Saturday morning (our last day attending Jazz Fest) we woke up to torrential rain. This didn’t bode well for Festival going. We received an alert that the opening would be delayed due to the weather, so we had to come up with a plan B.
We went downstairs to grab a quick breakfast at the hotel, hoping that the weather might clear a bit. The restaurant, cleverly named Public Service is located just off the main lobby.
The atmosphere is pleasant, and the menu is quite basic.
The food though, was quite disappointing. Even with our breakfasts included thanks to booking through Virtuoso, we vowed that we we would not return on Sunday.
Cold, weak cappuccino, and watery unappealing oatmeal. The peanut butter on the side saved it from being a total loss.
Moral of the story- if staying at The Nopsi, save your calories for somewhere else!
At about 10:30 we braved the wind, rain, and thunder and headed across Lafayette Square towards The Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Even the outside of The Ogden was remarkable!
The Ogden is just across the street from another of New Orleans’ treasures, The National WWII Museum. You can easily spend a full day exploring both these special Museums. The Ogden is not too expansive, but boasts the largest collection of Southern Art in the world. We absolutely loved it.
Also, we were happy to be warm and snug inside!
Some of the fabulous artists whose work I encountered were Rev. Howard Finster .
and Welmon Sharlhorne who used ball point pens on manila folders while in prison.
We were so excited to discover all this fabulous art that we had worked up an appetite! We had received notification that the gates wouldn’t open until 12:30 at Jazz Fest, so we called Maypop to see if they could seat us right away for lunch. They said they were full, but could seat us immediately at the Bar. It was still raining, so we called an Uber and headed right over. We had been anxious to try Maypop, but didn’t know where to fit it in- the bad weather had one good consequence!
Maypop is located in the Warehouse district (right near Willa Jean), and is a culinary mash-up of Vietnamese and New Orleans cuisines. As they are two of my favorites, I was anxious to try it. As you enter the restaurant you can’t help but notice the large mural of gorgeous Maypops, otherwise known as the Purple Passionflower.
The dining room is spacious and bright.
We were able to snag the end of the bar so we could watch a bit of the action.
We were also seated next to Chef Michael Gulatta’s Best New Chef and Best New Restaurant awards. Our expectations were high!
The menu was short, but everything was tempting.
While we perused the choices, a Maypop Bloody Mary was calling my name.
We winnowed our choices down to the five dishes we really wanted to try. It wasn’t easy.
First up was Roasted Duckling with Boat Noodles, Hot & Sour Broth, Duck Cracklin and Peanuts. Beyond delicious.
Then we shared perfectly executed Crispy Calamari with Tamarind and Fish Sauce.
Charred String Bean Salad with an irresistible garlicky dipping sauce.
Blue Crab and Fermented Black Bean Gumbo which was rich yet delicate.
The pièce de résistance was surely the Spicy Buttermilk Fried Hot Chicken in Vindaloo Curry. I could barely take a tiny forkful before my husband wiped the plate clean.
Maypop was outstanding. The service was friendly and informative, the setting was filled with good energy (and the lighting was fabulous for photographing the food!) and the meal was scrumptious. This was definitely the best food of the trip. I would put it at the top of your list if you are heading to NOLA.
Satiated and re-energized, we were thrilled to see the rain had stopped. We caught the next shuttle to the Fairgrounds and prepared ourself for our last day of music (the Festival did run through Sunday, but we had to head home midday).
We some some great local acts including The Hot 8 Brass Band. The crowd remained enthusiastic and undaunted by the soggy conditions.
As I mentioned, we attended second weekend expressly for Pitbull, so we were sure to be in place early for a good spot.
It was hot and humid, so we decided to give a King Cake Snow Cone a try. A little cloying.
The Shandy was a bigger success.
By the time Pitbull came on at 5:40 we were glad to have carved out our spots. The crowd was huge, and incredibly excited. I think they screamed the entire time.
While I’m not exactly sure where he fits in on the Jazz/Heritage spectrum, he sure put on a great show.
Even though the day was short due to the storm in the morning, we left the Festival very happy.
For Dinner that night we had made a reservation at Toups South at 9 pm. The restaurant is located in an off the beaten path location, within the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Unfortunately the Museum is only open during the day, because it looks really cool.
The restaurant is quite large, and it was full. We had specifically reserved seats at the bar to be able to watch the Chefs.
Here again, the menu was quite concise, but everything sounded yummy- and it seemed the portions were massive.
The cocktail list was clever, but we didn’t venture too far into it- though the Pork Chops and Applesauce sounded like it could be interesting.
We started with a small bowl of exceedingly salty, fatty, and addictive Cracklins (Fried Pork Skin). They were really good, but you couldn’t down too many.
Next we tried the BBQ Octopus atop Grits (with some bonus Tasso). Really Tasty!
The Jumbo lump crab with homemade chips was my pick, and it was really delicate and good.
My husband made the choice of the Stack of Fried Pork Chops. With White Bread. It may not look like it, but there were SIX giant chops stacked up. A gentleman sitting across the Bar even asked if he could come take a photo of it in all its excess.!!
His eyes were definitely bigger than his stomach- we managed to eat two of them, and asked them to box up the rest. We certainly had no room for dessert! We enjoyed Toups, and if you are a lover of Southern Food, with a bit of a modern twist, and have a very big appetite, I think you would have fun there.
We ended up giving our leftovers to our very grateful Lyft driver who hadn’t had a chance to have dinner, and couldn’t wait to dig in when she got home.
Our flight was mid-morning, so we had time for a quick stop at Mother’s Restaurant. A visit to New Orleans is not complete until you have had one meal at this iconic spot. There is frequently a line out the door, but we arrived so early (they open at 7:00 am) that we were able to go right in.
The Restaurant workers are unfailingly cheerful, even when the line snakes out the door.
I went with the Scrambled Eggs and Grits, while my husband had the classic Ferdi Special Po’ Boy. The Ferdi is Ham, Roast Beef, gravy, and Debris (the best part- all the good stuff from the bottom of the roasting pan). My breakfast felt pretty austere in comparison. Breakfast did not disappoint. It was classic.
We walked a bit along the River front to help digest a little before our flight.
As we prepared to leave we said the same thing we say each time we visit- we need to fast for a week! The food is that good. Take a trip down for a long weekend. If you can manage to plan your visit around Jazz Fest, even better!
On our way to the airport we gifted our Lyft driver our Big Chief Passes to use on the final day of Jazz Fest. He was so elated and excited that it made our day. He told us he was dropping us off and immediately picking up his lady friend to go have a fabulous time.
Maypop sounds heavenly 🤩