Since Wedge and I are from New Orleans, I thought it might be helpful to post info for anyone who might be visiting the city this weekend for the Super Bowl. I don't know if any of our readers have a chance to attend the game. But if I can steer just one person in the right direction, then I've done my job. If Wedge has time, perhaps he can post or comment here with thoughts of his own.
If you are visiting New Orleans, obviously you know that you will be able to experience music everywhere you go. There are musicians on the streets who are better than people in our country's best orchestras. But with so many options, it could be overwhelming.
Below are my top five recommendations for this Friday and Saturday. If I were in town, these are the shows I would want to attend if at all possible.
1. Cowboy Mouth @ Family Gras (Metairie, La.) - Saturday, 1:20 p.m. - You'll have to venture out of the city just a few miles, but Cowboy Mouth is one of the best live rock bands of the last 20 years. The Family Gras event is always fun, and you'll be able to catch Mardi Gras parades and other bands like Big Bad VooDoo Daddy and Blues Traveler.
2. Soul Rebels @ d.b.a. - Saturday, 11:00 p.m. - One of my favorite local bands, the Soul Rebels are the best brass band around, in my opinion.
3. Davis Rogan Band @ Spotted Cat - Saturday, 10:00 p.m. - This guy is super-talented and can't be contained by any single genre of music. If you have ever seen HBO's "Treme," Steve Zahn's character is based on Davis, a consultant on the show.
4. Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers @ Blue Nile - Friday, 7:00 p.m. - An example of someone who should be a household name, and he might've been in another era. One of the city's top trumpet players, he has appeared in quite a few "Treme" episodes as himself.
5. Dirty Dozen Brass Band @ d.b.a. - Friday, 10:00 p.m. - If you can't catch the Soul Rebels the next night, this is the next best thing. And yes, d.b.a. will be a safe bet any night of the week for great music.
Honorable Mention: The Kyle Turley Band will play Saturday night at The Tavern in Metairie. I've never seen his band, but we did sit next to each other in the theater watching Mark Wahlberg's Rock Star. As a sports blogger, I figured I had to mention this.
The ESPN people keep talking about all the great meals they're having at Brennan's, Commander's Palace, and other crazy places. But I'll assume that you don't work for ESPN, don't have a $300 per diem, and just want normal-people food at normal-people prices. You can't go wrong with any of these places.
1. Mothers (Poydras St.) - My favorite po-boys in town. Not the cheapest, but certainly one of the best.
2. Cafe Maspero (Decatur St.) - This is my favorite restaurant on my favorite street in the world. Everything is great: red beans, muffalettas, smoked sausage, jambalaya, po-boys, etc.
3. Port of Call (Esplanade Ave.) - Great hamburgers with loaded baked potatoes. I miss this place just as much as the seafood restaurants.
4. Mona Lisa (Royal St.) - Amazing pizza. If you feel bad for eating pizza while in New Orleans, just get the seafood pizza.
5. St. Charles Tavern (St. Charles Ave.) - Service is hit or miss, usually miss. But the food is great. I like the boudin po-boy and the Lafayette burger (burger topped with crawfish etouffee). The breakfast is good too.
Honorable Mention: If you find yourself on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain for any reason (maybe to tour the awesome Abita Brewery?), then definitely go to Bear's Grill and Spirits. This is my new favorite po-boy place. The seafood sandwiches are great, and I guarantee you will not be able to finish the roast beef.
One final note about food... Everyone talks about beignets, and they are excellent. But anyone in town for this year's Super Bowl is lucky enough to also experience part of the Mardi Gras season. This means king cake will be readily available, so definitely work some king cake into your beignet routine. I think someone needs to pass this tip on to ESPN people, because they seem to be missing out so far.