Know what the best game in New Orleans is this week? If you guessed the Super Bowl XLVII match-up of the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers, you’re wrong; it’s actually finding a hotel with an empty room. It’s nearly impossible. But then again, with so much to do in the city over the supersized week, there’s no time for sleeping anyway. Read on for our guide to all the parties, restaurants and fan events worth tackling over the next few days.
Essentially a theme park for pigskin junkies, the NFL Experience (Jan. 30-Feb. 3) puts fans about as close to the action as they’ll get without actually putting on pads. There are book readings with NFL players and on-the-field clinics for young fans. Replica locker rooms and a traveling Hall of Fame exhibit will get adults fired up. Autograph sessions with former players and a close-up of the Vince Lombardi Trophy should captivate everyone in between. $20 to 25, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
While the sound of children tossing around a football might put some in a festive mood, others probably will prefer to hear some actual music. That’s where the inaugural Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard (Jan. 31-Feb. 3) street party will more than satisfy. It will feature four stages of local music acts daily, plus interactive events for fans, food vendors, live television broadcasts and a larger-than-life “XLVII” floating on a barge along down the scenic Mississippi River. Free, Woldenberg Park.
Where to Eat
One of the most unique experiences during Super Bowl week will be Taste of The NFL, a wine and food event where a respected chef from every NFL city pairs with a current or former player, including 11 Hall of Famers, to form 35-plus food stations for the public to enjoy. Proceeds from the Feb. 2 event benefit food banks in all 32 NFL cities. $600, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Organizers are also trumpeting New Orleans’ game as the first walkable Super Bowl, meaning fans can get to events, parties and restaurants without a car. Le Pavillon Hotel, just a five-minute walk from the Superdome, has a champagne Sunday brunch fit for an offensive lineman — think waffle, omelet and carving stations, and a buffet with everything from eggs benedict and quiche Lorraine to seafood gumbo and smoked salmon. Red Fish Grill, also within walking distance to the Superdome, expects to be even busier than it was during the 2002 Super Bowl when it served 15,000 oysters. And when it comes to crazy cocktails, you’ll find them everywhere on Bourbon Street, but we think Loews New Orleans Hotel’s Swizzle Stick Bar’s “Wait ’Til Next Year” is the early MVP. It’s a mix of amber rum, Angostura bitters and various citrus juices, and is bar chef Lu Brow’s drinkable ode to the Saints’ woes.
Where to Party
Allegro Bistro — which happens to be a hot spot for post-game parties during the Saints’ home games — is the place to be on Feb. 3. The restaurant is transforming into an all-out entertainment venue for the Chipper Jones VIP Super Bowl Tailgate Party. Current Saints player Chris Ivory and retired athletes like Will Clark and Darren Sharper are also scheduled to make appearances. There will also be live music from an in-house DJ, premium open bar and a NOLA-inspired menu with favorites like jambalaya, crawfish cakes and other local specialties. $1,000, 1100 Poydras St.
Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar, which sits in the shadow of the Superdome, is hosting a gridiron get-together for fans without tickets to the game. Big Bowl Bash is an outdoor tent celebration filled with food, a premium open bar, tailgate games — and of course watching the Super Bowl. Things are only slightly more contained inside the bar where revelers will find a roster of free-flowing food, drinks and access to the after party. $250 to $400, 1009 Poydras St.
Before the game, the celebrated House of Blues venue will turn into a football fantasyland when legends of the gridiron, Archie Manning and Mike Ditka, talk football with fans over beer, Creole-inspired apps and live music. In addition to the chalk talk, there will be a silent auction of sports and entertainment memorabilia and coverage of the pregame action on big-screen TVs. $499, 225 Decatur St.
It just wouldn’t be right if Emeril Lagasse didn’t host some sort of football bash in New Orleans. Emeril’s Delmonico is where you want to be for his Super Bowl viewing party. The event starts at 5 p.m. and includes a buffet of Emeril’s game-day favorites, full bar with beer and wine specials, and five 50-inch HDTVs to see which team takes home the Vince Lombardi Trophy. $75, 1300 St. Charles Ave.
Where to Relax
Though The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans is completely booked, there is still reason to stop by the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel. The property’s Four-Star spa is rolling out the red carpet for football fans needing to sack some stress. Try the Fourth Quarter Four Hand Massage or the MVP Manicure/Pedicure after doing your share of walking up and down Bourbon Street. And when all the partying winds down on the Monday after the Super Bowl, there’s the Restorative Day package, which includes six and a half blissful hours of pampering, to get you restored for the trip home. $295 for massage; $75 for manicure; $90 for pedicure, 921 Canal St.
Photos Courtesy of David Reber, Taste of the NFL,
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC