See New Orleans through a Local’s Eyes
Bring your appetite for food and fun as you prepare to explore this fascinating city.
Nina Compton, chef/owner of Compère Lapin, a restaurant that serves Caribbean- and European-accented takes on New Orleans flavors, shares her suggestions for visitors to the city.
What Sets New Orleans Apart
“As I think back to my first impressions of New Orleans, I remember when I moved here in 2015 to open Compère Lapin, someone gave me a guide to all of the festivals in the city,” chef Nina Compton recalls. “I opened it up and there was Greek Fest, Creole Tomato Festival, Oyster Festival — so many events — like, every weekend something’s going on. And everyone takes it so seriously! It’s definitely unique to New Orleans. People are just enjoying life – that’s a great thing about being here.”
“Another thing that sets New Orleans apart is that you see people’s houses colorfully decorated for Mardi Gras,” she says. “People love to express themselves – they are loud and proud of New Orleans.”
Explore on Foot and by Streetcar
“When I host visitors, I encourage them to walk around a lot and take a scenic tour,” Compton says. “You can walk through the French Quarter and see all different kinds of old architecture that blend together.” She recommends that they take the streetcar to the Garden District, walk along the riverfront and take a ride on the Algiers Point Ferry. Also, “City Park is a really beautiful escape from the bustle of city life.”
Chef Nina Compton
Come Hungry for Great Food
Compton suggests that visitors to the city wear comfortable clothes because they’re going to be eating a lot. “New Orleans as a whole really embraces good, unpretentious food,” Compton says. “A lot of people want to try something different. Diners are becoming more educated and more interested in experimenting. Where restaurateurs once played it a little safe, they’re now saying, ‘Why not express my cuisine or upbringing to world?’ ”
Food plays a central role at most of the city’s festivals. “At the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, people say you have to try Crawfish Monica or the Cochon de Lait – these are dishes that they look forward to for the entire year.”
Residents are eager to share their food and their warm hospitality. “In New Orleans, everyone is so welcoming. They want to invite you into their house for a crawfish boil. It’s something you aren’t as likely to find in other cities.”
History Lessons beyond the City
If visitors want to venture beyond the city, Compton encourages them to visit Laura Plantation or Evergreen Plantation or to learn about slavery at the Whitney Plantation Historic District, all about an hour from New Orleans.
Making the Most of their Visit
Compton suggests that visitors stay hydrated and bring lots of energy, because the city is up and running 24 hours a day. “From a breakfast of beignets at Café du Monde to a late-night stroll on Frenchmen Street, you have to keep your energy up!”