(600 Carondelet St., 504-900-1180; www.acehotel.com/neworleans)
Arguably spring's hottest opening, the new Ace Hotel on Carondelet Street is about a 15-minute walk from the French Quarter stages. Dine at the Southern-leaning Italian restaurant Josephine Estelle or grab a drink at the upstairs rooftop garden bar, Alto, where chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman offer a streamlined menu of small plates including salads, skewered meats and grilled vegetables. The hotel's music venue Three Keys hosts musical acts all weekend long, including Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns April 9.
(540 Chartres St., 504-522-1800)
Following renovations, the French Quarter greasy spoon favorite is once again open under its original name, serving up classic diner fare including burgers, chili fries and vanilla "freezes." Grab a seat at the counter bar and build a solid foundation pre-fest with one of the spot's omelets served with a mountain of hash browns — the chef's special includes turkey, bacon, ham, potatoes, onions and American cheese and is served under a blanket of chili.
(Old No. 77 Hotel, 535 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-599-2119; www.comperelapin.com)
A few blocks from Spanish Plaza, chef Nina Compton's Compere Lapin provides a refined breather from the festival and features a lengthy list of creative cocktails from bar manager Abigail Gullo. Compton's Caribbean roots are reflected in Italian-influenced dishes with Southern touches such as dirty rice arancini, conch croquettes and curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi. New menu additions include a burger topped with Taleggio cheese, caramelized onions and bread and butter pickles.
Dis & Dem
(817 St. Louis St., 504-304-3991)
Skip Murray opened the French Quarter outpost of his Mid-City burger and slider joint in February. The new spot in the back of Rue St. Louis bar offers the same menu of oversized glazed burgers, seasoned fries and sliders served on sourdough hot dog buns. The Hawaii 5-0 comes topped with a sausage patty, grilled pineapple, bacon, cheese and a fried egg.
- Killer Poboys
(219 Dauphine St., 504-462-2731; www.killerpoboys.com)
Nothing soaks up alcohol quite like a po-boy, and the ones at the new Killer PoBoys are no exception. The first standalone spot from the folks behind the French Quarter permanent pop-up serves an extensive selection of sandwiches, including a breakfast-style omelet version oozing aged cheddar cheese, bacon and herbed aioli. A kid-friendly take on the PB&J features pecan butter and seasonal fruit jelly on whole wheat bread. The shop closes at 4 p.m., so if you're running late, head over to the crew's flagship spot inside the Erin Rose bar (811 Conti St.) which serves food until midnight.
Nine Roses Cafe
(620 Conti St., 504-324-9450; www.ninerosesrestaurant.com)
Take a healthy break from the fried fare and pop into the French Quarter's newest Vietnamese spot. The little sister of West Bank restaurant Nine Roses serves traditional Vietnamese standbys including bowls of pho, spring rolls and banh mi. Steamed buns stuffed with soft slices of pork belly and pickled vegetables offer a good snack for those less hungry. Replenish your energy by grabbing an iced Vietnamese coffee on the way back to the fest.
(819 St. Louis St., 504-252-2026)
B'Macs opened in January 2015 but the expansive back patio might be the Quarter's best-kept secret. The courtyard features an array of comfy couches and tables, widescreen televisions and a small stage in the rear, which often hosts local musicians. Run by a crew of longtime Chart Room expats, the bar serves a steady clientele of locals with little pretense. A rotating shot and a beer special is always $5.
(508 Dumaine St., 504-309-2699; www.ellibrenola.com)
Besides offering a selection of classic Cubanos, pressed egg sandwiches and other Cuban standbys (cortaditos and Cuban coffee), El Libre serves a short but sweet array of classic cocktails inspired by the island nation. There are refreshing and mint-forward mojitos, Cuba libres and a Hemingway Daiquiri — a classic rendition featuring fresh-squeezed lime and grapefruit juice, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, rum and sugar. Grab a seat inside the restaurant, tucked away in a tiny Dumaine Street storefront, or grab your drink to go.
(605 Canal St., 504-523-1661; www.palacecafe.com)
Get your rum on at the new Black Duck bar, located upstairs at the recently renovated Palace Cafe. Here, signature rum cocktails can be paired with charcuterie and cheese plates, or snacks including classic French gougeres, made with Gruyere and black peppercorns. Cocktails include the Drunken Marauder, made with local Rougaroux Sugarshine rum, Myers dark rum, orange, pineapple, orgeat and Angostura bitters.
(622 Conti St., 504-267-7098; www.restaurantsalon.com)
Just steps from the action, this posh cocktail bar and restaurant feels worlds away from the festival chaos. A long list of wines by the glass includes multiple bubbly varieties, and there are creative cocktails, beers and ciders. Afternoon tea menus feature finger sandwiches and pastries. An extensive selection of teas — including the beautiful flowering white Marigold variety — offers a nice break from all the booze. Snag a seat on the outdoor, wraparound balcony and take in the French Quarter scene from above.
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