This year the city of New Orleans not only gets the appropriately named New Orleans Bowl as well as the Sugar Bowl between Michigan and Virgina Tech, but they also host the national championship between the local LSU Tigers and their hated arch-rival Alabama Crimson Tide. Call it the BCS National Championship or Saban Bowl VI but the Big Easy will be rocking come the night of January 9th.
Everyone knows about the French Quarter. Go to the most remote village in Thailand and ask someone about Bourbon Street and chances are they’d probably know what you’re talking about. What you probably don’t know are the local establishments that separate New Orleans and make it one of the best places to not only dine, but to get your drink on.
Partying on Bourbon Street is great for New Orleans virgins or the casual tourist not wanting to leave the “safe” confines of the most famous street in the Big Easy, but the real New Orleans lies outside of that infamous lane.
Just a few blocks over are two bars with an abundance of character that one would expect from Irish bars. Finn McCool’s on Banks St and Ryan’s Irish Pub on Decatur offer the typical staples of any self-respecting bar representing the Emerald Isle: appropriately poured pints of Guinness, friendly patrons, and loquacious bartenders.
Just down the street from the raucousness of Bourbon Street lies the Marigny (pronounced Mare-uh-nee) and it’s hub of entertainment – Frenchman Street. Just a 15 minute walk and you can experience the best of what the locals enjoy when they go downtown – a wide variety of craft beers, live entertainment by local musicians playing original music, and the distinct New Orleans vibe that locals want when they go out for a night on the town.
If you’re in the mood for live music the Snug Harbor is your best bet. Perhaps the city’s foremost venue for live jazz and blues, Snug (as the locals call it) is the perfect spot to become draped in the best of what New Orleans can offer music-wise.
Maybe music isn’t your thing and you want a bite to eat first, then the Marigny has that in spades. Just a few streets up you can find Port of Call for some of the best burgers in downtown. If you’re in the Quarter walking to the Marigny then stop at Yo Mama’s for some great burgers. Deanie’s Seafood is one of the most reasonably priced and delicious seafood spots in the Quarter and home of the New Orleans Saints post-game show with local legend Bobby Hebert. If you’re lucky, you may even get a glimpse of New Orleans resident, John Goodman, dining on some of their delicious seafood fare.
At the heart of New Orleans entertainment is refreshments particularly of the adult variety. The Marigny offers such with local hotspots DBA (great beer selection), Mimi’s in the Marigny (great mingling of locals), Blue Nile, Checkpoint Charlie’s, Dragon’s Den and the R-Bar.
Perhaps getting away from the downtown area in order to experience a more diverse, college-aged crowd is your thing. If that’s your dig, then head to Uptown where a smorgasbord of local bars and restaurants will greet you. For you non-locals, Uptown is particularly Magazine, St. Charles, and Tchoupitoulas St. You might have a little trouble with that last word. First don’t pronounce the T, it’s silent. Then repeat after me: Chop-uh-too-lis. You’re welcome.
Juan’s Flying Burrito is a must try as is Domilises (for one of the best po-boys you will ever eat) and Mahony’s (another excellent po-boy place).
As far as bars, a place for every taste awaits. The Bulldog has a wide beer selection, good music on the jukebox, and a large courtyard for you to soak up the crisp New Orleans night. F&M Bar is an awesome hangout for locals with a late-night kitchen (for those that get the munchies late), a popping jukebox and locals cutting loose and having fun.
The Avenue Pub is another popular destination as is The Balcony Bar, Fat Harry’s (college crowd), Kingpin, Parasol’s (great little Irish bar with awesome po-boys), St. Joe’s (don’t be freaked out by the décor), and the Rendez-Vous. Perhaps the only bar that could pass as a sport’s bar is Cooter Brown’s but you will have to catch a cab or drive a good ways to get there (it’s past Tulane’s campus).
Most of these bars are within walking distance but others you will have to catch a cab or drive (best get a D.D.)
If you have time be sure to check out Creole Creamery, perhaps the best local ice cream shop in Uptown and downtown. What makes it great? Not only do they make their own ice cream in store but they use fresh, local ingredients and create flavors you can’t try anywhere else.
As always in the city of New Orleans, if you need directions somewhere or if you want a suggestion, just ask a local (particularly a bartender or waiter/waitress) for a suggestion on what you’re looking for and they will point you in the right direction nine times out of ten. New Orleanians don’t get their reputation for friendliness as a fluke.