My 21st trip to New Orleans (and 9th Mardi Gras) began early Thursday morning when I helped 3 children get ready for school and dropped them off when the school doors opened at 7:10am (their mother was in Savannah); then I was off to the airport. We landed, and I caught my colleague’s panel on strategic use of media for high profile personal injury cases. An hour later, we were at Company Burger, site of the infamous “shooting egg” incident last year that ruined my favorite corduroy sportcoat, but sometimes, one has to take calculated risks in life, and these burgers are quite awesome.
After lunch, the weather was so nice that several of us decided to enjoy the outdoor pool for a while, something I’ve never done in February in New Orleans. I had a Cuban cigar my friend Angela procured for Mike and me recently, and I figured this was a great time to enjoy it. Dinner was at Shaya, the 2016 James Beard Awards’ “best new restaurant in America,” and boy howdy, it did NOT disappoint. We loved it. We’d set this reservation in September when my friend from the Air Force, Lauren, was in Atlanta for a conference; she and her husband came with us, along with two Atlanta lawyer friends who’d been at our conference.
That night we explored the Quarter and some of our usual haunts on Bourbon Street; I sang at Cat’s Meow, because I can’t come to New Orleans and NOT sing on stage at Cat’s Meow.
Friday, we ate at Cochon Butcher, where the pork flows like wine, and the decor is all Star Wars. We then explored more of the Quarter with Lauren and her krewe before meeting up with Amy, who came in for the weekend like last year.
That night, the conference had an event upstairs at Galatoire’s that included a balcony party and throws, followed by an excellent dinner downstairs. Then we went back out, but this time ventured to the end of Bourbon to Frenchmen Street and the Spotted Cat for live music.
We visited a new place (for us) – the Gold Mine – toward the end of the night for some dance music a block or so off Bourbon.
Saturday morning, I woke up and declared, “This is one of my favorite days of the year: the Saturday before Mardi Gras.” I dressed for the warm weather and the occasion.
We walked to the Garden District, stopped at HiVolt Coffee, and then had lunch at the famous Commander’s Palace, which was every bit as amazing as they say it is.
Full as ticks, we walked to St Charles to watch the Krewe of Tucks parade before sitting in Igor’s a while and then working our way back to Cochon Butcher for a light dinner before returning to the room to don our “last evening before Mardi Gras” garb (read: sparkles on pants; sparkles on coats) before catching Endymion on Canal.
Most places in the Quarter were crowded, but we found some empty bar stools at the Chart Room and made friends with a couple from San Diego and a guy dressed like Harry from “Dumb and Dumber,” because dressing well is part of what makes Mardi Gras grand.
We returned to the Gold Mine, sampled the flaming Dr Pepper shots, had pizza at Dante’s, and hit the Cat’s Meow again before turning in late.
The next morning, I flew home to 3 excited children who filled our “Mardi Gras tree” with a full bag of throws.
Sometimes folks ask me, “Don’t you get tired of going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? Think you should take a year or two off perhaps?” And I say, “Do you get tired of happiness? Don’t you think you should take a year or two off from friendship”? And then they shut up and walk away slowly.
No, I will never get tired of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.