Weekly Wire
Gambit Weekly In the Drink

Gambit Weekly's 1998 Bar Guide

By Rich Collins, Suzanne Presto, Jamie Kopf, and Lacey Woods

MARCH 9, 1998: 

You've just won the big game and now you're looking for a place to celebrate. Or maybe your best buddy got married, and all the guys in tuxes want to knock back a few martinis. You need a nightclub that's tailor-made for the occasion. And here's where to find them. Gambit Weekly's dedicated editorial staff has combed the city's neighborhoods to find prime examples of the different types of bars, clubs and joints that makes this city great. We've got swanky lounges. We've got funky, out-of-the-way spots. And we've got places to take your Uncle Bud when he's in from Fort Worth.

Of course, New Orleans is bursting with the greatest music joints in the world. In this section, you'll learn about the coolest places to visit when you're more interested in socializing than slow-jamming.

Please use this guide responsibly, and remember: drinking and reading do mix.


Gambit Weekly's 1998 Bar Guide



FUNKY JOINTS

Everybody needs to live on the edge sometimes. The following funky spots will let you do just that, whether you rub elbows with the vampires at the Crystal or rub the body part of your choice with the transvestite waitresses at Lucky Cheng's.



The Audubon Hotel

1225 St. Charles Ave. 568-1319

This place is all about trashy chic near I-10 with an attached hotel for the right dose of sleaze. The Audubon says 'Welcome All,' no matter the profession or fetish. And owner Jonn Spradlin displays his inner demons in this beat up, popular hole before he polishes up for his other business, the upscale Red Room.

Avenue Pub

1732 St. Charles Ave. 586-9243

This bar and grub house is open 24 hours and sports a view of St. Charles Avenue. Hardy regulars rub elbows with the college crew and bikers' moms. No tattoo shortage here.

Cafe Brasil

2100 Chartres St. 947-9386

Most people come here to dance and take in the high-quality, international music or poetry slams, but outdoor cafe tables and a separate bar offer social and imbibing alternatives. On weekends, hipsters crowd around the entrance. The scene gets busier as dawn approaches.

Check Point Charlie

501 Esplanade Ave. 949-7012

Don't get confused by the elegant French doors. This down-and-dirty music joint is far from genteel. On the fringes of the French Quarter, Check Point draws everybody from bikers to gutter punks to members of the Rolling Stones. There's no cover, and the drinks are cheap, but don't bring your mom.

The Crystal

1135 Decatur St. 522-0511

A late, late night underworld of darkness and pulsing music, and the two together are a recipe for wild behavior. Big with French Quarter sub-culture. Flashy, loud and smoky. Lots of mirrors to relect all those grooving bodies.

Dragon's Den

435 Esplanade Ave. 949-1750

Above the gothic Siam Cafe restaurant, this nightspot features ruby red walls, big, scary mirrors and lots of pillows. Bands tend to be exotic, ranging from the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars to Royal Fingerbowl. Madpoet Express packs in the local literati every Thursday night. "Den" is the operative word here, because the place has all the attitude and makings of an opium den, sans the opium. Dig the floor pillows, and dine on the paht Thai.

The Dungeon

738 Toulouse St. 523-5530

Entering the Dungeon is safer than it used to be, when bikers called this late-night Quarter spot home. The chance of you being made into yuppie soup are slimmer now, so those seeking gothic-style fun in the Quarter will enjoy traversing the labyrinthine layout here and dancing in the dark on a choice of two dance floors with different music -- one style no doubt being hardcore. This is a late place: it doesn't open until midnight, and happy hour doesn't start until 1 a.m. on Friday night.

The Hi-Ho Lounge

2239 St. Claude Ave. 947-9344

Legend has it that a friendly ghost named John lurks in grungedom's living room, an unapologetically unspruced, undeodorized arrangement of mismatched furniture that must have been picked up off the sidewalk. If it's complete informality you seek -- and the musical expressions of local proud-to-be-a-loser bands -- drop in and plop down. Free pool from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly.

Lucky Cheng's

720 St. Louis St. 529-2045

The city's only restaurant featuring Asian transvestites as servers, Lucky Cheng's also features a beautiful, 1930s-style bar and seating area with a glamourous edge. Happy hour is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily (2-for-1 drinks). Drag shows are at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Monday). Other promotions include "bitter queen night" on Monday and "big butchy bar night" on Thursday.

