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Get a fresh take on New Orleans

We love sugar-dusted beignets and the sounds of Frenchmen Street as much as anyone. But the Big Easy isn't static. Here are six places putting the new in, well, you know.

Classic: A French 75 cocktail at Arnaud’s

Update: The Billy Bishop at the Monkey Board, the rooftop bar at the new Troubadour hotel in the Central Business District. While the vibe is yard-party-meets-cocktail-lounge, the drinks are elegant second cousins of the city’s most famous concoctions. The Billy Bishop and the French 75, for example, share the same base ingredients—gin and bubbly—but the Billy includes lime juice instead of the 75’s lemon, maraschino liqueur rather than its sugar, plus a few drops of herbal celery bitters in a nod to Creole cooking. 

Classic: A Go Cup, the keepsake plastic cup that bars hand to drinkers on the run

Update: The Breakfast Go Cup at Bywater Bakery, a new spot from local King Cake legend Chaya Conrad. If you’re hungover, layered combinations such as shrimp and grits or scrambled eggs with sausage, biscuit, and coffee-spiked red-eye gravy will be a salvation; if not, they’re delicious all the same. Time your visit right and you might catch the head baker noodling on the upright piano in the center of the homey shop. 

Classic: Jazz at Preservation Hall

Update: Jazz, but not only jazz, at Three Keys, the wood-paneled music venue inside the Ace Hotel. The focus is on local groups, such as Yung Vul, an improvisational quartet that can span jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and rock in a single, hypnotic song. For a more laidback experience, head to Bacchanal Wine, a Bywater home that has been converted into a wine shop, restaurant, and laid-back music venue. The tunes skew bluesy and gypsy-jazzy, and the wines are all Old World. On summer weekends, show up early in the afternoon, order a bottle of French rosé, and stake out a table in the sprawling backyardthen keep refilling your wine bucket and rotating in cheese platters and bowls of garlicky mussels until the last set plays. 

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Classic: A night at the 131-year-old Hotel Monteleone

Update: A night at the Henry Howard, a 150-year-old mansion impeccably restored and opened to the public as an 18-room boutique hotel last year. Located one block from the St. Charles streetcar line in the Garden District, it has distilled New Orleans charm to its essence. Rooms are accented with second-line instruments (there might be a sax hanging above your bed or a snare drum serving as a side table) and blue toile wallpaper printed with images of local icons such as Louis Armstrong and the steamboat. And it doesn’t get any more NOLA than sipping a Lemon-H (fresh lemonade, bourbon, and Herbsaint) in one of the wicker chairs on the front porch as the world marches by. From $149. 

Classic: Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine’s

Update: Wood-fired oysters with smoked potato purée, ham, and salsify at Kenton’s Food & Bourbon, an Uptown restaurant with serious respect for fire. Using a wood-powered grill and smoker—and drawing on his years in New York City kitchens—chef Kyle Knall adds a layer of char and sophistication to Southern staples: Trout is smoked slowly and brightened with fried capers, and the classic chicken-grilled-under-a-brick gets a grown-up sauce of shallot and ricotta. All those smoky flavors play well with the restaurant’s 150-bottle-strong whiskey list. 

+ Three Unbeatable Classics the Locals Love:

Browsing Lucullus Culinary Antiques, Arts and Objects

“In the grand pursuit of gastronomic passion, it’s the store, specializing in culinary antiques from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It isn’t cheap, but that hasn’t stopped me from saving up to buy the 18th-century crystal chandelier in the window.” —Alexa Pulitzer, designer of the New Orleans Tricentennial logo

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The Right Track

There’s a new reason to love New Orleans’ beloved streetcar: A 1.6-mile expansion, known as the North Rampart line, now makes it possible to ride to the French Quarter, the Tremé (for Creole food and brass bands), and beyond Frenchmen Street in the Marigny (for art and antique shops). In early 2018, the line will be extended all the way to the Bywater.  

Marching in a Sunday Second Line

“Most Sunday afternoons, there’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world: the Second Line. Across the city, community organizations called social aid and pleasure clubs hire brass bands, and members parade through their neighborhoods and dance to the music of the band, dressed in matching outfits and strutting their stuff. Travelers can join the march. It’s not a parade you watch; it’s one you join. Moving together to the beat of the brass band—it’s an expression of pure joy.” —Matt Sakakeeny, associate professor of music at Tulane University.

(March with him at our next AFAR Experience this October 11-13. Register here.)

>>Next: 10 Photos That Will Make You Want to Travel to New Orleans