Transformational Food Tour:
Dining & Decadence in New Orleans

In the fabled Big Easy, finding a great restaurant is no problem. But finding the best of the best, both historically and taste-wise? That can be daunting, even for someone with epicurean tastes. For the premiere food tour from Transformational Tours, dive deep into a city known both for inventing the cocktail and its legendary cuisine, a swirling jambalaya of Creole, Cajun, French and Canadian influences. Many of its world-famous restaurants, like Antoine’s, Gallatoire’s, and Arnaud’s, date back over a hundred years and are still family-owned. Some upstarts, like GW Fins, have carved out a place for themselves in a city known for its seafood.

Why is this a transformational tour? Because the food in New Orleans will change your life.

Want to drink spirits at a former bordello, complete with a ghost hunt with the city’s most well-known (and legit) psychic? Welcome to your Friday evening adventure. What about an interactive cooking class where, among other things, you’ll learn how to make authentic brunch gumbo and set up a Bloody Mary bar? How about a classic "Dine-Around" where you'll stop in the best historic restaurants in the French Quarter - all of which have been open for over a century. Or a local private supper club where you’ll experience true Cajun cuisine handmade by a third generation local… from her grandmother’s recipes? Enjoy all these delights where “elegant but depraved” describes both the Sazerac (the first cocktail) and the city itself.

Come to New Orleans for four days and three nights of decadent, unforgettable dining, and experience the best of the best.

FRIDAY, October 7

Arrive on your own transport by 3PM if possible (we are happy to help you book your flight, just call 888-600-7541). You will be greeted at the airport by your first local New Orleans flavor in the form of Big Al, our private driver. Big Al will regale you with stories of Queen Jean (his wife) and his native city; if you’re lucky, he might even share his photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with you as he drives you the twenty minutes to our remarkable hotel.

Check in at your home for the next three nights, the Bourbon Orleans, right in the heart of the French Quarter, just a half-block off Jackson Square. One of the Top Ten hotels in NOLA, the Bourbon’s long and checkered history includes stints as a nunnery and as a locale for quadroon balls. These days, it features an elegant lobby and perfectly appointed guestrooms, as well as a restaurant and a terrific bar with hand-crafted prohibition-worthy cocktails and live music in the evenings.

You got to New Orleans early to enjoy a special interactive ghost hunt… this evening at 6pm, we will meet Cari Roy, New Orleans’ top psychic, called the Best Medium in the USA by BBC America. This charming lady has been a spiritual practitioner for nearly her whole life, and she understands the truth about the nature of the Universe – in other words, she’s the real deal. Cari will take us into the most haunted hotel room in the Bourbon as well as through the main ballroom, as we learn the tell-tale signs of the spirit energies that haven’t quite crossed through the veil, though they are no longer attached to the physical, either. With a ballroom dancer, a suicidal nun, a wounded soldier, and the lost children (from when the Bourbon was an orphanage) all known to have had multiple sightings at the hotel, we should have plenty of opportunity to put Ms. Roy’s teachings to the test.

Afterwards, walk over to May Baily’s, a bordello-turned-bar, to try a Sazerac, the first cocktail, which was invented in this city. Nothing like a search for spirits to whet your appetite for drinking spirits.

“A good Sazerac is elegant, but depraved, just like New Orleans.”

Tom, bartender at Willa Jean

Oh, yeah, and also to look for the ghost of Madam Mae Bailey, as the bar is reputedly quite haunted

Once we are done with our ghost hunt, we will bid farewell to Cari and continue on to what is arguably the best restaurant in all of New Orleans, the fabulous GW Fins. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, the exquisite seafood is ridiculously fresh, usually local, always amazing.

Our specially prepared meal will likely include such delicious dishes as Scalibut — thinly sliced scallop ‘scales’ on top of fresh halibut — and Smoked Sizzling Oysters, and Fins’ own Chef Tenney Flynn will make a rare visit to say hello. (Note that as with most meals on this tour, you will be offered a selection, and that food allergies will be accommodated). Enjoy wine pairings with your meal this evening, and make sure to save room for dessert!

After dinner, we will stroll back to the Bourbon for a relatively early evening. Of course, if we lose you on Bourbon Street, that’s up to you!

(Cocktail, Dinner with wine pairings)

SATURDAY, October 8

At 10AM this morning, we encourage you to take the short walk with the group to Café du Monde, the world-famous home of beignets and café au lait, as we experience the French Quarter relatively early. Afterwards, feel free to stroll around enjoying the street musicians, or shopping on Royal Street for antiques.

This afternoon, we will experience one of the centerpieces of our tour – a truly local experience known as a “Dine-Around.” We will be visiting some of the most venerable historic restaurants in all of NOLA, eating their signature dishes and drinking their signature cocktails. This is both lunch and a step back into history as only New Orleans can do it. Gentlemen will be required to wear dinner jackets this afternoon, and everyone will be encouraged to dress up – New Orleans is known for its elegant clothing, and you will see more seersucker and silk here on a weekend afternoon than you have since you last watched Hello, Dolly!

First stop: Antoine's. Not only will we get to see this 175 year-old masterpiece of dining, we will get to eat in one of the historic Mardi Gras rooms, as well as tour behind-the-scenes to the wine cellar and the famous but little-known Escargot Club. Our appetizer course here is Antoine’s own famed Oysters Rockefeller, created for the richest man in the world in 1889, or their signature Pommes de Terre Soufflées. Enjoy a Pimm’s Cup or another famous cocktail of the city.

