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New Orleans is called The Big Easy for good reason

A New Orleans business trip can be an enviable assignment, especially if schedules allow at least a dollop of downtime. In tune with The Big Easy's quick tempo, deals are often cut over lunch, or even over breakfast, in a large assortment of languid and, yes, tres elegant restaurants.

Rolling down Chartres Street on Mardi Gras Day in French Quarter
Rusty Costanza/Getty Images

To be sure, execs give into the New Orlean's self-styled romance and rhythm as well as to the exotic Creole cuisine that has piqued national tastebuds for decades. With that in mind, and whether you're a business traveler or a tourist, don't skimp for this ritual in its home city

Rather, check out Emeril's Restaurant in the Warehouse District. Emeril Lagasse's first haunt serves this top chef's iconic Creole-American menu of munchy miracles like Louisiana-style sausage and barbecued shrimp, all created in an open kitchen bursting with flavor in both the literal and the figurative sense.

The waterfront Warehouse District, formerly the center of the city's shipping business, is arguable one of The Big Easy's most progressive districts. But, like most visitors, executives in town still tend to focus on the historical corner of the city unmatched anywhere else in the United States: the French Quarter or, as the locals call this prominent place, Vieux Carre.

The French Quarter is the heart and soul of New Orleans, the center for Mardi Gras madness and everyday abandon. Originally laid out in 1718, this section of town can be as sedate as brunch in a garden patio or as raucous as jazz in a bevy of bustling clubs. The busy major streets of the Quarter, Bourbon and Royal in the 200 to 900 blocks, make for a fun walk during the day or at night.

That said, stop by Cafe Du Monde whenever you can since the world famous cafe is open 24 hours a day. Around since 1862, this is no ordinary coffee shop but is a must for cafe au lait or iced coffee as well as a beignet or three of these French-style donuts doused in powdered sugar.

Hint: When possible, sit the Cafe Du Monde's outdoor section to people watch, to read, to think, and to dream of your next visit to New Orleans, a place justly dubbed The Big Easy for oh-so-many reasons.

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