind hadn’t really subsided.

We spent a lazy morning at Grabbers doing a lot of nothing. Which was absolutely perfect.

33381645164_be4ebc1d32.jpg

34223567945_bc5f7f8799.jpg

34182798716_9d92a3bba9.jpg

34223491875_aa8d2f76d2.jpg

34223438285_6918e01f66.jpg

34092458131_21be4dca18.jpg

34223392905_2522eae846.jpg

34066107992_e86da7544b.jpg

34066081062_f464fc0a05.jpg

34182593926_7502341f14.jpg

33381264384_00725b84f1.jpg

34182528446_ef350993cd.jpg

33381282394_7743f88276.jpg

I felt like death on a cracker, but was surviving on a steady diet of DayQuil and alcohol.

And cheeseburgers.

34182498596_3eb0148da8.jpg

Nippers Sunday Funday and Easter went together about as well as cats and sweaters, so we took a pass. It just didn’t feel right.

34223161115_0096149d4e.jpg

34223124225_414e9d29ba.jpg

We chose to end the trip with dinner at Mermaids – seared tuna for me and pasta carbonara for Matt.

Mermaids was still hitting home runs.

33838903820_94f0f3cd15.jpg

33838862620_b74c4e17af.jpg

33381076184_a8fac04382.jpg

34065786352_1d98f7f79e.jpg

Our trip had come to an end, but that was probably for the best. I was quickly running out of $24 DayQuil and the closest thing Guana Cay had to a doctor was Troy, who owns the dive shop and also serves as the entire Fire Department and the island’s entire EMS division.

It was time to head home….and for once….I was okay with that.

34182217376_fa6401fd87.jpg

Next up: We’re heading south to let the good times roll in New Orleans! Stay tuned!

Posted by vicki_h 08:19 Archived in Bahamas Tagged islands tropical bahamas nippers abaco elbow_cay guana_cay grabbers marsh_harbour lubbers_landing Comments (4)

Sip, sip, hooray! Girls' Weekend in Nashville.

34015758471_80d797f8fd.jpg

It happens. I get soooo busy. So do all of my girlfriends. It's so easy to get caught up in jobs and kids and the stress that life brings and forget to make time for our friends.

That's why we make it a point to stop every once in a while to remind ourselves of the “work hard, play hard” motto and head out for a much needed girls’ weekend. Girls’ weekends are necessary for the mind, body, and soul.

It had been a while since the girls had been together. It was time to plan an epic weekend.

After tossing around several location ideas, we settled on the obvious….NASHVILLE!

33334116903_76e25b813a.jpg

Why hadn’t we thought of this before?

Once best known as the capital of country music, Nashville’s shopping, nightlife, and culinary offerings have blown up in recent years. Nashville is a perfect blend of culture and Southern charm. There is so much to see and do that a simple weekend couldn’t even scratch the surface.

And it’s right in our back yard.

I told the girls to grab their cowboy hats. It was time for a boot scootin’, biscuit eatin’, sweet tea drinkin’ good time.

34104509476_a617a1c9d4.jpg

We left Knoxville on a warm, sunny spring day and found ourselves cruising into Nashville just 2 ½ hours later.

What should we do first? Visit the Grand Ole Opry? Eat some hot chicken? Buy a cowboy hat?

We made our way to Germantown, a recently revived neighborhood just north of downtown. This 18-square block area is filled with cobblestone streets, charming homes that date back to the 1800s, architectural treasures, unique shops, and some of Nashville’s hottest restaurants. It’s urban, it’s chic, it’s walkable, it’s filled with coffee shops and eateries and wine…..in other words….it was the perfect place for a girls’ trip.

We scored these AMAZING accommodations on AirBNB:

33990652092_140399b24c.jpg

33762994960_a216de2013.jpg

33305246614_f265fbf00b.jpg

33990480692_60c52052a8.jpg

33305143504_bebe76d11c.jpg

34106943226_7e3be55bf7.jpg

33762725670_1a430a55b5.jpg

34017109831_dbe2f7cc16.jpg

33762690770_3324f19086.jpg

34017066131_cc7ea42b6d.jpg

33336421043_c535373329.jpg

33990240602_b06df21cb2.jpg

33762613080_e21e621f35.jpg

34016995611_a01c6e2156.jpg

33305201164_189f5f60e0.jpg

33304847624_f19e50c3d1.jpg

34016979871_88bd48655f.jpg

33336333003_48a89b9460.jpg

33304825984_0d52e088fb.jpg

This duplex was simply perfection.

