In the spring of 2017 we had a dream opportunity that I never thought possible, the way to visit New Orleans without having to fork up the cash for travel and accommodations.
A big thank you to my Dad and stepmom for taking us along for his birthday and graduation from Loyola.
The Hippie Spots
The creative spirit flows through the city in the art on the walls, in their music, and on the people themselves. They transform into living art.
They have funky groovy souls everywhere you look in the crescent city so you have complete freedom to express yourself in every way possible.
That being said there are classy parts to the city like any other, loaded with dress codes, sports jackets, and women that wouldn’t be caught dead in the practical footwear I choose to wear.
I just don’t go there. Not my type of people. Not worth my time. Not worth the burden to try to fit in the mold of flawless perfection.
Bourbon Street Bummer
I don’t care for the commercialized nightclub scene that you do see majorly along the strip of bourbon street either.
The type of places’ that are stocked full of freshly of age drinkers that can’t contain their alcohol levels, pitches of their voices when they communicate, and much worse have no clue what good music really is.
Although if you like to people watch this is definitely the place to do it. No need to enter the bars (except to refill your big gulp novelty cup of course) when the party is right on the street for your enjoyment. A variety of people from spectators, to street performers, to street walkers.
There is never a dull moment if you just chill out on a curb and watch. Its one big party that just moves like a constant flood of people just having a great time together. So yeah now we’re getting more like my crowd.
There were a couple bars that stood out to me out of the plethora of choices provided to us on Bourbon Street, here are those now.
Fat Catz Music Club was our first bar stop on Bourbon Street. Inside they had a nice live band playing great blues mixed in with classic and new rock provided by a lively band that really knew how to work a room.
They even had a dance off segment of the girls vs boys that was a lot of fun to watch.
The walls on either side of the room provided a fully stocked bar, carrying great prices on drink specials like a double in a souvenir cup that’s good for specials at two other bars allowing you to carry the party everywhere.
This is a good time to make mention of my hippie bag as my family so aptly named (and used) during the trip. I have a big ole bag that I like to carry everywhere with me because some things I like to be prepared for. Like for instance carrying around every ones souvenir cups!
Overall Fat Catz had a great scene (oh yeah that’s right, we were writing a review of the bar) for us with a crowd that wasn’t just full of the twentysomethingyearolds and their prime choice of music but a respectable mix for everyone to get some enjoyment.
For the next bar that I actually enjoyed we had walked for a while (or so it felt that way trying to make sure all 7 of us were still together) Landing us at a very historic tiny looking place.
LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, proudly standing as one of the oldest bars in America serving beer since the 1700s and doesn’t look like its changed one bit, aside from the fact that it is actually a bar and not a blacksmiths shop.
This bar is one not to miss, seeing the respect given to the original structure with the brick walls and fireplace, the old shuttered style doors spread open wide to the street, the large beamed open rafters above, you are automatically carried away to another world.
Looking around the establishment you would halfway expect to see people drinking out of steins instead of the plastic cups, the only sign that you are in fact still in the same century.
Ladies a word of warning, there is only one women’s stall, so if you are having to go before getting there I recommend using another places’ restroom because the wait feels like forever.
Mollys at the Market
After a walk through the French Market left our taste buds craving some Jameson, we came across a sweet little pub aptly named Mollys at the Market.
Boasting the classic Irish pub feel, you can find Celtic decor in little places’ here and there all over.
Playing classic Irish ballads of old meshed in with the occasional newer versions to keep a fair balance for the kiddies.
Just a nice laid back atmosphere to pull up a stool, catch a game, chat with some buddies, and easily drink the day away. Removed from the hustle and bustle of bourbons party people, this is the place for the average Joe to enjoy his time.
Crown & Anchor at Algiers Point
A short Ferry ride takes you across the Mississippi river to Algiers Point, a quiet little suburban neighborhood that has the cutest little Victorian creole cottages spread throughout.
The area takes on a whole village like feel to it and what village is complete without a pub.
