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Whether you’re in town for the Super Bowl, or just planning to head down and go hard in the Big Easy, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our take on the best places to eat, drink and be merry in a city that knows from celebration.
Left to right: Sausage at Cochon & Cochon Butcher, the bar at SoBou, Phillip Lopez of Square Root.

In New Orleans, it’s easy to get lost in the past. Whether it’s a romantic reverie of candelabras and heavy brocades or the physical and emotional trauma of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, too many travelers are consumed by preconceptions of a bygone Crescent City. It’s really a shame, because the modern reality is so exciting. From the local chef bringing modern culinary techniques to classic Creole cooking to the dives and cocktail joints that make up what is easily the country’s coolest bar scene, New Orleans is an incredibly dynamic place that — like any great city — is constantly evolving. Whether you’re in town for the Super Bowl or just planning to head down and go hard in the Big Easy, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our take on the best places to eat, drink and be merry in a city that knows from celebration.

EAT
Maurepas Foods

A local favorite in hip Bywater, Maurepas Foods has a real Bushwick-on-the-Bayou quality. But all the Edison light bulbs in the world could not prepare you for Chef Michael Doyle’s mind-blowing menu of Southern-inflected cooking at outrageously low prices. Priced at just $9 for dinner, the goat tacos with pickled green tomatoes and harissa will inspire you to either find or lose your religion. And the cocktail list, developed by bar star Brad Smith, includes a rotating cast of punches. 3200 Burgundy Street, 504-267-0072 maurepasfoods.com

SoBou
Short for “South of Bourbon Street,” newcomer SoBou is run by the same local family behind Garden District institution Commander’s Palace. Always swinging, it’s located within the recently remodeled W French Quarter and has a New Creole menu heavy on bar-friendly snacks by Juan Carlos Gonzalez and Tory McPhail. Nobody with a brain in their head should leave Nola without trying their ludicrously indulgent sweet potato beignets in foie gras fondue. (Listed among the “Small Bites,” natch.) There are also 30 wines by the glass, and cocktails by Nola cocktail maven Lu Brow. 310 Chartres Street, 504-552-4095, sobounola.com

Pizza Delicious
What started as a twice-weekly Bywater pop-up has now ascended to brick-and-mortar status. The thin, New York–style crusts, transcendent garlic knots and specialty slices are all wildly popular, as is Pizza D’s impressive list of local beers and bottles: try NOLA Blonde on draught. 617 Piety Street, 504-676-8482, pizzadelicious.com

Restaurant R’Evolution
A major 2012 opening in the French Quarter’s new Royal Sonesta, RR is beloved by locals and hotel guests alike. Homegrown chefs John Folse and Rick Tramanto, who opened Seafood R’evolution in Mississippi most recently, serve a modern Cajun/Creole menu that calls upon Louisiana’s “seven nations” of immigrant heritage. A dish like roasted bone marrow does not disappoint.  Channel your inner Bayou boss in the $6.5 million dining room, which is composed of seven individual spaces, each designed to look like a different wing of a Creole mansion. 777 Bienville Street, 504-553 2277, revolutionnola.com

Angelo Brocato’s Italian Ice Cream Parlor
This 110-year-old bakery and gelateria is, admittedly, the definition of old-school. But, like Paid in Full, Angelo Brocato’s holds up. The cannoli at this Mid-City institution are filled to order, ensuring crisp, crunchy shells. The stuffed ricotta ends are then coated in chopped green pistachios, and served by tiny, Sicilian-American nonna-types on doily-lined plates. Because when you’re here, you’re family. 214 North Carrollton Avenue, 504-486-1465, angelobrocatoicecream.com

