Trombone Shorty’s Best of Selections!
Grammy-winning musician Trombone Shorty has started his fall national tour and stops at the Saenger Theatre on Oct. 9. Then his Shorty Fest, a fundraiser for the Trombone Shorty Foundation, is scheduled for Oct. 11 at Tipitina’s. Expect a new album in early 2022.
Favorite place to go after a show
I like to go unwind at my studio or else I’ll take a stroll down Frenchmen Street and see what’s going on late night.
The one on Washington and Constance — the one with its own safety cone! You drive into that one, you ain’t coming out.
Current favorite local musician/act
New Breed Brass Band
Best place to get a COVID vaccine
Best bar to come out of a blackout in at 3:27 a.m. on a Tuesday
I don’t drink, but if I did I’d guess the Maple Leaf would be the place.
Best person to bail you out
Current favorite restaurant
There’s a new bakery that also has the best food and a great brunch: B Sweet Bistro on Rampart.
Best place to buy irresistibly cute shoes that you’ll be carrying in your hand when you climb into an Uber at 2 a.m.
I keep my shoes on! LOL
Best song to play when an Entergy transformer blows in the middle of a set and the venue suddenly goes dark
“Let’s Go Get ‘Em” — you can play it all day without electricity and the crowd would join in.
Best billboard lawyer
I’m going with Morris Bart — like they say “One Call or one click, that’s all!”
Best of New Orleans 2021: Gambit’s Gloriously Sublime Staff Selections
Y’all have had your say, now it’s our turn! Straight from the addled and terrifying brains of the Gambit Edit Gang, we present you with our best of picks, from our favorite hangouts to the best things to eat and more!
John “Don’t Make Me Get Up Off This Chair” Stanton: Editor
Best Place to Learn Something: LA Illuminator/The Lens/Antigravity
Over the last five years there’s been a massive bloodletting in the media industry. Whole parts of the country have been turned into veritable news deserts with no local outlets to give citizens the information they need. New Orleans hasn’t been spared, and we’ve unfortunately lost a lot of great journalists to layoffs and a contracting industry.
Still, we’re luckier than a lot of other places, thanks to the dogged work of the Louisiana Illuminator, The Lens and Antigravity. All three provide critical news, insights and opinion. Without them critical stories on the library fund fiasco, sketchy money practices at the convention center or this year’s legislative session would have gone underreported — or uncovered completely. Their reporters work tirelessly to not only inform our community, but to make it a better place. Given the current anti-media climate in this country, that’s no small feat.
Louisiana Illuminator, lailluminator.com; The Lens, thelensnola.org; Antigravity, various places in New Orleans, antigravitymagazine.com
Favorite Second Home: BJ’s Lounge
I’ve spent a lot of my life in barstools all over the world. I’ve had my insides burned out at roadside Erguotou bars in rural China, cursed the damnable English in a Scottish pub and gotten hammered drinking original margaritas at Juarez’s venerable Kentucky Club.
But for me, the Valhalla of bars will always be BJ’s. With its mismatched barstools, cheap drinks served up by amazing bartenders, wall of photos memorializing family long gone and of course the amazing old jukebox, it is the Plutonic Ideal of a bar. You don’t need to be a regular to feel at home at BJ’s. We may not all know your name when you walk in, but as long as you’re not a dick, there’s a decent chance we will by the time you leave.
BJ’s Lounge, 4301 Burgundy St.
Best Place to Get a Cyborg Eye: Scott D. Lanoux & Associates
OK, so technically Dr. Lanoux ain’t no Dr. Rudy Wells, and I am definitely no Lee Majors. But Lanoux made my right eye stronger, faster, better.
Two years ago, I started having trouble seeing out of my right eye. By this winter I could barely see out of it at all, thanks to a giant cataract. As an editor, not being able to see, let alone read, out of both eyes is a huge problem.
Eye surgeons are like a lot of things: you don’t even know they exist until you need one. Luckily my optometrist at Primary Eye Care — who I also can’t recommend highly enough — knew just who to send me to. Dr. Lanoux and his staff were smart, efficient and patiently answered all my questions. Best of all, after my surgery, the ole right eye is back to 20/20 vision.
