What to Do Off the Beaten Path in New Orleans
The Big Easy is a heady swirl of horns, parades, chicory coffee, creole cuisine, and rich, deep history. Most visitors wander the French Quarter and pay homage to the mighty Mississippi, but there is much more to this Gulf Coast city once you venture beyond the usual tourist stops. Follow along as Lolis Eric Elie, a documentarian, food historian, and television writer, reveals what to do off the beaten path in New Orleans.
1116 Henriette Delille Street
The Mardi Gras American Indian culture is one of the lesser-known elements of New Orleans life, but it’s been part of the African American experience in the city for well over a century. How it began remains the subject of debate. (“Masking” as an American Indian was said to honor them both for their assistance to runaway slaves, and for their fierce resistance to European settlement.) The astounding feathered and beaded costumes are each painstakingly handmade by those who wear them only two or three times a year—usually on Mardi Gras Day and often on Super Sunday, which is the Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day. Ever year Indian chiefs make a new suit; some of the once-used suits end up at the Backstreet Museum in the heart of Treme. Stepping through the door is a bit like walking into a Technicolor Oz, with education.
2401 St Ann St, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA
“Well, we’ll see about that!” loudly harrumphs an endless of stream of out-of-town customers, eager to challenge the claim that Willie Mae’s makes “the world’s best fried chicken.” They’re usually much quieter when they depart—invariably cowed into silence by the spicy, armor-plated crust surrounding strikingly moist meat. Not a chicken lover? You can also dig into pork chops, veal, or catfish at this iconic (if out-of-the-way) neighborhood institution in Treme, a five-minute taxi ride out of the French Quarter. Willie Mae herself is no longer at the helm, but her granddaughter has taken over and seems to guard its reputation as tightly as she does the family chicken recipe.