Have you ever been to New Orleans? After visiting the “Big Easy” I have asked myself several times why didn’t I come here sooner? We are a foody family that loves to explore new places & their cuisine (we all know that by now I’m sure). This is borderline food lovers paradise and especially if you love seafood. One thing though besides the absolutely staples of Cajun, creole, and southern cooking that is not thought about (at least in my immediate mind) was the Beignets. Those that have been to NOLA are scoffing at me right now for my failure of not remembering these amazing French donuts. Lets start at the beginning shall we?
We arrived pretty quickly from our last stop in Biloxi, Mississippi to Belle Chase, Louisiana. We opted for another military base to camp at because of ease and the price was under our $30 a night max threshold. The base itself is pretty small but has all of the standard expectations of a base. It has a full on Commissary, Exchange, housing, Child Development Centers, and MWR. It is still a very active base as we got to see some of the jets & helos flying around. Getting through the gate was fun as we got to do the concrete barrier weave. Those that have been on a military base know what I’m talking about. Those that haven’t, it is a good security measure and useful from what I’ve been told in the past. Thankfully they were spaced out enough for Rex and the car to weave no issues. The RV Park has 3 sections available; 1 for long term, 1 Medium long (30 daysish), and the standard come and go campers. The sites are all full hook up concrete pads which are very level and nicely spaced. It is wide open so there is no shade to hide under during those sunny days. There is a bathhouse available for use and the WiFi is good enough to stream lightly (it is MWR free unless you want to pay for better coverage). Pets are allowed (on leash) and the park itself is very well kept. Definitely a good place to camp, but it is a slight haul to get downtown if that matters (didn’t for us, we didn’t mind the 30 minute drive).
Once we got the rig set up, we made a run down to Magazine Street to get some lunch/dinner. Let the food journey begin! We opted for a place called Red Dog Diner based on a quick search for food in the area. OH MAN THIS WAS GOOD! We started off with a Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It came out in this cast iron skillet with a side plate of chips, sour cream, and salsa. The menu said French Bread so I was a little sad at the start, but the flavor was excellent. Nope, no complaint needed here. Jennie ordered a Crab & Bacon dip which also came in a small cast iron dish but had 4 long French bread sticks to go with it. She said it was creamy and so yummy. Yep, she ate it all so I know that it was good. Abby had a cheese pizza that she very much so enjoyed. Well, after she mowed down the appetizer that is. This kid loves spinach artichoke even though she says she doesn’t. I ordered the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken. It was half of a chicken (skin on) cooked thoroughly with a parm cheese on the skin. It was fall apart tender but seemed to be missing the “crust” portion of it. The mac & cheese though was a sneaky treat, it’s smoked! It was a very tasty meal that we devoured. We would definitely eat here again as it had several other things that we would definitely like to try. They also pull all of their ingredients locally (as per what we were told, I cannot verify this) so that’s always a nice add.
We decided to go get our bearings for downtown now since we knew that we would be spending a lot of time in the French Quarter. Now, numerous friends have told us that this is a tourist trap area and we should just pop in and leave. I will say this about it: It is a tourist trap and you should definitely STAY & EXPLORE it. We had an absolute blast walking around exploring! Even Abby didn’t mind it too much seeing all of the buildings change and the performers doing their thing. Do be ready for bumper-to-bumper traffic and parking to cost you money (street meters and garage are heavily utilized). The police also heavily enforce parking meters to make sure you pay attention to the signs and your time.
In hindsight, I’m glad we did a quick run through of the town before we actually went exploring. This gave us the quick view of parking area’s, things to see, where some of the stuff in general was, and how the streets flowed (city one way grid style). I’m also glad because the trolley that would take you up and down Canal St was not running due to the recent Hard Rock Café hotel incident so we found a lot more about the area via detours. So day 1 was a success and we headed back to the rig for the night ready to explore the next morning.