Scott D. Lanoux & Associates, 4324 Veterans Blvd., Metairie
Kaylee “Don’t Make Me Say It Again, Bruh” Poche: Staff Writer
Best Local Band to Listen to on a Sunday Afternoon: Anna Moss & the Nightshades
Anna Moss reminds me of Norah Jones if Norah Jones lived in New Orleans. Her voice is as smooth and calming as it is spunky, and I want it to be the soundtrack to my life.
I was introduced to her music when she and her Nightshades band played in Okay Bar’s backyard one magical Sunday afternoon in April. Vaccines were available to all adults, live music was coming back and I felt a sense of optimism that I now yearn for as we battle yet another surge of the virus thanks to the Delta variant and depressingly low vaccination rates.
That day, the band was recording a live album and wanted to record some of the tracks over again after they went through their set. It made for an encore that kept going and going — though no one was complaining.
Best Daily Reminder of the Fragile Beauty of our Natural Surroundings: Virginia Hanusik’s Twitter
If you’re not following Virginia Hanusik on Twitter, you’re missing out. The New Orleans-based photographer captures South Louisiana with a unique lens — one which explores the reality of climate change through a focus on subjects like infrastructure and water.
It’s a paradox in and of itself that daily posts from a climate change photographer would brighten my mood. But there’s just something about scrolling through the hellsite that is the wretched bird app — past mind-numbing replies and passive aggressive misunderstandings — and seeing a picture of a cotton candy sky with the caption “Everything is bad. Here are some nice sunsets in New Orleans.”
The photos serve as a reminder of Louisiana’s breathtaking natural beauty. One that itches at my core nostalgia of growing up as a boat kid cruising the Tchefuncte River and surrounding canals. One that’s especially welcome now as a journalist who spends the bulk of my week inside on the computer, recoiling at the sun like a vampire when I emerge from my cave.
On Twitter: @virginiahanusik and on the web: virginiahanusik.com
Best Place to Get Complimentary White Chocolate Bread Pudding on Your Birthday: Katie’s
I hate having people sing “Happy Birthday” to me in public with the force of a thousand suns. It’s partly due to a cursed experience I had at Lambert’s Cafe in Alabama — famous for throwing rolls at customers and playing “pranks” on them — though we won’t speak of that. But it’s mostly because the whole thing kind of ruins my whole avoid-being-the-center-of-attention-at-all-costs mentality.
So it’s truly a testament to the sweet, sweet warm delicacy that is their white chocolate bread pudding that I forgot all about the whole surrounding area of Katie’s singing to me once the first bite hit my mouth. It was the perfect follow-up to my crawfish beignet. Plus, the staff had mad pipes. I can only hope both Sir Guy Fieri and Homer Simpson experienced the same magic when they visited.
Katie’s, 3701 Iberville St.
Sarah “Time Is a Useless Construct” Ravits: Staff Writer
Best Method of Transportation: Biking the Lafitte Greenway
A few weeks after the first shutdown, I woke up on one of my mandatory furlough days and decided I simply could not go on existing without a bicycle. So I walked over to Dashing Bicycles on Broad Street and made off with one of my better impulse purchases of the pandemic.
I’ve lived in New Orleans for almost two decades now and had experimented with bikes before, mostly just after college. But nothing really solidified my relationship with biking quite like having close access to the Lafitte Greenway during the apocalypse. New Orleans is defined by its neighborhoods — as a resident of Faubourg St. John I always think of other neighborhoods as being “sooooo far away; can’t we just go to Pal’s instead?” But this scenic, linear park reminded me how small the city is and how efficiently (and healthily!) you can stay connected to other people and parts even — and maybe especially — during these periods of pandemic isolation.
Best Place to Eat and Not Have to Explain Why You Don’t Eat Meat: Sweet Soulfood
I may not eat meat, but I still love good food. This is pretty baffling to a lot of New Orleanians. When I try to apologetically over-explain that I just don’t like the texture or that I spent most of my childhood watching Bambi on repeat and think of critters as magical anthropomorphic pals, the most often response I get is, “Yeah, but not even chicken?!?”
