Technically part of the 9th Ward of New Orleans, Bywater has more recently been given its own name to suit it's increasingly disparate identity. Lying east of tourist Mecca the French Quarter with its back to the Mississippi River (and a tall levee blocking the view), Bywater is New Orleans' answer to Dalston or Williamsburg - or it will be in about five years' time.
A magnet for bohemians and fertile ground for new and interesting restaurants and bars, Bywater is on the rise but it's not quite there yet, so for now the beautifully colourful tree-lined streets are peaceful and the people are some of the most laid back and friendly you'll ever meet.
NOLA folk are extremely proud of their cuisine, much of which has a strong cajun and creole influence, and some of the best restaurants can be found in Bywater which offer a strong mix of traditional fare with more modern and experimental cuisine. Here's five of the best.
New Orleans has its fair share of high-end haunts, but you'd be missing out on the heart and soul of the city if you didn't go to one of the NOLA's homelier hangouts. Sat unassumingly on a quiet street corner on the South Eastern edge of Bywater, Elizabeth's is easy to miss, but try not to. The bountiful menu offers a mix of cajun and creole dishes with a touch of Americana. This is a good place to introduce yourself to the Po'Boy - Louisiana's version of the baguette (but larger and squidgier) which comes with meat or seafood. Elizabeth's shrimp Po'Boy ($9.50) is delicious, opt for 'dressed' to get the full complement of extras (lettuce, tomatoes, pickle etc), and go with an empty belly.
At the core of Bywater's hipster movement is Satsuma, the healthy antidote to New Orleans' predilection for fried grub. This is where the MacBook crowd come to update their blogs while slurping on a detox juices and wheatgrass shots. But this is not all hype, Satsuma breakfasts are rather special and they're not all unbearably wholesome. Try the One Eyed Jack ($6) - sourdough bread fried with an egg and topped with slices of creamy avocado and dashes hot sauce. The homemade granola with berries, yoghurt and locally sourced honey ($6.50) is delicious too. And, of course, the coffee is very good.
In the land of big appetites, Pizza Delicious is king. What started as a twice-weekly pop-up until the owners crowd-sourced enough funds for a 'bad-ass oven' and permanent residence on Piety Street, Pizza Delicious serves huge New York style pizzas (known as 'pies') which you can also order by the slice. Everything is fresh and their daily pizza specials, which have included the 'Amatriciana' (guanciale and red onion) and the 'White Pie' (spinach, ricotta, cherry tomatoes, olive oil), are always interesting. With prices sitting at around $2.50 for a (giant) slice and $17 for a whole pie, this is very good quality at very reasonable prices.
One of Bywater's slightly more 'proper' restaurants (in that the paintwork is not crumbling and you can tell it's a restaurant from the outside), Maurepas Foods are self-proclaimed purveyors of robust cuisine, which doesn't quite communicate the beautiful balance of flavours which typifies this restaurant's dishes. Robust these dishes are, but they are also refined, delicate and often surprising. The produce is all locally sourced which means the menu is always changing, but if you are lucky enough to be able to try the gulf fish with watermelon, halloumi and olives ($16), don't let the opportunity pass. The cocktail menu is impressive too.
There aren't many restaurants where your meal could combine recipes from Venezuela, S.Korea and Puerto Rico, but the co-owner of Booty's is a travel video maker by trade and has collected international street dishes which are served up as small plates in his restaurant. Dishes are served on a cone, eaten with your hands or presented on a stick, and the menu is a fascinating read. The gunmandu ($6) - crispy Korean Dumplings with a soy citrus sauce - are divine, as is the ceviche ($12), and if you're feeling homesick they even do fish and chips from Oldham ($10).