Square Root
As the follow-up to Chef Phillip Lopez’s playful Warehouse District hotspot Root, Square Root is already a restaurant of superlatives: most ambitious, most hotly anticipated, most likely Michelin-bait, etc. At Square Root, Lopez’ globetrotting take on Creole traditions featuring molecular gastronomy will be served in nine- or 10-course tasting menus. Locals are already lining up around the block to get a glimpse of the space, which will combine a 15-seat dining room and open kitchen, with an upstairs bar serving cocktails, Root’s incredible charcuterie and four house-made cheeses. 1800 Magazine Street, 504-309-7800, squarerootnola.com

DRINK
Bellocq

Named for a pre-Prohibition-era artist best known for photographing New Orleans’ red light district, this Central Business District cocktail den was one of the biggest openings of 2012. The sultry, Interview with the Vampire-style space revolves around an extensive list of creative cocktails by the Cure’s Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal and Matthew Kohnke. They tackle traditional cocktails as well as of-the-moment trends like 19th Century drinks, as well as cobblers made with El Dorado 5-year or Amontillado sherry. 936 St. Charles Avenue, 504-962-0911, thehotelmodern.com/bellocq

Bar Tonique
Situated on the Treme/French Quarter divide, this miniscule cocktail joint somehow manages to squeeze in a large bar, two fireplaces and a refreshingly minimal amount of mixology worship given its impressive product. Sours, slings and punches are fashioned from fresh-squeezed juices and house-made syrups, but the bartenders and patrons seem more interested in having a boozy good time than talking about the origin of that rye in your Vieux Carre. (It’s Rittenhouse, by the way. And it’s spectacular.) 820 North Rampart Street, 504-324-6045, bartonique.com

Sylvain
Co-owned by New York ex-pat and noted bon vivant Sean McCusker, Sylvain is an atypical French Quarter saloon. In that it’s consistently really good. Well-crafted cocktails range from the Negroni to the city’s classic Sazerac, and his house-made sodas are blow-your-hair-back good. The elevated bar menu helps soak up all that hotness, with items like curried potato empanadas or confit duck leg and grilled sausage. 625 Chartres Street, 504-265 8123, sylvainnola.com

Twelve Mile Limit
Opened in late 2010, this Mid-City bar from the founder of Garden City bistro Coquette brings a pleasantly high-low blend to New Orleans’ cocktail culture. Top-shelf liquors are infused with the same esoteric ingredients as other mixologists’ (why, yes, there are notes of honey and hot sauce in that bourbon cocktail); but, here, they’re paired with down-to-earth prices, great barbecue and a solid jukebox. 500 South Telemachus Street, 504-488-8114

Swizzle Stick
Another hotspot from the Brennan family of Commander’s Palace and SoBou fame, this Central Business District lounge serves elegant cocktails in a piano bar setting. You’ll forgive the awfully on-the-nose name when you sample dangerously delicious combinations. 300 Poydras Street, 504-595-3305, cafeadelaide.com

Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge
So, you’ve contemplated the new New Orleans cocktail culture at the aforementioned five spots. You’ve paid $15 for a hand-crafted drink without raising an eyebrow. Now it’s time to get sauced in a shed. Snake and Jake’s isn’t a stylized dive, made to look like a decrepit shack on an unassuming Uptown street. It’s the real deal. Open daily from 7:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m., this is the perfect place to get stinking drunk on a tenner, while sitting next to an elderly alcoholic and his dog. 7612 Oak Street, 504-861-2802, snakeandjakes.com

CAFFEINATE
Morning Call

Forget Café du Monde, the French Quarter establishment so heavily touristed it makes Graceland feel quaint. When you start jonesing for café au lait and a beignet — and, let’s be honest, you so will — get your fix at this Metairie coffee shop favored by locals. Open 24 hours, Morning Call even lets patrons man their own powdered sugar application for customized pastries. Now that’s Southern hospitality. 3325 Severn Avenue, Metairie, LA 504-885-4068, morningcallcoffeestand.com

