Backstreet Cultural Museum
Mardi Gras Indian costumes & second line history
The museum strives to preserve and perpetuate the unique cultural traditions of New Orleans' African American society through its costume, story, and picture filled space. Set in a converted house in the Treme, this homade museum is cash only and a must-visit if you want to learn about a New Orleans that goes beyond Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras revelry.
Dooky Chase's Restaurant
Legendary restaurant from the Queen of Creole
Legendary, James Beard Award winning chef Leah Chase served Creole staples to everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Obama in her art-filled dining room. Though she passed away in 2019 at the age of 96, she never retired and could often be seen greeting guests in the dining hall or preparing her famous gumbo in the kitchen. The restaurant, which serves its lunch buffet Tuesday through Friday in addition to dinner on Friday, cooks up great versions of Creole and soul food staples. They are famous for their fried chicken and use Miss Leah's recipe to make some of the best gumbo in the city. While the Queen of Creole got her nickname from her cooking, that isn't all she is remembered for. In the 1960's Dooky Chase's became the meeting place for local civil rights activists. When Martin Luther King Jr. and the Freedom Riders needed a secret place to hold their meetings, Dooky Chase's second floor was the place. While these meetings were technically illegal, Dooky Chase's was so popular that authorities didn't shut them down, fearing public backlash. But that didn't mean that the restaurant wasn't on the receiving end of public backlash. In 1965, a pipe bomb exploded outside the restaurant, with the interior of the building the most likely target. Mrs. Chase is remembered for her incredible food, her contribution to the civil rights movements, her support of the arts, and as being the inspiration for Tiana in The Princess and the Frog.
Lil' Dizzy's Cafe
Fried chicken and southern food buffet
While they serve up some of the best fried chicken in the city, you can't go wrong opting for the buffet so that you can try all of their delicious Creole-soul food offerings. They are only open for breakfast and lunch, so they close at 2:00.
Tony L Francis
Vegan takes on southern soul food classics
This soul food restaurant isn't just good for a vegan restaurant, it is good, period. In addition to being vegan, their dishes are soy-free and dairy-free as well, so those with dietary restrictions can dine here happily. The restaurant is cafeteria style, where you choose your entree and sides to fill your plate with. They have a rotating six day menu, so check their website to see what they are serving any given day of the week.
Mouton In Motion
St. Augustine Church
Home to the Tomb of the Unknown Slave
St. Augustine was founded in 1841 by free people of color as the first African-American Catholic church in the country. Back then, people who wanted to attend church had to purchase a pew to sit in during the service. Knowing that enslaved people would not be able to pay those fees, many of the free people paid for extra pews so that enslaved people could attend services as well. When white members of the community heard about this tried to buy up as many pews as possible, but in the end the free people of color out bought them three to one. This War of the Pews unintentionally created one of the most diverse congregations in the country, where white people, people of mixed race, free people of color and enslaved people all came to worship. Be sure to visit the extremely moving Tomb of the Unknown Slave around the side of the church. In 2004, the church community installed the monument that rests just outside the church walls. It is dedicated to the numerous lives lost to the city's cruel slave trade.
Sister Marie Sanchez
Historic gathering spot for enslaved people
This plaza in what is now Armstrong Park was the historic Sunday meeting place for enslaved people and free people of color. The Code Noir or Black Code that was put into place by the king of France in 1724 gave enslaved people Sunday as a day of rest. They would often use this day to play music, dance, and practice their religions. In 1763, the code was relaxed and enslaved people were allowed to buy and sell their own goods, which many did as a way to earn enough money to buy their own freedom, a practice called cortacion. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Americans made life much harder for enslaved people and free people of color. In 1817 the mayor passed an ordinance that forbade enslaved people from congregating anywhere other than Congo Square. Because they had no where else to go, come Sunday the square would be packed with people playing music, dancing, selling goods, and doing religious ceremonies, all brining the traditions of their ancestors to their activities. The blending of these sounds is thought to be how jazz got its start and the blending of religions is how New Orleans got its own unique form of Voodoo.