New Orleans - Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge
Mid-City is a portion of New Orleans in the center of the metropolitan area, about midway between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. It is less visited by tourists than more famous areas like the French Quarter, but has impressive attractions of its own.
The area of Mid-City around the Fairgrounds and the nearby portion of Esplanade Avenue is often called the Bayou St. John neighborhood or Esplanade Ridge. The old Bayou itself can be seen when you cross the bridge over it at the tail of Esplanade in front of City Park; it is a a calm long finger of water constrained by grassy levees as it winds through the old urban neighborhood.
Mid-City is filled with visitors each year for the week and a half of the New Orleans Jazz Festival. The rest of the year the neighborhood is often comparatively neglected by travelers.
Mid City flooded in the great disaster of 2005. As of mid 2008, much of Mid City has come back strong. But while there are sections where a visitor would have trouble finding evidence anything bad ever happened, there are still blocks with houses and businesses boarded up. The attractions and businesses listed here are all open at writing.
Get in, Get around
Mid-City is a portion of the city that is easy to get around in either with or without a car.
The recently restored Canal Streetcar line starts at the riverfront of the French Quarter (at Esplanade Avenue and the levee), turns on to Canal Street to go through the Central Business District, and continues into the heart of Mid-City. Once at the intersection of Canal Street and Carrollton Avenue in the center of Mid-City, the Canal streetcar branches into two lines. Cars marked "City Park" turn on to Carrollton Avenue, with the line ending at City Park in front of the NOMA Museum, a short walk from the Fairgrounds. Cars marked "Cemeteries" continue to the end of Canal Street at the far edge of Mid-City where a number of the city's old cemeteries are located. A complete guide to attractions in the Mid-city area that are available via the Canal Streetcar line is available at http://www.ridetheroutes.com.
- City Park, The large park has winding lanes through old trees for walking or driving through, and includes such attractions as an outdoor sculpture garden, a botanical garden, and a children's playground "Storybook Land". During nights of the Christmas season there is an elaborate celebration with lights and rides in the park called "Celebration in the Oaks".
- New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), (just in the park from the Carrollton & Esplanade entrance), . Worth a visit for art lovers; the art of this fine museum was fortunately high enough to escape the flood. Highlights from the permanent collection include a fine collection of Fabergé eggs and jewelry, and paintings from France and Latin America. Open until 8:30PM Thursday nights. Louisiana residents get in free after 5PM with ID.
- Degas House Historic Home Courtyard and Inn, 2306 Esplanade, tel: 821-5009 or 1-800-755-6730, . French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas. The only home and studio of the French Impressionist Master, Edgar Degas, open to the public anywhere in the world. Degas lived with relatives in this house on Esplanade Avenue during 1872-1873; it is now a bed & breakfast, gift shop, wedding and special event venue. Tours are available daily.Secured offstreet/motorcoach parking.
- Fairgrounds, . Has horse-racing and, once a year, the Jazz Festival.
- Pitot House Museum and Gardens, 1440 Moss Street (at Bayou St. John), . Historic house of a former mayor from the era of the Louisiana Purchase at the start of the 19th century.
Go to the cemetery? Yes, many visitors do, leaving alive and well with an interesting experience. Due to the high water table, most New Orleans tombs are in above ground crypts. Traditionally, many of the well to do adorned their tombs with marble or bronze decoration and statuary, and many of the city's less affluent joined fraternal organizations which built elaborate group crypts.
- Saint Louis Cemetery #3, (on Esplanade Avenue a couple of blocks from City Park). 19th-century above ground tombs. Safe to walk around in during the day, this is popular with visitors.
- The Cemeteries is the informal name for a group of separate but adjoining or nearby cemeteries concentrated around the inland end of Canal Street. These include Odd Fellows Rest and Greenwood Cemetery. Some interesting monuments, but cemetery connoisseurs agree your time is best spent a little further on:
- Metairie Cemetery, on Metairie Road up from City Park, is just outside of Mid-City by most definitions, but is only a short drive from this neighborhood or a 15 minute hike from the end of the "Cemeteries" branch of the Canal streetcar line (Walking directions: from the end of the line go to City Park Avenue, take a left past Greenwood Cemetery, continue under the Interstate overpass, then take a right to get to the entrance). Metairie is the city's most elaborate cemetery, with many interesting 19th century grand tombs and monuments.
Mid-City restaurants are loved by locals, and the visitor can easily find out why. Those annoyed with tourist traps of the French Quarter and Central Business District can get away to Mid-City and enjoy some of New Orleans best and most distinctive food surrounded by locals.
As mentioned above, the one time of year when visitors flock here is during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. At busy Jazz Fest time it's best to either make reservations well in advance, or expect to wait in lines, or plan to eat in another part of town.
- Betsy's Pancake House, 2542 Canal St. Pancakes & such for breakfast and lunch.
- Doson Noodle House, 135 N. Carrollton Ave. Vietnamese.
- Fellini's Cafe, 900 N. Carrollton. artsy cafe with good food.
- Juan's Flying Burrito, 4724 S Carrollton Ave, tasty Mexican, good prices.
- Liuzzas, 3636 Bienville, . New Orleans-style down-home Italian with a Creole touch.
