New Orleans Travel Guide
New Orleans. The Big Easy. It’s unfortunate that this amazing city is best known for drunken Mardi Gras debauchery. There’s so much more. We particularly love the impressive architecture and the unique musical and culinary traditions. Far from being static, however, New Orleans also plays host to a number of excellent innovative coffee and beer spots. Just our thing. Here are our top picks.
Just over the Mississippi from New Orleans is the neighborhood of Algiers, the second oldest in the city. In the quaint neighborhood of Algiers Point is Congregation Roasters. Well-sourced beans are both perfectly roasted and served up onsite in a variety of ways. Single origin coffees are available on espresso and pour overs. Eliot, the owner, really knows his stuff and let us try some beans from the Kivu region of Democratic Republic of Congo. This was an origin we’d never tried and the coffee was truly unique with strong notes of strawberry shortcake!
Perhaps the most prominent of coffee roasters in the city, French Truck boasts three of their own cafes and supply the beans to a number of others. Try their Oji Japanese Cold Brew or even their standard espresso blend which is very good.
If you find yourself in the middle of the tourist trap of the French Quarter in need of good coffee, Spitfire is there. This tiny café is a multi-roaster that works only with single-origin beans. They just opened a large sister café called Pax in Treme.
Located in the Bywater neighborhood, Parleaux brews almost exclusively experimental beers in a fun, beer garden-like space. Head brewer Chuck really knows his stuff, as every beer we tried was very good. Parleaux pays close attention to their water, as any good brewery should. Depending on the style, they adjust the mineral content accordingly to ensure a consistently high-quality brew. You’ll rarely find the same beer there twice, with the exception of a couple favorites like their excellent Double Northeast IPA. We’re big fans of the never-the-same beer twice concept, (with Portland’s LaBrewatory being one of our all-time favorites) and Parleaux does great job.
Tucked away in a courtyard just on the Uptown/Lower Garden District side of the Pontchartrain Expressway overpass, Courtyard Brewing is worth a visit. They brew a good selection of brews and often have a food truck onsite in case you need something to accompany their beers.
Across the street from the bright yellow French Truck Coffee Roastery and a half a block from Courtyard Brewing, Barrel Proof is a go to for whisky. The have 288 whiskies, so you’re sure to find something you’ll like. They have a fairly decent beer list, too, though they don’t seem to carry very many local brews.
Despite adult-use and medical laws in effect in many parts of the country, cannabis is very much still illegal in Louisiana. Don’t be fooled by the brightly-colored Scooby Doo vans purporting to sell edibles, “imported from Colorado” according to one employee we spoke with. They are indeed fakes. We don’t know how they can get away with false advertising of an outlawed product, but somehow they do.
Also across the river is Acalli, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker and Good Food Award winner. While not regularly open for tours, they can organize something if you contact them in advance. Check their website for where to buy. Congregation Roasters stocks their bars.