The Mermaid Lounge

1100 Constance Ave. 524-4747

The mermaid designed by metal master Luis Colmenares hovering over the bar sets a tone of artistic celebration and whimsy at this eclectic music club, which draws a different crowd every night of the week. The new condo complex that has sprouted up across the street hasn't completely killed the Mermaid's sense of delicious isolation.

Mid City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl

4133 S. Carrollton Ave. 482-3133

Sure, Rock 'n' Bowl is known for its live music, but you also can visit the place for a drink and a few frames when the bands aren't playing. After one visit to this nostalgic place (check out the remarkable mural by local artist Tony Green), you'll know why it's the oldest bowling alley in the city. Domestics $2.25, house wine $1.75 and well-brand cocktails $2.75.

The Mint

504 Esplanade Ave. 525-2000

Aimed at the lesbian, gay and straight crowd, the Mint has a fancy center bar and a stage for drag and comedy shows. This dimly lit place draws Quarterites, adventurous tourists and just about anybody you can imagine on any given night.

Monaco Bob's Country Club

1179 Annunciation St. 586-1282

Don't let the name fool you. Anything goes at this "sunny place for shady people." Monday night is stripper night, and a putt putt golf course is in the works. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily with $1.50 domestics and $2 imports. After 9 p.m., domestics are $2, house wine is $3 and well-brand cocktails are $3.

My Father's Junkyard

350 Douglas Road, Marrero 340-1117

Decorated with items salvaged from a former owner's junkyard, this place is like no other. There's a DeSoto over the dance floor, hubcaps dropping from the ceiling and an eyeful of gas tanks -- all combined with assorted holiday decorations. Look for professional drinkers sharing space with older couples dancing to rockin' oldies. Happy hour 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; music Friday through Sunday.

The R Bar

1431 Royal St. 948-7499

Sophisticated and cool without phoniness or pretense, this joint has one of the best vibes in town. Amid subtle, clever '50s decor hang chilled out Marigny residents playing pool and sipping on top shelf cocktails or imported beer -- because that's what they like to drink. Plenty of mirrors and artwork arranged on warm red walls invite conversation between plied patrons. The inn in the same building has rooms for rent. And every hour is happy hour at this place, according to the proprietors.

Saturn Bar

3067 St. Claude Ave. 949-7532

If you've seen the movie Blue Velvet, you have an idea of the dark, disturbed but wholly fascinating mojo of this 38-year-old Bywater outpost. In fact, David Lynch star Nicolas Cage is among the movie stars who have bellied up to this unkempt bar when in town. Presumedly a snapshot of the owner/bartender Neil's off-kilter mind, stuff fills every available nook and niche. Above counters full of teetering stacks of paper and assorted junk hang such gaudy treats as a wreath from 20 Christmases ago, a life-sized mummy, Saturn undergarments for sale and a plethora of original paintings by artist Mike Frolich, a man who seems to have some sanity issues, mildly put. The great selection of beer and liquor is as cheap as you can find. Open every night.

Snake & Jake Christmas Club Lounge

7612 Oak St. 861-2802

Looking more like a big, well-appointed garage than a bar, this place is located in a residential area that makes it a challenge to find. It's worth it, though, when you enter a mellow scene populated by an eclectic mix of neighborhood regulars, college students and visitors who want to remain low-profile. Snake & Jake's is set apart by year-round Christmas lights. It's a popular hangout for local and visiting musicians.



COLLEGE HANGOUTS

The not-so-subtle clues are all around. The vast number of backward baseball caps. The "beat the clock" shot specials. And that damned Dave Matthews CD again. Yep, you've stumbled into one of the city's many primo college bars. Bring on the Jell-O Shooters. ...

Audubon Tavern II

6100 Magazine St. 895-9702

Get ready to sweat, because this is one of the only Uptown college bars where dancing is the norm. And, when you need an energy boost, don't forget the cheese fries. ATII's often is the last stop after a night of heavy reveling, so come late for the most action. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. weeknights; ladies night is Thursday.

The Balcony Bar

3101 Magazine St. 895-1600

There are dozens of different beers here to fuel your party. The Balcony draws a rowdy college clientele downstairs. The more subdued set-up at tables upstairs or on the bar's namesake balcony overlooking Magazine Street. Video poker machines, pool tables, a jukebox and a big screen TV (it's actually projected on the wall) keep the kids entertained downstairs.

