Tips + Trends

Navigating New Orleans: Cory Ricks on the Secret Side of the Crescent City

Cory Ricks (Photo: Joshua Brasted)

A Renaissance New Orleans Arts Navigator Concierge and New Orleans native, Cory Ricks is, simply put, in love with his city. Always among the first wave of locals to explore NOLA’s newest cultural happenings, Cory revealed his favorite New Orleans attractions to savor the best his hometown has to offer, from historical hot spots to venues packed with hilarious comedians and wild musicians.

What inspired you to go into the work that you do?

My genuine love for people and my son. It puts me into a position where I can serve those people and take care of my family.

You’ve lived here for your entire life and have seen the city go through so many changes. What is your favorite new area of town?

The Bywater is an area that is being built up to become like a Magazine Street. There’s a bunch of phenomenal restaurants in that area like Elizabeth’s Restaurant; one of the best brunch places in the city. There’s also a place called Booty’s Street Food.

New Orleans is such a picturesque place. What do you think is the prettiest part of city?

I like to see mansions, so I take the streetcar down St. Charles. Then, I hop off and walk down to Magazine. It’s a street full of boutiques, galleries, and different shops and restaurants. It’s a very, very local area.

There is so much live music to see here every night. Where is your favorite place to experience it?

On Magazine Street, there’s a little place called Le Bon Temps Roulé. On Thursdays nights, they do jazz or brass, usually the Soul Rebels Brass Band. They also have free oysters on Friday nights. You get that local feeling and that local flavor. It’s off the beaten path and has a good atmosphere.

What other kind of entertainment do you see regularly?

I’m a big comedy fan. There are two comedy shows at the Howlin’ Wolf called Comedy Gumbeaux and Comedy Beast. They also have some at Café Istanbul in the New Orleans Healing Center, which is in the Bywater area.

What’s your advice about getting into places that are hard to get into or have long lines?

Places with long lines like Preservation Hall are local, but there other, less crowded things the city offers; you should look for alternatives. I’ll often tell someone to go to The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street as opposed to Preservation Hall, personally. In my opinion, it’s just a little more local. It’s just a little more of the feel. If you have to go to that one place, I can call over there and see if I can figure out how to get our guests in there. Some places I’ve built relationships with, and I may be able to get you in the back door, so to speak.

Where do you go for outdoor recreation?

I like sitting on the Lake Pontchartrain on Sundays eating crawfish and turkey necks, enjoying music and the beautiful scenery. We boil our turkey necks with our crawfish in crab boil with oranges, lemons, corn and smoked sausage.

Being a city with a plethora of art galleries, historical tours and museums, is there one place that you recommend people check out more than anywhere else?

I think people should take time to see the World War II Museum; it’s a phenomenal museum. It’s something that seems like it shouldn’t be in New Orleans because not much for the war was based out of New Orleans. It’s something fresh and new. The museum is very, very beautiful, very professionally done. It’s one thing the Warehouse District has to offer.

What’s your best advice to people visiting New Orleans for the very first time?

Try to experience, understand and appreciate the culture of the city. Go to the non-tourist areas so you can get a more in-depth look at what our city has to offer other than what’s typically known of it. Enjoy the culture, enjoy the food and enjoy the experience.