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    Alligator Cheesecake And 19 Other Things I Ate And Drank In New Orleans

    Shrimp-and-alligator cheesecake. That's all.

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    There is an inconceivable number of (delicious) food and drink options in New Orleans, hence my inviting you to tag along as I eat and drink my way through the Big Easy. Consider this the foundation for mapping out your own foodie adventure.

    A colorful house with many plants on the balcony
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    I crafted an itinerary based on local suggestions and tourist must-stops alike; plus, I added an addendum of delicious spots I visited on previous trips (but sadly couldn't make time for on this particular weekend).

    illustrated graphic
    Brooke Greenberg / BuzzFeed

    7:30 P.M. — Maypop

    The meal
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Crispy fried catfish, spicy crab broth, shrimp ravioli... *stomach rumbles*. Maypop offers a constantly changing menu inspired by Southeast Asian staples and Creole dishes, combined. This was the first meal I had after touching down in NOLA, and it set a very high bar: Everything was mouthwateringly good, and if you're a serious foodie, you'll want to jot this down on your personal "must visit" list. 

    Address: 611 O'Keefe Ave., New Orleans, LA 70113

    9:00 P.M. — Seaworthy

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    This cozy spot (I hate the term "date night," but the dim lighting and speakeasy vibes call for it here) is perfect for fresh oysters, hush puppies, and cocktails. My gooooood, the cocktails. They were so good.

    Don't be intimidated by the first drink on the menu because it happens to be their most beloved bevvie — introducing Holy Water: a delicious blend of spiced rum, cognac, green chartreuse, house-made almond syrup, fresh-squeezed grapefruit, lemon, lime, and angostura bitters served in a candle votive on fire. And if the description isn't enough to convince you how smooth it tastes, here is a real quote from my fiancé: "This is danger juice."

    Address: 630 Carondelet St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    🚶: 4-minute walk from Maypop

    10:00 P.M. — Bar Marilou

    The drinks
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Walk down an alleyway dripping in greenery toward the red neon Marilou sign. From there, you’ll enter a swanky lounge (plush velvet couches and dramatic window drapes after my damn heart) with an equally swanky menu to boot. Think organic wines and creative cocktails like the Le Canard: duck fat–washed rye whiskey, Cocchi Rosa, Amaro Lucano, and rosemary. If you're the kind of person who hasn't ordered a vodka soda since college dive bar days (and prefer more inventive takes on spirits), you'll definitely go gaga over this lounge. 

    Address: 544 Carondelet St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    🚶: 1-minute walk from Seaworthy

    illustrated graphic
    Brooke Greenberg / BuzzFeed

    8:15 A.M. — Hurts Donuts Company

    the donut
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Breakfast is irrelevant unless it comes in donut form (the Lord's words, not mine), and this place delivers in the form of funky flavors. Caramel Apple is perfect for fall, S’mores is always a good idea, but the pièce de résistance is Peanut Butter Cup, which…I didn’t get a picture for because I ate it too quickly. My apologies. 

    Psst, if you're not going to be in NOLA anytime soon, this is a franchise with multiple locations

    Address: 501 Loyola Ave., New Orleans, LA 70113

    11:00 A.M. — Muriel's Jackson Square

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    This iconic spot is known for its resident ghost (the harmless spirit of one Mr. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan) and a Séance Lounge that feels like a spooky museum. Brunch here is a fantastic idea — the food is great; see: a wild mushroom omelet — because immediately following a caffeine-and-carb overload, you'll walk out and be smack-dab in the middle of the French Quarter. This is absolutely one of the more "on every tourist list" spots, but yes, it's worth it. It's solid food served with a generous helping of fascinating New Orleans history.

    Address: 801 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70116

    🚶: 25-minute walk from Hurts Donuts; 7-minute drive

    12:30 P.M. — The Carousel Bar & Lounge, Hotel Monteleone

    The carousel bar
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Touristy? Perhaps. But if drinking a delicious Fleurs des Lis cocktail (Hendrick's gin, Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, cucumber, ginger ale, and club soda) in an ornate, slow-moving carousel is wrong...I never want to be right again. This unique experience is something you should cross off your bucket list at least once, preferably for a midday treat, as I've heard it gets extra packed in the evenings. 

    Address: 214 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130

     🚶: 10-minute walk from Muriel's; 6-minute drive 

    2:30 P.M. — Café Amelie

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Quaint, casual, delicious. This is a great break from French Quarter exploring because their bites make for *the* perfect light lunch — think pear, beet, and goat cheese salads topped with your choice of salmon or grilled chicken. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the courtyard looks as if it was plucked from the romantic setting of my dreams, and there are fans blowing a lovely, constant breeze while you nibble.

    Address: 912 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70116

    🚶: 10-minute walk from Carousel; 8-minute drive

    5:00 P.M. — The Commons Club

    The drink
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Located in the lobby of the brand-new Virgin Hotels New Orleans, this eclectic space feels more like a cool home than a stuffy bar, thanks to multiple rooms (the kitchen, the bar, and the ~shag~ room meeting lounge) defined by funky wallpaper, cozy velvet couches, and life-size marble busts. Feast on contemporary American food or opt for a quick drink. I was on my way to a haunted house but needed a bit of liquid courage, and their Oaks Magnolia cocktail delivered. Consider it an upscale version of cranberry vodka: Skyy blood orange vodka, Grand Marnier, cranberry, and lemon. 

    Address: 550 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA 70113

    7:30 P.M. — Jacques-Imo's

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    "Warm beer, lousy food, poor service." That's the motto hanging above the awning of Jacques-Imo's, a local favorite that serves up authentic New Orleans dishes in an unpretentious setting. Their drinks are strong, and the menu offers both classic and inventive options — I ordered a shrimp-and-alligator cheesecake for the clout but ended up eating until the last amoeba-sized crumb. They don't take reservations, but be sure to prioritize this spot in your itinerary — it was absolutely my favorite food stop.

    Address: 8324 Oak St., New Orleans, LA 70118

    🚶: 14-minute drive from the Commons Club

    9:30 P.M. — Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge

    the drink
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    “It’s the diviest dive bar ever” were the words used to describe this spot by the Jacques-Imo's bartender, and honestly, accurate. Tucked into a cozy and unassuming residential neighborhood (Google Maps said we arrived and I was like, you sure?), this is THE place for cheap drinks, good throwback hits, and an awesome atmosphere. Someone sat at the bar with their wiener dog. The bartender knew almost everyone who walked in. Loved it here. I would 10/10 make this my go-to Friday night place if it were transported to New York. 

    Address: 7612 Oak St., New Orleans, LA 70118

    🚶: 10-minute drive from Jacques-Imo's; 4-minute drive 

    10:15 P.M. — Maple Leaf Bar

    Fox

    This awesome venue-and-bar hybrid hosts live music seven days a week and is the place for grabbing a drink and listening to great tunes. You can check out their calendar in advance, but tickets run anywhere from $15 to $20 a pop, and you can get 'em right at the door. 

    My phone had died at this point and my fiancé could only provide iPhone 6 camera quality, so please envision a cozy bar and playing band as opposed to the above GIF. 

    Address: 8316 Oak St., New Orleans, LA 70118

    🚶: 10-minute walk from Snake and Jake's; 3-minute drive 

    NOTE: Maple Leaf is next door to Jacques-Imo's, but we had time to kill before the live show started — hence we went to Snake and Jake's first. 

    illustrated graphic
    Brooke Greenberg / BuzzFeed

    7:30 A.M. — The Funny Library

    the coffee
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    A quick and delicious iced caffeine at the Funny Library, also located in the Virgin Hotel New Orleans (which is where I stayed). These magazines were complimentary with my coffee, so I skimmed through while sipping. 

    Address: 550 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA 70113

    9:30 A.M. — Brennan's

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Brennan's has unintentionally ruined my brunch standards for life. I was in desperate need of hair of the dog — alcohol to combat last night's remnants of alcohol — and their drinks delivered. I'd like to formally introduce you to the Wake Up Call (cold brew, Meletti Amaro, bourbon, almond syrup, cream) and Brandy Milk Punch (brandy, heavy cream, vanilla bean, nutmeg). Both were divine. Who knew caffeine could get any more perfect?

    And the food was as delicious as the inventive cocktails! Order an oatmeal crumble baked apple appetizer along with the iconic Eggs Hussarde and Creole omelet for mains. Bananas Foster made table-side is also a must, as it was invented at Brennan's in the 1950s! Multiple people told me that brunch here was an amazing experience — they were definitely not wrong.

    Address: 417 Royal St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    🚶: 16-minute walk from the Funny Library; 8-minute drive

    11:30 A.M. — Café Du Monde

    the beignets
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    I'm sure you've never heard of this place! It's definitely not in every "Things you have to do in NOLA" list you've read! Not a tourist spot that inspires a wraparound line at all!  

