May 8, 2013

{WANDERLUST} Visiting New Orleans

New Orleans is one of those cities that everyone who's visited has an incredible story about; about the streets bursting with music and vibrance and about the people you meet in bars or on corners or in parks; about the hellos from strangers and the beads hanging from trees, about the heat and the humidity and the culture shock and immense disparity between wealth and poverty.

Despite a sordid history and very real and unpleasant images of natural disasters and devastation, New Orleans is an easy place to romanticize. It is, at its heart, a beautiful place filled with true characters; there's a reason it is the backdrop for that one Tennessee Williams play, and so many jazz songs that have shaped our musical history. I could probably write an entire book (or at least an essay) with the image of an elderly man sitting in front of a typewriter, on his balcony, covered in ivy and flora, with a cat tiptoeing between his feet; I think I want to be that man someday. Continue...

Fifi Mahony's

I originally sought out Fifi Mahony's based on recommendations from friends and the internet, but even if I hadn't, it would have been difficult to ignore their enticing, colorful, and magnetic storefront on Royal Street while walking through the French Quarter. At its core, Fifi Mahony's is a wig shop. They specialize in custom wigs, but also have a salon in the back of the shop filled with ready-to-wear (and mostly synthetic, but beautiful) wigs). But, beyond the sky-high, colorful bouffants, there's a boutique filled with cult cosmetics brands and accessories, as well as a salon tucked away in the back with a lavender-haired maven at work.
Fifi Mahony's | French Quarter.934 Royal Street. 504.525.4343.

The Shops at 2011

Magazine Street is a long and generous street when it comes to shopping destinations. There are many must stop shops (just try not to go on, like, Easter Sunday), but when I hadn't heard of and was happy to discover was The Shops at 2011 - a collective of independent boutiques, vendors, and antique consigners sharing an enormous space. There was everything from new, luxury furniture to antique typewriters to an adorable vintage straw hat I ended up purchasing for $22 (the perfect spring hat, if I do say so myself). 
The Shops at 2011 | Uptown. 2011 Magazine Street. 504.525.2240.


My friend and power publicist Lauren Laguarde insisted that I make time to go to UAL, and even shared a story about a friend who recently visited NOLA and shopped at UAL for all three-days of her long weekend stay. I went home with a pair of Charlotte Olympia heels (pictured above) marked down to about 80% off of retail, making me a very, very happy girl.
UAL | French Quarter. 518 Chartres Street. 504.301.4437.

Trashy Diva

In the French Quarter, there are three Trashy Diva shops- each dedicated to Clothing, Shoes, and Lingerie, (there's also a location Uptown). Even if you're not a rockabilly or retro girl at heart (Dita Von Teese obsession aside, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not), it's a fun series of shops to visit and help explore your alter-ego. My love even surprised me with a ring and Besame Lipstick while we visited the shoe store, and at the clothing store, I fell in love with (and ultimately purchased) a glass and opal necklace made of antique, reset stones. Ali also got me an awesome lip ring and one of Besame's signature red lipsticks. She knows me (and spoils me) so well!!
Trashy Diva | French Quarter. 829 Chartres Street. 504.581.4555.

Beignets at Cafe du Monde
Let's get this out of the way: yes,Cafe du Monde is absolutely a tourist destination. Of the nine cafe locations throughout New Orleans, the location at the French Market is probably the most popular.
Cafe Du Monde | French Quarter. 800 Decatur Street. 504.525.4544.

Grilled Oysters at Acme

Once the temperatures start rising, I'm somewhat of a fiend for oysters and other delicious raw seafood. Fortunately, in New Orleans, they're not just an al fresco dining favorite, but a year round favorite, and grilled, garlicky, buttery oysters were a new and exciting experience for me. Though you can find varieties of seafood (fresh, raw, or grilled) throughout the city, Acme was repeatedly recommended to us, so it was ultimately where we parked our butts and quelled our appetites. We sat at the bar and enjoyed conversations with the kitchen staff, working behind the bar and shucking oysters, throughout our meal.

