In between the Highrise and the Twinspan, there’s lot of hidden gems
New Orleans East gets a bad rap. The only time people really talk about it is when they’re say how far out it is, or crime.
But between the Highrise and the Twin Span, there’s a lot to do. The East is a huge residential area. And while there are spots that still are untouched from Hurricane Katrina, the growth in the area is shiny, robust and new.
Messina’s Runway Cafe
When you trek it out to New Orleans East, you’ll need fuel for the day. Yes, the Lakefront Airport is still considered the East. The restaurant offers breakfast and lunch on weekdays and brunch on weekends. The grits are always creamy and the pancakes are the kind with the crispy edges, if that’s your thing. It also boasts four private rooms for events and weddings.
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Audubon Nature Center
After you’re fueled up and ready to get out and explore, you’ll want to start by checking out the Audubon Nature Center. The nature center reopened 12 years after Hurricane Katrina with a $10 million facelift from the Audubon Institute. There’s a 1.1 mile boardwalk, as well as dirt trails through the woods. There’s also a crawfish pond, greenhouse, and classes on the weekends. Tucked away on Lake Forest Boulevard, it’s a great spot to get away from the hustle of the city and go on a morning walk, and although the trail is short, it feels miles away from civilization. As the name implies, you’ll be in the middle of nature, so expect to see some bugs, spiders, and possibly a coyote or two.
You went outdoors and hoofed it and saw the sights of nature, and now you need to eat. People drive from other parts of the city to get their seafood from Castnet. One side of the building sells fresh seafood and the other side sells lunches and seafood plates. If you’re not into seafood, they also serve half-pound burgers, and you can call ahead to order. Just be prepared to stand in line; both the seafood and the lunch line sides are popular.
Dong Phuong Bakery
This place closes at 5 p.m. and you won’t want to miss one of their delicious treats to bring home after your adventure in the East. This bakery’s king cake’s have gone viral the past few years. But long before that notoriety, the bakery quietly supplied pistollettes and po-boy bread for much of the city. The restaurant is also a popular pho spot for many of the workers in the Michoud area — like the nearby NASA facility. If you’re looking for a quick bite during lunch, the steamed buns or banh mi (the Vietnamese version of the po-boy) is the way to go.
HAPPY HOUR/NIGHT TIME
Top off the night with a local brew. A family-run business, Royal Brewery started in the mid-1990’s, with a full location opening up in the East in March 2017. The tap room is open on weekends from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and is usually packed during Saints games. The tap room boasts a variety of beers, including Ginger Fever Housemade Ginger Ale and Termite Loger-California Common/Steam Lager, which can only be found at the location in the East instead of stores or restaurants.
Using this as your guide to a new adventure? Share your experience with us by tagging us on social media with @verylocalnola!