PubClubbing in The French Quarter!
The Best Bars And Locals Favorite Hangouts
One does not have to be on Bourbon Street to get beads and booze in New Orleans.
There is more to partying it up in New Orleans than Bourbon Street.
The rest of the French Quarter is good for quenching one's thirst for fun and a New Orleans-style experience.
This is a look at the bars off Bourbon Street, fun places that are good for mixing not only with visitors but also spots that are favorites of locals.
Jimmy Buffett on stage at Margaritaville New Orleans.
Where the heck is Margaritaville?
In New Orleans, it's at the end of Decatur Street, just down from Cafe du Monde and across from the Farmer's Market. Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe heads the list of other French Quarter bars. It indeed serves up cheeseburgers and cold draft beer, but mainly what it has is Jimmy Buffett. From tables featuring his album covers to the non-stop videos to the music, it's a Parrothead's paradise.
The place seems to be modeled after one of Buffett's favorite places, Captain Tony's Saloon in Key West, because on a hot and muggy day you just want to go in there to get out of the heat. In the small Storyville Cafe bar at the back, it's easy to get wasted away to the live music from the local musicians. At the upstairs bar, life is really just a tire swing. And yes, Jimmy himself does occasionally stops in and does the odd show every couple of years. Tons of tourists make Margaritaville a mandatory stop at least once. And often quite more often.
THE BEST BLOODY MARY AND MARGARITA IN THE QUARTER
Across the street is a locals' dive, Coops. A small place with brick walls, a brick floor and wood tables, it can boast to having New Orelans' Best Bloody Mary and Best Margarita. The latter is made by Faye, who works only Thursdays-Saturdays. The former is served by a skinny bartender who smokes and wears a beret and plays in a band. He works Sunday-Wednesday. The food is great – big burgers, tasty red beans and rice with fried chicken and the heartiest gumbo in the city. Order off the big menu on the wall, not the printed menu. Oddly, this locals' and part-tourist dive bar has wireless Internet.
Another bar that's one of the Best French Quarter Hangouts Not On Bourbon Street is a small place called The Alibi. Located on Iberville just off Bourbon, it is where locals in the lower Quarter go to hang. It has the city's most extensive international beer selection – Germany, England, Scotland, Canada, just to name a few represented countries – and it's casual style attracts waitresses and bartenders from the nearby restaurants who come in after work. The Alibi is also one of the few places in the Quarter that serves food past 11 p.m.
The food is meodicre, the service suspect and it's in a total tourist location – on Decatur right by Jackon Square – but at least the owner of The Corner Oyster Bar & Grill has had the foresight to hire the city's Most Outstanding-Looking Staff, outside of Hooter's anyway. How good-looking: They sell a calendar of the bartenders and waitresses.
O' Flatery's is a mellow Irish club with music and dancing.
CHEAP DRINKS AND GOOD AND CHEAP FOOD
Over on Chartres Street, some of the cheapest drinks in town are served at The Chart Room. Not to be at all confused with that upscale American restaurant chain with a similar name, the Chart Room is an old bar that looks like it will fall down. But it's a popular locals' spot for Happy Hour and mid-to-late nights. It's a classic local bar – cold, cheap beer ($2.50 for imports), patrons who look likely to have their heads on the bar before too long and a bartender who has probably been there since the place opened.
A couple of blocks up the street (at St. Louis) is one of the most historic buildings in town. Napoleon House, which was built for but never lived in by the famous French leader, is both a bar and a restaurant. Classical music plays in a classical setting. The bar area is open to the street and the restaurant has the kind of patio one envisions when thinking of New Orleans. It is a good place for a few drinks or a meal – the jambalaya is among the best in town and at $4.95 it's also the cheapest. Be prepared for the very deliberate French service.
Toulouse Street, about halfway down Bourbon, has four good bars (go toward the Mississippi River).
The Gold Mine is a weekend-only late-night dance club. Try the Flaming Dr. Pepper.
The Dungeon could almost be The Bartender's favorite New Orleans bar. It's neat and funky. The entrance is a narrow hallway that opens up into a small patio with a tiny waterfall. Upstairs has a bar and dance floor that plays kickass rock and punk tunes of the patrons' choice. It is black and dark and has the feel of, well, a dungeon. But it also has this Big Brother thing to it. You can't do shots with the bartender/music girl, photos are not allowed and there are Secret Service-style security guys with headsets watching over everyone as if they are suspected terrorists. At least there's no trouble in the place, a contrast to its past when the bikers from the bar across the street used to come in and act like drunken bikers.
For live music, locals once loved to love the Shim Sham Club. It's currently The Joker, which has live music, often with a heavty cover charge. We include it mainly for nostalgia purposes; the original had awesome local bands, some of which din't even go on until 3 a.m. Whenever the Shim-Shamettes took the stage, the place went nuts. These 20 girls put on an old-style striptease show.
Business casual people in search of a martini find them in abundance at Bombay Club. It's a classy piano bar with a menu of smooth and sensational martinis.
For live music – and people here love to hear live music – is Tipitina's and the House of Blues. There are two Tipitina's locations: the one at 233 N. Peters is the original and the one on Decatur Street is only open when bands are playing. Tipitina's generally hosts wildly popular local bands such as The Radiators and The Neville Brothers, all of which have an almost cult following.
The House of Blues books name national rock acts. On Mondays, it's SIN Night (Service Industry Night) and while there's no band, the place is packed with locals from other bars and restaurants enjoying a night off from work.