Enter through the doors of the blue phone booth, yes I said phone booth, to Crown & Anchor New Orleans only authentic English pub (big change for us and our usual choice of traditional Irish pubs).
Surrounded by items there were imported from the UK, lending a homey charm to the place giving the feeling that you are almost hanging out at someones house with board games and books laid around.
We were there pretty early in the day and the middle of the workweek so we were mainly the only customers at that point which gave us time to chat with the bartender who had a lovely personality to her and a love of her community that was very pleasant.
She gave us a little history about the town and recommendations for places’ to eat and things to do. It was a nice slower change of pace from the centralized bars of New Orleans, which seems like the party never stops.
The Garden District Pub
The nerd in me that spent so many of my teenage years swept up in the pages of Anne Rices novels about the witches and vampires of New Orleans, begged for us to take the green car trolley to ride the garden district rails as so many of my beloved characters did, getting out to walk the limestone sidewalks and find the houses that were described so elaborately.
Of course all that walking leads to the need of cold refreshments and the Arctic AC (all of NOLA seems to set their ACs on 65 because I would freeze in every one) of the Garden District Pub.
A place we came across by random, like we tend to do, and finding a nice, quaint bartender that was pleasant for our weary, hungover bunch.
She handled my Dads classic Dad jokes like a champ and talked with us like she was part of the family.
As our appetites were starting to grow we asked her of a good place to eat that would give the classic hangover cure food as well as the hair of the dog (we are Mellons after all) and she recommended our next stop…
Don’t let the fancy sounding name deceive you, likewise don’t let the rugged exterior intimidate you either.
If you look up dive bar in the dictionary, the picture of the outside of this place is what they show.
You might think this is the wrong place… then you open the door and you smell that you might have it right.
Walking through the door you are almost automatically at the bar because this place is snug. A row of booths, a walkway, and the bar stools and bar is all you can see on first entrance.
Later, when searching for the restroom, I find that there is a roomy upstairs level that houses tables to sit at as well as the kitchen and all the yummy cooking.
Seeing a bar keep that you could imagine, for ironies’s sake, his name would be something like tiny, or happy, neither is what you think of when you see him.
Almost too scared to ask for a drink, much less if they serve food, we brave the stools anyhow and take a seat.
We let him know that the girl at the last bar recommended we eat here and he opened up (a crack) and let us know we had the right place.
We ordered the firecracker shrimp poboys, as recommended for good hangover cures, and were not disappointed. This was the best poboy I had the whole trip…and I got it at the dive bar. Score for the underdogs everywhere.
Cooter Browns Tavern
I can’t talk about New Orleans bars without mentioning Cooter Browns. I hate the name, barely wanted to go there just because that is the one word I hate most…but I’m not one to judge from such things.
Walking in you have the food menu/grill area to the right, the drink bar to the immediate left and the oyster bar (yes oyster bar) to the far left.
Dear old Dad being the apparent Cooter expert (I can’t believe I said that) led the way to get the food ordered, followed by our drinks. Very strange set up to me having to go order everything separately but it works for them I guess.
I was not impressed with their service, nor the cleanliness, as the AC vents were dripping on the many dirty tables, and there wasn’t a toilet that wasn’t clogged with God knows what. Thankfully there was soap and towels.
However, the food did not disappoint, I had the Gator Mator, a poboy made with alligator sausage and fried green tomatoes that was utterly delicious.
I was impressed by it, enough to try some of their raw oysters (sanitation come at me bro!) and found me a pearl inside my first one.
Overall, the food was the best part and why I bother to mention Cooter Browns at all, with such a disgusting name lol.
The few of many
There are so many choices of watering holes to choose from when you visit New Orleans that it can be hard to decide which one to choose from.
I hope my perspective on some of the bars that stood out to me on our adventure help you when you are planning your trip.
What places’ are your favorite in New Orleans? I can’t wait to return again with family and friends, as this is truly a place to make some great memories.