Growing up in a small Cajun town west of New Orleans made every visit special. I was lucky to have parents who loved the “big city,” so we were there all the time. We’d pile into the car practically every weekend and hit our favorite places, most of which thankfully are still around today — a testament to the staying power of joints that do it right from the get-go.
First stop, juicy burgers or giant, fluffy omelettes at the Camellia Grill, a local diner turned institution since it opened in 1946. Then we’d drop by Maple Street Book Shop to browse the titles, and sometimes hop on a streetcar to joyride under the shade of St. Charles Avenue’s massive live oaks. We’d stroll along Magazine Street or visit the Audubon Zoo to check out the white tigers and slurp sno-balls.
New York is my home today, but I still head south regularly to catch up on my favorite city. The difference between then and now is being both gay and of drinking age: two highly agreeable traits for fun in the Big Easy. And while I have my staple spots, there is a never-ending stream of new favorites to discover on every visit.