Journey to the East (and Back)
March 22, 2016 § 6 Comments
The first thing on our itinerary for our second full day was to eat BBQ, at Kaiti’s request. (Girl is obsessed.) The best option in town seemed to be the Joint, located east of the French Quarter in a neighborhood called Bywater.
We knew nothing about Bywater before deciding in the morning to walk there. It was only two miles, we had ample time before the Joint opened and nothing else on our schedule. The weather was perfect for a nice morning stroll.
I did a cursory search of the neighborhood to get a feel for it and came across this article, which was not super helpful but at least gave me the sense that we wouldn’t get mugged on the way there. Apparently people love to describe Bywater as “gentrifying,” “great” or even “hipster” (just don’t mention Brooklyn), but that wasn’t really our impression.
As soon as we left the French Quarter and crossed Esplanade Avenue, the vibe became much more residential. The streets were quiet, and we barely saw a soul. There wasn’t much of anything to look at except the occasional colorful house. Railroad tracks ran along the water, so any attempts to view the Mississippi River were blocked by industrial scenery.
Our two-mile trek turned into three as we had to take a winding path due to random bits of construction. We passed maybe two or three businesses total. One of them was a combination bar, grill, game room and laundromat, which just delighted me. This is a picture of a different one I saw, but it was basically the same gist:
The Joint seemed like an oasis in the middle of suburbia. There was really nothing around that we could see. The nondescript restaurant already had two customers waiting outside by the time we got there 20 minutes before opening. We took the extra time to play in the park across the street (despite the sign warning not to trespass on private property).
By the time the Joint opened, 10 more people had materialized seemingly from nowhere, and by the time we got our food, the line was out the door. Most of the customers were in business casual clothing, so I guess they must’ve driven out here for lunch?
We ordered conservatively and only got the brisket and ribs, with mac n cheese and cole slaw on the side. The food was quite good — I liked the ribs in particular — though we were famished and sweaty from our walk, so anything would’ve tasted good probably! Still, I can see why the Joint is such a popular restaurant.
For our journey back, we wised up a bit a realized there was a nice riverfront park we could’ve walked through instead of the random path we picked. It’s a little strip of green called Crescent Park; you just have to cross some railroad tracks to get in. Lucy and Kaiti had fun climbing all over the benches like a couple of kids.
Crescent Park was quite nice and just as peaceful as the rest of the neighborhood. The centerpiece of the park is the Piety Street Bridge, a rusty steel rainbow that offers splendid views of the New Orleans skyline.
Because we had our Jazzy Passes with us, we decided to try to take the bus back to the French Quarter instead of walking all the way back. So we figured out the bus route, tracked the bus online and stood on the corner for 20 minutes until a lady walking her dog told us that the bus route had moved one street over because of construction. By the time we hurried over, the bus had just passed. Fail. So we just took an Uber back to the hotel.