- Liuzza's By The Track, 1518 N. Lopez (at Ponce de Leon, a block off Esplanade towards the Track). "The other Liuzza's" is also a neighborhood favorite, known for Creole gumbo, seafood, and garlic roast beef po'boys. Reasonably priced lunches, also open for dinner weekdays.
- Minnie's Catfish Corner, 3735 Ulloa Street (at corner of S. Cortez, just off Tulane Avenue). Some of the Gulf Coast's best fried catfish along with good soul food in this clean little place tucked away in an unpreposessing Mid City neighborhood. 11a - 6p, closed Sundays.
- Mona's Cafe, 3901 Banks. Middle Eastern. Mona's also has restaurants in Marigny and Uptown, but this one has a fair sized Middle Eastern grocery attached as well, in case you need to buy a bag of loose tea leaves, a bucket of hummus, or a hookah.
- Parkway Bakery & Tavern 523 Hagan St. An authentic neighborhood po-boy shop and bar; a favorite with locals.
- Ruby Slipper  139 South Cortez Street (1 block off Canal Street) Tel. 309-5531. Breakfast & lunch Weds-Fri, Brunch Sat-Sun.
- La Vita 3201 Esplanade.  Pizza, calzones, and modern Italian. 11a-Midnight.
- Angelo Brocato's, 214 N. Carrollton. Italian ice cream, pastries, and sweets, a century old tradition.
- The Bean Gallery  637 N. Carrollton. Coffee, sandwiches, gelato. Wi-fi. Tel. 324-8176
- Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, 3133 Ponce De Leon (just off Esplanade Avenue), coffee and light eats; free wi-fi. Tel. 913-9072
- Cafe Degas, 3127 Esplanade. . Very good French.
- Cafe Minh, 4139 Canal Street. Vietnamese.
- Five Happiness, 3605 S Carrollton Ave . Local favorite for Chinese.
- Lola's, 3312 Esplanade. Mediterranean and Spanish. Menu highlights include romescu lamb. The palleas fresh made to order take half an hour but regulars find them worth the wait.
- Mandina's, 3800 Canal Street. . Louisiana, Italian, and Seafood.
- Olive Branch Cafe 3700 Orleans Ave. (in the American Can Factory building)  Gourmet pizza & Italian, lunch & dinner, Tues-Sat.
- Venezia, 134 N. Carrollton Ave. Creole-Italian and Pizza, another Mid-City landmark.
- Ralph's On The Park, 900 City Park Ave. (across from City Park), . Highly regarded Contemporary Louisiana cuisine in a recently renovated 1860s tavern building.
- Banks Street Bar & Grill, 4401 Banks Street. 486 0258. Live music every night, never a cover.
- Cork & Bottle 3700 Orleans in the American Can Factory Building by Bayou St. John 934-1386. Local wine merchant offers tastings for wine lovers, including a free one Thursday evenings.
- Finn McCool's, 3701 Banks St. Very authentic Irish Pub, perhaps New Orleans' most internationally diverse clientele. Popular with European ex-pats and soccer fans. Pub trivia Monday nights.
- Mick's Irish Pub, 4801 Bienville St. Neighborhood bar. Darts, ping-pong tables, cheap drinks.
- Mid-City Yacht Club, 440 S St Patrick St. New since Katrina, a friendly, unpretentious bar with a great beer selection. Watch the game on one of the HDTVs, throw some darts, or just hang out. Ball field across the street has baseball, softball, and soccer during the summer.
- Pal's Lounge, 949 N. Rendon Street. Neighborhood bar with air hockey table. Eclectic crowd. Don't leave without taking a look at the men's room.
- Banks Street Bar & Grill, 4401 Banks Street. Local less well known live music acts, ranging from rock to all types of jazz, often at no cover; if they're good (often they are) put a buck or so in the tip jar.
- MidCity Rock-n-Bowl, 4133 S. Carrollton (at Tulane Avenue). Dance, or drink, or bowl (!) while listening to great live local music. A great place to experience traditional Zydeco music or Cajun music, if you bowl or not. Rhythm & Blues legend Snooks Eaglin also plays here regularly. There is also swing dancing.
Mid-City's central location allows easy access to other parts of town. Take the Canal Streetcar to the French Quarter and the Central Business District. Drive or take the bus to the other end of beautiful Esplanade Avenue to arrive at the lower edge of the Quarter and the hip Faubourg Marigny neighborhood (alternatively reached by taking the Canal Streetcar to the far end at Esplanade and the river levee). Lakeview and Lakefront neighborhoods are a short drive away. The Carrollton neighborhood at the upper end of Uptown can be driven to by taking Carrollton Avenue to the other end. While there is bus service along Carrollton Avenue from Mid-City to the Old Carrollton neighborhood, those relying on public transit may wish to consider getting to Uptown and Carrollton by a more indirect route: take the Canal Streetcar to the Central Business District, then the green St. Charles Streetcar up. While this route is longer, it may be less aggravating and is certainly much more picturesque.
This page was last edited at 00:31, on 19 October 2008 by Wikitravel user Infrogmation. Based on work by David, david villarrubia, Ryan Holliday and Evan Prodromou, Wikitravel user(s) Meursault82 and Nzpcmad and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.