People say what happens in New Orleans, stays there. (Sound familiar, Mardi Gras and Tales of the Cocktail goers?) But that’s a shame, because it means that those of us who have a soft spot for the southern city (as well as all the Louisiana-to-D.C. transplants) need to keep returning to get our fix. But if you’ve got a hankering for a Hurricane or a craving for crawfish etouffee, you’re in luck. D.C.’s now got a host of bars and restaurants that cater to the Bourbon Street-walking crowd.
The spot: Vieux Carre
The experience: Creative director Seth McClelland was so inspired by the space's existing iron mezzanine that he used it as a statement piece for the new bar on K Street. "We want our guests to experience a fun, upbeat atmosphere that translates well from happy hour to late night, as well as from weekdays." Expect festive celebrations with live music, and DJs to help celebrate Mardi Gras and Voodoo Fest.
Signature dishes / drinks: Po'Boys; Cajun Fries; Ramos Gin Fizzes; and the Vieux Carre cocktail, with French brandy, American rye, sweet vermouth, bitters and Benedictine.
Three adjectives that evoke the spirit of NOLA: “Historic, funky, fun!”
What you like best about the city: “It's a city that embraces a fierce individuality while simultaneously fostering an incredible sense of community,” says McClelland. “People get invited to crawfish boils or BBQs without even knowing the people throwing them; the culture in New Orleans is unlike anywhere else I've ever been.”
The deets: 1413 K Street NW, vieuxcarredc.com
The spot: Acadiana
The experience: "We want it to be a place for people to get a true taste of the city," says chef and co-proprietor Jeff Tunks. "And for those who are homesick, to find some comfort through the cuisine and overall experience." The Convention Center restaurant and bar is the place to slurp Gulf Coast oysters, sip classic libations and take in a lazy Sunday brunch with all-day live music.
Signature dishes / drinks: Muffalettas; Po-Boys on Leidenheimer bread; beignets; crawfish etouffee; bbq shrimp; Category 5 Hurricane; Sazerac; and Abita beer.
Three adjectives that evoke the spirit of NOLA: "Decadent, exotic, debauchery.”
What you love about the city: "Everyone who lives in New Orleans is passionate about food, and of course that you can walk down the street with a cocktail in your hand!"
The deets: 901 New York Avenue NW, acadianarestaurant.com
The spot: Bayou Bakery
The experience: Everything -- from the wide-planked floors and LSU, Tulane and Saints stickers and flags to the Louisiana plantation cookbooks that grace bathrooms walls and an alligator's head -- is meant to make chef and owner David Guas (and all transplants) feel at home. "What I wanted people to discover about New Orleans in my restaurant is something that is truly local – what is found on Magazine Street – funkified interiors with authentic dining and coffee that radiates the soulfulness of my city."
Signature dishes / drinks: Muff-A-Lotta, packed with salami, mortadella, smoked ham, provolone and olive salad on a warm sesame roll; Andouille-filled red beans and rice on Mondays; King Cakes during Mardi Gras season; frothy Brandy Milk Punch with half and half, vanilla bean syrup and nutmeg.
Three adjectives that evoke the spirit of NOLA: "Where y'at?"
What you love most about the city: "Hometown pride for the New Orleans Saints--our Dat-O cookies pay tribute to the team and the entire Who Dat Nation; Jazz at Preservation Hall--you can't beat the music in the south; and without a doubt our state's slogan of a Sportsman's Paradise speaks about all you can do here, from fishing to hunting."
The deets: Multiple locations, bayoubakerydc.com
The spot: Bayou
The experience: "We're a local neighborhood place like a lot of places down there," declares managing partner Sean Santa about the funky restaurant and bar in the West End. "We want guests to feel comfortable, soak up our NOLA playlist and enjoy some traditional food." Cajun and Creole dishes have a D.C. spin, live music pulses upstairs and artwork from New Orleans street artists and galleries adorn the walls.
Signature dishes / drinks: Hurricane: Satsuma Daiquiri, with Cruzan White Rum, Bayou Satsuma Liqueur, lime and powdered sugar; boudin balls; shrimp and grits.
Three adjectives that evoke the spirit of NOLA: "Crazy, outrageous, Disneyland for adults."
What you like best about the city: "NOLA is a special place that's difficult to replicate--there's no city that's close to it in the States," declares Santa.
The deets: 2519 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, bayouonpenn.com