Gentilly is a laid-back neighborhood that stretches between the French Quarter and Lake Pontchartrain. Gentilly Boulevard slices through the bottom third of this area, which is filled with homes, mom-and-pop restaurants and specialty shops. The boulevard offers an oak tree-lined panorama of the neighborhood: from the Norman Mayer branch of the New Orleans Public Library to Dillard University, an award-winning historically black college on a sprawling 55-acre campus, to the Shaolin Institute for the study of martial arts. It's also dotted with po-boy shops, bakeries and auto repair garages.
Who you'll see:
Families with kids, the occasional Uptowner, thoroughbreds (at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots).
Where to eat:
Riteway Soul Food's yakamein is a must after late nights on nearby Frenchmen Street.
Where to drink:
Jockey's Pub & Sports Bar is an inexpensive watering hole with lots of local beers and plenty of indoor seating (a must-have with the nearly year-round heat).
Where to do some off-track betting and get that body moving:
The Fair Grounds is famously home to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but it also hosts Twilight Racing nights under a covered pavilion with a DJ and drink specials, sip-and-shops and family days — as well as the occasional ostrich race.
You oughta know
Geologists believe the geography of the stretch of Gentilly Boulevard between Elysian Fields Avenue and Peoples Avenue — with its serpentine curves and high embankments — suggests a stream once flowed through the area and connected
with the Mississippi River.