#GhoensToNawlins Get Away Review & Where We ATE

It all started {late} one night when we were watching the food network. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives was on, which is one of our FAVE shows to drool to.. I mean watch. HA. I mean, how LUCKY is Guy Fieri that his JOB is to visit & eat at the best restaurants all over the country? #jealous

So as we watched, I mentioned the fact that I've always wanted to visit New Orleans & that we might as well do it while we live down here. Nate, fueled by his raging late night hunger, agreed & we decided to set a date!

We knew from the get go that our primary focus this trip would be .. to eat. And that any other exploration would just be a bonus. No shame in our game!!

So we wrote down several places Guy visited along with a few others on the Food Network website, of course considering what the Google/Trip Advisor reviews stated as well. In addition to that list, I found a couple on a local eats websites that I added to our agenda.

Being that we were only in town for 2.5 days, there simply weren't enough meals in the day to visit every where we planned. But we got off to a great start & are already planning a follow up trip!!

This Monday we set off for our #GhoensToNawlins romantic get away / food adventure around breakfast time. Of course we started our trip out properly by getting coffee & red velvet doughnuts from our favorite spot in Panama City Beach - The Donut Hole.

After about a 4 hour + 45 minute drive {not bad at ALL}, we got into town around lunch time & we decided that The Joint would be our first stop!

DON'T judge a book by the cover. This place is a hidden gem, complete with an outdoor patio and tree swings across the street! Just beware, it's a TEENY place with limited seating, so you may have to wait for a place to sit.. but it's WORTH it!

We ordered the 3 meat plate with ribs, brisket & pork barbecue + another barbecue sandwich, cole slaw, baked beans & potato salad. It was SO good!! Make sure you wash it down with one of the local brews that have on tap!

After we ROLLED out of there and got our tree swing on, we headed to the hotel to check in and decided on our next outing! FYI, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott near the French Quarter on St. Charles Street. It was pretty nice, the valet service was great & the general manager named Jermie made KILLER cocktails!

We decided that ONE trip down Bourbon Street would be necessary to complete our New Orleans experience, so we headed down while there was plenty of day light ahead of us.

Of COURSE, I had to order an infamous hand grenade (beware, they sneak up on you.. so PACE your sip). Walking Bourbon St. with this obnoxious cup in hand definitely made me feel like a 20 something year old tourist- needless to say I had one and was done.

Note to future NOLa travelers, apparently the hurricanes at Pat O's are the bomb.com . I personally wasn't ready soon enough for another cocktail, but will try one the next time!

After we walked off our hand grenade, we stopped into Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, which is the OLDEST bar in the US according to my source. This place still has so many original features, including the candle light.. seriously!

Also, there's a piano in the back where apparently you can get the fella to play just about anything with a $1-$5 bill. We didn't stay long enough to find out, but maybe one day!

WHEN you pop into the Blacksmith Bar, just be SURE you order a purple voodoo daiquiri to commemorate your trip. You won't be sorry!

After finishing our daiquiris, it was time to find a coffee shop! We popped into CC's Coffee House to enjoy a cappuccino and GIANT {warmed} chocolate chip cookie as we snuggled up in the leather chairs near one of the many windows to refuel and recharge. #success

After an eventful couple of hours, it was time to head back to the hotel to change out of our clothes that smelled like BBQ from lunch @ The Joint, relax for a bit & get ready for dinner.

Our dinner choice was one of our faves: burgers & fries at non other than The Company Burger, only a few blocks from our hotel.

I got their classic cheese burger with a side of SWEET potato waffle fries, which was inHALED in about 5 minutes flat. It's a well known fact amongst my close friends & family that I am a loyal Five Guys fanatic.. and while their cajun style fries simply cannot be beat, this burger TOPPED them!

If you're feeling crazy like Nate was, add some bacon & a fried egg to you burger.. but know that it's TOTALLY delicious without!

Okay I promise that was all we ate during day one. And we decided afterward our burgers that a bit of exercise was in order. So we found an outdoor area near cafe beignet back off Bourbon Street that had a live jazz band playing and decided to sit and listen underneath the courtyard trees and twinkling lights- CLOSE but just far away enough from the madness.

The next morning, we got up and took our car to a breakfast place called Surreys which was DEFINITELY one of our favorites- for the location, atmosphere and of course the FOOD.

We parked on a little residential side street and enjoyed the side walk stroll to this restaurant that looked like it was in an old house. If you have to wait for a table inside this quaint little gem, don't worry because the scenery is GORGEOUS outside!

After MUCH debate over the many delicious items on their menu, we decided on Shrimp & Grits (for Nate) & Mango French Toast (for me).

Nate's Shrimp & Grits were everything you'd imagine them to be - rich, savory, salty.. DELICIOUS. Oh, and served with bacon crisps!!

My french toast, however, was OUT OF THIS world delicious. Not just because the flavor was absolutely on POINT, but because the bread used was PERFECTLY toasted on the outside, but nearly melting on the inside. The best way I can describe it is like the perfect campfire marshmallow. Oh my HEAVENS!

