Being from New Orleans, I know a thing or two about the best places locals love to eat. After missing Mardi Gras for the first time my freshman year, I decided to go home this year, but not without bringing my friends along. It was most of their first times in New Orleans, so I had to make this impression meaningful. I brought my friends to my favorite spots in the city, and they loved them all! I definitely gained 10 pounds over 4 days, but #noregrets. I unfortunately didn't get to hit up everything because NOLA just has too many.

Without further ado, these are all the places you should put on your Mardi Gras bucket list to fuel your parade-watching.

1. Willa Jean

Sydney Youmans

On our first morning, we had to have a solid brunch to prep for Muses later that night. My friend said it was the best biscuit she ever had, and she LOVES biscuits. We got Frosés Y'all, because you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning right? To end the meal, we shared Milk + Cookies, which is salted chocolate chip cookies and batter with vanilla bean-infused milk. Literally, the best cookies you'll ever have.  

Sydney Youmans

My Recommendations: Fried Chicken Sandwich, Willa Jean Cornbread, Hangover Bowl, Porchetta + Collards Sandwich, Milk + Cookies

2. Toast (Uptown)

Sydney Youmans

This is one of family's and hometown friend group's favorite place to brunch. There's options for everyone if you want something light or filling, sweet or salty. We always share a King Cake Crêpe regardless if it's Mardi Gras or not because it's offered year-round. My friend who said Willa Jean had the best biscuit was conflicted by the biscuit here.

My Recommendations: Monte Cristo, King Cake Crêpe, Steak Melt, Toast with Honey, Prosciutto, and Ricotta

3. District Donuts

Sydney Youmans

I worked here during my summer and winter breaks, so this place is close to my heart. They post donut flavors everyday rotating over 150 options! We got the King Cake donut because it's Mardi Gras (duh). They make almost everything themselves down to the sprinkles, sandwich buns, and pickles. If that doesn't sell you, literally everything on the menu is bomb, so you can't go wrong.

Sydney Youmans

My Recommendation: Cheese Fries with Candied Jalapeños, Chicken Sliders with the Sandwich toppings, Pork Belly Slider (seasonal), Bruléed Cinnamon Rolls 

4. Namese

Sydney Youmans

Post-Endymion parade traffic was insane and we were starving, so we stopped here. It was raining and cold, which made a warm bowl of pho the obvious choice. Despite the cold, I got a blended taro bubble tea because the sugar cookie-like flavor is too yummy to resist. Because of the large Vietnamese population in New Orleans, there are great spots all over the city, like, my favorite, Ba Chi Canteen.

My Recommendations: Taro Bubble Tea, Five Spice Pork Belly or Peking Duck Style Bahn Bao, Rib Pho, Vietnamese Iced Coffee

5. Ruby Slipper Cafe

Sydney Youmans

This is hands-down my favorite brunch place in the city, so I had to make it the spot to celebrate my 20th birthday. I blew out my candles in my Crawfish Boudin Eggs Benedict, the special of the day. What's cool about their menu is you can mix and match your Eggs Benedicts if you can't decide between two. My friends also chose this as their favorite brunch spot of the weekend.

My Recommendations: Eggs Cochon, Chicken St. Charles, Bananas Foster Pain Perdu, French Toast Batons, Bloody Mary

6. The Original New Orleans Sno-balls and Smoothee

Sydney Youmans

I grew up frequenting here after volleyball practice with my friends, since it's only 5 minutes from my high school. It is open year-round, unlike most places in the city that close for winter or rain. Sno-balls are the perfect solution to Southern humidity or if you're craving a sweet, icy treat. It's the upgraded version of a snow cone for out-of-towners. This was the perfect close to the trip before our flight back to Los Angeles.

My Recommendation: Chocolate Cream/Nectar Cream (above)/Wedding Cake Cream and don't forget condensed milk