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New Orleans Design Guide

by Grace Bonney

Today’s New Orleans City Guide update comes to us from Sarah Baird, a writer, editor, and petit four aficionado living in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sarah likes planning elaborate dinner parties surrounded by her collection of dwarf citrus trees. You can read her latest musings and about her various misadventures on her website, hellosarahbaird.com, and today she shares the many wonders of the magical NOLA.  Thank you, Sarah, for writing such a great update! —Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…

French Quarter foliage all photos by Sarah Baird

Be sure to check out the Google Map of all of the below listings!



Pizza Delicious
Serving up (arguably) some of the most inventive pizzas in the city, this former pop-up was so overwhelmingly popular it’s become a seven-days-a-week operation. In addition to stellar pies, the salads and pastas are always top notch and provide vegan options.

Shake Sugary

Pastry whiz and owner Dawn Snead has turned this azure-colored corner shop into the prime place for inventive baked goods: I could eat my weight in maple bacon sweet potato biscuits.

Maurepas Foods
With a commitment to locally sourced food and a creative energy that is unmatched, Maurepas has become something of a dining destination and an anchor as the Bywater’s magnetism has skyrocketed in the past few years.


Despite the suggestive name, this shop is 100% on the up-and-up. Booty’s specializes in international street food small plates and intricate cocktails, including the tea-based hot toddy the Hot Silk.

Located in the same building as a swanky new stack of loft apartments, this Italian gem has a commitment to the freshest pastas and cured meats and is a refreshing addition to the New Orleans dining scene.


Live music, fantastic wine, and Christmas lights dripping through oleander: what more could you ask for? This once outdoor-only drinking and dining venue recently opened a cocktail bar upstairs, featuring a delicious hibiscus old fashioned.

Faubourg Wines

A small-but-mighty new operation in the neighborhood: pick out a bottle and take it to Markey Park for a picnic or stay in the store and snack on a fun selection of cheese while learning about pairings.


Bon Castor

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect housewarming party gift, look no further than the playful pieces at Bon Castor. The cards from local stationary company Lionheart Press are especially charming.

Euclid Records
There’s a giant mural of citywide demi-god Ernie K. Doe painted on the side of this hot pink building: need I say more?


St. Claude Night Market
Once a month, St. Claude Main Street—the local neighborhood development group—hosts an artist fair and showcase, featuring live, local music and enough arts, crafts, and vintage pieces to wet the whistle of even the pickiest buyer.

Byrdie’s Gallery & Ceramic Studio

Ever wanted your ceramics with a side of the freshest coffee and tea? Look no further than Byrdie’s, where you can get your hands dirty in the clay while sipping some of the finest brews New Orleans has to offer.

A Krewe of St. Anne flag in front of Mimi's in the Marigny


Cake Café

An outstanding brunch spot—with one of the best king cakes in the city during Mardi Gras—this café is jam-packed with folks looking to get a bite of their delicious baked goods.


Kajun’s Pub

An unapologetic dive bar with hands-down the best karaoke catalog in the city, the recent addition of a gourmet sausage pop-up has made this local favorite ever more appealing. (My boyfriend does a mean Montel Jordan cover so if you see someone break that out, it’s probably him.)

Mimi’s in the Marigny

A downstairs with chatting, drinks, and snacks and an upstairs reserved for live music, DJ Soul Sister has her weekly “hustle!” dance party here every Saturday night.


Do you have a penchant for taxidermy animals and music that’s a little less jazz and a little more leather-influenced? Trot your way from the main Frenchman Street drag to this unassuming St. Claude spot. (Bonus: a delicious in-house restaurant serves up Slavic soul food!)


Studio Inferno
This cozy glassblowing studio has some of the most magnificent pieces in the city for serious blown glass connoisseurs and casual shoppers alike.

New Orleans Healing Center

A vibrant orange building serves as a nest for a plethora of local business, shops, and events: from the downtown iteration of local favorite bookseller Maple Street Bookshop, to a wide variety of local arts, and New Orleans’ only local food co-op.

Marigny Opera House

Marigny Opera House

One of the most stunning event spaces in the city (hello, rainbow tiled floors!) the Marigny Opera House is home to imaginative plays, dance pieces, concerts, and any number of live performances.

The New Movement
The New Movement is the heartbeat of the comedy scene in New Orleans, and turning the city into a magnet for fresh, innovative talent from across the nation. Shows are nightly Thursday-Sunday, and include a wide variety of improv, sketch, and stand-up. One of the standout shows, Shipwrecked!, is a wildly popular, once-a-month storytelling showcase.

