February, as we’ve noted before, is the perfect time to visit New Orleans. You’ve got Mardi Gras. You’ve got reasonable weather that won’t make you sweat to death. And you have the highly anticipated opening of the new restaurant Wild South.
Located in the home of the former restaurant Lengua Madre (which closed in 2023), chef Michael Stoltzfus, owner of the highly regarded Coquette, has teamed up with former Cochon Chef de Cuisine Bret Macris to create a unique, tasting menu-style restaurant that will “reimagine the food traditions of the region.”
The goal, as described by Macris, is to take the local, fresh goods of New Orleans and turn them into an eclectic and exciting tasting menu that varies from day to day. There will also be a la carte options in the 40-seat restaurant at the bar, in case you don’t want the full experience, or just want to sample a few plates along with a drink (or two, or three).
Renovations are currently underway, and the opening is tentatively planned on February 28, 2024 (though subject to change). And from what little we’ve seen of the menu so far, it looks incredible.
If you are planning on traveling down for the opening, or to taste Wild South’s wares at any point, you might want to check out some other places to eat, drink and just hang out in New Orleans. So we asked Macris to recommend five of his favorite places in the city, for an insider’s guide of where to go in New Orleans.
Wild South is slated to open later this month at 1245 Constance St. in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans.
“For obvious reasons, but this place is always solid and creative. Every dish is thoughtful and well curated.”
Located at 2800 Magazine St, the corner bistro-style restaurant has been a fave for years, and is listed as number 74 on TripAdvisor’s list of places to eat in the city. For a city known for its food, that’s a pretty big deal. The building was built in the 1880s, and the restaurant features two floors of dining, in a business casual setting that is pricey, but worth it.
Find Out More: Coquette
2. Brieux Carre
“My favorite brewery in town. They specialize in lagers and each one shows the quality of craftsmanship and experience.”
Located at 2115 Decatur Street, the brewery has 12 rotating taps with fun names like “Ain’t No Place To Pils On Mardi Gras Day” (a Pilsner) and “Wake Me Up Before You Gose-Gose” (a Gose). Beyond the taps, they also sell merch and have 4-packs to go.
Find Out More: Brieux Carre
3. Frenchman Street
“The whole street. There’s no other place you can check out so many music venues on a three-block strip.”
What the man said. Running between the French Quarter and Marigny, all the way to Gentilly, it features storied jazz clubs like Snug Harbor, The Spotted Cat, d.b.a., Blue Nile, and Café Negril. Don’t worry, there’s also an art bazaar, and plenty of restaurants to keep you busy, too.
Find Out More: New Orleans official site for Frenchman Street
4. R Bar
“It’s an institution at this point. Ultimate dive bar. I blame one of the bartenders for the consummation of my son.”
Located at the Royal Street Inn on 1431 Royal Street, we won’t promise that R Bar will get you pregnant, but it will get you drunk on PBR (and a wide selection of specialty beers). On Mondays, you can get a haircut in the bar’s barber chair, which isn’t just for show. And fans of the show NCIS: New Orleans might recognize it as the stand-in for the series’s Tru Tone Bar.
Find Out More: Royal Street Inn and Bar
5. Hotel Peter And Paul
“Stay here. Such an impressive display of hospitality. Head to Elysian Bar while you’re there and get an amazing cocktail.”
The hotel is located at 2317 Burgundy Street in Marigny, renovated from a church schoolhouse, rectory and convent first built in the 1860s. In case you couldn’t tell from the previous sentence, this is actually four buildings, with 71 guest rooms total, plus a bookstore, café and bar. Given the unique nature of the hotel, rooms aren’t insanely pricey – a current check puts them in the $300-$400 range – though some sites have them stretching up to $700 and more.
Find Out More: Ash's official site for Hotel Peter and Paul