Day By District: Faubourg Treme
Wondering how to fit a whole district into one day?
Last month, we told you how to see the French Quarter in one day; this month, we explore Faubourg Treme. This African-American-dominant neighborhood is the oldest in New Orleans, and was originally defined by its high population of free black people during the time of slavery. It’s the home of the first black daily newspaper, jazz music, and a number of talented musicians, including Kermit Ruffins and Louis Prima. Now, Treme is full of history, music, and amazing food that you won’t want to miss.
8 AM – Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe
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Lil Dizzy’s is now open for brunch! Every Sunday, 9:30 AM til 2 PM. Full buffet, featuring an omelette station, French toast, BBQ ribs, crawfish macaroni, fresh spinach, fried chicken (as always), creole file gumbo, grits, and hash browns! Full bar includes specials on house-infused bloody marys, mimosas and pointsettias, and Irish coffee! Come eat!
Li’l Dizzy’s is a Treme landmark, despite only being around for 15 years. While they serve lunch, their breakfast is amazing! If you want a traditional breakfast, order the eggs, grits, and fried catfish, which is delicious and very Southern, or for the more New Orleans-centric, get the seafood omelet po’boy, which is a mouthwatering take on the NOLA classic dish that will get your day off to a good start.
9 AM – Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum
Jazz music was born in New Orleans, and more specifically, Treme. This museum will take you through the creation and evolution of the genre, pointing out important people and events, as well as discussing the legends that form the culture around the music. By the time you leave, you’ll have a more complete understanding of one of the most distinct types of music around.
Located in a building from 1829, this museum has dedicated itself to preserving history from the slaves that built New Orleans, the free people that developed it, the African diaspora, and those who came after. African beadwork, clothes, traditional instruments, and bold art make up the exhibits, and it’s truly powerful to see the origins of the African-American community in New Orleans.
12 PM – Willie Mae’s Scotch House
For lunch, you’ll want to visit Willie Mae’s for some of the best fried chicken you’ve ever eaten. Perfectly fried and juicy, you can order it with your choice of sides – the green beans are great, and the macaroni and cheese is rich and creamy. Finish with a slice of crunchy, sweet turtle cheesecake.
You’ll need to call in advance to schedule a tour, but it’s worth it. The church was built in 1841, and the architecture is beautiful with pink Italian marble and stunning stained glass windows. It also has a rich history, as the oldest African-American Catholic church in the country. It was attended by free people, who were so generous as to buy pews so that slaves could also attend, despite the fallout from white citizens.
2 PM – Le Musee De F.P.C.
F.P.C. in the museum’s name stands for Free People of Color. The museum is dedicated to free people’s role in New Orleans history. You’ll also need to arrange a tour in advance, but upon entering, you’ll get to view years of documents, furniture, art, and artifacts from free people in the early 19th century.
3:30 PM – St Louis Cemetery No. 1 and Mortuary Chapel
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Just a few phone captures from the St. Louis Cemetery #1 Tour in New Orleans. It was hot, muggy, and sunny. Did I mention hot? I’m lucky I took even these few. 😉 By the way, the epitaph on Sarah Anne Sullivan’s gravestone says “Her tribulations were her glory” That’s some serious business, right there.
Yet another place to call in advance, but no one who visits New Orleans avoids a trip to the cemetery. Due to the city’s lack of altitude and penchant for flooding, the graves at the cemetary are above ground, leading to some intricate and beautiful graves. There are three sections – Catholics, non-Catholics, and “negroes”, and seeing such segregation makes a powerful statement about the times in which people were buried here. Additionally, as the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, St. Louis cemetery has accumulated some famous names – voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is buried here, as well as Homer Plessy from the Supreme Court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. Even actor Nicholas Cage has built his tomb here for his future burial. Next to the cemetery is Mortuary Chapel, built when other churches refused to provide services for yellow fever victims.
6 PM – Congo Square
Before dinner, take a walk through Congo Square. The square originally was an open-air market for slaves, as well as a Sunday gathering place where slaves could dance. Now it holds events, hosts musicians, and is a generally beautiful tract of land.
7 PM – Gabrielle
If you’re looking for Cajun food, you can’t go wrong at Gabrielle. Start your meal with the barbecue shrimp pie, seasoned to the perfect level of spiciness. For the entree, the pork chop can’t be beat, seasoned with Cajun spices and served with glazed apples and a stuffed pepper. For dessert, the creme brulee always has a perfectly crunchy crust.
You can’t visit Treme without enjoying some jazz music, and there is no better place than Kermit. Kermit Ruffins, mentioned above, owns this bar, and can often be found playing. If he’s not on stage, you can count on a talented band regardless, and the outdoor area is a lovely place to sit and enjoy a cocktail while you listen to the wail of a saxophone.