Hi-Ho Lounge

A live music hot spot that’s served as a catalyst for the development of the rapidly developing St. Claude corridor: from bluegrass, to rap, to poetry readings, a smorgasbord of entertainment happens inside this unassuming gem.



La Petit Grocery

With a James Beard nominated chef at the helm, the warm glow of candlelight and stately dining room at this Magazine Street treasure is the perfect recipe for date night. The must-try item? Blue crab beignets.

St. James Cheese Company

A British couple doing right by the dairy scene in the city, this ladies-who-lunch favorite has some of the best options for a quick bite or, if you’re famished, opt for a full English plowman’s lunch.

Ps & Qs
This brand new show specializes in pies of both the savory and sweet variety, and takes its name from—what else—the intersection of minding your manners, pies, and quiches.


Bouligny Tavern
A midcentury modern vibe that would put Mad Men to shame, the side courtyard is the perfect spot for a happy hour with friends.


Box Paper Scissor
There’s nothing I love more than a good stationary store, and Box Paper Scissor is New Orleans’ finest. The walls of color-coded wrapping paper are enough to keep me occupied for the better part of an afternoon, and the hands-on approach to consultations will leave you feeling informed.

A blend of classic New Orleans elegance and modern flair, Perch is the ideal spot for that “treat yourself” splurge item, and also has a number of textiles and custom furniture options.

Nadeau Furniture

With a store full of eccentric, brightly colored pieces and smaller decorative items, Nadeau is a surprisingly thrifty way to get quite some bang for your buck when buying your next ottoman or side table.

Outside at Bacchanal

French Quarter


Killer Poboys
Located, oddly enough, in the back of the smoky Erin Rose bar, Killer Poboys serves up the best versions of the New Orleans’ classic in the city. The Jameson grilled cheese also is an ideal late night snack.

Green Goddess
Tucked down an alley and with just enough seating for a dozen couples, the combination of local favorites with exotic flair has made this a favorite for those seeking something fresh and flavorful.


This bar is small and unpretentious, but with enough elaborate (and delicious) drink options to rival anywhere in the city. Tonique is consistently my go-to recommendation for cocktails.

View at dusk down Royal St. in the French Quarter
Perestroika at Pravda [1113 Decatur Street]

A recently overhauled spot specializing in intricate drinks and high end Iron Curtain snacks, the red-and-black interior is a sultry option, but the courtyard is the real star.


Greg’s Antiques
If you’re a serious vintage piece hunter, this is the spot for you. Greg’s is packed to the gills with all the furniture, art, trinkets, and treasures you can imagine.

Cameron Jones for your Home

A recently relocated French Quarter spot, Cameron Jones’ has a laidback mix of furniture items and art pieces for every budget.

Nadine Blake
Home interior with a decidedly jet set flair and clean, modern lines are the specialty at this Royal Street shop that is a favorite with locals and visitors alike.

Giant watering can sculpture at Longue Vue Gardens

Lower Garden District/CBD

Right around the corner from the visitor-favorite Cochon sits the restaurant’s more playful—and dare I say better?—little brother. Butcher is full of fresh takes on Southern classics, like Pimento cheese, and boasts one of the best pork belly sandwiches in the city.

Bittersweet Confections

If you’re strolling around in the business district and fancy a quick chocolate or coffee pick-me-up, this stylish confectionary—which shares space with a yoga studio—is your spot. The chocolate covered salted caramels are to die for.


Ste. Marie

With an entire wall full of champagne bottles, you’ll never need a reason to celebrate at Ste. Marie, where a seat at the bar is prime real estate.

AKA Stella Gray

The bohemian stylings of this store are perfect for someone looking to add a bit of whimsical flair to their décor—whether through a shadow box of butterflies or a gold-painted loveseat.


Looking for that perfect midcentury piece to round out your living room? An Eames chair? Peaches has you covered, with an incredibly well curated selection of vintage pieces at reasonable prices.

Branch Out
The perfect balance of eco-friendly and modern style, Branch Out is a testament to how green living and high fashion can work hand-in-hand.


The Roosevelt
Arguably one of the most regal, breathtaking hotels in the United States, the Roosevelt’s gilded halls and chandeliers bubbling over with crystal are awe-inspiring. If it’s out of your hotel budget, the décor alone is worth a visit.

