So you’ve missed yet another chance to catch a Zulu coconut. There’s always next Mardi Gras. But New Orleans is more than beads and parades. What are you waiting for?
The grand Ritz-Carlton (921 Canal Street; 504-524-1331) reopened following a $100 million post-Katrina renovation that includes the new restaurant Mélange; cute seersucker uniforms for the staff; and a new 25,000-square-foot spa (Voodoo Love massage, anyone?). Melrose Mansion (937 Esplanade Avenue; 504-944-2255) has the finery of pricier hotels but the intimacy of a B&B. For down-home hospitality — and front-door access to raucous fun — check into La Maison Marigny (1421 Bourbon Street; 504-948-3638), where owner John Ramsey serves morning-after mimosas on Sundays.
They take their food seriously down here. All the better for you. Start the day with stuffed crepes at Petunias (817 Saint Louis Street; 504-522-6440). Pair spicy jambalaya with a Pimm’s cup at the family-owned-and-operated Napoleon House (500 Chartres Street; 504-524-9752), open only for lunch. Or grab a patio seat at Cafe Degas (3127 Esplanade Avenue; 504-945-5635) for broiled escargot. Keep it elegant with martinis and oysters Rockefeller at candlelit Bombay Club (830 Conti Street; 504-586-0972), and when you crave something simpler, have a monsoon and cheeseburger at Port of Call (838 Esplanade Avenue; 504-523-0120).
A sophisticated find in the French Quarter, Victoria’s Shoes (328 Chartres Street; 504-568-9990) has everything from Charles David to Jimmy Choo — and, rumor has it, secret discounts (just ask). But hot deals are out in the open at United Apparel Liquidators (518 Chartres Street; 504-301-4437), where every day is a sample sale. Don’t mind paying more to avoid the crowd? Hemline (615 Chartres Street; 504-592-0242) carries designer dresses and trendy shoes. And when you need souveniers, drop by Rouge Beauty (901 Chartres Street; 504-525-8686) for fragrances, cosmetics, and accessories by local and indie designers.
The Crescent City’s making a comeback, but just beyond the hubbub of Bourbon Street and the pretty parks of the Garden District lies unfathomable destruction (yes, still). Learn more on a tour of the stricken areas. Then do something to help: Volunteer for a day with Habitat for Humanity or donate to ongoing recovery efforts at bushclintonkatrinafund.org.