Do not let the current ban on go-cups (the local term for adult beverages that can be imbibed on the street) stop you from coming to New Orleans. Spirits, as well as delicious food, are still being served across the city. In fact, I recently had one of the best crispy fish sandwiches I can recall in the lush courtyard at the renovated Columns, the storied Italianate-style hotel that had a star turn in the 1978 film Pretty Baby. Columns, on St. Charles Avenue, is part of a larger renaissance taking place in the verdant jumble of neighborhoods known as Uptown, which stretches from the tip of the Central Business District past Tulane and Audubon Park toward the Mississippi River. Removed from the chaos of the French Quarter, the area is a reservoir of calm.
Two years ago, LeBlanc + Smith, the restaurant group behind NOLA favorite Sylvain, approached me to design their first hotel, The Chloe, four blocks from Columns. They were visualizing it as a clubby 14-room spot with a pool, a restaurant, and two bars that would be as much for locals as for out-of-towners. As I took in the location, a rambling late-1800s mansion with terrifically high ceilings, it was easy to imagine the past brushing up against the present. Last month, The Chloe opened with a vibe that blends Victorian decor’s greatest hits with a contemporary art collection, luxe bathrooms, and spacious guest rooms outfitted with turntables and a thoughtful selection of albums, Louis Armstrong alongside Lil Wayne. On the public floors, grand open spaces give way to hidden alcoves; the hotel, like the city itself, is an excellent place to get lost.
Just a few blocks away on Freret Street, at a gas station turned taqueria called Vals, it seems everyone is eating tacos and sipping seriously potent margaritas. Meanwhile, musicians have taken to the Uptown streets. On any given night in the Garden District, homeowners stand on their porches listening to local legends like David Torkanowsky and Joe Krown, who’ve been performing on a white grand piano mounted in the bed of a pickup truck. In a city that revolves around live music, it’s a brilliant way to hear it again. Liz Lambert, the doyenne of Texas hipster hospitality, has also arrived in Uptown with a new property, the St. Vincent Hotel, which is currently going up in the Lower Garden District.
Still, despite all the buzz, Uptown’s old-guard charm perseveres. Craving oysters Rockefeller, a friend and I strolled into Vincent’s Italian Cuisine (the kind of place you’d find Al Capone sipping Chianti) on a Saturday night, hoping to snag a table. Tony, the maître d’, glanced around the room. “No way, baby.” As we mulled over where to go next, Tony appeared from some secret side room, smiling, with menus. “C’mon,” he said. “You know I gotchoo.”
This article appeared in the December 2020 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.
Source: Read Full Article