Hotel Modern
Located on Lee Circle, this fresh, sleek boutique establishment has all your needs in one place: head to the courtyard to enjoy drinks at Bellocq, or grab a Vietnamese-inspired snack at Tivoli and Lee.

Ernie K. Doe mural on the side of Euclid Records

Midcity/Bayou St. John


Toups Meatery
A Cajun favorite snack is the cracklin’—a crispy fried pork skin—and there’s no better place than Toups to get them in the city. Be warned, vegetarians: the meatery lives up to its name.

Blue Dot Donuts
The siren-like lure of Blue Dot is hypnotic: one bite and you’re hooked for an eternity. Many people in New Orleans request doughnut “cakes” (read: a stack of donuts) from this hot spot instead of actual birthday cakes.

An intimate Spanish restaurant nestled along stunning Esplanade Avenue, a pitcher of sangria and a paella made-to-order is just the way to end an evening after a stroll through City Park.


Twelve Mile Limit
There’s not much in the neighborhood around this local favorite, but don’t be fooled: it serves up some of the best drinks in the city and a wide variety of snacks as well. Try a doberge cake bite, and don’t forget to pay homage to the fantastic Babar print on the wall.


Bayou St. John [Esplanade Avenue at Moss Street]
A charming bayou that serves as the namesake for one of the city’s loveliest neighborhoods, Bayou St. John is the perfect place to picnic, go for a jog, or have a mini-adventure kayaking around. During crawfish season, boils often take place along the banks of this urban oasis.

New Orleans Museum of Art
So much more than your average art museum, the drive up to NOMA is one of the grandest experiences in New Orleans. After you explore the art indoors, head outside to the sculpture garden, which regularly serves as host to a variety of plays.

Longue Vue House and Gardens

The elegant sculpted gardens and grounds of this botanical wonderland are anchored by a sense of playfulness: a giant watering can holds watch over the educational children’s area.


1896 O’Malley House Bed & Breakfast

While bed and breakfasts are scattered across the city, there’s no doubt this one is the crème de la crème. The hospitality, ample snacks, and—just for kicks—player piano are the icing on the cake of this traveler’s dream.

Local Notables:

Brad Pitt [Founder, Make It Right Foundation]
John James Audubon
Truman Capote
Bryan Batt [Mad Men]
Ellen DeGeneres
Frank Ocean
Sandra Bullock [Homeowner, local philanthropist]
Tennessee Williams

Suggested For You


  • another great gallery & studio (affordable art) and great handmade jewelry is Bon Temps Studio.
    4861 Magazine Street
    New Orleans, LA, 70115

  • Near the French Quarter on 542 Frenchmen Street – the PRALINE CONNECTION is a great spot to have some ” ‘down-home’ cajun-creole style soul food.” My family has been going to this place for years!

  • I’m soon re-locating to NOLA! Looking for a small space, within an antique mall, to sell my “stuff”. I’ve had successful shops in Savannah & Atlanta. Any advise would be so great!

  • A great add to your boutique hotel list is Loft 529. My husband and I are local to the area and love to stay there when we hit NOLA for a weekend.
    Cafe Degas on Esplanade is also a must eat place!

  • Hi all,

    Just an addition and update to this list; it came in very handy during my trip to NOLA last week and I really appreciate all the suggestions in the comments.

    Restaurant in the French Quarter to visit for wonderful unique food and a spectacular drink menu: Green Goddess (307 Exchange Place).

    I used this guide to book my hotel and chose the St. James hotel– sadly, I had to relocate (to the Lafayette Hotel on St Charles St in the Central Business District– it was great). The St. James was quaint but filthy. If you are looking for a boutique hotel that is not a chain, I would recommend the equally charming but much cleaner Lafayette Hotel. Similar prices, way cleaner.

    Thanks for suggesting Perch home on Magazine– it was my favourite stop!!

  • I moved to New Orleans only a few months ago thanks to my husbands family and have been in love with the city ever since…. Be sure to check out one of the many street and art fairs as well as free music festivals. Mardi Gras, Jazz and Heritage Fest, Red Dress Run and Running of the Bulls and many many more.

