Our last day of vacation turned out to be another laid back day. We again slept late, which was probably the reason we were unable to get a table at Café du Monde that morning. The week between Christmas and New Years must be a very popular time to visit New Orleans, because Jackson Square and the Quarter in general were both bumping on Boxing Day morning. Since the line at Café du Monde seemed to stretch all the way across the square, we opted to skip breakfast and go straight to lunch.
As I’ve already mentioned, we stopped at the acclaimed Johnny’s Po’boys, and I’ll tell you, it is acclaimed for good reason. I had the roast beef with debris gravy, and it was sensational. Kathleen had an oyster po’boy, and she said it was the best she’d ever had. For breakfast, for lunch, it doesn’t matter—these delicious sandwiches should be eaten at all times, whenever possible.
After our po’boy breakfast, we set out on what I’ve come to think of as our New Orleans scavenger hunt. If you browse the tourist shops in New Orleans, you’ll likely see Cajun Power products, typically their garlic sauce. Before our trip, we’d been told by a friend who used to live in Louisiana that we ought to find Cajun Power’s Worcestershire Sauce, which is supposed to be a more delicious version of classic Worcestershire. Now, we love Worcestershire, so the thought of a Cajun version set our hearts a flutter, and we decided that we must have it.
Our first stop was at the New Orleans School of Cooking, right across the street from Johnny’s. We did one of their cooking classes on our last trip and had a great time (I highly recommend doing this on your trip to New Orleans), and they have a shop that sells Cajun cooking products and supplies. Unfortunately, they were all sold out of the Worcestershire, so we had to continue the hunt.
We browsed the shops around Jackson Square and the French Market to no avail. We decided to take a leisurely stroll down the river and check out the shops in the Riverwalk. Unfortunately, none of those stores had any Cajun Power Worcestershire either.
We did stop for some beignets at the Riverwalk location of Café du Monde. While the beignets were delicious, and the line was certainly much shorter, it did lack the atmosphere of the original. Still, if you need that beignet fix, as I often do, it’s nice to keep that location in mind.
We walked back to our hotel along the river, enjoying the slight refuge it provided from the oppressive humidity. We stopped in a market along the way, but still had no luck with finding the allusive Cajun Power Worcestershire.
It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel that we hit upon a winner. Kathleen remembered walking by another cooking school, so I called them to find out if they had the prize we’d been after all day. And, lucky for us, they did!
After a short rest, we headed back out for a pre-dinner snack of more oysters. Along the way, we stopped to buy our Cajun Power Worcestershire!
Our oyster sampling for the day was at another popular destination, Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, which is right across the street from Acme. There was a short ten-minute wait, and since we were only planning on grabbing a dozen oysters, we agreed to take seats at the bar.
It turned out to be a fun bar to sit at, as they are constantly shucking oysters right behind the bar. Also fun, they continuously gave out raw oysters (Kathleen got three, I think), perhaps as a way of rewarding the people who agree to take a bar spot rather than wait for a table. The oysters (both grilled and raw) were excellent—probably my second favorite after Acme. They are very similar to the Acme version, so if Acme has a really long line, by all means head to Felix’s and enjoy a similar experience.
Unfortunately, we’d reached my least favorite point of vacation: the time to pack to go home. We headed back to the hotel and, with little fuss, got our stuff packed and ready for the journey home the following day.
But we still had one meal left in New Orleans, this time at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA Restaurant. Sadly though, this turned out to be our least favorite meal of the entire trip.
I can’t really find a single good thing to say about this meal. The service was terrible, all the food was lukewarm to cold, and, at least to me, the food didn’t taste anything like what I expect classic Cajun dishes to taste like—and I feel like I’ve eaten enough of them by now to know what they should taste like. The gumbo, for example, tasted nothing like what a good gumbo should taste like. It tasted more like a tomato-sauce-based soup, containing none of the rich, nutty, burnt flavor of good gumbo. Likewise, the barbeque shrimp tasted super weird—more like a sweet glazed shrimp, rather than the mouth-watering combination of spicy butter and garlic I’d come to know and love. Their version of wood oven oysters was basically inedible, which was extremely disappointing.
Needless to say, I would recommend you go just about anywhere else in New Orleans. This bums me out, as we’ve always enjoyed Emeril on TV, but he’s clearly left his restaurant in the wrong hands.
My goodbye to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without at least one more stop at Pat O’s. We were able to sit in the piano bar this time, and we spent a very enjoyable hour or so listening to music and reflecting on what an awesome trip we’d had.
The subpar dinner did have one silver lining: I had plenty of belly room for late-night beignets. Jackson Square had quieted down some, and we enjoyed relaxing in the (relatively) cool evening air, eating one last round of sugary treats.
Finally, it came time for us to head back to our hotel and bed, facing the fact that we had to return to reality the next day. We had an incredible trip, from our time in one of my favorite cities in the world, to a week on the fantastic NCL Dawn. While on the cruise, we had already started planning our next vacation, and it was easier to return home—already filled with excitement for our next adventure.
This brings us to the end of our New Orleans Christmas vacation. Want to read about more of our travels? Head over to our Travel Page to follow along on our many other adventures.