Karen Dalton Beninato

Correspondent

  • New Orleans, LA, USA

Karen Dalton Beninato is a correspondent who lives in New Orleans and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide.com. A former newspaper features editor, she has written for publications including The New Republic, Times Picayune and The Lens and she blogs at The Huffington Post. She and her husband founded the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund after Hurricane Katrina to help musicians replace their instruments and return home. Karen enjoys food, music and the arts — so she lives in the right place.

  • On February 28, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best hotels in New Orleans?

    New Orleans' top hotels are The Ritz and Windsor Court, both recipients of Forbes Travel's 4 Star Hotel Designation.

    The luxury travel buff's hotel of choice has long been the Windsor Court, which recently underwent a full renovation. Suites are spacious, some with balconies and river views. Known for hospitality, Windsor Court's attention to detail and guest relations is unflagging including twice-daily housekeeping and turndown service. After a long day of taking in New Orleans attractions, unwind in the newly renovated spa or have a soak in the saltwater pool with full poolside service menu.

    The New Orleans Ritz-Carlton Hotel lives up to its Forbes Travel 4 Star Designation. Well appointed feather beds and an Italian marble bath surround guests in luxury from dusk to dawn. The hotel even offers a hangover concierge to revive guest's flagging spirits if they've had a night on the town or in the hotel's own Davenport Lounge where Jeremy Davenport holds court with his jazz band. From the massive lobby fountain to the 25,000-square-foot destination spa, the Ritz is clearly built around relaxation for mind and body.
  • On February 28, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best activities in New Orleans?

    The best activities in New Orleans start with indulging your ears. Live music is everywhere in the city where jazz was born and rock and roll got its start, from street musicians to the masters. Jump into a second line parade if one is passing by. Waving a white hankie is optional.

    Indulge your eyes with a ride on the newly expanded streetcar line, winding from the French Quarter through the elegant garden district. If you're spiritually inclined, take a tour of one the many cemeteries, known as cities of the dead due to their above-ground mausoleums.

    A Mississippi River-front offers sights and sounds, with the calliope of the Steamboat Natchez and the best view in New Orleans. Activities are available all along Woldenburg Park, from the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas to chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe Dumonde, a must for first-timers and regular visitors to New Orleans.
  • On February 28, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best attractions in New Orleans?

    Photo Courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute New Orleans has a flourishing tourism economy based on its stellar attractions. Its top attendance draw is the National World War II Museum, a labor of love by conceived by historian Stephen Abrose, Steven Spielberg who produced its historic 4-D movie, and Tom Hanks who narrates the film. New Orleans was chosen in part because that's where the Andrew Higgins landing craft rolled off assembly lines. Phase 1 has been completed, and adjoining pavilions will unfold in the coming years.

    City Park houses the New Orleans Museum of Art and its Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. Friends of City Park have seen to it that post-Katrina expansions are still unfolding. These include City Bark dog park, a soon to be unveiled miniature golf course, walking paths through a well manicured gardens, tennis courts, equestrian farms and more. The family-pleasing Carousel Gardens and miniature trains are still rolling.

    Audubon Zoo is better than ever with its new Jaguar Jungle Exhibit, animatronic Dinosaur Adventure, splash park Cool Zoo and Louisiana Swamp exhibits. Don't miss the sea lion and elephant entertainment, and watch for appearances by white alligators and endangered whooping cranes.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best restaurants in New Orleans?

    New Orleans' fine dining restaurant boom the result of a labor of love for some of the best chefs in the business.

    For the ultimate in luxury, head to the Forbes Four-Star rated restaurant The Grill Room, located in the Four Star rated Windsor Court Hotel. Chef Kristin Butterworth has infused the restaurant with new life and secured its 2013 top ranking along with two other restaurants in New Orleans.

    M Bistro is the second Forbes Four-Star dining experience in a four-star Hotel, The Ritz New Orleans. Executive Chef Thierry Connault, a native of Normandy, specializes in fresh local seafoods like Gulf Redfish, and hearty entrees including filet of beef with blue crab béarnaise.

    Tuscan inspired creations are a staple of Susan Spicer's exquisite flagship restaurant Bayona, the third restaurant to rate Four Stars by Forbes Travel Guide in 2013. With Spicer's hearty and fresh entrees it's no easy feat to save room for the artisan cheese plate, but well worth it with Rogue Creamery Blue awaiting your palate.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    Where is the best shopping in New Orleans?

