New Orleans: Tales of a New City

As New Orleans continues to rebuild, editors are scrambling to revise. Zagat publishes its first post-hurricane survey of New Orleans restaurants this week, and an updated "Frommer's Complete" guide to the Big Easy hits bookstores in February, following a pocket book last July. "In a way it felt frivolous to be doing a guidebook so soon after Katrina," says Tom Downs, author of Lonely Planet's new 2007 guide. "But knowing how important tourism is for the economy, we have to be optimistic that New Orleans will bounce back and travelers will want to go there." (As the city's No. 1 employer, tourism generated $5 billion in annual visitor spending pre-flood; the Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that revenue has now been cut in half.)

According to the new guidebooks, much of the city is open for business, especially in the hotel- and restaurant-heavy French Quarter, which was spared the worst of Katrina's fury. "The great places are still the great places," says Zagat cofounder Tim Zagat, referring to legendary eateries like Commander's Palace in the Garden District.

But entire neighborhoods are still abandoned, causing staff shortages, so tourists are advised to call ahead. At the 1850 House on Jackson Square, for example, workers aren't sure when the famous property will offer tours to the public again because there aren't enough security guards yet, they say. Another major addition to the books: the devastated areas are now must-see attractions, too. "Fodor's New Orleans 2007" includes a "sobering" driving tour of the worst damage.