New Orleans has never been a city of trends. We may catch up on the occasional fad every now and then, but they’re short-lived and not taken very seriously. We’ve always marched to the beat of our own drum. Actually, we second line to the beat of the historical brass band. We don’t feel the need to impress anyone because we’re just happy to be who we are. It is fun to show up sometimes, and you just want to turn heads and be the talk of the town. There are a few places around town where you can put on as many (or as few) airs as you want to and create a lasting impression.
The Pontchartrain Hotel
2031 St. Charles Avenue, thepontchartrainhotel.com
Okay, you’re going to see a few hotels in this list. Like in decades past, hotels are the coolest place to get your glamorous lounge on, sipping super crafty cocktails and gossiping. The most well-dressed of these trendy “be-seen” hotels is The Pontchartrain. The name of the hotel hearkens back to a more genteel time of New Orleans. And you can just flit around from the Bayou Bar to the Caribbean Room to the super-hot Hot Tin Rooftop Bar. You’re going to need to dress a little more nicely at this place, though, if you desire to impress.
Ace Hotel’s Alto
600 Carondelet Street, acehotel.com/neworleans/alto
Ace is the place right now, and you just need to be yourself here. They prefer you don’t put on any airs because they crave a cast of characters flowing through their multiple rooms, event spaces and rooftop pool at all times. I’ve personally visited Ace in everything from my formal wear to my 10-year-old band t-shirts and jeans. The staff wears whatever they want. Alto is your rooftop playground with delicacies, cocktails and a gorgeous pool surrounded by gorgeous bodies of all types. However, the hotel will close off the area to non-guests if it’s just too full up. So you might as well get a room and stay the night. You never know who you’ll meet.
535 Tchoupitoulas Street, comperelapin.com
Chef Nina Compton’s world-famous restaurant is located in the Old No. 77 Hotel, but it is an institution all on its own. Chef Nina uses her culinary expertise and Caribbean/Creole influences to fill your plate with food that is beyond compare. But it’s not just the cuisine that makes this a hot spot. The nice, wide bar with dim, swanky Edison lights is a great place to meet someone new. You can throw your sideways glances at a group of fancy locals coming in for dinner or show off your good clothes to those travelers staying at the hotel.
The Tchoup Yard
405 Third Street, facebook.com/tchoupyard
I don’t know how this will do in the winter, but during Saints season, this place will be the bomb. The Tchoup Yard is a mostly outdoor bar with a backyard feel. Tables are often family-style, there are plenty of TVs around for your gaming pleasure, and the full bar can serve you anything from a local beer, sexy wine or even a delicious frozen beverage. Wear what you will, but if a sudden rain comes, do you want to be in silk?
Moxy New Orleans
210 O’Keefe Avenue; moxy-hotels.marriott.com
This particular hotel allows its guests and loungers alike to connect to people around the world so that their need to be seen can travel at the speed of light and reach like-minded people. Moxy’s lounge area is dark with pops of color, local flavor and fun. Twister, anyone? As you take a seat on their cozy couches sipping some wine from a tap and watching a local burlesque dancer twirl around you, feast your eyes upon the wall that shows the photos where you and others tagged the hotel. I want to meet that cute guy from Milan. Can you tell me his room number?
914 Union Street; catahoulahotel.com
Did you know that the Catahoula Cur is Louisiana’s state dog? You can take that tidbit of trivia on down to the trendy, local Catahoula Hotel. This boutique hotel has only 35 rooms that they like to offer to people who truly want to experience the culture of the city and not just Bourbon Street. So you don’t need to dress to impress here. Be yourself, find some cute visitors, and be their guide around the city. They’ll surely be dazzled by your local knowledge.
District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew, Lakeview
527 Harrison Avenue, donutsandsliders.com
Banking on the success of their Magazine Street location, District Donuts decided to head out to the tree-lined avenue called Harrison in the luxurious Lakeview neighborhood. This location is the most bangin’ breakfast spot in town right now, so much so that you might have to wait in line for that coveted donut topped with crispy bacon. Seriously, a long line. Brunch used to be the king of the weekend activities to do while the sun is out, but in this day of juice cleanses and hot yoga, waking up with the sun and catching breakfast is way cooler than a lazy, boozy brunch.
3607 Magazine Street, cavannola.com
Feel like an old-school New Orleanian at Cavan. It’s located in an old home and serves up some coastal cuisine, and they have a full menu of great cocktails and very good Happy Hour specials that will get you tipsy before 8 p.m. Try out a Porch Pounder! So what should one wear in a plantation house munching gourmet Louisiana food and drinking genteel cocktails? Seersucker, of course. You want to look like an Uptowner out on the town to get attention here.