New Orleans (With a Baby)

New Orleans has always been a place that pulls us back. For years, family lived there and we spent countless weekends visiting to partake in the great food, listen to the fantastic music, and soak in everything Nola has to offer, mostly outside the French Quarter. So when we wanted to take our daughter on her first long weekend away, we chose New Orleans as the destination. BUT laissez les bons temps rouler doesn’t mean roll the baby into the bar. With legalized gaming, there are now many bars in New Orleans that are required by law to prohibit anyone under 21 from entering the premises and this includes babies (even though babies’ gaming skills are not very developed). Below are all those establishments that warmly welcomed us and our 4-month old on a recent trip and some below we’ve had so much fun at in the past.

Chandelier Bar at the Four Seasons. Located in the lobby level of the brand new Four Seasons hotel, the Chandelier Bar does not disappoint. The hospitality is what you’d expect from a Four Seasons, but staff went above and beyond to give us space to observe the massive central bar with the gorgeous chandelier above while our daughter to napped. The cocktails are classic and inspired by New Orleans, which is what you’d expect from Hadi Ktiri who gained notoriety at famed Arnaud’s. Bites come shareable and from renowned New Orleans chef Alon Shaya.

Peacock Room at the Hotel Fontenot. Located in the lobby level of the hip Hotel Fontenot, the Peacock Room lives up to its name. Decorated in blue hues, peacocks and feathers adorn. Think opulent jewel box. Or rich peacock coop. We stop by around brunch time for some morning cocktails. Staff welcome us with the baby and place us in full view of the well-appointed bar featuring marble, gold, and mirrors.

Bar Marilou. After dinner at nearby Compere Lapin (also highly recommended), Bar Marilou is tucked away secretly along the side of the Maison de la Luz hotel and across from the hip Ace Hotel, where we have stayed before. Put simply, they had no business letting us in at 10pm with a baby. But the hospitality was amazing and staff sat us along a gorgeous conversation sofa while our daughter slept comfortably in her stroller. Dripping in lacquered red paint, the scene is thoroughly enjoyable as it feels like something out of 18th century France, or what some may call Continental. The drinks are interesting and staff is extremely helpful.

Brewery Crawl. Located along Tchoupitoulas Street under the watchful eye of the Mississippi River in the Lower Garden District are 3 New Orleans breweries that openly welcome families: Port Orleans, Nola Brewing, and Miel (pictured in this order below). Port Orleans has a taco stand inside. Nola Brewing feels like an old standby with the old barn feel. Miel is the new kid on the block and feels more like Santa Monica than New Orleans. With such distinct vibes, it makes the full 25 minute walk enjoyable.

Compere Lapin. The aforementioned Compere Lapin, French for “brother rabbit,” this is one of our favorite spots in the Warehouse Arts District for brunch, dinner, and fantastic drinks whether before or after shopping the nearby art galleries. Another James Beard awardee for Chef Nina Compton, the food is a combination of Caribbean and Southern with a French twist. The service is excellent, even with a stroller in tow during the height of brunch or dinner rush.

Observatory Eleven at the Westin. The Westin’s lobby is located on the 11th floor and one of the best views overlooking the Mississippi River for a drink in all of New Orleans greats you at the bar.

Our other New Orleans favorites:

  • Seaworthy. Next to the Ace Hotel, this is the place to come to thoroughly enjoy what Louisiana has to offer. We came for the oysters and the French 75 at brunch. But the mixology and menu are worth staying longer for.
  • The Roosevelt Hotel Sazerac Bar. The spiritual home to the Sazerac, the dark walnut wood bar feels like a throw back in time, especially with the bartenders dressed in white tuxedos. While we’ve been here for the Sazerac, its also home to the Ramos Gin Fizz, which is a remarkable drink to watch be made. The shake is strong and the pour long to create a puffy concoction that fills out the top of a tall glass.
  • The Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar. Okay, I know we said we try to avoid the French Quarter, but this stop-off is a must for us. There is frequently a bustling crowd gathered around the main bar to take a “ride” on the carousel, but the back bar offers a nice respite with comfy leather sofas and live music. On a recent trip, the music was a bit loud for our daughter so we just ducked inside the lounge in the hotel and still had an immersive experience.
  • Hotel Ponchetrain Hot-Tin Rooftop Bar. Located in the Garden District, the best views of New Orleans are found here. Beyond the views, the decor is eclectic and the drinks are fantastic with local mixed favorites and local beers in bottle.
  • Herbsaint. Chef Donald Link’s flagship restaurant Herbsaint earned him a James Beard for Best Chef South, the restaurant is high end and truly one of the best restaurants in America.
  • Shaya. Alon Shaya’s namesake Israeli restaurant that has earned a James Beard as the country’s best new restauarant, but which Shaya lost to the Besh Restaurant group in litigation.
  • Cochon Butcher. Think house-cured meat and hand-crafted ingredients that put local in “this kitchen.” The menu is outstanding and the takeaway cured meats are worth packing in a carry-on.

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