    I'm laying on the sarcasm thick here, but hand to heart, you need to stop at Café Du Monde at least once while in the French Quarter. Their beignets are delicious and fresh, straight from the fryer, and drenched in powdered sugar. Wash it down with their equally iconic café au lait chicory coffee combined with hot milk. 

    Address: 800 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116

    🚶: 8-minute walk from Brennan's; 4-minute drive 

    2:00 P.M. — Jack Rose

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    A funky atmosphere coupled with classic tunes by Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner? Bliss. Menu options include chicken and waffles and burgers if you’re in the mood for tried-and-true classics; but citrus and chili seared tuna, royal red shrimp covered in cornflakes, and eggplant teriyaki are up for grabs if you want something new. And don’t skimp on dessert...as evidenced by the three-layer ice cream above topped with marshmallow and chocolate sauce.

    This is right on Charles Avenue, which means cocktails served in a disco ball should be followed by a walk through the Garden District (you can take a walking tour at your leisure here).

    Address: 2031 St. Charles Ave., Floor 1, New Orleans, LA 70130

    🚶: 10-minute drive from Café Du Monde (a great pickup point from the French Quarter)

    4:30 P.M. — The Elysian Bar

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    I've entered a new phase of adulthood, defined by my lusting over ornate gold mirrors and fireplace decor for a fireplace I don't have. That is to say, I loved the Elysian Bar, an aesthetically stunning property set in the former rectory of Sts. Peter and Paul Church. There are five spaces to explore: the café, courtyard, bar, atrium, church, and two parlors (one of which is featured above).

    And the cocktails are as impressive as the interior design! I'd like to give a special shoutout to the combination of gin, cucumber, lime, and rosewater featured in the Juliet & Romeo. I had delicious light bites with my cocktail but plan on stopping back for a proper sit-down dinner on my eventual trip back to NOLA. This place was seriously gorgeous.

    Address: 2317 Burgundy St., New Orleans, LA 70117

    🚶: 13-minute drive from Jack Rose

    8:00 P.M. — Sylvain

    the cornbread
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Set in a carriage house built in the late 1700s, Sylvain serves delicious fare: biscuits and gravy, braised short rib, chicken liver paté (especially lovely)...but anyway, let's talk about the cornbread. It's served in a cast-iron skillet with syrup and butter, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I think about it all the time. Never thought I'd experience true love brought forth by a cornmeal-based dish, but here we are. 

    Address: 625 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70130

    🚶: 20-minute walk from the Elysian Bar; 8-minute drive 

    9:15 P.M. — Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Every photo I took of Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar came out blurry, and while, yes, I had many drinks at this point, my hand was steady! I blame the resident ghost and namesake of the bar, Jean Lafitte. Live piano music and strong drinks aside, this is a must-stop on any tourist list because a) there's barely any electricity and the place is lit primarily by candles, and b) it's considered one of the most haunted spots in the French Quarter. The structure itself dates back to the 1700s!

    Address: 941 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70116

    🚶: 7-minute walk from Sylvain; 3-minute drive

    10:00 P.M. — Fritzel's European Jazz Pub

    The jazz pub
    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    Bourbon Street is to New Orleans what Times Square is to New York City. But are you, as a tourist, going to fly into the Big Easy and not see what the alcohol-to-go fuss is about? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. You have to walk the rowdy strip of Bourbon Street at least once, but heed my advice and make a beeline for this place. 

    This jazz pub is located at the far end of Bourbon Street in the slightly more quiet section — and this is where you'll feel like you're biting into an authentic slice of NOLA pie. There is fantastic live music being played by talented artists, the bartenders are friendly, and everyone seems to know one another. There were several times when a guest would walk in and a band member would wave in recognition because it turns out that locals frequent this place just as much as tourists do. This is a must-stop. 

    Address: 733 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70116

    🚶: 3-minute walk from Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

    And if you have some more time, here are spots I visited previously that I LOVED but couldn't revisit this time around:

    AnaMaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    * Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits (backyard wine bar)

    * Mona Lisa (Italian food)

    * Kajun's Pub (dive bar)

    * The Spotted Cat Music Club (live music lounge)

    * The Joint (BBQ, baby)

    * Gumbo Shop (gumbo, duh)

    * Hansen's Sno-Bliz (SNOW CONES)

    What's your favorite NOLA spot? Be sure to drop 'em in the comments below!

    Don't forget to check out Bring Me! for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more!

    Jay Fleckenstein / BuzzFeed