By Jacqueline Terrebonne for Architectural Digest.
More than almost any other American city, New Orleans is a place that clings to its roots. So it's not surprising that many of the restaurants, clubs, and landmarks described in Walker Percy's 1961 novel The Moviegoer still exist. But in the decade since Katrina, and especially in the past few years, the city has witnessed an influx of new restaurants, shops, and more. As Mardi Gras season begins, here's a look at the must-visit destinations that are making the Big Easy more vibrant, more fun, and more chic than ever.
US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center The tallest building on the World War II Museum campus, the the US Freedom Pavilion has interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experience what America was like as it geared up for war. The impressive 30,000-square-foot space, designed by Voorsanger Architects with Mathes Brierre Architects, anchors the museum and features artifacts key to the Allied victory, including a restored Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress. 945 Magazine Street; nationalww2museum.org.
Krewe du Optic
The French Quarter flagship of hot eyewear brand Krewe du Optic, whose shades can often be spotted on Gigi Hadid, is more than just a neighborhood shop. Stirling Barrett, the brand's founder and a native New Orleanian, set out to create an experience where shoppers could try on frames and enjoy coffee at the same time. The space combines old and new--showing off the 19th-century charm of the building while keeping the lines simple and chic. The 900-foot shop was designed by Benjamin Bullins. 809 Royal Street; kreweduoptic.com.
French transplant Émilie Lamy saw a void in New Orleans--a city filled with interesting bookshops but still missing one that specialized in art and design. The Stacks is Lamy's independent bookstore based in the Contemporary Arts Center. There, she's curated a selection of 1,000 international publications on architecture, art, design, photography, and more. 900 Camp Street; thestacks-books.org.
In February 2015, the Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market debuted as a new performing arts venue designed by Kronberg Wall of Atlanta. The cultural center offers music education programs and houses an archive of New Orleans jazz music. PHNOJM also hosts tributes to jazz legends as well as performances by talents such as Irvin Mayfield and NOJO. 1436 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard; phnojm.org.
New Orleans is known for its Creole and Cajun classics, but Alon Shaya launched his own delicious revolution in 2015 by opening an uptown restaurant celebrating modern Israeli cuisine. Critically acclaimed and a new local favorite, Shaya has people clamoring for more house-made pita, tabbouleh, and lamb. 4213 Magazine Street; shayarestaurant.com.
Whiskey has always been a tipple of choice in the Big Easy, but New York restaurateurs Sean Josephs and his wife, Mani Dawes, recently brought the spirit to a whole new level with the opening of Kenton's. The uptown hot spot designed by Bradley Horn and Maria Berman of Manhattan's Berman Horn Studio--brings a New York polish to New Orleans cuisine, along with an extensive menu of over 150 domestic ryes, bourbons, and whiskeys. 5757 Magazine Street; kentonsrestaurant.com.
The Orpheum Theater
The 1,500-seat auditorium, which had been closed since Hurricane Katrina, reopened in April after a $13 million renovation. The 1918 building designed by architect Gustave Albert Lansburgh was restored by hand to reflect its original color palette and dazzling plasterwork. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra now calls the space home. 129 Roosevelt Way; orpheumnola.com.
St. Roch Market
After staying empty for a decade after flooding, St. Roch Market, founded in 1875, reopened in April with 13 specialty food shops. Visitors can sample a wide array of local delicacies old and new, such as raw oysters, gumbo, and Korean fried chicken, while stocking up on gourmet groceries. 2381 St. Claude Avenue; strochmarket.com.
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