Traditionally held over Fourth of July weekend every summer in New Orleans, we look forward to Essence Fest all year for its one-of-a-kind celebration of Black culture.
Essence Fest returns live and in person to downtown New Orleans from June 30-July 3. Performers this year include Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj, New Edition, Kevin Hart, Jazmine Sullivan, Summer Walker, and more. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Essence Fest here for all the need-to-know info.
While you’re in town for Essence, be sure to give some extra love to New Orleans’ Black-owned restaurants, shops, and attractions. We’ve picked out a few for you below.
It's worth going off 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 Caesars Superdome.
This sleek, contemporary space is great for Sunday brunch and offers an abundance of seafood dishes. Whether you have crawfish bread or a red velvet waffle, you can't go wrong.
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.
Be sure to stop by this casual neighborhood restaurant for seafood galore.
Craving a healthier meal while in NOLA? Meals From the Heart Café is not only centrally located in the French Market, but also the place to go for vegan and gluten-free soul food.
This Arts/Warehouse District-based eatery offers a selection of French and Afro-Creole cuisine fit for fine dining. Indulge in escargots, pain perdu, and New Orleans-style gumbo during your visit to Vyoone’s.
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 at The Munch Factory, located in Gentilly.
Willie Mae's is a local and international favorite, known for its simple menu and famous fried chicken. Don’t sleep on this restaurant next time you’re in the mood for some delicious soul food - and don’t be discouraged if you see a line forming out the door. We promise, it’s worth the wait. But if you’re short on time, you can always hit up their second location in Pythian Market.
Part gallery, part bookstore, and full wine bar, NOLA Art Bar is a hotspot for nightlife.
Waking up early is never a problem when Backatown is first on the schedule. Enjoy coffee, tea, and their famous sweet potato pie daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
New Orleans' craft cocktail scene comes to life at this sleek and sophisticated downtown establishment. Choose between specialty drinks or New Orleans classics, or let the highly skilled mixologist do the choosing for you.
Party with the locals at this neighborhood watering hole. Even if there isn’t a big game on, Bullet’s is the go-to neighborhood gathering spot for drinks and good times.
Calling all wine lovers! Second Vine is great for wine tastings or relaxing with friends.
Need to get some work done while on vacation? The Business Bar is the perfect place to work remotely, grab a cocktail, have a bite to eat, and mingle with other professionals.
Find African literature, art, and clothing at Community Book Center along Bayou Road.
Nestled on the corner of St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues, Baldwin & Co. is an independently owned bookstore and coffee shop with a revolutionary twist. Its menu and name pay homage to the legendary writer, the great James Baldwin. The retail side of the shop includes an eclectic range of books and genres from mystery to history, and children’s to travel. The shop also operates as a coffee bar, with an outdoor space for events. Unique to Baldwin & Co., the space even holds its own podcast studio where guests can book timeslots to record and create.
Internationally renowned artist, Shakor, sells his colorful New Orleans inspired art in the heart of the French Quarter.
The best part of Loretta’s Pralines is that they can be shipped to your doorstep from New Orleans with love. Loretta was the first African American woman to have a successful praline company in the city, and though she recently passed away, her legacy lives on through the business. Place an order next time you’re craving a sweet treat or visit one of the New Orleans locations.
Located in the French Quarter on Toulouse Street, you’ll find this women’s boutique that specializes in fashion-forward clothing and accessories with an emphasis on size inclusivity.
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.
This natural hair salon specializes in an array of services and styling techniques including Deva Curl Cuts and styling, braids, flat twists, wash-and-go styles, and much more.
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 Tremé neighborhood.
The New Orleans African American Museum is home to rotating exhibits, monthly art markets with Black vendors, and the Mardi Gras Indian costume collection from Backstreet Cultural Museum, which is currently closed.
Nestled within Armstrong Park, Congo Square was an 18th century gathering place for slaves in New Orleans. Today, the square is home to various festivals throughout the year but can be visited at any time for an enriching experience. Visit Congo Square and you’ll find sculptures, historical markers for learning more, and drum circles on Sunday afternoons.
Offering Black heritage and jazz tours of New Orleans that take you off the beaten path, Mikhala Iversen's All Bout Dat tours are some of the best in the city. Tour sites include historic Congo Square, where enslaved Africans gathered for song and dance on Sundays, the Tremé neighborhood, known as the oldest African American neighborhood in the U.S., and Bayou Road, where Black-owned businesses thrive. Don't miss your chance to take an All Bout Dat Tour while in New Orleans.
Take a peek inside the history of music in New Orleans at Tremé’s Petit Jazz Museum.
The oldest African American church in New Orleans is beautifully located in the heart of Tremé.
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.