Beyond the Quarter

May 02, 2017
I love mayonnaise almost as much as Barry Manilow loves a weekend in New England.

I have never met a mayo I didn’t like, and I have never met a dish that didn’t benefit from knowing a spoonful of it. Mayo isn’t the only condiment my unsophisticated palette has warmed up to. In fact, I can’t imagine life without any of them: ketchup, mustard, sriracha, the Bywater! Wait, did I say the Bywater? Yes … yes, I did.

No other part of the city adds taste to the already flavorful French Quarter like its neighbor, the Bywater. Starting just on the other side of Elysian fields to Poland Avenue along the river to Rampart, the Bywater is a hot bed of Culture and Diversity, with a side dish of Hip and New. Before you take your next bite out of the Quarter, consider adding a dash of the Bywater to brighten the taste and liven the beat. My advice? Go all Barry Manilow on us and spend a weekend in the Bywater. Here’s how:

Start your weekend at one of the hippest and coolest places to hit the New Orleans scene in a dog’s age: Bacchanal. At 600 Poland Avenue, it is a compound-esque courtyard, wine shop, and upstairs bar that offer a full dinner menu, alongside a most-impressive musical line up. The utopic courtyard sets the scene for an outdoor party where you sip your spirits while bopping to the beats of Helen Gillet, the Jesse Morrow Trio, and the most recent return of Roamin Jasmine. Free wine tasting Wednesdays are a fabulous way to wind down during a hectic work week. From dinner to drinks to entertainment, this venue is sure to hold your attention until the wee hours of the morning…setting you up perfectly for a hearty breakfast at Elizabeth’s located at 601 Gallier Street.

Elizabeth’s is the perfect embodiment of their motto “Real Food, Done Real Good”, which dates back to the restaurant’s original owner. This low-key and low-maintenance haven is the perfect place to nurse whatever parts of last night might still be hanging around, or OVER, if you know what I mean. Hair of the dog? Have a mimosa, I love them. Sugar rush? Don’t step foot out of this local art menagerie without a taste of the candied bacon. The Redneck Eggs will make you want to run out and buy a trailer complete with Wi-Fi and a gun rack. But don’t get the wrong idea because this Bywater eatery is open for more than just breakfast; they offer the same out of this world food at lunch and dinner.

While you can eat and drink your way into, and out of any neighborhood in New Orleans, the Bywater has a few things that other neighborhoods don’t. Euclid Records, at 3301 Chartres Street, is one of those things. Looking like a set in the next snazzy, indie art film I won’t understand, Euclid takes record shopping to a whole new level, almost by accident. In a warehouse conversion/loft space, it is the sheer nature and coolness of the record business that brings the vintage look and the feel of an old-school record shop to life all around you. Handwritten labels take you back to a time when feathered hair and a weekend in New England actually were cool; a time when having a poster of Leif Garrett hanging in your bathroom was a good thing. Okay maybe the last part was just me, but this place is seriously cool. Carve out a good chunk of time to rummage through the old classics, but if you are a music lover, you’ll need more time. Music’s not your thing? That’s okay, from the front door to the last vinyl record, Euclid is everything that eye candy is meant to be. Did you say eye candy? Oh wait, that was me. Make sure to pass by Dr. Bob’s Art Studio, at 3027 Chartres Street.

Housed rather interestingly inside the walls of a great, little fortress of visual delight, Dr. Bob’s Art Studio is home to the artist who made “Be Nice or Leave,” a New Orleans tag line. The found-object feel of the space is natural, given that Dr. Bob is a self-taught, outsider artist. The space will carry you away on a red carpet of recycled wood, bottle caps, and whatever else the artist thinks should house his next creation.

Now here’s the moment you have been waiting for, whether you knew it or not. Let me introduce you to my friend, Mimi. Mimi is one of those girls that if you know her, you love her and if you don’t know her, then you’d love to. Well okay, Mimi is a bar that’s more like a lounge, but she is one hell of both. Mimi’s In The Marigny is a lifestyle. Her tag line, “two blocks from the river and three sheets to the wind”, describes the exact feeling you will get when you join the overflow of patrons into the streets as billiard competitions and diverse conversations surround you. Everyone is welcome to grace her doors at 2601 Royal Street, as long as you love life and New Orleans. This melting pot serves a full selection of wines, beers, and spirits. You should expect it to be a late night, and a fun one, as you indulge in a slew of arcade games and challenge the guy with best arms to a round of darts just to see him flex. Again, the last part could just be me.

Finally, as you make your way back into French Quarter, check out the entire neighborhood of the Faubourg Marigny. From the music-rich Frenchman Street, to the small specialty shops, to the top-notch eateries, this unusually tucked neighborhood between the Quarter and the Bywater is a perfect transition back to your main dish. Stop by Bicycle Michael’s, even if you don’t own a bike and catch special events like the Faubourg Marigny Home Tour starting at Washington Square Park and cascading through the Creole Cottages and Greek Revival beauties this neighborhood has become known for. You can get more info @

So, there you have it. The next time you pick up that hot, delicious French Quarter, dip it deep into the cool, creamy goodness of the Bywater before you take a bite. I just know you will relish it. Get it? Relish?