    To take home a piece of New Orleans, nothing beats Royal Street shopping. Browse through art at Harouni Gallery; dig through antiques from a rocket ejector seat to an actual dinosaur or whatever's in stock at M.S. Rau antiques; and sift through estate jewelery at shops up and down the historic street. Super Bowl upgrades include new streets and sidewalks throughout the French Quarter, so the stroll itself is a smooth experience. Street musicians offer a soundtrack, and caffeine from Spitfire Coffee (around the corner on St. Peter) will help fuel your feet.

    For more traditional shopping, Canal Place is a high end shipping mall at the foot of Canal Street featuring designers from Chanel to Michael Kors. And if you're in need of imported furniture or sustainable designer garb, the ever-expanding Magazine Street boutique scene will fit the bill.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best restaurants in New Orleans?

    New Orleans' fine dining restaurant boom the result of a labor of love for some of the best chefs in the business.

    For the ultimate in luxury, head to the Forbes Four-Star rated restaurant The Grill Room, located in the Four Star rated Windsor Court Hotel. Chef Kristin Butterworth has infused the restaurant with new life and secured its 2013 top ranking along with two other restaurants in New Orleans.

    M Bistro is the second Forbes Four-Star dining experience in a four-star Hotel, The Ritz New Orleans. Executive Chef Thierry Connault, a native of Normandy, specializes in fresh local seafoods like Gulf Redfish, and hearty entrees including filet of beef with blue crab béarnaise.

    Tuscan inspired creations are a staple of Susan Spicer's exquisite flagship restaurant Bayona, the third restaurant to rate Four Stars by Forbes Travel Guide in 2013. With Spicer's hearty and fresh entrees it's no easy feat to save room for the artisan cheese plate, but well worth it with Rogue Creamery Blue awaiting your palate.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best restaurants in New Orleans?

    New Orleans' fine dining restaurant boom the result of a labor of love for some of the best chefs in the business.

    For the ultimate in luxury, head to the Forbes Four-Star rated restaurant The Grill Room, located in the Four Star rated Windsor Court Hotel. Chef Kristin Butterworth has infused the restaurant with new life and secured its 2013 top ranking along with two other restaurants in New Orleans.

    M Bistro is the second Forbes Four-Star dining experience in a four-star Hotel, The Ritz New Orleans. Executive Chef Thierry Connault, a native of Normandy, specializes in fresh local seafoods like Gulf Redfish, and hearty entrees including filet of beef with blue crab béarnaise.

    Tuscan inspired creations are a staple of Susan Spicer's exquisite flagship restaurant Bayona, the third restaurant to rate Four Stars by Forbes Travel Guide in 2013. With Spicer's hearty and fresh entrees it's no easy feat to save room for the artisan cheese plate, but well worth it with Rogue Creamery Blue awaiting your palate.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is the best time to visit New Orleans?

    New Orleans is in full bloom by late March, ushering in springtime weather before some areas of the United States have fully shoveled out the driveway. Early spring offers baby steps into festival season which grows longer every year. By April, the special events seem back to back and the weather hasn't yet descended into NOLA's legendary summer heat and humidity.

    A second standout season is late October in the Crescent City. Hurricane season behind us, the cool weather comes at last and with it a no-holds-barred Halloween celebration in the City that Sobriety Forgot.

    New Orleans is also fast becoming a New Year's Eve destination of choice for discriminating travelers. Celebrations abound in ballrooms with riverfront views, hot bands and free flowing champagne, so you can ring in the new year while watching a spectacular fireworks show over the Mississippi River.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best places to hear live music in New Orleans?

    Snug Harbor, on Frenchmen Street's thriving music row, consistently books the best jazz and blues bands from within and outside of New Orleans. The audience is attentive, which is sometimes hard to find in a party city. Bands are payed more than just tips so you'll seeing a professional ensemble who's happy to be performing.

    Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse is one of the only Bourbon Street-adjacent clubs to still offer original local music from jazz to brass bands. Leroy Jones, the best trumpet player in New Orleans, holds court as does piano virtuoso Tom Worrell.

    If you're in the mood for a headliner, check out the House of Blues. Yes it's a chain, but New Orleans was one of its first branches and it's still booked by local talent buyer Sonny Schneidau who is consistently lauded as Talent Buyer of the Year in local publications. Check out the club's opulent Foundation Room post-show, where the artists often unwind. Membership is transferrable between cities.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best places to hear live music in New Orleans?

    Snug Harbor, on Frenchmen Street's thriving music row, consistently books the best jazz and blues bands from within and outside of New Orleans. The audience is attentive, which is sometimes hard to find in a party city. Bands are payed more than just tips so you'll seeing a professional ensemble who's happy to be performing.

    Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse is one of the only Bourbon Street-adjacent clubs to still offer original local music from jazz to brass bands. Leroy Jones, the best trumpet player in New Orleans, holds court as does piano virtuoso Tom Worrell.