Then it’s off to the Olde Absinthe House, which has been on this site since 1807! We will be seated in the fabulous Napoleon Room, above the bar and overlooking the Quarter. Here we will dine on blackened chicken with Étouffée sauce and (if you dare) sampled an absinthe made the old-fashioned way, just as they served them nearly two hundred years ago.

Next up is Galatoire’s, which is over a century old. From the moment you step through the lobby closet, hung with men’s dinner jackets (which gentlemen can borrow while they dine), you will be in another era. This famous dining room will host us for their Grand Goute, featuring Shrimp Remoulade, Crabmeat Maison, and Oysters en Brochette.

The last stop on our Dine-Around is the fascinating Arnaud’s. A New Orleans landmark since its opening in 1918, this family owned and run restaurant is a captivating glimpse into Mardi Gras history. The Germaine Cazenave Wells Museum honors the successor and daughter of founder Count Arnaud, as she was the Mardi Gras Queen more than any other woman in history (over 20 times!) We will privately view the collection of unique and hand-sewn Mardi Gras gowns worn by Mrs. Wells, as we walk through the history of a bygone era. Afterwards, choose from one of Arnaud’s famous desserts, including the tableside flaming Bananas Foster, which was invented in the very restaurant you will be eating it in, and a final cocktail. Why not try the champagne-based French 75, the signature cocktail of Arnaud’s bar of the same name, because (you guessed it) the drink was invented here!

So now it’s early evening, and you’re full! In New Orleans, that just means it’s time for music! Jazz was also pretty much invented in this city, and Frenchman Street is where the locals go to listen. This is an optional stroll out of the French Quarter and into the Marigny (MAR-ih-nee, like most streets in the city, it isn’t pronounced at all like you think it will be!) We will be stopping wherever the mood strikes us and the music sounds great, which will likely be everywhere! Of course there will be street musicians, too, so you may not even make it into a bar before finding your favorite jazz sound. (Optional Frenchman Street tour, at cost)

Whenever you’re ready, walk or Uber back into the French Quarter for… a late bite, more drinks, or evening shopping – it’s up to you! Then it’s back to the Bourbon Orleans to rest up for our exiting Sunday!

(Coffee & Beignets, Cocktails, all Dine-Around meals)

SUNDAY, October 9

What would a Sunday in The Big Easy be without Sunday Brunch? And what would a New Orleans Food Tour be without a cooking class? Put them together and you’ve got a Sunday Brunch at Langlois, known as the Culinary Crossroads and widely considered the best cooking school in a city replete with them.

You’ll be learning about the history of New Orleans food – the difference between Cajun and Creole influences for, example. Get to know local staples, like andouille and boudin. Then you’ll learn how to make Chef Amy Sins’ Not Your Mama’s Gumbo (her food was called “decadent with no apologies” when she won the cooking show Beat the Chefs), the Sunday brunch version, as well as the perfect folded crepe. And what’s Sunday Brunch without a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa (and since it’s New Orleans, you’d better have both!) So the great folks at Langlois will be showing us how to set up a Mimosa bar AND a Bloody Mary Bar. Bloody Marys are also affectionately called drink salad here, as they have so many garnishes (pickled green beans! Basil! Peppers! Bacon! – seriously, even bacon!) they are practically a meal. Learning to cook not your style? Just sit back, sip your drink, and watch everyone else preparing our glorious Sunday Brunch!

This afternoon, we’ll have an optional Cemetery Tour. Big Al will pick us up in his air-conditioned coach and escort us around to two famous “Cities of the Dead.” The mausoleums of NOLA are practically artwork in themselves, but it is the poignant tombstones which tell story after story of the local inhabitants. Then we will visit the Charity Hospital & Katrina Memorial Cemetery, so we can recognize and honor the nameless and unclaimed victims of Hurricane Katrina

(Optional Cemetery Tour, $20 per guest).

Don’t feel like seeing this part of NOLA? Enjoy your last afternoon on your own in this town – walk all around the French Quarter or grab an Uber into Magazine Street to shop or the Garden District to see the lovely homes. There’s plenty to do!

This evening, venture inside a unique experience at the Mosquito Supper Club. This is a private dinner, prepared just for us by Chef Melissa, who is a third-generation Cajun gal. As she explains her childhood, “I had to fall in love with food.” After a freshly prepared cocktail, we’ll be treated to a three-course dinner just as if we were visiting Melissa in her home, which is one of the main points of a supper club. Melissa will be on hand to give us some Cajun history, and we will be treated to ingredients that aren’t just farm-to-table, but may also be bayou- or marsh-to-table! Either way, this is a fantastic local and truly special way to end our New Orleans weekend! (Dinner is BYOB after our welcome cocktail, so we will stop off at a wine shop on the way if you want wine or beer with your dinner.)

Return to the Bourbon Orleans for a wonderful night of jazz by the Wandering Gypsies, featuring Giselle, the tap-dancing lead singer! Or wander Bourbon Street and see how the tourists live when they come to town.

(Sunday Brunch including cocktails, Dinner including welcome cocktail)

MONDAY, October 10

How about just one last meal for the road! This morning, we’ll walk over to Stanley, considered the best breakfast in the French Quarter! Whether you choose Bananas Foster French Toast, Egg Stella with poached eggs and soft shell crab, Eggs Stanley with (what else?) cornmeal crusted fried oysters, or any one of the rest of their delicious entrees, it will be another meal to remember!

After checking out of the Bourbon Orleans, our driver Big Al will take you to the airport. Your private transfer will be timed so that you can easily make your flight!

Your memories of some of the best food, drinks, and atmosphere of your life will make New Orleans unforgettable! If you weren’t an epicure yet, you will be after the weekend! Sign up today as space is extremely limited, and Halle can’t wait to show you around New Orleans in style!