Luckily there are a few spots that cater to the likes of me. One of my all-time favorites is Sweet Soulfood, the vegan spot that opened up a couple years back where you can find absolutely delicious, classic New Orleans dishes that are entirely plant-based. I’ve taken a few skeptics there, who’ve wondered, “How can vegan gumbo exist, let alone be delicious?” and they’ve all been pleasantly surprised. It’s also affordable, with hefty portions, and because it’s cafeteria-style it’s one of my go-to spots for a convenient, quick pick-up when I’m running behind on deadlines, which is literally always.
Sweet Soulfood, 1035 N. Broad St.
Best Music Venue to Make Some Great Memories, Some of Which You’ll Remember: d.b.a.
It’s hard to choose my favorite music venue, but I wanted to give a shoutout to d.b.a. for being one of the few remaining clubs on Frenchmen that isn’t totally overrun by tourists and bachelor parties, pays its performers well and is a spot I associate with the sort of fond, if hazy, memories that helped get me through the last year. Plus, the new outdoor setup is great for keeping musicians and audiences safe from a certain respiratory illness.
Whether it’s on a glittery Mardi Gras Day with the Klezmer All Stars or a random Saturday night featuring one of our city’s iconic brass bands, I know that I will always cherish this space and all the late nights I only kinda remember there.
d.b.a., 618 Frenchmen St.
Jake “No to Toes” Clapp: Staff Writer
Best Pandemic “Innovation” Worth Fighting For: More Outdoor Live Music
It feels weird to call “outdoor live music” an “innovation,” especially in a city where brass bands regularly take to the streets, but the reality is that the powers that be in New Orleans haven’t been so welcoming of musicians playing outside. Outdated zoning restrictions, trigger-happy noise complaints and a permitting process so obtuse it forces you to quit before you go insane are real obstacles to setting up an outdoor venue. But if there’s anything this hell of a year and a half has shown it’s that spaces for live outdoor music are popular, offer a valued alternative and give musicians more places to safely perform. Dedicated outdoor venues like The Broadside, spaces like the balcony at the New Orleans Jazz Museum and successful series at Faubourg Brewing Co. and Zony Mash Beer Project gave New Orleans musicians a much-needed lifeline. That’s worth fighting to keep — and for city government to do what it can to build up a healthy music ecosystem.
Various locations, contact One Stop Shop, 1300 Perdido St., 7th floor, Mon.-Thu. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., (504) 658-7100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Best Blink-of-an-Eye Community Organizing of 2021: The fight against moving City Hall to Congo Square
When Mayor LaToya Cantrell in March announced plans to move City Hall into Municipal Auditorium, a whole bunch of people across the city said, “What?! Fuck no.” Led by residents of the Treme neighborhood, people organized to say, “No City Hall in Treme.” People voiced protests at town halls against the $100 million plans to transform the area around the auditorium — including removing buildings and building a parking garage — and formed a more cohesive group, the Save Our Soul Coalition. Then in June, hundreds of people gathered for a second line and a march — which kinda sorta made Cantrell back down … while putting the burden on residents to come up with alternatives for the decaying auditorium. Still, people power made City Council get involved, and a resolution was passed to pause any plans to move City Hall to Treme. Cantrell, though, is reportedly still pushing for the move — and the fight goes on.
Contact Mayor LaToya Cantrell for more information: 1300 Perdido St., 2nd floor, (504) 658-4900, email@example.com
Favorite Unexpected Art Walk: Bayou St. John
Last year, I took a lot of walks — and I mean a lot. I was crushing that 10,000 steps goal every day between May and November. I tried to regularly change up my routes, but one of my favorites became walking around Bayou St. John and through City Park. Every time I made a round down Moss Street and back up to Esplanade Avenue, I always found something different to enjoy. Along the bayou side, there are the altered “Caution Alligator” signs and of course Marlin Miller’s carved tree. But it’s the residential side of the streets that has the wild surprises: a pair of twin harpies standing guard over the petunias; a druid woman, antlers sprouting from her head, looking over the road; totems topped with pelicans or aliens blasting off in a ship; tools lodged into the cement near Cabrini Bridge; and more ephemeral pieces that get tapped to light poles or to fences. Thank you, homeowners along Bayou St. John, for being your weird, weird selves.
