The French Quarter is the first thing that pops into people's minds when you talk about New Orleans. It's the oldest section in the city and is actually built over a swamp. Hence, the flooding that can easily occur in this city when it rains since the water has nowhere to go. It's the prime destination for tourists and locals alike when visiting Louisiana.
So, you're in the French Quarter...now what? Well, why not try one of these five iconic things!
#1 Cafe Du Monde - This place is very popular with tourists and the line clearly shows it. But, the line moves along really fast. If you'd rather just do take out, there is a line closer to the back where you can do so. Once you get to the front of the line, they'll ask how many people are in your party. Then escort you to a clean table (or one they clean right away after you get seated). The menu is short and sweet and placed on the napkin holders. The servers were really efficient and speedy, so don't worry about being forgotten during your dine. Place your order. Then once you receive your food, they'll be asking for the payment right away. So be sure to have your cash out ready to be handed over. I got a large frozen coffee (basically a coffee frappuccino) with an order of beignets. The beignets come in an order of 3, and I think it wasn't too much nor too little.I'm going to say they were good, but not out of this world. I thought it was very similar to having a funnel cake at the fair, but the beignets just being shaped differently. I mean, essentially they are the same thing. However, it's so iconic in New Orleans, you can't really forgo it.
#2 Hotel Monteleone - Now, I believe this is the fanciest hotel inside the French Quarter (ranging at $485/night and up). And during Mardi Gras, only the guests are able to enter the hotel (they give you wristbands to show you're a hotel guest). We got a standard room with one double bed, and the room was very small. Like smaller than a New York hotel room...but since we were out and about most of the time it didn't bother us that much. One of the surprising moments I had was at check-in, when I arrived at 10 am to find out my room was ready. Score! The carousel bar, which is a very slow rotating bar that's designed to look like a carousel you see at amusement parks, was also cool. But it was so crowded when we went that it somewhat took away from its charm. I stayed at this hotel mainly because it was on the List, but there are many downtown hotels that are still very close to the French Quarter that have much bigger rooms available for you. We stayed at the Aloft Hotel downtown for our 2nd night and it was only 0.4 miles away from Hotel Monteleone, and only 1-2 blocks away from the border of the French Quarter. And yet, our room ended up being 2.5 times bigger (they might've given me a bigger room due to my hotel status) and at 50% of the price I paid for at Hotel Monteleone.
#3 Central Grocery - So, I came here because it was on the List. And after researching more about it, I found out that this is the place that invented the famous muffuletta sandwich. And it was delicious!! We ordered a full sandwich thinking it would be just enough for the both of us to split. But, we actually could've been totally fine with getting a half sandwich. The sandwiches were huge! The sandwiches also were a bit on the saltier side, due to the seasoning, cured meats, and olives; but I loved it. I totally recommend you eating here! Just remember that they close at 5 pm everyday, and they start closing out the seating area where you eat an hour-ish before that.
#4 Pat O'Brien's - This place is iconic for their fruity alcoholic drink called the Hurricane, which is rum based. This drink might look and taste fruity, but it packs a punch! I think I drank about only a quarter of it before I started feeling tipsy...but it also could be because I'm a lightweight. When we went around 10 pm, the place was packed. There was a front bar where it was dimly lit and a crowded hallway to the back bar where it was much more rowdier. We went during Mardi Gras so it could've been because of that the bar was packed.
#5 Windsor Court - This is not so widely known as something iconic, but I'd like to include it as is. When I tried to book the jazz Sunday brunch at Commander's Palace, it was all booked up. So I decided to do the jazz Sunday brunch at the Grill Room inside Windsor Court instead. The hotel itself is beautiful and the restaurant is on the second floor. Unfortunately, we weren't seated by the jazz trio (which was the point of the brunch) but we did get a nice view overlooking the front of the hotel. The bread basket that we started off with contained cheddar biscuits (like the ones at Red Lobster, so yummy). I got the Shrimp and Grits, while my sister got the Eggs Atchafalaya. Both were great dishes and I'd recommend both (the Eggs Atchafalaya is on the heavier side). We had strawberries and cream beignets to finish off the meal, and they were pretty decent. The strawberries and cream were actually fried inside of the dough and we got the chocolate sauce on the side instead of on top of it. I wasn't able to check out the rooms at this hotel, but this would also be a good option if you want to stay near the French Quarter.