Only 3 of us had made it so far. Our 4th was not joining us until later that night, so we spent some time unpacking the 35 outfits we had brought for 2 days, quickly spruced up, and made the short walk to Butchertown Hall for one of the city’s best Happy Hours.

33762522340_c02ca3e095.jpg

33304787394_4bbc039f78.jpg

34106660396_89a677723b.jpg

34016792241_d36144c59f.jpg

Immediately greeted by the warm interior and the ridiculously wonderful smell of smoked meat, we were quickly seated and handed the Happy Hour menu. We proceeded to order ALL THE THINGS.

33990057802_53700b07ff.jpg

34106607976_38eb649d1a.jpg

33304700994_a8e39329d2.jpg

33304682764_a402747a48.jpg

34106586086_23a07dc7e7.jpg

33304658424_894db966a8.jpg

33762342950_61e96a50db.jpg

33304600414_b8b7306af3.jpg

OH MY GOSH! The $5 margaritas were perfect. And all of the food was so stinkin' good, specifically the brisket taco, and the queso with their house made chorizo, and the loin back rib nachos. Oh, and the sweet tea marinated smoked wings!

Oh, and the wood grilled oysters with chili sauce and chimichurri!

I’m getting hungry all over again.

After eating ALL THE THINGS, we grabbed an Uber and headed to Sinema, in Nashville’s Melrose neighborhood.

33989901762_e520cfd4e4.jpg

Housed inside the refurbished 1940’s Melrose Theater, Sinema’s atmosphere and décor gave a nod to old Hollywood glamour. Downstairs had a supper-club atmosphere with elegant tables and a huge movie screen showing classic films. Upstairs we found a classy lounge with cozy spaces and a creative cocktail menu.

33989885932_6a9e29eb70.jpg

33989869412_fc98e50b86.jpg

33336035763_31dae22e3c.jpg

34016628081_75c891a1cc.jpg

I pride myself on my research abilities and, typically, there are not many surprises waiting for me when I travel.

Sinema’s ladies' room caught me by surprise, however.

How had I missed the fact that Sinema has one of the most selfie friendly bathrooms in Nashville? It’s actually KNOWN for it’s selfie-worthy loo?

33304486884_9ea4905bd8.jpg

34016529871_1e5da5d6d3.jpg

34016523461_889f085e9b.jpg

Sigh. There was a time when the bathroom was the ultimate private space – but that all ended when it became better known as a place where women stand in front of the mirror, phones held aloft, and capture images of their duckfaces.

We were guilty. We spent 45 minutes in the ladies room.

It took that long to perfect our 1973 Album Cover Look.

33304431384_c5641e30cc.jpg

After bathroom art and cocktail hour was over, we walked next door to The Sutler to wait for our 4th to arrive.

34016479941_893e59581c.jpg

33762067980_e0eea38639.jpg

Housed in the same location that the original Sutler Saloon operated in for over 30 years, The Sutler is the re-imagination of the original and houses an upstairs food and music venue and a dark, cozy downstairs lounge.

34147098485_deed1ba565.jpg

33304234724_4b0ae9220d.jpg

34016444031_24757c845b.jpg

As old people, we of course opted for the quiet of the downstairs lounge, planning to wait in the peace and quiet with cocktails in hand while listening to some chill music.

33335811663_0d06a4215f.jpg

33762008650_5466893560.jpg

What we didn’t know was that it was 90’s dance night.

No problem. We are adaptable.

34147051475_3ee58deac5.jpg

With all four of us finally together, we decided it was time to hang up our dancing shoes and call it a night.

34279861181_1be348765f.jpg

Friday morning was bright and beautiful. It was time to put on our walking shoes and our eating pants.

But first, coffee.

34016328741_fa333a42dd.jpg

33989495252_6e0917f806.jpg

We walked over to Germantown’s Barista Parlor. While the place is riddled with ironic facial hair, oversized eye glasses, and permanent looks of hipster-esque disdain, it also serves up amazing coffee and baked goods. Everyone knows that hipsters make the best coffee.

