Axios New Orleans

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It's Friday, baby!

Today's weather: Sunny with a high of 76.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios New Orleans member Mary Ann Byrne!

  • And happy early birthday to member Taylor Morgan!

ğŸŽ§ Sounds like: "Arabic Spirit" by today's French Quarter Fest performer Mahmoud Chouki.

Today's newsletter is 823 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🍴 Quarter favorites

Brennan's has a great courtyard for when the weather is nice. Photo: Chris Granger

👋🏻 Chelsea here. The French Quarter might have one of the most densely packed collections of great restaurants in the entire country.

Why it matters: Attempting to pick a favorite is like purposefully trying to start a fight with everyone in the entire city.

The big picture: Living here, however, you get used to being asked to choose one.

  • As a lifelong resident and someone who's convinced news outlets to pay me to eat here, I still sometimes find myself doing a quick internet search before committing to a nightly plan.
  • Whether it's because friends of friends are visiting or I'm meeting colleagues downtown, it's always helpful to have a list of the best French Quarter restaurants.

Here, I've gathered a dozen tried-and-true favorites, in no particular order:

🍸 Jewel of the South: One of the best bars in the world, with classic cocktails, and a modern, English menu that's never boring.

🍳 Brennan's: It might be known for old-school hospitality, but chef Ryan Hacker is finding new ways to drive interest at this nearly 80-year-old restaurant.

🤩 MaMou: A relative newcomer, this sweet gem on the Quarter's edge is serving up some of the most exciting meals in the city.

🥟 Dian Xin: Exceptional Chinese dim sum in a small restaurant that doesn't take reservations.

🥘 Sylvain: A reliably great spot in a historic building just off Jackson Square, it opened in 2010 during the height of the gastropub trend. There's a good reason it's stuck around.

🗣️ Your turn: What should be on this list? What should we take off? Hit reply and let us know your French Quarter favorites. We may share your response in a future newsletter.

Go deeper for 5 more favorites

2. ğŸŽ¶ Drop the beat

DJ Captain Charles performs Jazz Fest in 2016. Photo: Josh Brasted/WireImage

DJ Captain Charles makes his French Quarter Fest debut today, but after making New Orleans parties move for more than 40 years, he's no newcomer, either.

Why it matters: The fest has a DJ stage for the first time this year.

The big picture: French Quarter Fest invited 25 new and old school DJs to perform at the PosiGen Solar DJ Stage at Aquarium Plaza.

  • "We impact the club scene real big in New Orleans," Captain Charles tells Axios New Orleans of his fellow DJs.

The intrigue: The music industry has changed a lot since Captain Charles started spinning records in the 1980s. But one thing remains true: A good DJ can make a hot record even hotter.

  • Rebirth Brass Band, for example, may have Captain Charles to thank for its breakout.
  • "Rebirth was big, but never big in the clubs," Captain Charles says. "If you played a second-line song, that was more or less the end of the party."
  • But Captain Charles was playing Rebirth's "Do Whatcha Wanna" in the middle of the party — and pretty soon, it was on rotation with Q93.

What he's saying: "I'm a crowd-pleaser," Captain Charles says.

  • "When I play a song, I want it to have an impact on the crowd. I want a reaction from the crowd. I don't just play music to play it. I play music that's going to make the crowd move."

Go deeper to learn more about Captain Charles

3. Fully Dressed: Tornado cleanup in Slidell

A tornado touched down in Slidell and shattered the windows of this business and vehicle at Pontchartrain Drive and Kostmayer Avenue. Image: Slidell Police Department

🌪️ Slidell leaders opened a resource center for people needing help after the storms this week. There are shelters available too, along with places to get free meals. (WDSU)

  • The National Weather Service says the tornado was an EF-2 and was on the ground for 9.3 miles. (Path)
  • Several schools in St. Tammany remain closed today. (List)
  • Jefferson Parish and New Orleans schools are explaining why they didn't close. (WWL)

A man was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for setting the house fire that killed his three children in the Plum Orchard area. Family members attacked him after his guilty plea. (NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 🔒)

♻️ Jefferson Parish hosts its first recycling drop-off event tomorrow. (Axios New Orleans)

🤩 Need weekend plans? You've got French Quarter Fest, Strawberry Fest, a quilt show and more. (Full list)

4. ğŸŽ¥ Live from New Orleans

Photo shows Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager sitting at a table and dancing.
Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb filmed their shows outside the New Orleans Jazz Museum yesterday. Image: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

Hoda Kotb is back in New Orleans and living her best life with "Today" show cohost Jenna Bush Hager.

Why it matters: They are marking five years of hosting the show together and say they couldn't think of a better place to celebrate.

Between the lines: New Orleans & Co., the city's tourism arm, sponsored the trip. The financials weren't disclosed.

The big picture: This morning's episode will highlight all things New Orleans.

  • Yesterday's show featured Drew Brees, chef Nina Compton and the Original Pinettes Brass Band.

Fun fact: Kotb and Hager did a class with Trixie Minx this week.

  • Hager's burlesque name is Kitty Bush and Kotb's is Coco.

Zoom in: They went on an "insane food tour" at Dakar NOLA, Mister Mao and Sun Chong, the two told Axios New Orleans.

Go deeper for more photos, including Hager in a cake

🤑 Carlie is working on her taxes.

ğŸŽ² Chelsea is probably trying her luck at Bar Dice.

Tell a DJ to subscribe.

Thanks to our editor Fadel Allassan and copy editor Carlin Becker.