While We Were Out: 72 Hours in New Orleans


Last fall my friend Michelle sent me an email that said, “The Avett Brothers are playing in New Orleans next March. Let’s go.” Never one to turn down a great show—or a fun trip—I had the tickets purchased less than two hours later. Impulsive much?

And so began the waiting game to see my favorite band at a cool old theater in a city I hadn’t visited for 20-some odd years.

Part of the joy in a trip for me lies in the research and planning. While that might seem a little nerdy, my friends can attest that I leave no stone unturned and the results are usually some pretty unreal meals and experiences. The planning began in earnest back in January. I asked for recommendations, read everything I could find on where to eat and what to do during the portion of the trip not dedicated to seeing the concert.

Randomly, the trip just so happened to coincide with the end of my 60-Day Challenge and I was ready to eat and drink my way through New Orleans. We arrived at LAX on Wednesday morning armed with restaurant reservations and more than enough must-see spots on our list, but the real reason for the trip was the concert on Thursday night. So you can imagine my dismay when I saw on Facebook the show was canceled because one of the brothers was sick.

Great. But there was still food to be eaten, drinks to be consumed and fun to be had.

Oh, and to add to the adventure, there was a massive storm rolling in. We started the trip the way most do with chicory coffee and beignets at Café Du Monde, and we spent the rest of the day walking around Royal Street in the pouring down rain popping in and out of art galleries, shops and the occasional bar. And you know what? It was a blast.

That night, we dined at James Beard winner John Besh’s fine dining spot, August, located in a historic 19th century building in the Central Business District. The food was divine and the Sazeracs were the best I’ve ever had. Day 1 was officially a success, despite the fact that we should have been ending the evening with 5th row seats listening to some raucous bluegrass boys from North Carolina.

Day 2 was equally fruitful, this time great meals and a little sightseeing through the Garden District. Oh, and the sun was out, so we enjoyed the fresh air as we explored the huge old homes and cemeteries. Dinner at Cochon that night was a veritable pork-a-palooza. Plus, there was more whiskey. Strolling through the city while trying to avoid Bourbon Street and the tourists in the French Quarter, we ended the evening with some live music on Frenchman Street.

Our final day in the Crescent City was spent with no agenda—a few last minute shops, a final walk around town and enjoying brunch at Willa Jean. (Pimento cheese and pickles? Yes, please.)

Even though the original reason for the trip didn’t happen, we had a blast anyway. Travel lesson of the trip: sometimes it’s OK when everything doesn’t work out. (And it was certainly easier to swallow since I have tickets to see The Avett Brothers at The Greek in August for my 30th show. Don’t cry for me, Argentina.)

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Hannah Lee

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