A couple of questions about New Orleans

I’ll be passing thru this town on vacation in a while. The week I’m going to be there it seems that all of the better-priced places close to the French Quarter have been taken (don’t know what’s going on), but I did find a place in the 1700 block of Canal.

Looks like about a 15-minute or so walk to the Quarter. Is that a safe area to walk thru to get there?

I’d like to sample some of the local cuisine, obviously, and have found that one of the delicacies native to the New Orleans area is nutria. Hmmmm. Nutria? Nutritious? Sounds good to me. Anyone with any leads on restaurants serving nutria?

VunderWife, who lived in the area for a while, says that that far north on Canal is dodgy 24-7.

Pretty much anywhere you go in NO that attracts tourists also attracts muggers, pickpockets, and the like, it’s just a matter of what areas are thicker than the rest.

A nutria is a giant muskrat, YMMV. I prefer alligator poboys and mudbug (crayfish) ettouffe.

Never eaten nutria myself, but this picture is enough to keep it that way.

It’s not exactly exotic, but if you’ve never had a beignet from Cafe du Monde, you owe yourself the pleasure. IIRC, there’s an open-air cafe in the French Quarter, and another in the riverwalk mall (really neat shopping center, by the way). Best donuts ever.

Oh, and a tip. If someone on the street tries to sell you something, don’t buy it. If someone tries to give you something, don’t take it…or take it and run, as they may well be preparing to launch into a religious discussion with you. Just my experience; YMMV.

I’ve had good luck finding open rooms at the Queen and Crescent Hotel. It’s not to unreasonable in price and the staff treat you like a King(or Queen…you know…depending). :wink:

It’s about a 10 minute walk to the French Quarter and just about anywhere else down in that area. I’ve booked a room there for Jazz Fest with less than 2 weeks notice. I’d highly recommend it.


The few times I’ve stayed in a hotel down there, I didn’t pay. Hmm, that sounds kinda sleazy, doesn’t it? Okay, I went with my sister and her kids. But if you can’t get a place in the quarter, we also stayed in the Hampton Inn on St. Charles uptown, easy streetcar access to the quarter, plus the added benefit of actual trees and it not smelling like a sewer. God I love New Orleans, but the Quarter on a hot summer day can be a truly foul smell.

That said, the hotel Johnny recommended looks really cool.

I missed Johnny’s hotel! I’ll have to say something weird though. That foul garbage smell kind of grows on you. You’ll be walking down the street in a different city and smell a dumpster and remember ‘good times’ in the French Quarter. It’s a very wild experience. :slight_smile:

I stayed there a couple of years ago while on an internet chatboard convention. We were on the far edge of the French Quarter, I think our walk was about that far too, IIRC.

Even when walking back from the clubs in the wee hours, we rarely saw anything scary or dangerous, and when we were there, there were quite a few officers around.

Most of the times we traveled in groups of 3 or so, so I don’t know how it would be to walk alone, but there are LOT of people around during the day.

Have fun, I love that place, it’s almost as much fun as Vegas.

I am from Louisiana and I have not ever eaten nutria and I don’t plan on it. They are basically giant rats from hell. I saw one kill a goldren retriever once while I was duck hunting with my father and his buddy. The poor dog went into the swamp grass to retrieve a fallen duck and got attacked. The poor girl’s side was ripped completely open and her organs were exposed. She died on the way to the vet.

Nutria is rare in restaraunts in New Orleans due to lack of demand. The reason that the tried to start the trend was that that the Sheriff’s Department and “bounty hunters” have to go out at night to the levees and shoot as many of them as possible. They needed something to do with them. The nutria borrow into the side of the levees and weaken them. The levees are the only thing that keeps New Orleans a city instead of a swamp because it is 4 to 5 feet below sea level.

That being said, New Orleans cuisine is awsome. I recommend fried alligator either in a po boy or by itself with dipping sauce, gumbo, shrimp creole, Banana’s Foster over baked brie, fried catfish, gulf shrimp, boiled crawfish, raw oysters. My god, I could go on and on.

New Orleans isn’t like other American cities (to say the least). The culture is heavily ingrained and you won’t have any problem finding all of these foods and more especially in the French Quarter or most other areas of the city.

One tip, the French Quarter is a blast but don’t spend ALL your time there. The St. Charles street car runs from just before Boubon Street across Canal all the way into the gorgeous garden district, uptown, and back. The romantic streetcars run 24 hours a day for a nominal fee and are used as real transportation rather than just a tourist attraction.

One reason that I bring this up is that it is also perfectly convienent to stay a little away from the French Quarter up St. Charles into the Garden District. Even if you stay out until 4 am (which you will oddly find yourself doing), the street cars will still be running to take you back to your hotel.

The 1700 block of Canal Street is pretty dicey. You really need to have street smarts to walk up parts of Canal Street. It is not a question of IF someone will approach you but WHEN and how many of them will their be. You have to be prepared to push through people if they surround you. They feed on tourists that don’t know anything about New Orleans street culture. People that look like they know what they are doing generally get left alone.

People WILL try to stop you and ask you something for whatever bullshit reason. Whatever it is, pretend that you don’t hear them and keep walking preferably very rapidly. I don’t mean to scare you. I went to college in New Orleans (Tulane) and nothing serious ever happened to me. However, tourists get scammed, mugged, or worse all the time by not following these rules. Also, the upper part of Bourbon Street is safe as is Royal Street. However, do not walk on the side streets or backwaters of the French Quarter by yourself. Bad people tend to lurk in the shadows.

If you tell us when you are going, we might be able to help your hotel search. I have a couple of ideas that are about a 10 minute streetcar ride away from the heart of the quarter if that is what you are interested in.