After we finished at Surreys, we decided to explore the local neighborhood a bit and walked around. We popped into the local German church (deconsecrated) & strolled past the French church- both of which were BEAUTIFUL!!

Somehow not too long after our walk Nate was ready for lunch & I could only handle a snack. So we popped into one of our lunch selections {that was also near our hotel} called Willa Jeans.

I don't know what was better, the food or the atmosphere. The inside of this place was absolutely ADORABLE and I could just PICTURE meeting Joanna Gaines there for lunch. From the floor, to the walls, to the serving wear, the decor, lighting & even the waiters uniforms.. this place was just the best.

We started out with two local brews and a pimento cheese platter complete with deep fried crackers & house made pickles.

I couldn't eat a whole meal myself so soon, but I did get to taste Nate's & it was fantastic. He ordered the meatloaf sandwich with a tomato relish & homemade chips. It was just one of the MANY items on their menu that I'm sure is just devine!

After lunch and a little walk, we went back to the hotel room to relax a bit before we headed out later that evening for a ghost tour in the French Quarter.

We stopped for a quick salad at a random restaurant near bourbon street & then popped into a daiquiri shop for a drink to take with us on our tour. I got a mango daiquiri & Nate got a frozen margarita!

Yes, the tour was absolutely cheesy, BUT it was fun to take a guided walk & listen to a local talk about the history & culture of NOLA!

We ended the night with some midnight munchies & headed back to the hotel room to call it a night!
The next day was our last in town & we got a bit of a late start since Nate had a brief meeting that morning. We decided to grab the car and head back towards the garden district (in the same general direction of Surreys from the day before).

We stopped to take a peek at the very historic & also very fancy Commanders Palace (which we'll dress up for one day in the future) then took a quick look at one of the Lafayette Cemeteries. Then, we drove just a little further to visit the Uptown St. James Cheese company for lunch - conveniently located next to a place called the wine cellar.

Holy cheese platters, batman!! Seriously, you just CANNOT go wrong with probably anything on the menu there- cheese, meat, entree, wine & beer included!!

We chose a cheese platter, simply letting them know how many we wanted to try. Then they went back, CHOSE the cheeses for us and plated it with all of these delicious goodies! Such a great lunch.

Just a FEW shops down, we made our next stop at the MUCH anticipated Creole Creamery for a dessert fix. This place has SO many unique, homemade flavors including strawberry jalapeƱo, cayenne mango, honey lavender and one with champagne in it!!

I would DEFINITELY recommend trying several of their flavors by getting the mini scoop sampler!! Oh and good LUCK not ordering a waffle cone, because the entire shop smells like a bakery because they make them right in front of you behind the counter. Such a fun place to pop into!

After a FUN afternoon out, we headed back to the hotel to exact the rain for a few hours & watched a little netflix then went down to the bar for a couple of cocktails where we got to chat with the awesome manager of our hotel about our experiences so far. He was pretty impressed with our non traditional choices and said several of those are places he, as a local, would recommend. When I told him about our dinner plans, he quickly assured us we were making the right choice and that I probably would LOVE it.. Gah, he was right!!

For our last night in NOLA, we decided to head over to the Ninth Ward {near The Joint that we visited our first day in town}. We chose a place called Bacchanal, which is described online as a wine bar at which you can encounter a garden party complete with live music any night of the week. 

So. Accurate.

You walk up to this historic, beat down looking house and are carded immediately at the door. Once entering, you feel like you've just walked into a small but PACKED wine cellar. In this room, you are able to buy bottles of wine at cost and pick out any cheeses or meats you want in a large cooler. Once you pick out your selections, the staff at the counter ask if you'd like to pay a small fee to have it plated. Say YES- the $5 is worth it!!!

Once you pay, you walk out a side door and grab your wine glasses out of an open air plastic crate. As you turn the corner and look up you walk into this BEAUTIFUL outdoor space that literally looks like someone's backyard.

The "patio area" is covered by beautiful trees and is filled with mismatched tables & chairs. Around you are tiki torches, hundreds of christmas lights and even a pergola if you sat where we did.. Hallelujah we got the last table available, BUT if you show up and there's no where to sit, you just walk to the upstairs patio {balcony} and hang out up there while you keep an eye out for an opening at a table.

Just as you're sitting there, soaking UP the amazing atmosphere and pouring a glass of you selected wine, one of the waiters brings to you your plated cheese with a mound of toasted bread, various preserves, candied nuts, olives & pickles.

Should you decide that you want to order dinner, you walk to the back of the house and order though a small take out window before you head back to your table to wait on your food while you listen to the live music. We got so lucky the night we were there, apparently the saxophone player in the band was JUST on the late night shows. Needless to say, it was amazing.. ALL of it!

After a night like that, we weren't ready for the trip to end. But Nate said to me, that's how you KNOW that you really had a great time - and he was right.

So until next time, we'll be doing our research to find our next favorite spots!!
But if you and your friends or beau are planning to visit the area.. SKIP the touristy hot spots and visit some of these places.. I PROMISE you won't regret it!

Happy eating & safe travels!!

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