Meet Dana. Does she look familiar?
She should. This New Orleans native is the host of Essence Live!, the weekly online talk show from Essence.com. When she's not interviewing your favorite celebrities, she's dashing about "seeing some world". I got her to give me the scoop on her hometown when she was fresh off a trip from Santiago, Chile and Sao Paulo Brazil.
"Is it okay if most of my recommendations are about food?" she asked.
Yes, Dana. That's half the reason everyone loves your city.
If you missed Mardi Gras, no worries. New Orleans is always a good idea (like Paris).
1. Skip Bourbon Street
But Bourbon Street is the most popular street in New Orleans, you insist. Yeah, not for locals. They avoid Bourbon Street, the way New Yorkers avoid Times Square. Head over to Frenchman Street, which is equally live, but slightly more mature. You can still walk bar-to-bar and carry your drank in the street. Also, give Magazine Street a try, especially between Louisiana and Napoleon. There's always a jazz band out.
2. Have a Po' Boy
If you haven't had a po'boy in New Orleans, then you've never had a po'boy, period. Swing by Guy's Po Boys for the best in the city. Expect a line.
3. Grab a Slice (or Three)
Pizza Domenica isn't regular pizza; it's exotic combinations. Be prepared to loosen up your pants and stay awhile.
4. Take A Swamp Tour
Me: A swamp tour? Seriously, Dana?
Dana: Yes, you have to!
Me: A swamp?
Dana: Yes! It's creepy. The alligators come right up to surface with no disturbance whatsoever. You just look down next to the boat and there's an alligator beside you. It's awesome!
Dana: Yes, only in New Orleans. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Do it!
5. Willie Mae's Scotch House
It's a New Orleans staple and it's so popular that POTUS stopped by on his last trip to the city in 2015. He left with a grease spot that he had to explain the press. (Yes, this actually happened.) Blame the fried chicken.
6. Palace Cafe
Dana's favorite dessert is Bananas Foster and she insists that Palace Cafe has the best. The cook brings the skillet to the table and prepares the dessert in front of you.
6. Eat Beignets at Any Hour
Morning Call, a 142-year-old coffee and beignet stand, opened its newest outpost in City Park in 2012. Located in the Casino Building on Dreyfous Avenue, this New Orleans favorite serves classic café au lait and beignets 24 hours a day. NOTE: Morning Call is cash only. Dana also recommends Cafe Beignet (not 24 hours) for a good, well, beignet, and also other breakfast options.
7. Restaurant R'evolution
Restaurant R'evolution serves upscale cajun and creole cuisine without compromising on seasoning or soul.
8. Deanie's Seafood
Hand down, the best seafood in the city.
9. Take the Trolley to Camellia Grill
Dana says: Take the trolley ($1.75) to St. Charles by the river bend, and have lunch at Camellia Grill. It's a diner set up and they have the best red beans and rice I've had in my life.
10. Grab a Sandwich at Cochon Butcher
It's a sandwich counter, an actual butcher shop and a wine bar all in one. Only in New Orleans. LOL.