Indulge in small plates before watching the a movie on the big screen at Gusto. (Photo: The Theatres at Canal Place)
It’s not hard to find good eats in New Orleans — the Big Easy boasts great food on nearly every corner. But veer a bit off the well-trodden track with an evening in NOLA’s revitalized Arts District. Along with more than two dozen galleries, you can get your grub on at one-of-a-kind spots with a taste that’s unmistakably N’Awlins.
Try to hit the ‘hood on the first Saturday of the month, when local galleries open their doors for an Art Walk. Because you’re in a Louisiana Cultural District, you pay no tax on original art purchases.
Pins and Pork Belly in Fulton Alley
Head to Fulton Alley, where the good times really do roll, after your gallery stroll. The former bus barn and parking garage for Harrah’s has transformed into a hip cocktail lounge and boutique bowling alley. And this hot spot is definitely not your dad’s bowling league.
Instead, Fulton Alley is a 21-and-over bar (except for weekend days when they allow kiddos) serving up tasty small plates you can nosh on between knocking down pins. Try the deviled eggs, Andouille tots or pork belly sliders for modern takes on classic Southern fare. Don’t miss the signature Bowler’s Shandy with beer, citrus syrup and lemon.
Dinner and a Movie
NOLA, with its romantic balconies and historic buildings, has taken center stage in a number of memorable movies, but Gusto Café and Bar at The Theatres at Canal Place shifts the focus away from the screen and onto your plate. Open only to the 18-and-over crowd, this nine-screen theater isn’t your typical popcorn and soda movie palace.
When you catch a flick here, you can opt to purchase creative small plates in the café before the show, or order from your seat during the movie. Take it up a notch and book a motorized leather recliner in the theater’s VIP auditorium where you can order popcorn topped with parmigiano and black pepper or the muffaletta sandwich with serrano ham and manchego cheese. Cool down with a refreshing watermelon mojito.
Games and Grub on Lafayette Street
Down Lafayette Street, Barcadia is another hot spot for playing, eating and sipping. You’ll find a long list of local brews and elevated bar food specials, like fried cheese curds and Korean pork shanks.
Release your inner child playing life-sized Jenga and Connect Four on the patio or a game of skeeball indoors. Later, try your hand at one of three dozen 1980s-era arcade games and pinball machines. There are two bars inside (the one at the back is usually quieter) and while you’ll have to share the space with kids during the day, it’s 21-and-over after 9 pm. From bowling to skeeball to Pac-Man, your visit to New Orleans can be retro-hip, as well as delicious.