Gelato at Sucre

Everyone (ie, the internet) will tell you to go to Sucre on Magazine Street for the macarons, but trust me that, while the macarons are good, the gelato is where it's at.
Sucre | Uptown/Garden District. 3025 Magazine Street. 504.520.8311.

Tivoli & Lee

At the base of The Hotel Modern is an incredible restaurant that reminded me so much of some of my favorites in Brooklyn. With rich ricotta gnocchi and perfectly tender brussels sprouts salads, as well as southern favorites like a reinvented Hush Puppy, Tivoli & Lee is a gem in the Warehouse District. The presentation is beautiful, the setting modern, and the carousel imagery on the walls throughout the space chara
Tivoli & Lee | Warehouse District. 936 St. Charles Avenue. 504.962.0900.

Lunch at August

John Besh is kind of a hometown hero, with a bevvy of restaurants to his credit - and eight out of nine are located in the heart of New Orleans. Of them all, August had a menu that appealed to me most - with a light touch of Cajun flair guiding a menu of international haute cuisine. Though a dinner at August could easily empty your wallet, the four-course lunch prix-fixe at under $30 per person is a relative steal, and the experience was on par with top restaurants like Del Posto and Jean Georges in New York. It was worth every penny from first bite of the savory amusé bouche to the sweet, rich dessert.
August | Commercial Business District. 301 Tchoupitoulas Street. 504.299.9777.

Visit the Botanical Gardens

True to my Taurus nature, I love being surrounded by flora - especially in controlled settings like a beautifully curated and manicured park in the middle of a metropolis. The warm, humid climate in Louisiana means the Botanical Garden is, I imagine, always lush -- and it certainly was on our early spring visit. There's a Japanese Garden, 

Tarot Reading: Despite having much of a theological framework in my life, I do tend to border on superstitious- and look to Susan Miller (astrologyZone4lyfe) for answers more often than I can admit to without sounding crazy. Psychics and Tarot readers, however, need to be certified in order to practice their craft in New Orleans, so it seemed like the place to sit down for my first reading. I sat with a woman wearing a long velvet dress adjacent to Jackson Square. She looked weathered, but wise (though certainly younger than her appearance suggested). She surprised me with her vocabulary and insight, and down right shocked me with how accurate her reading was with my life. Ali visited another psychic at a voodoo house and had a similarly haunting experience. Good news for us, independently of each other, both psychics had very good things to say about our relationship.

Play Dress Up 
After my visit to Fifi Mahony's and more vintage stores than I care to admit, and after even just a few hours of soaking into the festive spirit of New Orleans, I couldn't help but slide a wig over my tresses, a full face of makeup, and have myself a little photoshoot with Ali. I transformed myself into something out of a Lichtenstein work, and I couldn't have done it without some major drag inspiration in the French Quarter.

Drink a Cobbler at Bellocq (at The Hotel Modern) 


A cobbler is one of the signature cocktails at Bellocq, served in an icy cold Derby cup and filled past the brim with crushed ice and a mix of fruit and liquor and deliciousness. Sip slowly because its easy to forget you're actually consuming alcohol; the presentation (and atmosphere) are perhaps more delicious than the cocktails!

Share Stories with Strangers: I think this is a trademark of the south, but New Orleans (much like Savannah) is different than my hometowns of New York and Los Angeles because, if for no other reason (though there are many), people just come up to you and say hello. "Hello" turns into "how are you" and is reciprocated and before you know it you're talking to a brother and sister, in their 40s, originally from Ohio, who transplanted to New Orleans on a whim several years prior. People have more in common than they do in difference, no matter where they're from or how old they are or how different they look from you, and you'll learn it as soon as you're open to starting with "hello."

Enjoy Live Jazz on a Sidewalk: You couldn't avoid this if you tried. Really, you couldn't. The streets practically vibrate with the sounds of a bass and a snare drum and the high pitch of a trumpet. People sing with such soul and heart that you wonder how they've gotten through life without being handed a record deal. More than once I'm pretty sure I cried, just listening to strangers singing and playing their music. I think the world would be a better place if we all had as much passion towards anything as New Orleans' musicians do towards music.

