There’s plenty to explore around the Alder Hotel, even on foot. Mostly, this area of the city is heavily residential, with late 19th-century houses and small commercial properties drowning in lush greenery. The grand mansions under the canopies of live oaks of St. Charles Avenue are a few blocks away, and so is the shopping and dining strip of Magazine Street.
One of the main attractions in the neighborhood is Freret Street, named after an antebellum New Orleans mayor. The stately mansions mix with the historic shotguns, surrounding the thriving eight-block corridor of Freret Street between Napoleon and Jefferson avenues. Due to the robust recovery and development efforts led by the locally-owned small businesses, developers, and the city administration, the street got an injection of much-needed business and renovation and is showing no signs of slowing down.
The neighborhood has its own monthly market and an annual festival, both held along Freret Street’s commercial strip. It even has its own Carnival krewe, Krewe of Freret, which parades during Mardi Gras and hosts a summer stroll.
Just walking down the Freret Street corridor will bring you to the top-notch (and some of the most diverse) shopping and entertainment destinations. Of course, there’s plenty to eat and drink there as well. In the morning, hit up the dim and cozy Mojo Coffee House or the Rook Cafe for vegan pastries and locally roasted coffee.
Need something more substantial first thing in the morning? The fun, upbeat Slim Goodies Diner on Magazine Street won’t steer you wrong with its inventively named slammers (different kinds of scrambles, from meaty to vegan, served with hash browns). Another inexpensive option is The Camellia Grill, a legendary Carrollton Avenue diner that’s been serving hearty omelets and pecan pie since 1946. There will probably be a line, but it moves quickly, and you can get breakfast all day.
Molly’s Rise and Shine on Magazine Street, the followup to nationally buzzed-about Turkey and the Wolf, is also worth a visit. Its menu is full of items like bagel bites, burritos, the star special, the Grand Slam McMuffin (pork patties, hashbrowns, onions, American cheese), but also lighter fare like the roasted carrot yogurt.
A bright, quaint daytime cafe best known for its hearty American breakfast, Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe is yet another option. Since opening in 1998, Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe has become a New Orleans fixture, known for some of the best breakfast in the city. Panola serves classics like Eggs Benedict, Crabcakes Benedict, and a host of specialty omelets from open to close (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.), along with hot-plate lunch specials every weekday.
For lunch, try alligator sausage at the affordable Dat Dog, or have a craft cocktail at Cure and a glass of award-winning wine at Bar Frances come happy hour. Any time of day, catfish is the star of the menu of the Louisiana-meets-the-Delta High Hat Cafe. Also, check out Mint Modern Vietnamese Bistro & Bar for several varieties of pho, banh mi, or a kimchi burger (we love this place!).
Guy’s Po-Boys has been a beloved local lunch staple since the early 1990s. It’s often voted among the top five po-boy shops in the city, if not the top. The fried shrimp po-boy is definitely among the best in the city. A great on-the-go lunch option on the bustling Magazine Street, Tal’s Hummus is a quick-service-style tiny spot that specializes in Israeli-inspired food such as falafel, hummus, pita sandwiches, platters, kebabs, salads, and more. It’s fresh, quick, delicious, and made fresh to order.
At least two more Magazine Street lunch options among the post-pandemic newcomers we can recommend are the ramen bar Nomiya and Picnic Provisions & Whiskey, a family- and dog-friendly indoor/outdoor, casual spot from the people helming Commander’s Palace, including co-founder and owner Tory McPhail, the former executive chef at Commander’s.
Dinner options abound, too. Our top recommendations include Appoline or Bistro Daisy for their romantic settings and high-end Southern/French cuisine, the iconic Casamento’s for oysters and other types of local seafood, chef Alon Shaya’s Saba or the family-friend Misa for elevated Middle Eastern cuisine, and the ever popular Taqueria Corona for great margaritas and family-style classic Mexican food.
The very photogenic St. Charles Avenue is probably best seen out of its historic streetcar, which you can ride for all of $1.25 from the CBD/downtown all the way upriver (exact change required, or get passes online). The street has retained a good number of historically significant 19th-century mansions, and you’ll find a lot of them in the Garden District section of Uptown.
St. Charles Avenue hosts one of the best collections of historic houses in the South, including the “Wedding Cake House” (5807 St. Charles Ave.), the 1896 Colonial Revival home with lots of Victorian splendor to offer; the “Anthemion” (4631 St. Charles Ave.), which used to house the Japanese consulate; the “Smith House” (4534 St. Charles Ave.), built in 1906 for the president of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange, William Smith; the “Elms Mansion” (3029 St. Charles Ave.), an 1869 architectural wonder; and the “Diocesan” (2265 St. Charles Ave.), designed and built by the prominent local architect James Gallier.
Another St. Charles Avenue gem that deserves a mention is the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library, a restored neo-Italianate limestone mansion built in 1907 for a wealthy merchant, Mark Isaacs. Inside, you’ll find the original ceiling frescoes and murals, and the well-preserved formal rooms on the first two floors.
Heading into Carrolton and toward the Mississippi River, the imposing facades and sprawling balconies become generously mixed with the more modest but still well-preserved shotguns and thriving local businesses, including some of the best bars and restaurants in the city.
Of course, don’t miss the magnificent Audubon Park which contains the Audubon Zoo and faces the historic campuses of Tulane and Loyola universities. Both boast an architectural mix of styles of the 19th century and modern, with the backdrop of large live oaks.
Just like Freret Street’s revitalized strip, the 13 blocks of Magazine Street are meant to be walked. It’s the main commercial artery that the Garden District and Uptown share, and it’s crammed with restaurants, bars, sidewalk cafes, and dozens of retail stores where you can buy local art, antiques, vintage clothing, funky costumes, and more. Get some locally made New Orleans-centric gear at Dirty Coast or Fleurty Girl, or satisfy your costuming and vintage needs at Funky Monkey and Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & Costumes.
If you’d like a dozen raw oysters with your martini, head to the iconic Pascal’s Manale, where oysters are shucked right in front of you. For live music, the iconic Tipitina’s and the Maple Leaf Bar cannot be beaten, both a short ride away. There’s also something going on at Gasa Gasa, be it a movie screening, live music, or a krewe party.
Finally, no Uptown architectural tour is complete without hitting the above-ground Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 on Washington Avenue, in the heart of the Garden District. It’s the oldest of the seven city-operated cemeteries in New Orleans, with some interesting society tombs (the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Home For Destitute Orphan Boys among them) and over a thousand family tombs. The iconic cemetery has served as a popular backdrop for many music videos and movies over the years (Double Jeopardy, Dracula, etc.). Please note that as of December 2022, the cemetery is closed for maintenance and repairs.
And right across the street is the incomparable Commander’s Palace (elevated Creole fare), a slice of classic New Orleans, not to be missed.
Happy exploring near the Alder Hotel!