Grabbing cafe au laits and cajun soul food with New Orleans native and jazz singer, Robin Barnes
“There’s an infectious energy here that makes you want to boogie.” Jazz singer, Robin Barnes, knows how to keep it moving, shaking, and staying caffeinated in New Orleans. The Big Easy native gives her must-visit breakdowns for the next time you find yourself in the French Quarter with precious time to kill.
Where to get caffeinated
“The powdered, fluffy, deliciousness of a Cafe Du Monde cafe au lait is the best way to start your day,” the singer insists. You might as well treat yourself to their famous beignets while you’re there. Try not to inhale the sugar before inhaling the dough.
Digging into some fresh beignets from Cafe du Monde
Where to zen out
Need to relax before you hit the streets for one giant dance party? “I can spend an entire day at the Windsor Court Hotel Spa!”, she exclaims. The Windsor is located mere steps from the French Quarter. Nestled between the plentiful shops and vibrancy of Canal and Poydras. The pet-friendly Hotel spans an entire block and offers one luxurious perk after another. Life is better lived with Oxygen Facials and poolside musings.
Where to grab lunch
For lunch, hit up Lil Dizzy’s Soul Food for red beans and rice, or gumbo. “For the best of New Orleans soul food--I grew up eating at Dizzy’s!” Located on Esplanade Avenue just north of Tremé, the destination spot for Nola’s African American and Creole heritage, Dizzy’s is the real deal with zero frills. Save for the roux-perfected gumbo and easy, come-as-you-are company.
Perfect spots for The ‘Gram
Don’t forget to capture photos along the way. Spotted throughout the French Quarter, the cast iron balconies covered in Mardis Gras beads are better than Instagram-worthy. “Get ready for a variety of purple, pink, green and yellows.” One of the most recognizable neighborhoods in the world, every which way you turn in the French Quarter offers stunning visual appeal. From street performers to historic monuments and horses bedecked in feathers, wrack up on colorful content for The ‘Gram while you’re here.
All smiles for photo ops in the French Quarter
Where to go to get inspired
There’s no short supply of creative inspiration in this town, but Barnes insists on heading to the Riverwalk on the Mighty Mississippi for a little daydreaming. “I can get lost just sitting and listening to music from the steamboat calliopes.” Take a stroll along the River for some of the best views of the city. Catching a glimpse of the grandeur of the former Jax Brewery against the backdrop of the colorful vendors of the French Market and Jackson Square Park is like being inside of a painting.
Where to meet new people
For intriguing conversations and great people watching, head to the Carousel Bar inside Hotel Monteleone. Bourbon Street is only one block away, so the Monteleone acts as a spillover retreat from the countless jazz bars and intriguing voodoo dens of The Quarter. “There’s an actual carousel and the place is always buzzing with excitement,” she says.
Where to make a dinner reservation
Barnes loves Compère Lapin for dinner, and insists that Chef Nina Compton is “a true artist when it comes to food and flavor.” Compère Lapin is French for “brother rabbit”, and Chef Nina focuses on a cuisine that compliments Caribbean and Creole flavors that are delicious enough to have garnered a James Beard Award. Lapin is located in the trendy Warehouse District and popular hotspot for eclectic food and shopping experiences.
Where to hear live music
Music is everywhere here, so seek out some of the best. “Stop by Frenchmen Street--a destination street that runs north from the east tip of the French Quarter--for top notch soul and jazz. While on Frenchmen, pop in Spotted Cat for live music on a Sunday, which is New Orleans’ favorite day of the week for dancing in the street.”