The Hotel Modern

At the recommendation of my friends Kim and Keiko, I decided to check out The Hotel Modern located in NoLA's Central Business District -- a neighborhood that reminded me a lot of Downtown LA and was filled with equal parts high rises and art galleries. The rooms are spacious, and true to the name, modern - and the bathrooms are stocked with Toiletries from C.O. Bigelow. In contrast to our last trip to Savannah where we stayed at a B&B, it was a treat to stay in a hotel with a massive (and insanely comfortable) bed with 24-hour service. The hotel houses it's own restaurant, Tivoli & Lee, as well as cocktail lounge, Bellocq (an absolute must-do)!

And that's a wrap with New Orleans... Though, cat's out of the bag: I'll be there much, much, much more come August. Details TBA. 


  1. OMG sooooo jealous!! The Big Easy is next on my bucket list.

  2. Nice write up. N.O. is my absolute favorite place to visit. There's no place like it, the city puts you under a magical spell.
    It's nice to see what they've done with the Hotel Modern. I stayed her a few years back under a different name with a much different (unpleasant) experience. I am now intrigued to give this hotel another shot.

  3. dying to visit New Orleans! So awesome! Looks like a ton of fun - thanks for the tips on where to go ♥

  4. Such beautiful pictures! Truly looks like a fantastic time!

  5. dont even get me started on the grilled oyster situation. i eat my WEIGHT in them every time im there... so, a lot. haha. love magazine street, love august and anything john besh, love cafe du monde, LOVE NOLA. i want the details now!!!!!

  6. thank you!! i hope you get to make it there sooner rather than later. it's a beautiful (and FUN) city!!

  7. You take the best pictures. Ugh, I love you.

  8. Nicolette, those treats from Sucre look fantastic/amazing/tasty! What fun travels..

  9. I second that Alex! Love it.

  10. next time i go to NOLA i'm using this verbatim as a guide. everything looks so amazing. i trust your advice to show me the most enjoyable, most fashionable, most aesthetic and best tasting time (four of the most important things in life).

  11. new orleans seems like the place to be! looks so great!

  12. I agree with the other comments you do take the best pictures ever! Come to the Bronx and give us an upgrade with your pictures ;)


  13. I am going with you next time!

  14. I can't wait to come visit and play!

  15. Nicolette this is such a beautiful post. Yes I must admit you take the most beautiful pictures and can make anything look amazing or should I say amazeballs?? Your writing is just as beautiful and interesting. It must be the passion with in you and love to experience everything in life. Your visit and capture of New Orleans this time around certainly seems to have surpassed our trip there almost a decade ago. I am glad you had a fabulous time particularly as you will be visiting the city more in the next few years. Girl you managed to get some fabulous pieces at a great deal. Love you and thanks for taking the time to share your wonderful experience with all of us readers and followers. Muah, Mom

  16. Absolutely beautiful pictures and now I'm super excited to visit Ali when she makes the big move. PROPS lady

  17. That wig is precisely how I want my hair to be, right down to the colour.
    And I never quite realised that I really, really want to go to New Orleans until now.

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  19. No trip to The Voluptuous Vixen?

  20. I loved every second of this post. I'm from South Louisiana (about an hour out from New Orleans, actually) I've been to a few of the place you mentioned but your photos have my mouth watering for them again and now I have an insatiable craving to visit August for lunch one weekend (hopefully very soon) it looks so good.I loved seeing a glimpse of this beautiful city through your eyes!

  21. Ahhh it looks like a fabulous place! The food & the architecture/climate looks amazing :)

    Katie x

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  24. Wow. Absolutely fabulous. That hotel photo is unreal as you're scrolling down the screen. I agree w/ Karlyn...I'm using this as a guide.

  25. You went to Sucre! :( I am a Lousiana native who now lives in Italy. There is not a single city in the world that could ever compare to NOLA. My heart is there. I have been to many Italian cities and to me, they just don't compare. Needless to say, this post made me incredibly homesick. :(

  26. Your blog is so beautiful and the way you've arranged it is SO easy to navigate and read! LOVE IT!!!


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