Gracious Bakery
In a somewhat strange location in Gert Town/Mid-City, this small café serves coffees made with local small-batch roaster French Truck Coffee as well as exceptional breads and desserts. Pastry chef Megan Forman is a New Orleans native who honed her skills at Bayona and Sucre before opening this café and sweets spot in 2012. Fresh baked breads vary daily, but are consistently killer in signature sandwiches like smoked ham with pecan-cheddar spread and pepper jelly. 1000 S Jefferson Davis Pkwy, Ste 100. 504-301-3709, graciousbakery.com

The Orange Couch
The brainchild of a San Francisco ex-pat, this sleek corner café serves local beans and baked goods with unexpected Asian accents. Classic Vietnamese Iced Coffee is given the Nola treatment with chicory, and locals clamor for the tomato tartlets and mochi alike. The modernist interiors are small, so go early on a warm day to grab an outdoor table for some solid Marigny people-watching. 2339 Royal Street, 504-267-7327

EDIBLE SHOPPING
Cochon & Cochon Butcher

Some chefs seem born into their fates. Aptly named pork and sausage enthusiast Donald Link is among them. Link owns both the well-regarded Cochon restaurant and this casual spin-off, selling incredible sausages, more cuts of pork than a David Chang fantasy reel and pretty phenomenal sandwiches. Sidle up to the counter to have the Cochon Muffaletta with a glass of Spanish wine, or ask for a bushel of house-cured boudin to go. No judgment. 930 Tchoupitoulas Street, 504-588-7675, cochonbutcher.com

St. James Cheese Company
A combination cheese shop and gourmet deli on a tree-lined Uptown street, St. James has over 250 cheeses on offer at any given time, as well as tasty take-away sandwiches and cheese plates featuring the best curds and whey of the day. The store can get crowded during the mid-day lunch rush, so it’s best to come early to get the broadest selection and the best input from the knowledgeable staff. 5004 Prytania Street, 504-899-4737, stjamescheese.com

Vom Fass
Good things turn up in unexpected places. It stocks an incredible selection of rare oils, vinegars and wines, as well as an array of spirits impossible to find anywhere else in the U.S. The name translates to “from the barrel,” so tasting is encouraged. Guten appetit! 129 Carondelet Street, 504-302-1455, nola.vomfassusa.com

Kitchen Witch
With over 5,000 volumes of vintage, rare and Louisiana-centric cookbooks, it seems almost inevitable that this charmingly congested French Quarter bookstore would also have a house cat. Owners Philipe LaMancusa and Debbie Lindsey encourage browsing, and will offer their picks for the best places to go, see and eat in their city. Kitchen Witch is closed Tuesdays and Monday afternoons, but eager readers can call ahead to arrange private appointments. 631 Toulouse Street, 504-528-8382, kwcookbooks.com

COOKING SCHOOLS
New Orleans Cooking Experience

While these intimate classes are regrettably no longer housed in the gorgeous House on Bayou Road, the spirit of the B&B’s in-residence cooking program lives on in this highly customized program. Local culinary stars like Frank Brigtsen conduct half-day, private and immersion classes on preparing seasonal New Orleans fare like oysters Bienville, seafood okra gumbo and chicken à la bonne femme. 1519 Carondelet Street, 504-430-5274, neworleanscookingexperience.com

Crescent City Cooks
The striking space of this French Quarter cooking school includes floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Mississippi River. Since class sizes are kept small, it’s a good idea to opt for the hands-on experience, where $150 gets you three hours of personalized instruction in the art of red beans and rice, etoufée and bananas foster. 201 Charles Street, 504-529-1600, crescentcitycooks.com

New Orleans School of Cooking
This educational behemoth is a bit like a Whole Foods: sure, it may lack the charm of an independent, but it’s successful for a reason. Groups of eight or more can reserve private, hands-on cooking classes to prepare four-course, traditional Creole meals, but the smart money for a quick visit is on the group demonstrations. These two-hour shows run a mere $28 per person, and include historical overview and instruction on classics like smoked sausage jambalaya and shrimp Creole, plus all the Abita you can drink. 524 St. Louis Street, 504-525-2665, nosoc.com

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