If all goes according to plan, November 6-10.

That’s a good time to go. It should cool down enough to be tolerable by then. I will look to see if I can find something. Are you opposed to staying on St. Charles? It is MUCH nicer than that part of Canal but you will need to take a streetcar or a cab (they are everywhere) a short distance.

Aw shoot, sorry Kaotic ! That was a bizarre brain fart! No I mean you. It’s all you.

Aw, I love New Orleans, even the Quarter, but I had two summer jobs in the quarter, one I had to walk down Bourbon to get to, the other was eleven blocks down Royal so I got daily whiffs. At least it was only June. ::grin::

I am a native of New Orleans, and lived there well into adulthood. Living three hours away for my current job, I still visit home every month or two.

EarlShagnasty is right. I think someone is pulling your leg about nutria being a delicacy in New Orleans. It’s not, I assure you…

I’ll add that New Orleans also has fantastic Italian food. Really, any random restaurant you happen upon in N.O. is likely to be very good to top-notch – restaurant competition is fierce, and places that don’t measure up go out of business quickly.

Yep. The French Quarter has good places to eat, but IMHO overpriced tourist-trap eateries outnumber the decent places in the Quarter (avoid the FQ Ralph and Kacoo’s seafood restaurant, for one). Once you arrive, Earl, try your best to get advice from locals about dining. The best and most reasonably-priced seafood is in West End (the far northwestern corner of the city on Lake Pontchartrain – ask a local or a cabbie). Good Italian is all over.

Solid advice. There are many hotels lining St. Charles, of varying price ranges.

Just my humble opinion, but … the 1700 block of Canal Street is across the street from a very rough neighborhood, and is a few blocks from Armstrong Park, which is unfortunately known locally for being the scene of several high-profile murders. I strongly advise Earl to make other hotel arrangements.

If you are on well-travelled streets (Bourbon, Royal, Decatur, and a few others), scamming and pickpocketing are far greater dangers than actual muggings. However – what Shagnasty says about the Quarter’s back streets is absolutely true.

That’s the height of convention season. New Orleans hosts many, many conventions in the fall and winter. It is a veritable convention Mecca.

“I’ll bet you I know where you got your shoes” (answer below)

My suggestion is Central Grocery (in the quarter) for a Muffalletta (thank me later)

When the guy correctly guesses where you got your shoes PAY HIM! (or he and his buddies will mug you), keep some money (not much) in a front pocket so you don’t show the contents of your wallet on the street.
“you got your shoes on your feet” (HA HA)

Unclviny (who prefers small towns in southern Louisiana)

Um, yes, sensible people do go to New Orleans in the Fall and Winter(says the girl who’s been down there twice this summer with a second trip planned). New Orleans in the summer is hot and muggy. Fall and winter is quite nice, though still humid.

As far as the side streets of the quarter, y’all are talking about once it’s gotten dark, aren’t you? Or maybe, maybe, if you’re alone you might want to avoid them, but it’s never occured to me. Still the buildings are tall and the streets are narrow so it can be a little alleylike, but during the day there are usually plenty of people around, if not on the street you’re actually on, then nearby.


Late night is especially bad but things can happen anytime especially if there aren’t a lot of people around. Stay away from desserted streets.

One quick story. A friend of a friend came to visit New Orleans during the summer (he was also from Tennessee so let that serve as an example to you). I took him to the French Quarter and gave him the same stern warning to stay with me at all times and certainly don’t wander around. I took him to the Tropical Isle 1 and we drank into the wee hours. He was absolutely smashed by that point. I went to the bathroom and when I came back he was gone. I looked outside the bar and peeked down the side streets. After about an hour, I figured that he just got confused or sick and grabbed a cab back to the house we were staying in.

I took a cab back to the same house. He was not there. I went to bed and woke up about noon the next day. He still was not there. Finally, at 6:00 pm a police car pulls up and he gets out.

The story was as follows: He thought that I left him and wandered around the French Quarter until he ended up on a side street. A man walks up to him, puts a pistol to his temple, and demands everything he has. He gives him his, wallet, keys, and a gold necklace that he has. By this time he is so drunk, angry and shaken that he just wanders around some more. About 30 minutes later, a teenager walks up to him and puts another gun to his temple and demands everything he has. He explains that he has already gotten mugged and has nothing left to give. The guy frisks him and feels something in his front pocket and demands to have it. My friend remembers that he still has a heavy metal tape still in his pocket. He refuses to give it up because it his FAVORITE heavy metal tape. Finally the mugger demands he take it out, sees it, and says “I don’t listen to that shit” and walks off.

The reason that he disappeared for so long was that he thought that he needed sober up before he went to the police (why, I don’t know; it is New Orleans; the police were probably drunk too). That took some time. He got to the police, filed a report, and then realized that he had no idea where the house was. The information was in his wallet. The house not under his friend’s name so the police couldn’t look it up. How they ever found it, I have no idea but they did somehow.

Let that be a lesson to you all.

I’d say in general, this is true. The French Quarter has a lot of foot traffic all over during the day. It’s at night where the foot traffic concentrates to a few hotspots, and there are more isolated areas tourists need to know to avoid.

Mama Rosa’s, 616 N. Rampart.

Nope. If there’s a convenient street car or bus line outside, I’ll be fine.

No need. I did some checking on that particular place (The New Orleans Grand Palace) on tripadvisor.com. The reviews were unanimously discouraging in all aspects: neighborhood, accomodations, service–you name it.

Thanks for all the info!

The city has good public transportation service. Dunno about the buses themselves though; I’ve only ridden the streetcars.