This week we’re off to one of the most unique cities in the nation — known for its famous beignets, multicultural roots, and the French Quarter, which lies at the center of it all. That’s right friends, we’re headed to New Orleans. NOLA. The Big Easy. The birthplace of jazz, and of course, home of the annual celebration known as Mardi Gras.
With so many places to see, eat, drink, and party, we needed a specialist with lots of New Orleans expertise. So we called in Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan. Not surprisingly, the man came to play — sharing the best of the city and not holding back on the insider tips.
The 3X Pro Bowler has called New Orleans home since being drafted by the Saints in 2011 and has fully immersed himself in the culture of the city. Coming from Arizona where “there’s no such thing as hunting or mudding,” Jordan has grown to love the bayous, the po’ boys, and most of all the beignets of New Orleans.
“To talk about what is the experience of New Orleans,” he says, “you almost have to eat your way through most of these experiences.”
We’re 100% down for that approach. Let’s get started!
MOST NEW ORLEANS THING TO DO
Walking The Streets
Walking Bourbon or the French Quarter for the good music. Or even the streets like Royal Street. Talking about how rich this place is in terms of food — you can go down Magazine Street and find so many eclectic places. And those little stores that you know sorta remind you of being in New Orleans. Like the infamous artist who paints the little blue dog around here.
When you talk about food… I’m going to bring up food no less than 30 times in this conversation, because there’s Italian, that Cajun/Creole, BBQ, there’s ramen, there’s great places all around New Orleans. Even if you take a bayou tour, after the bayou tour you’re going to go to Café Du Monde for hot chocolate and beignets or a po’ boy.
FAVORITE DINNER SPOT
Depends on the mood, but I’ve been feeling this place Kin. It’s gourmet ramen style and it’s phenomenal. They change their menu weekly or bi-weekly or whatever it is. Every time I go in there’s always a new something. When you talk about Cajun food, that’s easy. There’s so many good spots that showcase their twist on the style. When you talk about just the ability to stop by Boca, that’s a great steakhouse or Mr. John steakhouse. Cheesecake Bistro which is like the cheesecake factory of the south. At Commander’s Palace you can get phenomenal turtle soup and then there’s GW Fins and they have the best fried soft shell crab. Zimmers Seafood probably has one of the better po’ boys you’re going to have in the city.
If you’re hunting and shoot a deer you can bring it to one of these chefs that you run into and have them do a masterpiece for you. I’ve got friends that go hunting. These are things that you’re always going to remember, I mean if you’re coming from Arizona there’s no such thing as hunting. Here there’s deer season and duck season and squirrel season. There’s so many things that you can do out here.
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BEST DATE NIGHT SPOT
We had a really good date night at GW Fins. It’s awesome. Bourbon House has always been good to us. You go down to Magazine Street there’s so many different restaurants you can really just pick one out. Go to Canal, there’s Johnny Sanchez.
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#Repost @amournola (@get_repost) ・・・ Oh so much deliciousness tonight at @gwfins! We tasted so many delectable bites and topped it off with the likes of this Salty Malty Ice Cream Pie which is just indescribably good…like want to lick-the-plate-as-it-melts good! And thanks to @chefmikenola for sharing with us his vision, passion, and creativity during our meal! #gwfins #saltymalty #salty #sweet #dessert
FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOP
Oh snaps. Whatever fits me. You know standing at 6’4 and some change and 280 lbs. It’s not like I can just walk into any store and it fits. But you go into random stores, like Nouveau may have something that fits me. I may go down into City Gear. I may do a lot of shopping online. Then there’s of course those stores that don’t have a big name…but I just go into them. I frequent them and I know they usually have something for me.
Sometimes you don’t really pay attention to the name brand it’ more along the lines of what’s comfortable what fits and what looks good.
In my life you know I’ve been evolving. When I was way younger I used to love to go to Jax, Voodoo, the Hookah bar. That was when I first got to New Orleans. As you know seven years in your mindset of a 21-year-old to a 28-year-old changes drastically, of course. I do enjoy a good lounge. The Ace Hotel has a nice little lounge. Aloft has a nice little vibe to it. There’s also the Dueling Piano off Bourbon which if you’ve never been to a dueling piano situation you should go.
It’s packed, you sing songs, you bring friends, it’s like the merriest time ever.
BEST PLACE TO GET AWAY
If I want to get away I’m usually doing a kid event. Usually like hosting a literacy program. But if I want to get away from everybody? Sheesh. If I want to get away I usually will go to Creole Creamery, off of Prytania Street. Ice cream spot. And that’s probably like the fattest kid notion in me ever. Like “hey when I want to get away I go get ice cream.” But Creole Creamery has probably some of the best gourmet flavors out in the game. They’re always coming out with new mixes and you can go there and just sit in a little booth in the corner and sorta you know forget about your woes while you’re eating a little ice cream cone.
BEST OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
Hunting & Fishing
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve started to really enjoy hunting. It’s nothing more than, you know, not only snagging a deer than eating the deer as well. Or fishing and being able to eat your redfish. Coming from Arizona there’s no such thing as fishing. We come from droughts. We go months without rain. Here you know water is in abundance. Marshlands offer phenomenal fishing. Coming from the West coast you’re used to like salmon, tilapia, and maybe like a fish of the day like swordfish or whatever that they’ve imported. But you come here and it can be speckled trout, it can be redfish, you can go offshore fishing and bring back mahi-mahi, tuna.
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SOMETHING ONLY LOCALS KNOW
Where to get a phenomenal gumbo. The answer is “it’s best made homemade,” but there’s this place Peche that has really good seafood gumbo. Great gumbo there.
BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK SPOT
I left those days long behind me. Back in my heavier set days, in my off-season days when I didn’t abide by smart living in terms of health, I’d go to Trolley Stop off of St. Charles and it was always open. I don’t know if it has closing hours? I’ve been there at like early in the morning at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and it’s there for me.
You wake up or you get done playing video games and you look over and it’s like dang it’s 3 o’clock in the morning, “Trolley Stop!”
BEST PLACE FOR A SWEET TREAT
If you’re going to New Orleans you have to get a snowball. There’s Hansen’s snowballs. Hansen’s is probably the one I frequent the most. And you have to get a snowball. It’s not a snow cone like everywhere else in the country, snowball. The difference is the ice being made, it’s just softer. We’re talking about the most elite snow cone, it’s snowballs.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
Gumbo, Poboys, Beignets…
Gumbo, poboys…man that’s tough. There’s so many quote/unquote “iconic foods.” Beignets. You don’t go to New Orleans without getting a beignet. You don’t go to New Orleans without getting a snowball or a gumbo or a crawfish etouffee or boudin is a freaking staple here.