I would call the décor of the Germantown location “vintage nautical industrial,” not to be confused with the original East location which I would characterize as more “nautical industrial lumberjack.”

33335663823_e131f82c40.jpg

33304138134_af7771092f.jpg

There were plenty of laptops, skinny jeans, and unseasonable toboggans. As we puzzled over the hand carved wooden menu (no, I am not kidding), I settled on a Whiskey Caramel Latte, “The Judge” biscuit, and one of their homemade cinnamon sugar pop-tarts.

The coffee was velvety…creamy….delicious.

34146899915_832fcb958b.jpg

34146868055_3b9ebfe427.jpg

The biscuit was perfectly moist (I hate a crumbly biscuit) and loaded with fluffy scrambled eggs, tangy pepper-jack cheese, and ….wait for it….chili glazed candied bacon. Served on a hand made wooden plate with a bandana (no, I am not kidding).

33989392092_ffe26310eb.jpg

The pop-tart was INSANE. It was nothing like a pop-tart. It was a rectangle of moist, doughy, flaky, gooey cinnamon filled heaven. I dropped a piece of that luscious icing on the floor and actually considered picking it up and eating it.

33761850180_7eab75b3e4.jpg

What was supposed to be a “light bite to tide us over” turned out to be a gluttonfest.

33989368622_45c6446c7b.jpg

No worries. We had shopping to do and nothing fuels shopping better than sugar and caffeine (unless you count vodka, but that usually results in coming home with odd things like a pink ceramic elephant and size 24 sequined pants).

We rallied and headed out to see how much damage we could do.

9,456 steps and 14 shopping bags later, we were exhausted. I’m pretty sure one of my credit cards self combusted in my purse on the way back to the house.

There was only one thing that could get us moving again….FOOD!

It was 2:30. We just made it to Arnold’s in time to make the line before they shut the doors.

33988977652_fb5a16b443.jpg

33761368090_7601518365.jpg

This hole-in-the-wall meat and three only serves breakfast and lunch, and only Monday through Friday, and only until 2:45.

Arnold’s is no-frills. It’s typically filled with hard-working, humble, good natured folks. Except the day we visited. The guy in front of us was wearing white skinny jeans, had a man bun, and was driving a Bentley.

33761767840_3463689c72.jpg

They opened their doors in 1983. Almost 35 years and a James Beard Award later, they are still serving up the best fried catfish, mac n’cheese, and hoecakes in town.

34146762825_c1865f9aa9.jpg

34146696675_562ae0aa70.jpg

34146637535_38f3f21f79.jpg

A meat + 3 plate at Arnold’s should cost you a modest $9.74. My lunch, however was $18.59.

Why?

Because I couldn’t stop at meat + 3.

Sure, I started off innocently enough with a simple hickory smoked chicken breast smothered in house-made BBQ sauce, spicy-sweet corn pudding, baked mac n’cheese, and collard greens.

33989079142_2edffdb10b.jpg

But then there were those crispy fried green tomatoes.

33761425440_bab3cea1e7.jpg

And that lonely hoecake.

34015994031_af438f906d.jpg

Did someone say “hot pepper chocolate pie?” Yes, please.

33761445090_c68b9f2cd4.jpg

So, my meat + 3 quickly turned into a meat + 4 + hoecake + pie.

33761500480_cc5e4589c9.jpg

34146515135_4db67d9d51.jpg

We ate so much we shut the restaurant down. Literally.

34015840831_68af077de9.jpg

We decided to walk some of our lunch off by trying to find the WhatLiftsYou wings mural nearby.

Loved.

34146396775_692a555797.jpg

34279860871_7ed75868ac.jpg

34015697491_6e3cedb897.jpg

33335000413_08a401b54c.jpg

34146280655_bbc55a3a62.jpg

After lunch, we literally crashed back at the house.

33335527583_074e712182.jpg

That evening, we decided to stick close to “home” and find drinks and dinner in Germantown.

34146205035_1a0f1bb616.jpg

We started at the best happy hour of all time at the Germantown Café. Every day from 3:00 – 7:00, this happy little restaurant serves up a menu of creative cocktails and amazing small plates for $5 each. And we’re not talking well drinks and peanuts.

