2013 is coming to a close, so we thought we’d celebrate with some of our favorite people, places and events from the past year in New Orleans. Rather than the ubiquitous year in review or best of list, we went retro. Just like in high school, we got the class together and handed out superlatives. Now don’t forget to sign each other’s year books! Congratulations to the calendar class of 2013, and we can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring to the Big Easy!
Best Hair: Rob Ryan. I don’t think there could be any other choice than the Saints Defensive Coordinator. The Wolfman was faced with a monumental task, turning around a tricky NFL defense. Handicapped right off the bat with a number of critical injuries, Rob Ryan and his glorious hair have exceeded all expectations. To catch a glimpse of this magnificent mane yourself, head to Ms. Mae’s after a Saints home game.
Most Unique Style: The Bywater. While some people march to the beat of their own drum, the Bywater has an entirely different band. Everything in he Bywater is just a little bit different, from the colorful houses, the eclectic yard art and the bohemian residents. Heck, even the bikes are different, with tall bikes (two bike frames welded on top of each other) towering over the cars that ride down Bywater streets.
Most Outdoorsy: City Park. One of the unsung treasures of New Orleans, City Park is a gem just a short streetcar ride away from downtown and the French Quarter. With miles of trails and tracks, sporting fields galore, a miniature golf course, bayous, a lake, botanical gardens, a dog park and concert grounds, City Park has the facilities for any kind of outdoor activity you’re into.
Most Memorable: Super Gras. Last year, two of the world’s biggest parties, the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, collided. The results were predictably awesome. Mardi Gras grew by one week as the city became NFL central. Mardi Gras is already an over the top party, but all the Super Bowl concerts, activities and fanfare really kicked things into another gear.
Class Clown: The New Movement. This comedy theater in the Marigny is sure to tickle your funny bone. In addition to comedy classes and regular shows, the New Movement also hosts Hell Yes Fest and Megaphone Marathons. Need more New Movement Theater in your life? Check out their stand up shows at the Howlin’ Wolf Den and the Hi-Ho Lounge.
Most Athletic: Drew Brees. Super Bowl MVP, holder of countless NFL records, Offensive Player of the Year, Pro Bowler. The list of accolades that Saints Quarterback Drew Brees has earned in his time in New Orleans is seemingly endless. Far and away the most successful athlete in New Orleans history. In addition to being Most Athletic, Drew is also the city’s Favorite Son.
Life of the Party: Kermit Ruffins. One of the hardest working men in show biz is also the life of the party. Why? On any given night in New Orleans, there’s bound to be a Kermit Ruffins show somewhere in town (provided the acclaimed trumpeter is not out of town on tour). So if you’re looking to party any day of the week, just look for your nearest Kermit Ruffin’s show and you’ll be ready to go. In the off chance that Kermit is out of town, you can always head on over to Kermit’s Treme Speakeasy where the good times never cease.
Rising Stars: Tableau, Peche, SoBou, Mariza. New Orleans is definitely a food-centric town, and these rising stars are off to a promising start. Tableau is Dickie Brennan’s latest creation which features regional ingredients and classic French Creole dishes. Peche is Donald Link’s (of Cochon fame) foray into the seafood world that features plenty of grilled fish, an uncompromising raw bar and whole grilled fish. Chef Tory McPhail and Bar Chef Abigail Gullo have teamed up for SoBou, marrying a chic southern cuisine with fantastic cocktails. Mariza is an Italian inspired restaurant which opened its doors in the beginning of 2013. Almost one year on and the future is looking bright for this tasty Bywater spot.
Most Artistic: New Orleans Museum of Art. NOMA sits within the beautiful confines of City Park. That it is surrounded by so much natural beauty is fitting considering how much man-made beauty is within its walls. In addition to an extensive regular collection, NOMA features a number of exhibitions that make frequent return visits an absolute must. One of the current exhibitions featuring exquisite art carved from jade is truly amazing.
Most Attractive: St. Louis Cathedral. Easily the most iconic building in the city, the Cathedral is also one of the most beautiful. The awe inspiring Cathedral is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continued use in the United States.
Most Talented: Preservation Hall Jazz Band , Tory McPhail. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was formed in the early 1960s and plays traditional New Orleans style Jazz. The band’s regular shows at Preservation Hall have received critical acclaim across the globe. Now the band’s fans from Aruba to Zimbabwe have one more reasons to celebrate: a new album, “That’s It” has hit stores (and iTunes). As if being the head chef of Commander’s Palace and opening Sobou wasn’t enough for Tory McPhail, he also pulled in an unbelievably prestigious honor this year — the 2013 James Beard Award for Best Chef South. In a city that worships food, Chef Tory serves up dishes that will make you shout “hallelujah!”
Biggest Drama Queen: Saenger Theater. The Saenger Theater has just reopened following a $51 million renovation. The extensive renovations focused on returning the theater back to its original glory. Now looking better than ever, the Saenger is the premier theater in New Orleans for music, ballet, comedy and Broadway shows.