The United States is filled with iconic cities. But perhaps one of the most unique is the Louisiana capital of New Orleans, with its jazz culture, Cajun dining, colorful rambling architecture and infamous night life. You may not think of coffee when you think of New Orleans, but you should.
Here are five of the best cafes in New Orleans:
If you find yourself in NOLA on a warm day (a very likely occurrence), there’s no finer place to lounge than the leafy courtyard at Café Amélie. The atmosphere is simply gorgeous. Two doors up they also have a sweet corner cafe, Petite Amélie, where you can people watch over an espresso or grab a flaky French pastry to go.
Far from the touristy (albeit charming) French Quarter, the Lower Garden District is one of the coolest neighborhoods in New Orleans. A stone’s throw from shopping and dining thoroughfare Magazine Street, HiVolt is a sleek, artfully-decorated cafe with some of the finest breakfasts in town (think toasted gourmet sandwiches on French baguette). Their latte was the best I had in the city.
Deep in the heart of the French Quarter, but far enough removed from the tackiness of Bourbon Street, sits comfy little espresso bar Spitfire. New Orleans cafes don’t get much more central than this, but the atmosphere is still nice and relaxed. Stop here for an afternoon pick-me-up; these guys sure know how to do coffee.
Right on the border between the classic French Quarter and the historic music district of Treme, Arrow Cafe is a warm, welcoming space with strong, good coffee. Grab yours to go and enjoy it in the adjacent Louis Armstrong park, a rambling green space devoted to New Orleans’ music history. Or even make an afternoon of it and visit the nearby Backstreet Cultural Museum in Treme after your caffeine pick-me-up.
Eat is actually more of a restaurant than a cafe, but I couldn’t resist including it as it’s one of the finest dining spots around. Situated on the corner of Dumaine and Dauphine streets, the restaurant is in one of the loveliest spots imaginable, in the northern reaches of the French Quarter. They do excellent filter coffee and their weekend brunches are a force to be reckoned with.
Note: your friends and guidebooks are probably telling you to go to Café du Monde too. New Orleans’ French culture is a major drawcard and it’s fun to stop by du Monde for a powdered sugar beignet, or French donut. But the crowds are madness and the frenetic atmosphere is overpowering, so I recommend you either go in the early morning or hit the to-go counter and enjoy your beignets on the banks of the Mississippi, right next door.
By Gemma King
What’s your favorite New Orleans coffee spot? Please share in the comments below.