Try offerings like veal meatballs and steamed mussels, paired with a French 75 or a house made mojito.

34015523701_bc17ac8fe1.jpg

34015500361_5edc417455.jpg

After getting our happy hour drink fix, we walked to City House, still one of my favorite restaurants in Nashville.

34146188055_0e2d385d4b.jpg

34146165685_53e5095159.jpg

The restaurant is inside an old house, and we were seated in the cozy upstairs instead of the large and open (and loud!) downstairs.

We started off with a bottle of bubbly Prosecco and a bowl of warm, marinated olives while we perused the menu and tried to decide what else our stomachs could possibly hold.

34015444761_fcc52a2793.jpg

33334821123_7fdd477551.jpg

We found the answer in the form of their famous house-made belly ham pizza and the anchovy pizza with a bottle of red.

The first pizza was covered with mellow tomato sauce, anchovies, capers and house-made mozzarella while the second wowed us with belly ham, mozzarella, Grana Padano, oregano, and chiles atop the soft yet crispy crust.

33988639162_4fdafde2ce.jpg

33334797103_d289b28788.jpg

We had ambitious plans to visit The Green Hour for after dinner drinks and chocolate and the Back Corner for music, but we had to be honest…..we were TIRED.

Instead, we found ourselves back at the house with Pretty Woman on the projector screen, a plate filled with cookies on the table, a few bottles of open wine, and our pjs.

33988618412_c6861f4672.jpg

33988594702_07a8516836.jpg

34105116846_25659d3a0a.jpg

Do-it-yourself collagen masks or the Walking Dead?

You decide.

33303205894_635157193d.jpg

We had been blessed with GORGEOUS weather and Saturday was no exception. We roused ourselves and headed to brunch in Nashville’s quaint 12 South neighborhood.

33334413463_0f9c5fc349.jpg

33334648483_3376181752.jpg

33760934080_cd1945e8e3.jpg

During the week, the Flipside is a casual burger joint with a retro diner vibe, but on Saturdays it transforms into Brunch Central, with colossal Bloody Marys, two-for-one mimosas, and tater tots loaded with eggs and cheese.

34105019556_c796fd830f.jpg

33334606913_2763e60aa0.jpg

33303117784_0387df2dc2.jpg

34104962246_f6115eeb93.jpg

33334539763_4c39a8bbcd.jpg

33760831580_cc64455d92.jpg

34015126411_c72c37801a.jpg

34145825545_0f6f7570bb.jpg

34015078851_b8d4644c96.jpg

Did I mention that you can get an entire plate of crispy bacon? A plate. Of bacon.

With maple syrup for dipping.

Bacon. Syrup. Heaven.

33760781110_70398da9b2.jpg

33988412002_74aea8a35c.jpg

After stuffing ourselves silly, we walked through the cute shops and streets of 12 South.

You have to love a shopping neighborhood that gives away adorable little glasses of sweet tea and has a cupcake ATM.

33988289022_c6ba611a79.jpg

34104800966_079e2c5b13.jpg

33302664084_b2d991b80c.jpg

34104450946_57180c2193.jpg

33988246962_014272a4b4.jpg

33988225432_8f2f439163.jpg

33760365440_fc6342b2ae.jpg

33988216132_c6545ded8b.jpg

34104530266_01d45efd4d.jpg

33302683294_d299abeca2.jpg

We did obligatory photos with the I Believe in Nashville mural and the Draper James blue and white wall.

34014963321_22e3f6d04b.jpg

33334303803_00c4b48c00.jpg

33334296383_3bba1f1a9a.jpg

34145605405_623dd3f6d8.jpg

34104612676_2f5e60a4d9.jpg

34145538745_713faa86b6.jpg

34014813961_8cdc76cbed.jpg

We also shopped until we dropped.

We bought ALL THE THINGS.

33760328860_3dc94db5e7.jpg

34014673821_4645e4cab6.jpg

After much needed naps, we roused ourselves for the afternoon’s festivities – a ride on the Sprocket Rocket pedal bar through Nashville’s Honky Tonk Row.

33302556474_0a1213e611.jpg

Pedal Bar is really just an excuse to drink on the street and yell at people while listening to loud music.

And where better to do that than Honky Tonk Row, Nashville’s famed strip filled with neon signs, fried bologna sandwiches, all day drinking, and youthful debauchery. Is it touristy and tacky? Of course it is. But where else in Nashville can you spend the night dodging no fewer than 956 bachelorette parties, see 20-somethings in new suits and even newer cowboy boots throwing up on the sidewalk at 7:00 p.m., and hear Kenny Rogers coming out of one door and ZZ Top coming out of the next while 75-year old ladies line dance in the street?

It’s like the Vegas strip ….just replace the sequins, limos, and Fat Tuesday yard drinks with Wranglers, John Deere tractors, and Bud Light in a can.

We had enjoyed the Pedal Pub on our previous girls’ trip to Asheville so much, that we wanted to see if it was as much fun as we remembered.

It was.

It was us old ladies and a group of early 20's bachelorettes and, I must say, we showed those young girls how it's done.

33333891993_0361763492.jpg

33333927213_61a8b01b65.jpg

33333914143_492e589a5f.jpg

33760213920_02e2b119fc.jpg

34145278925_31e8a7ec4e.jpg

33302483164_3538d682c4.jpg

34014559841_aff62d8672.jpg

We followed our pedal party with dinner at Germantown’s sophisticated 5th and Taylor.

I said the restaurant was sophisticated. I never said we were.

33302479134_d6c3243aa7.jpg

34104283136_c03b02549c.jpg

33987692802_9464c04fd1.jpg

33302443924_cb79504495.jpg

We started off with their curried crab dip and crispy potato skins.

33760104950_df33e31c79.jpg

34104208406_0cc4cd4a73.jpg

I followed that with the filet. This came with a family-style order of creamy mashed potatoes, but that didn’t stop me from also ordering a giant plate of fries because 3 potato dishes in one meal is never too many.

33987555862_3e267d104e.jpg

My filet was perfect, but I have to admit I was a little envious of my friend’s burger.

Dang.

33302380554_491987a2c5.jpg

And, just because we could, we ordered one of every dessert on the menu: the fried apple pie with bourbon vanilla ice cream and hot caramel, the banana pudding, and the chocolate torte.

34104158426_5847ea02be.jpg

Now you see them.

33302278854_79d7c779ae.jpg

Now you don’t.

34014325891_b875dc3357.jpg

Much like my willpower.

And my slim waist.

Before we knew it, we were waking up to our last morning.

33759948860_8ebaa24843.jpg

33302189374_196c79109b.jpg

34144975425_f33761f24f.jpg

33302212364_4b31a1b73a.jpg

33333382353_47aac92fda.jpg

We capped our trip off with a fully indulgent, all-you-can-eat breakfast at Monell’s, just a block from the house.

34014217661_b598145c5f.jpg

34103991576_ab7931185a.jpg

We arrived early, so there was no wait, and we proceeded to stuff ourselves with fried chicken, bacon, sausage, ham, cinnamon rolls, fluffy biscuits with hot gravy, fresh peach preserves, home fried potatoes, cheese grits, scrambled eggs, pancakes, fried apples, and corn pudding until we had to undo our pants for fear of putting someone’s eye out in the event that we popped button.

34014189611_36d54db6c3.jpg

34014170911_d103d2feaf.jpg

34144831005_aed65962f2.jpg

34014140791_bd90c5c6e9.jpg

33759735670_354ec4e5b8.jpg

34144872855_2e1081dd28.jpg

The weekend had been amazing. It was definitely a “laugh until you pee a little” kind of weekend filled with the best kind of girl time. We had a chance to relax, have fun, reconnect, and charge our batteries. We were reminded that we may be getting older, but we’re not slowing down.

Nashville had delivered.

Nashville is a city I can picture myself living in. I’d buy a beautifully restored cottage in Germantown, and spend my days as a barista in a warehouse-turned-coffee-shop while eating my way through every biscuit joint in town. I would un-ironically wear cowboy boots and drink craft bourbon in a hand-blown glass tumbler with a single oversized square cube of ice. My days would be filled with endless hot chicken, country music, and sweet tea.

And good friends.

34014022481_18f59a600a.jpg

Posted by vicki_h 10:48 Archived in USA Tagged nashville germantown girls'_trip Comments (3)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]