Beyond #EssenceFest: Shop, Eat & Support Black New Orleans

Go beyond the tourists traps. Tourism dollars are needed beyond the hot spots of New Orleans/French Quarter. Explore New Orleans and support these local Black businesses. Here’s a short round up how to share Black wealth in New Orleans. 

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Safety First

Yeah, New Orleans is fun but don’t be no fool. Be sure to pay attention to your surroundings and your purse. Be cute and careful.


Don’t Spend with Racists

Huck Finn’s New Orleans Restaurant and Sports bar located at  135 Decatur Street in the French Quarter  served a black woman with a racist receipt.  Don’t give them the opportunity to do it again.

Hospitality and Tourism have a larger economic impact on New Orleans. Demand to be treated fairly, document and call out any racism you may experience in New Orleans.  Tweet and Facebook any problems.


What about that Confederate in Lee Circle?

New Orleans is thinking about taking down a monument too. Here’s why:


Black Transportation

Coleman Cab Co. 504-586-0222

I’ve never needed a cab in New Orleans because I live here. I do knowthis company has struggled to compete with Uber and others. Show them some love.


Black Eats


Top Chef finalist Nina Compton’s Compère Lapin brings flavor from St. Lucia to New Orleans.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant  is legendary for it’s food and role in serving Civil Rights icons. Be prepared for the Essence rush.

Meals From The Heart is located in Historic French Market in the French Quarter. Healthy eating options that taste just as good. Walkable option.

Lil Dizzy is a New Orleans favorite. Two words: Sunday Brunch. Be prepared for an Essence Fest crowd.

Willie Mae Scotch House  is famous for fried chicken. There are two locations. You could try the Willie Mae’s Uptown location and take the streetcar.

Krew du Brew– Stop here instead of Starbucks. Located on the St. Charles streetcar line.

The Praline Connection Tasty food in the French Quarter. Are you game for the fried alligator?

Dirty Dishes Food Truck I haven’t tried anything from them yet, but I hear the mac and cheese is yummy. Look for their truck.

The Munch Factory Located in Gentilly. Not far from HBCU Dillard University. A great husband and wife duo.

Pelican Bay Not near the fest activities but a great place to eat and drink on a budget.

Check the food court in the Convention Center! My favorites include: Boswell’s Jamaican Grill, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines, Ma Momma’s House of Cornbread and Lamar’s Famous Creole Style Wings.   Be on the look out for street food vendors and more too.

Shout out more  New Orleans Black-owned eats @BrassyBrownNOLA or on the facebook page!



Community Book Center

community bookcenterFor years Community Book Center was the official book seller of the Essence Festival. Today CBC is the only remaining Black-owned bookstore in New Orleans. Stop by and purchase local authors, African fabric and more.  This is the place where many  Black authors have book signings and get the support they need.00  Beauty on the Bayou, a natural hair salon and CoCo Hut, a jamaican restaurant are next door, too.  Check their facebook page for events during the fest.

Ashe Cultural Arts Center

Visit Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. The Boulevard is named after one of Louisiana’s Civil Rights leaders. Shop the Diaspora Boutique for unique dresses, hats, art, picture frames and more. This is the cultural home for Black people in New Orleans.   A quick drive or ride  from Canal Street.

Oya Market

Looking for New Orleans based-art, crafts, music and more under one roof? Oya! Market, a New Orleans collective of 50+ entrepreneurs/artists. Check the new



NOLA Nail Bar  A great place to relax and pamper yourself. Get your girls and go.


Don’t have Essence Fest Tickets? No problem.

Check these local events.

July 2-July 5

New Orleans People Project Photos at the SOUL of NOLA Booth. These photos by Gus Bennett are worth viewing.

July 2:     Rickey Smiley Block Party

July 2:     Michaela Harrison with Joy Clark is a perfect low-key evening for lovers of soul music.  Michaela is one of my favorite New Orleans artists and Joy is amazing too. Good music on a budget. Cafe Istanbul, 7-10. 2372 ST. Claude Ave, $5


Saturday, July 4  Remember the Middle Passage to #blacklivesmatter



MAAFA Celebration

July 4 th 7AM (Yes, you read that right)

Congo Square insisde Armstrong Park located on the edge of the French Quarter.  MAAFA is a Kiswahili word that means “great tragedy” or “horrific tragedy,” referring to the period called the Middle Passage or Transatlantic Slave Trade. There will be singing and drumming. Get your camera ready! You’ll get pictures and sounds here you won’t get anywhere else. More importantly— pay homage to our ancestors. You can go to this and be on time for all the Essence Fest day events.

July 3

Spoken Word featuring New Orleans poets and more at the Oya! Market.


Saturday, July 4

DJ Soul SIsDJ Soul Sister presents HUSTLE Saturdays at the Hi-Ho Lounge – Yup this is the place Solange and some of her wedding crew partied at the night before she got married.  DJ Soul Sister is beloved in New Orleans and for good reason, she’s an expert and music and a good time.  This is not hip hop turn up. It’s got a basement party feel and it’s FREE.  About  a 10 minute ride from the Superdome (closer if you’re near the French Quarter).


Saturday, July 4

Erykah Badu spins  at Tipitinas


Kelly Harris is the founder of Follow me this #EssenceFest.

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