How To Spend 3 Days In Black-Owned New Orleans
By Stephanie Ogbogu
You’re almost there! You’ve taken the first step—deciding to take a trip to New Orleans and experience its colorful cultural ambiance, excellent restaurants, and nowhere-else-but-here traditions that make New Orleans one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. Get ready to immerse in the sea of creativity, romance, drama, and fun!
If you’re traveling to New Orleans, it’s probably to partake in the city’s rich, diverse culture. If you’re looking to support some black-owned businesses while you’re in town, here’s how you can do so.
You’ve arrived in New Orleans with your bags stuffed with outfits for an adventurous three-day getaway. Before you start your day, check in to one of New Orleans’ black-owned hotels.
Once you’ve checked in, it’s safe to say you’re probably a bit hungry. Now is the perfect time for brunch. Head over to Ma Momma’s House of Cornbread, Chicken and Waffles to get your fix of mouth-watering cornbread, red beans and rice, grits, and of course chicken and waffles.
Not only is this spot a great place for some good food, but it’s also part of New Orleans culture. Located on the city’s east side, Ma Momma’s House is owned by a family with deep roots in the city. The restaurant is co-owned by Nicole P. Mackie and Take Fo’ recording artist, Rene “Chef Reero” Poyraz.
Chef Reero is one of the founding members of the rap duo Da’ Sha Ra,’ who is best known for their NOLA club hit “Bootin’ Up.” In the 90s, her Take Fo’ labelmates included DJ Jubilee and No Limit artist Mia X.
Once you’re done with your meal, head on over to the New Orleans African American Museum located in the historic Tremé neighborhood, the oldest-surviving black community in the United States. They close at 4 PM so give yourself enough time to check out the Welcome To The Afrofuture: Ground Zero exhibit as well as the Black Space and Geographies exhibit presented by NOAAM and the Amistad Research Center.
New Orleans is known for its food, especially their delectable pralines. After your museum visit, stop by one of the Loretta’s Authentic Pralines locations, the Cafe location on 2101 N. Rampart or the French Market location at 1100 N. Peters St. Fun fact about Loretta, She was the first African American woman to successfully own and operate her own praline company in New Orleans.
Nothing goes with a dessert like a little wine. Head over to Second Vine Wine, located in the historic Treme and Marigny of New Orleans, and partake in a wine tasting or class. If you like what you taste, don’t forget to buy a bottle for the road.
Good morning! Start your day with a light workout at Magnolia Yoga Studio, the first black-owned yoga studio in New Orleans. They offer both private and group classes and if you really want to intensify your workout, they also offer hot yoga.
After you’ve broken a sweat, grab some breakfast at Backatown Coffee Parlour. Backatown is a locally-owned coffee boutique with a little something for everyone. In addition to premium coffee and espresso drinks, the boutique also serves loose leaf teas, juice, fresh-baked pastries, breakfast items and desserts along with an assortment of light fare meals.
After breakfast, let’s take a tour of the city with All Bout Dat Tours. Explore the rich culture of New Orleans with a themed tour around the city to Congo Square, Armstrong Park, and the First African American neighborhood in the United States. Imagine meeting extraordinary locals while learning all about Voodoo, Creole culture, and Freedom Fighters while aboard “The Black Pearl.” Make sure you make your reservations for hotel pick-up at least 48 hours in advance.
It’s lunchtime, so you should stop by the late Leah Chase’s restaurant, Dooky Chase’s, for some authentic New Orleans cuisine. On Tuesday-Friday, Dooky’s offers a delicious lunch buffet that changes daily. You can always find New Orleans’ staples such as red beans and rice and hot sausage on the buffet. On Fridays, they offer shrimp and lima beans instead of the red beans. You may also order Creole favorites such as gumbo, po’boys, shrimp Clemenceau, and stuffed shrimp. You can get menu items like fried chicken, and chicken creole daily, as well.
If you are in a shopping mood after grabbing a bite, head on over to Community Book Center, a social hub of the Seventh Ward, specializing in African literature. The bookstore also hosts performances, book signings, and storytellings from time to time. Of course, you can stop in for a book or two, but you can also find African-centered art, fabric, jewels and an assortment of gifts and trinkets here.
Most people visiting New Orleans head to the French Quarter. Don’t think that you can’t still have an authentic experience in this neighborhood. The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carre, spans 12 blocks situated alongside the Mississippi River. The neighborhood runs from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue and inland toward North Rampart Street. The French Quarter has so much to offer that it will keep you occupied for the day. You can find locals living, working, drinking and enjoying even the most tourist-heavy parts of the city.
Candy-colored buildings line the street and if you look closely you’ll see Spanish, French, and Creole influences. Right in the center of the neighborhood is Jackson Square. This is where you’ll see most people posing in front of Andrew Jackson’s statue, having their portrait done by a street artist, getting their tarot cards read, and checking out the street performers. Don’t forget to tip the talented kiddos. It takes a lot to perform day in and day out.
For dinner, treat yourself to We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp, a favorite amongst New Orleans locals. We Dat’s started as a food truck but quickly expanded to multiple restaurant locations due to high demand. They offer an assortment of menu items including chicken wings, fried shrimp, catfish, and seafood wraps.
For breakfast this morning, head on over to Cafe Rose Nicaud, named after Rose Nicaud, an African American woman who became the first known coffee vendor in New Orleans. Cafe Rose Nicaud serves all-day breakfast, so even if you happen to get a late start on your day, you can enjoy your faves at any time.
Following breakfast, check out the Backstreet Cultural Museum. The Backstreet Cultural Museum is a pillar in the Tremé community where second-line parades begin and end. Each year, the museum attracts visitors from around the globe. While you’re there, make sure you take a peek at their extensive collection of Mardi Gras Indian regalia, including suits of Big Chiefs, Queens, Flag Boys, Wild Men, and more.
A trip to New Orleans is not complete without stopping by Louis Armstrong Park, also located in the Tremé neighborhood. Just look for the iconic, arched entrance. If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch a show at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. Make sure you check out Congo Square, the historic meeting space where slaves and free blacks gathered throughout the 19th century for meetings, open markets, and the African dance and drumming celebrations.
After your museum and park visit, head to Studio Be in the Faubourg Marigny/Bywater area and check out some awesome artwork from activist/artist Brandan “BMike” Odums. There, you’ll be able to find original work of all kinds, including murals, graffiti art, and souvenirs featuring African American leaders.
Cap your night off by heading over to Cuban Crafters Cigar Bar, the French Quarter’s only smoking bar. They have a huge selection of cigars to choose from, as well as international and locally crafted drinks. Whiskey & Sticks is another great cigar bar you should try. Take in the scenery in their courtyard while enjoying drinks, small bites, and of course, a great cigar.
For dinner, head to Neyow’s Creole Café. People come from far and wide to dine at Neyow’s. Their menu is complete with generations worth of original family recipes.
You will need much more than three days to fully absorb everything New Orleans has to offer, but if you’re only in town for a weekend, there’s still so much to do. Whether you spend three days in NOLA or seven, you’ll leave with a renewed love of African American culture, art, and music.
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