Bayou Saint John (various locations)
Will “Dinosaur Sr.” Coviello: Arts & Entertainment Editor
Best Pandemic Cottage Industry: Small-batch ice cream
The pandemic has introduced us to a lot of unpleasant things: Zoom meetings, deep nasal cavity probes and last calls where they didn’t exist before. But it’s also brought some great things in the world of DIY start-ups. Out-of-work chefs and home tinkerers launched all sorts of pop-ups and DIY food services. There were plenty of places to get locally made ice cream before the pandemic, but now New Orleans has a community of small-batch ice cream makers.
Pastry chef Abby Boone launched Lucy Boone Ice Cream. Her specialty is translating classic desserts into ice cream flavors, say reworking the flavors of a strawberry Pavlova into a cold, creamy pint. She’s working on opening a brick and mortar.
Nikki Thompson, who had a background in hotels and marketing, created Hood Cream. Her specialty is nondairy ice creams. She produces exotic flavors with a coconut milk base, and mixes in things like cookies.
Pastry chef Jillian Duran started Rahm Haus, and she makes some of the most exotic flavors, both sweet and savory. Rahm Haus got its start borrowing the kitchen of Michael Gulotta’s Maypop. Now she supplies his Mid-City restaurant Mopho with an PB-N-Mopho Nuac Mom Caramel. It’s got a sweet and creamy peanut-flavored base swirled with caramel and the salty, funky accents of fish sauce and shrimp paste. Rahm Haus currently runs a scoop counter inside the tap room of Courtyard Brewery.
And there are also ice creams from Laozi, Vice Cream and others to binge on while biding the Covid doldrums.
Favorite Weekly Market: Coffee Science
New Orleans has had farmers markets and art markets for decades, but the past year has seen the flourishing of small markets with food, crafts and more. Markets are now popping up at breweries, bars, urban farms and parks across the city. I’ve become a regular at the Sunday morning market at Coffee Science.
While baristas sling fancy coffee drinks and chai inside, out back lies a trellis and tree-shaded, gravel-covered yard with about a dozen vendors selling things like vegan breads and baked goods, bagels, pickles, hot sauces, locally made kombucha, candles, soaps, plants, pet treats, microgreens and bowties and pillows made from hand woven fabrics from Lesotho. But I’m partial to some of the prepared foods. Charcuterie maker Gourmand has an ice chest filled with rillettes and terrines, usually glistening in mason jars and shrunk-wrapped plastic. Fishhawk offers small tubs of smoked trout tip. Persian Lime offers yogurt with cucumber, mint and rose and traditional Iranian dishes prepared to take home and heat. The vendors vary from week to week, but Coffee Science has figured out the formula for curating a lively mix of local artisans.
Coffee Science,410 S. Broad St.
Best Thing to Do with Used Books: Give them away
Having moved in the last year, I had to face the fact that I had too many books. And that I had no intention of ever reopening many of them. So I culled the shelves and filled many boxes with books that needed a new home.
I found it heartening that in an age when more and more people read electronic copies on tablets and other devices, there still are plenty of people and places that want good old-fashioned hard copies.
Some books I took to used bookstores like Blue Cypress, which just moved to a bigger location on Oak Street. I gave a couple boxes of books to Friends of the New Orleans Library. Many boxes went to Bridge House, which operates a thrift store off Earhart Boulevard. Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners, which wasn’t accepting donations early in the pandemic, recently ran a donation drive at Faubourg Brewery, and donors got free beer.
Another option is to slip books into any of the city’s many Little Free Libraries. Many locals have built the little free book exchanges at their sidewalks. Like over-sized birdhouses, often whimsically decorated, they usually contain a shelf or two with books left for new readers. Many locals have registered the location of their library on the map on littlefreelibrary.org.
Walking a few blocks to drop off a couple of books here and there isn’t a quick way to unclutter your shelves. But one of the things I was surprised to find is that I never opened a little library door to find a book I had left before. That made it a pleasing way to share books that I otherwise would have been happy to keep.
