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Essence Fest Itinerary

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

Rebecca Todd, NOTMC
Bayou Nachos at Munch Factory

Eat

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.

Morrow’s

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.

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.

Justen Williams
Vyoone's

Vyoone’s

Nestled in the heart of the ESSENCE Fest fun is Vyoone’s. This Arts/Warehouse District-based eatery offers a selection of French and Afro-Creole cuisine fit for fine dining. Take a quick break from the nonstop fun and indulge in an authentic Creole meal. 

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.

Cafe Dauphine

Located in the Lower Ninth Ward, Cafe Dauphine offers southern comfort food and great hospitality. Red fish with crabmeat, stuffed peppers, fried green tomatoes and prime rib poboys are just some of their specialties. 

Black Restaurant Week

Find curated Black Restaurant Week menus and pricing at various hotspots across the city. From culinary showcases to a bartender competition, the week includes various events to spice things up. See their official website for participating restaurants and more information. 

Rebecca Todd, NOTMC
Cocktails at Victory Bar

Drink

Victory

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 it worth the visit. Every Thursday night, Kermit Ruffins plays for the crowd.

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.

Justen Williams, NOTMC
Club Caribbean

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.

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.

Prime Example Jazz Club

Let the party keep on rolling with live music and great food. This hidden gem hosts several New Orleans artists in an intimate setting. 

Justen Williams, NOTMC
Material Life

Shop

Material Life 

Nestled along the Bayou Road's off-the-beaten-path, you'll find Material Life - a neo-African centric gift shop. It's findings range from home furnishings and knick-knacks to one-of-a-kind collector's items. 

Galerie Cayenne

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

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.

Rebecca Todd, NOTMC
Kay's Boutique

Kay’s

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.

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.

Baby Bangz

Get Essence Fest ready at Baby Bangz in Mid City. This natural hair salon specializes in an array of services and styling techniques including Deva Curl Cuts and styling, braids, flat twists, wash and goes and much more. 

Photo courtesy of Le Musee de fpc
Le Musee de fpc

Attractions

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.

African American Museum

The Treme museum reopened in 2019 and tells the stories of African Americans in New Orleans and the African diaspora. Costumes, artwork, instruments and more are on display in a historic Creole villa. 

Zack Smith, NOTMC
Louis Armstrong Park

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.

Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum

Learn the history of the neighborhood and how residents overcame Hurricane Katrina at this free museum. 

More Ways to Explore

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