  • Great post, Sarah! You make me long to return. Don’t forget the French Market itself with it’s colorful merchandise,vendors,new artists and atmosphere. I was recently in NOLA with friends and was bowled away by the art scene there and the support for the Market artists.
    (Thanks Design*Sponge for Biz Ladies and for supporting artists and the art of craft)

  • I cannot believe Trashy Diva was left off this list – the most beautiful vintage inspired clothing (all designed by local Candice Gwinn). http://www.trashydiva.com

    Food: Dante’s Kitchen in Riverbend for amazing drinks and “chicken under a brick”, Resturant Patois in Audubon (hard to find, but amazing food). Drinks: Hotel Monteleone for the gorgeous carousel bar & the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt.

  • Thanks for the terrific recommendations Sarah! Have you been to The Backstreet Cultural Museum in Treme? The beaded and feathered Mardi Gras Indian costumes are amazing–and one of the men who makes them works at the museum and is happy to answer all your questions about the work that goes into making these costumes, as well as anything you’d want to know about social aid and pleasure clubs and funeral parades. (I don’t work there–I checked it out on my honeymoon and can’t wait to go back!!!)

  • As a local… I was really excited to see what Sarah recommendations were… and I have to say Sarah’s list is spot on! So many of my favorites plus new options to try out! Thanks!

  • You gotta try a muffaletta from Central Grocery – it’s birthplace!
    Located in the French Quarter
    923 Decatur St
    You won’t be disappointed!

  • I second/third The Kitchen Witch…owner Debbie is a hoot! She also writes for local the local arts paper Gambit. The Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt is so glamorous. Order creamy, lemony Ramos Gin Fizz. Magazine Antique Mall is great, as is The Napoleon House courtyard for Pimms Cups. But I completely disagree with Pravda. It was so pretentious we didn’t stay long. Went to hear Blues on Frenchman’s Street instead…

  • I second/third The Kitchen Witch…owner Debbie is a hoot! She also writes for local the local arts paper Gambit. The Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt is so glamorous. Order creamy, lemony Ramos Gin Fizz. Magazine Antique Mall is great, as is The Napoleon House courtyard for Pimms Cups. But I completely disagree with Pravda. It was so pretentious we didn’t stay long. Went to hear Blues on Frenchman’s Street instead…

    John Goodman lives in The Garden District too…we petted his doggie :) and you cannot miss Lafayette Cemetery!

  • lots of great places listed here .. but some unfortunatly now closed .. Neophobia and Spuknik Ranch .. Magazine st is a must do and you can check out our gallery UP/Unique Products – http://www.shopgreenneworleans.com where everything is made from all kinds of recycled elements , were next door to Gogo and same block as Branch out .. and you can get killer margaritas at Juans Flying burrito and remember one of the best things about new orleans is you can walk with your cocktail while you shop!

  • Uptown: King cake from sucre, ice cream from creole creamery, brunch at Slim Goodies, drinks and dinner from Coquette (probably the best restaurant in New Orleans, no really), and BOUCHERIE! Cheapest fancy and delicious meal you’ll find anywhere. Loisel Vintage Modern replaced the former Neophobia (which a former commenter mentioned), but it’s a similar business and I still love it. Miss the old name, though.

    I know it is hard to choose just a few places , I am sure the author had a hard time (I am frequently having to edit my list I sent to friends so I don’t overwhelm them) but those are my faves.

  • Best restaurant in town, bar none, Kay Paul’s on Chartres in the Quarter.
    Chef Paul Prudhomme’s place. He taught New Orleans how to cook.

  • For visual inspiration, even if you can’t afford anything, don’t forget culinary antique emporium Lucullus, 610 Chartres Street (504-528-9620). And Arnaud’s, 363 Bienville (504-523-5433, for fine dining and especially their café brulot.

  • Don’t forget: Elizabeth’s Restaurant in the Bywater! Known for brunch (praline bacon!), I think the dinner (and cocktails!) is amazing there too. Chef/owner Bryon Peck is great. Thank you for this. New Orleans is a wonderful city!

  • Let’s say I visit New Orleans. Maybe in the fall when it’s not so miserably humid. Let’s say I need to get my fiber fix (not the food variety). Where do I go to get yarn that reminds me of the cocktails imbibed, the cemeteries visited, the bayous photographed? Where do I go to meet knitters who have accents not often found in the Midwest, eat jambalaya on a regular basis, live in a parish? I need to pet and buy some yarns at a knitting/yarn shop in NoLa.

  • Compliments to Design Sponge readers. I have a shop in the French Quarter and customers that mention coming in because of Design Sponge are not only incredibly stylish and friendly, but also prove to be enthusiastic and savvy shoppers.

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