Four years after the storm that left it reeling, New Orleans is finally recovering its stride. And then some...
Author Ethan Brown
DAY THREE | Rise early and head to The Country Club 1 on Louisa Street in the Bywater for a swim. Despite its exclusive-sounding name, visitors needn’t be members to get inside, and the $10 day pass is money well spent: This only-in-New Orleans sort of place is at once a classy bar and restaurant and a spa that feels trapped in time. The main building is a lavish Center Hall cottage, behind which one finds a spectacular pool ringed by swaying palm trees. Turn a lap or two, order a mimosa and flip through your 1938 City Guide. A word of warning: Though you won’t feel out of place in your bathing suit, many of the denizens of the bohemian Bywater take full advantage of the longstanding clothing-optional rule.
Return to the present day on Chartres Street, where you get lunch at Elizabeth’s Restaurant 2. This ramshackle eatery, decorated with Bywater artist Dr. Bob’s BE NICE OR LEAVE signs, serves the best midday meal in the city. Have the restaurant’s legendary praline bacon as an appetizer, and then go for a hearty dose of flash-fried oysters dipped in fiery chili sauce. Pow! Your taste buds ablaze, take a long stroll to the outermost edge of the Bywater, near St. Claude Avenue, to voodoo priestess Sallie Ann Glassman’s shop Island of Salvation Botanica 3 on Piety Street. Here, Glassman sells everything from Mexican Day of the Dead figurines to examinations of local religions (Why Do Vodou?). Grab some black magic and walk to the intersection of Chartres and Bartholomew, where you’ll find the spectacular Lombard Plantation 4, a Creole -style plantation house built in 1826. Though such homes are plentiful in Louisiana, the Lombard is among the last remaining plantation houses in the city limits. Like the Tennessee Williams house, it is privately owned, but it’s an architectural marvel nonetheless.
A few blocks farther on Chartres Avenue, you’ll find a charming wine and cheese shop called Bacchanal Wine 5. The proprietors match up a smooth brie with a glass of rosé, and you enjoy them in the expansive courtyard. It’s the peaceful prelude to your final stop, where you’ll finish off your trip and whatever appetite you have left. The Joint 6, no bigger than a crab shack and always crowded with garrulous locals, serves some of the most powerful barbecue in the South. Try the Cajun-style “Chaurice” sausage, deeply cured in the smokehouse out back. Sitting on a simple wooden bench, your hands covered in smoky sauce, you realize you’ve found the new New Orleans, and it looks a lot like the old one: friendly, unpretentious, engaging and timeless.
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