Stuff your face in New Orleans and Providence and on the North Fork of Long Island.
Mon May 10 2010
By plane: New Orleans (4 hours from NYC)
New Orleans has a long history of inebriation—in the late 19th century, the city was considered the absinthe capital of the U.S. Salute the green fairy at the Absinthe Museum of America (823 Royale St; 877-737-2772, absinthemuseumofamerica.com; $5), where you can peruse two rooms filled with vintage absinthe spoons, fountains, bottles and brouilleurs, plus antiabsinthe propaganda. To actually taste the spirit for yourself, head to timeworn tavern Old Absinthe House (240 Bourbon St; 504-523-3181, oldabsinthehouse.com). AMA co-owner Stacy Bonnecaze recommends sipping your tipple (try the signature Absinthe House Frappe, made with anisette and a splash of soda water for $15) in the back bar. "It's hidden and out of the way, so you'll probably have to ask a bartender how to get there," she says. "But when you do, you will be amazed—they have an antique, working fountain from pre-ban absinthe days." If you're more of an oenophile, Baccahanal Wine (600 Poland Ave; 504-948-9111, bacchanalwine.com) is not to be missed: The easygoing wineshop and bar hosts live music nightly in its courtyard, where you can often find visiting chefs cooking up a feast on the grill.
Though NOLA has no shortage of upscale restaurants and celebrity chefs, sometimes it's best to get down and dirty. The Joint (801 Poland Ave; 504-949-3232, alwayssmokin.com) is a rickety dive where you can chow down on top-notch barbecue, like a smoky beef brisket sandwich ($7.34). At some point, you might want to trade in that alcoholic buzz for a caffeine-induced one. Order an industrial-strength Vietnamese iced coffee ($3) at The Orange Couch (2339 Royal St; 504-267-7327, theorangecouchcoffee.com), which Ann Tuennerman, founder of the annual spirits-and-cuisine festival Tales of the Cocktail (talesofthecocktail.com, July 21--25), describes as "one of the more sophisticated but relaxed coffeeshops in the Bywater." Savor a blueberry- or mango-flavored mochi ice cream ($2)—and the caf's mod design—from its namesake sofa.
Since you can't exactly hunker down in a restaurant, consider the next best thing: staying on top of one. The aroma of samosas and po' boys will filter up to your room at Balcony Guest House (2483 Royal St; 504-945-4425, balconyguesthouse.com; $79--$129), a petite B&B above Schiro's Caf. In addition to serving both Indian and traditional N'awlins grub, Schiro's is home to a bar, a grocery market, a liquor store and a Laundromat. "It is so naturally New Orleans, with all of the many concepts meshing into one," says Tuennerman. It's also convenient: Hearty breakfasts like salmon eggs Benedict and pain perdu are gratis, and you'll have a complimentary Hurricane in your hand the moment you walk through the door.