The best spots to explore in NOLA during Essence Fest Weekend

Essence Fest Fashion


The best spots to explore in NOLA during Essence Fest Weekend

Essence Fest is the hottest ticket of the summer – there’s no better way to celebrate African-American music and culture. While the festival itself will keep you busy, here are a few ways to spend your Essence Festival weekend supporting black-owned businesses around New Orleans

Bayou Nachos at Munch Factory
Rebecca Todd, NOTMC


Heard Dat Kitchen

It is worth getting off of the beaten path to get some soul food from this eatery. The famous dish, “Dat Superdome”, includes catfish, mash potatoes and onion rings shaped like the Essence Festival headquarters, the New Orleans Superdome.


This sleek, contemporary space is great for Sunday brunch and offers an abundance of seafood dishes. You also can’t go wrong with their $5 margaritas, mojitos and martinis on Fridays.

Chef D’z Café

In house chef, Donald Smith, won the ACF Best Chefs of Louisiana 2018 award for his comfort food. A short drive from the Superdome, Chef D’z will show you true southern hospitality before heading to the shows.

Neyow’s Creole Café

Inspired by grandmother’s cooking, Neyow’s authentic creole dishes represent all things New Orleans in the Mid-City neighborhood. A fan-favorite dish includes red beans and rice with fried chicken on top.

The Munch Factory

With lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, the Munch Factory is great for any meal. From wings and nachos to oysters and shrimp and grits, everyone can find something to enjoy in this Lower Garden District establishment.

Cocktails at Victory Bar
Rebecca Todd, NOTMC



The craft cocktail scene is highly noted at this sleek and sophisticated downtown establishment. Choose between specialty drinks or New Orleans classics, but you won’t be disappointed either way by the mixologist’s knowledge for the right ingredients.

Bullet’s Sports Bar

Party with the locals at this neighborhood watering hole. Even if there isn’t a big game on, the live music scene makes its worth the visit. Every Thursday night, Kermit Ruffins plays for the crowd.

Club Caribbean

Live musicians and DJs take over this Bayou Road night club in a reggae style. Dance the night away to the sounds of the islands.

Second Vine Wine

Calling all wine lovers! Located in the Treme and Marigny neighborhood, Second Vine is great for wine tastings or relaxing with friends.

New Orleans Drink Lab

Learn about classic New Orleans cocktails, then shake them up yourself! Grab your friends and enjoy a class about all things alcohol.


Motherland African Art

Just steps from the French Market, shop for African masks, art and clothing.

Galerie Cayenne

Internationally renowned artist, Shakor, sells his colorful New Orleans inspired art in the heart of the French Quarter.


Venture Uptown to Magazine Street and find this women’s boutique that sells items for every body-type. Here you can find your perfect outfit for the festival.

Loretta’s Authentic Pralines

Grab a couple of sweet treats to bring home to your family and friends. Loretta was the first African-American woman to have a successful praline company in the city, and now has been in business for over 35 years.

Le Musee de fpc
Photo courtesy of Le Musee de fpc


Backstreet Cultural Museum

With the largest collection of Mardi Gras Indian costumes, the museum is a must visit for jazz enthusiasts and those interested in the African-American culture of New Orleans.

Le Musée de f.p.c.

Educate yourself on the legacy of the free people of color. With an extensive collection of images, memorabilia and art work, Le Musee de f.p.c. reflects on the past in an important manner.

The George and Leah McKenna Museum of African American Art

Featuring the private collection of Dr. Dwight McKenna, the museum is an institution that collects, exhibits, and preserves the visual aesthetic of people of the African Diaspora. Be sure to call ahead to schedule a visit.

Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum

Celebrate all things jazz in the neighborhood where it all started.

Stella Jones Gallery

Located in the heart of the CBD, Stella Jones’ shares African and Caribbean fine art with various exhibits. The contemporary art gallery features paintings, prints and more.

Louis Armstrong Park
Zack Smith, NOTMC

Armstrong Park

Dedicated to Louis Armstrong, Armstrong Park is a wonderful place to enjoy the New Orleans weather and reflect on the jazz greats and African American history in the Treme neighborhood.

St. Augustine Catholic Church

The oldest African-American church in New Orleans is beautifully located in the heart of Treme.

Bayou Road

If looking for a way to spend the afternoon, Bayou Road is the perfect spot. With an abundance of restaurants and shops, the street is a wonderful way to support local businesses in a historic setting.


Looking for even more ways to explore during ESSENCE? Download the free ESSENCE Festival App, available from both Google Play and iTunes.

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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