    If you're in the mood for a headliner, check out the House of Blues. Yes it's a chain, but New Orleans was one of its first branches and it's still booked by local talent buyer Sonny Schneidau who is consistently lauded as Talent Buyer of the Year in local publications. Check out the club's opulent Foundation Room post-show, where the artists often unwind. Membership is transferrable between cities.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is the best new restaurant in New Orleans?

    SoBou (the name is a mashup of the phrase South of Bourbon Street) is guided by restauranteur Ti Martin of Brennan's family of restaurants, and is a gloriously liquor fueled addition to the New Orleans dining pantheon. Located in the newly re-imagined French Quarter W, 310 Chartres Street, SoBou bills itself as a spirited restaurant. From taps in the tables, glowing bottles lining the walls, to high end wines vended by the sip, it's unlike anything in existence even in a cocktail town. Louisiana street food with a Latin flair is served up in small plates and not so small plates under the helm of Chef de Cuisine Juan Carlos Gonzalez. To see what the fuss is all about, sink your teeth into a fois gras burger, pan seared served with a sunny side up yard egg and duck bacon on a caramelized onion brioche bun, then pull your own in-table cold draft.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is the best time to visit New Orleans?

    New Orleans is in full bloom by late March, ushering in springtime weather before some areas of the United States have fully shoveled out the driveway. Early spring offers baby steps into festival season which grows longer every year. By April, the special events seem back to back and the weather hasn't yet descended into NOLA's legendary summer heat and humidity.

    A second standout season is late October in the Crescent City. Hurricane season behind us, the cool weather comes at last and with it a no-holds-barred Halloween celebration in the City that Sobriety Forgot.

    New Orleans is also fast becoming a New Year's Eve destination of choice for discriminating travelers. Celebrations abound in ballrooms with riverfront views, hot bands and free flowing champagne, so you can ring in the new year while watching a spectacular fireworks show over the Mississippi River.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is the best new restaurant in New Orleans?

    SoBou (the name is a mashup of the phrase South of Bourbon Street) is guided by restauranteur Ti Martin of Brennan's family of restaurants, and is a gloriously liquor fueled addition to the New Orleans dining pantheon. Located in the newly re-imagined French Quarter W, 310 Chartres Street, SoBou bills itself as a spirited restaurant. From taps in the tables, glowing bottles lining the walls, to high end wines vended by the sip, it's unlike anything in existence even in a cocktail town. Louisiana street food with a Latin flair is served up in small plates and not so small plates under the helm of Chef de Cuisine Juan Carlos Gonzalez. To see what the fuss is all about, sink your teeth into a fois gras burger, pan seared served with a sunny side up yard egg and duck bacon on a caramelized onion brioche bun, then pull your own in-table cold draft.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is the best new restaurant in New Orleans?

    SoBou (the name is a mashup of South of Bourbon Street) is guided by restauranteur Ti Margin of Brennan's family of restaurants, and is a gloriously liquor fueled addition to the New Orleans dining pantheon. Located in the newly re-imagined French Quarter W, 310 Chartres Street, SoBou bills itself as a spirited restaurant. From taps in the tables, glowing bottles lining the walls, to high end wines vended by the sip, it's unlike anything in existence even in a cocktail town. Louisiana street food with a Latin flair is served up in small plates and not so small plates under the helm of Chef de Cuisine Juan Carlos Gonzalez. To see what the fuss is all about, sink your teeth into a fois gras burger, pan seared served with a sunny side up yard egg and duck bacon on a caramelized onion brioche bun, then pull your own in-table cold draft.
  • On February 27, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is the one must-do activity in New Orleans?

    If you have one bucket list day in New Orleans the historic French Quarter is the sight to see and Jackson Square, complete with an Andrew Jackson statue, is at its heart. In one afternoon you can hear brass bands playing in front of the first cathedral in the United States, St. Louis Cathedral; have your fortune told if you're tired of guessing; and browse street art or shop in one of the surrounding galleries.

    Flanking the cathedral is the Cabildo, formerly New Orleans' city hall where the Louisiana Purchase was signed and the  Crescent City joined the union, more or less. Take advantage of one of the best French Quarter walking tours available with guides from Friends of the Cabildo. The Presbytere, a former courthouse, now houses the Louisiana State Museum holding a treasure trove of Mardi Gras memorabilia.

    Directly across from St. Louis Cathedral is the Moonwalk, named for former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu. The Moonwalk winds along the Mississippi River, the vista that has inspired countless dreamers from upstream, from Mark Twain to Tennessee Williams.