Gay & Away: New Orleans
Words by Jim Guttau
Upon arrival in New Orleans I was immediately shocked— shocked by how European and cultural the city is. Before arriving I knew the city had a rich history, but a lot of my misconceptions came from the media portrayal of the city after Hurricane Katrina. We all saw the devastation and poverty, but on this trip I discovered the true New Orleans—from New Orleanians themselves.
My body is still recovering from that five-day excursion to New Orleans, which was filled with the very best Cajun cooking, French Quarter wandering, and just plain Big Easy debauchery.
8324 Oak Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
The best meal of my trip was had at Jacques-Imo’s (sounds like Giacomo’s), located in Uptown New Orleans on Oak Street. It is loved by locals and tourists alike, all the while maintaining an authentic Louisiana atmosphere and serving up an eclectic mix of Creole and Cajun delights.
My friends and I ordered a smorgasbord of dishes: fried green tomatoes, fried oysters, jambalaya, alligator “cheesecake,” and the best—quail stuffed with bacon, foie gras, and crimini mushrooms.
Do note: reservations are only taken for parties of five or more up to 30 days in advance. All other parties will be first come, first served. I highly suggest reservations. Don’t have a party of five? Make some new friends quickly.
3811 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115
Because I was visiting the city with several formal New Orleans residents, I was privileged to see the city like a local. They took me for a happy hour cocktail on the patio of the historic Columns Hotel in the upper Garden District. Built in 1883, the property is a grand example of 19th century Italianate style of architecture. Once inside, guests will see the magnificent mahogany stairwell and the “Victorian Lounge" (pictured here), which was the property’s original main dining room. Reserve an afternoon to enjoy a libation on the patio—or spend the night in one of the 19 guest rooms, which range from $120 to $230 per night.
5240 Annunciation St.,
New Orleans, LA
I admit, I did indulge while in New Orleans, but you cannot pass up a Po’ boy sandwich at Domilise’s. Some may define the establishment as a hole-in-the-wall, but I say that’s where one sometimes finds the best food. You’ll barely notice a sign for the restaurant, which was on the ground the day I visited. When you arrive, you’ll wait in line and watch the cooks (ladies that have probably worked there for decades) create this masterpiece, the traditional submarine sandwich of Louisiana.
Say you want your Po’ boy “fully dressed,” which means “the works.” I was surprised to find the bread was not crusty or hard like a hoagie, but soft. I learned their bread comes from Leidenheimer, the source for Po’ boy loaves. Upon first bites, my mouth was singing with praises from the fried shrimp and array of sauces—all washed down with a pineapple amaretto daiquiri from a nearby daiquiri stop.
Of course, they don’t have a website, but here’s a good review of Domilise’s.
Place d’Armes Hotel
625 St. Ann Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
My home during my stay was the Place d'Armes Hotel in the heart of the French Quarter, near the corner of St. Ann and Chartres. Even in October, the courtyard was still lush with foliage, including regal magnolias. A boutique hotel, Place d’Armes offers 84 guest rooms in eight historic townhouses which surround the courtyard and swimming pool. You’ll find that “hotspots,” such as Pirate Alley, Jackson Square, and the famous Café du Monde, are all within walking distance.
One of the best aspects of the Big Easy is that the night never ends if you don’t want it to. The following are three bars to visit, in this order:
1. Located one block off Bourbon Street, Good Friends was our starting point, as we found the drinks slightly cheaper here.
2. Bourbon Pub & Parade (pictured here) is the largest gay bar in New Orleans—and the only one open 24 hours! The club is two stories with the pub on the main level and the dance floor on the second.
3. My favorite dance spot during my visit was Oz—where you’ll find men dancing right on the bars.
Not finished with your drink? No worries in New Orleans. You can walk out with drink in hand and head to the next bar.
(Want to let people know where they should hang in your city? Send us an email!)