Buddy Ravits: Director, Morale and Beatings
Favorite Hangout: A Storm Drain in Faubourg St. John
I am a freewheelin’ creature of the night whose human occasionally wonders if I am a sociopath because of some of my questionable activities. Among my favorite haunts is a catch basin in front of her house, where I lurk, like an adorable Pennywise, waiting for an unsuspecting mouse, lizard or roach. Yes, I have a bounty of overpriced organic cat food that my human can’t really afford on her meager journalist’s salary, but there is nothing like a fresh, intoxicating meal from the depths of the crustiest place on earth — the underworld of New Orleans fucked-up streets. The human sometimes witnesses me crawling out of it and exclaims, “Ew, Bud! What were you doing in there?” but she hangs out in dive bars, so who is she to judge?
Favorite Food from a Human Restaurant: Shrimp and Grits from MoPho
My human claims she used to be “fun” and “social” before the bat virus arrived (mmmm, bats). Lately she considers grabbing takeout and binge-watching detective shows on the couch “a good time.” I join her in these marathons, mostly for their helpful murder tips. Sometimes she spares a bite of tofu, but it hardly satiates my carnivorous appetite. Recently a blessed omnivore visited and left the last few bites of shrimp and grits with sausage from Mopho in the trash can, and I dove in head-first. Friends, I had never tasted such a culinary delight. Unfortunately, I was swiftly apprehended by my human who thinks it’s “gross” to hang out in the trash. Hopefully Woofdash will add Mopho to their app soon.
Mopho, 514 City Park Ave.
Pretty Pretty Princess Meow Meow Jawsy Jaws: Columnist
Best Royal Physician: Metairie Small Animal Hospital, Marigny Clinic
If cleanliness is next to godliness, then healthy living sits on its other side. Humans are still too backwards to understand basic Meowese — scientists speculate their stunted little ears simply can’t fully hear our glorious language and their weirdly oversized brains would melt even if they could — that means it can be difficult to explain to them what may ail you. Thankfully, the humans at the Marigny Clinic have been well trained in non-verbal communication, which makes speaking with them unnecessary. They also understand the Royal Body must be treated with delicacy, and they have delicious snacks.
Metairie Small Animal Hospital, Marigny Clinic, 1009 Elysian Fields Ave, Suite
Best Place to Survey Your Mighty Kingdom Whilst Judging the Human Peasantry: Top Floor of Castle Meowskull
It’s easy to judge the souls of humans from any perch. Lacking feline purrfection, the human soul will obviously be judged poorly. But as they say, life is less about the destination than it is about the journey — and making humans feel small and stupid from a suitably high perch. And Castle Meowskull is unparalleled in its sweeping views of humanity’s many faults. Located in the corner of my palatial living room estate, it’s even higher than my comically tall human, forcing him to look up to me at the appropriately deferential angle.
Castle Meowskull, The Royal Estate
Rex Duke: Chief Parade Correspondent
Best Krewe to Stand in Solidarity With the Workers of the World: Krewe of Red Beans
Well met, fellow travelers upon the route of parades! It is I, Rex Duke! It has been a dark and troubling time for us all, these many months, non pompis. For more than a fortnight I brooded somberly, deprived of the colorful plumes and joie de vivre of parades. But it is in the bleakest of moments transformation is so often found, and so it was for I, your humble royal servant. One day an old school chum lent me “Candide” and “The Class Struggles in France,” and my eyes were opened to the oppression of workers by the bourgeoise. My mind was suddenly flooded with thoughts of libertate, aequalitatem et fraternitatis. And also, of red beans.
Low born as they may be, the Krewe of Red Beans stand apart from other “cohortis et sublimes gloriosique” for their dedication and devotion to the needs of their fellow humans. Their works over the course of the pandemic have been many: Feed The Front Line, Feed The Second Line, Hire A Mardi Gras Artist and Bean Coin, to name but a few. Most recently after the savage plague laid low the festivals of October, they have once again stepped to the front of the worker brigade with their latest revolutionary endevour, Fest Fest, to support musicians in need.
Verily, if the revolution truly is not an apple that has fallen from the tree but an apple that must be made to fall, Krewe of Red Beans doth shaketh the tree mightily.
See what Gambit readers named the best people, places and things in New Orleans!