The Boot

1030 Broadway Ave. 866-9008

At one of Tulane's most popular watering holes, daily drink specials draw your basic array of college coeds looking to get down and hook up. Frat letters and more offbeat decorations adorn the walls, and the place gets bonus points for juicy Boot burgers and cheese fries. Expect Jell-O shooter frenzies and Back in Black cranked up to 11.

Bruno's

7601 Maple St. 861-7615

The jukebox at this 64-year-old Maple Street stopping point plays everything from '60s tunes to today's Top 40. Dart boards, pinball, video poker and the outdoor patio are other diversions. A favorite Loyola hangout, Bruno's offers a happy hour from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily. There are daily drink specials and a complimentary buffet on Friday.

Fat Harry's

4330 St. Charles Ave. 895-9582

The cheese fry capital of the free world, this place is also just right for parade viewing and all-round schmoozing. Mixed crowd, ranging from "Frat Harry's" regulars to Boomers. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. weeknights.

Friar Tucks

111 N. Carrollton Ave. 482-3040

No, that's not a riot, it's just Friar Tucks on a weekend. When things are rockin' here, it's not uncommon to see cars parked in the adjacent bank's drive-thru lanes and scores of locals mixing and mingling outside. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Hyde Park Corner

3445 Prytania St. 891-5773

The college set has turned this British-style pub into the new Rendon Inn. In typical pub fashion, Hyde Park offers 20 beers on tap and 21 malt scotches, but its biggest draw is undoubtedly the free drinks for women on Thursdays.

Igor's

2133 St. Charles Ave. 522-2145

If you're up for beer, burgers, and pool -- and you feel like getting a mound of laundry done in the meantime -- you'll appreciate all that Igor's has to offer. Open 24 hours and right on the streetcar line, this neighborhood joint is a favorite of college folks on the way home from a long night of partying.

Madigan's

800 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-9455

This building has been home to many establishments since the 1940s, but in its current form, it has a beautiful wooden bar, live blues music and a deejay specializing in classic rock of the '80s and the '90s. Conveniently located near the Riverbend's array of restaurants and ice cream shops, Madigan's draws a diverse crowd and can get a little packed on the weekends. Ladies night is from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Nick's

2400 Tulane Ave. 821-9128

Nick's notoriety comes from its wall full of "surprise drinks." And its slogan, "Looks like the oldest bar in town!" is fitting for a place that makes dilapidation a selling point. (Nick's first opened in 1918.) The deceptively big place has a billiards area behind the main barroom. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weeknights with $1.50 longnecks and other specials. You'll find $2 Abita pints every day.

Par 4's

5129 Canal Blvd. 488-8303

Combined with Parkway Tavern next door, Par 4's is a huge draw for bar-hoppers each weekend. With an upbeat, party atmosphere, this spot has a deejay that plays everything from oldies to Top 40 to alternative. Try your luck at video poker and old-fashioned video games. The slogan is "We drink all we can and sell the rest." On Thursday, ladies drink free.

Parkway Tavern

5135 Canal Blvd. 488-2500

With its twin brother Par 4's, Parkway is the strongest draw among all of the "Par" bars in Mid-City and Lakeview (Parlays, Parkview, etc.) The crowd here munches on food from Katie's, but mostly they just drink and flirt. Happy hour from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. Thursday is ladies night starting at 9 p.m.

Parlay's

870 Harrison Ave. 482-4700

This place hosts the Lakeview Cigar Co., a cigar bar with more than 30 smokes from around the world. To sip while you smoke, try the malt liquors, martinis, ports, champagnes, cognacs, 40 beers on tap, 80 different bottled beers and the extensive wine list. Happy hour from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily with $1.50 domestics and double shot drinks. A live band performs every Sunday, and deejay Thomas entertains Wednesday through Sunday.


Philip's

733 Cherokee St. 865-1155

This popular nightspot appeals to a broad range of university regulars and neighborhood locals. Bask in the black light and background music near the bar, take in a game of pool from a comfy couch or chill in the red room in the back. Philips is in the heart of the Maple Street area that houses lots of coffeehouses and other university-friendly establishments. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Rendon Inn

4501 Eve St. 822-9858

Rendon used to host major live concerts (British grunge band Bush played here not too long ago). But now the place is mostly a neighborhood bar with popular food. Open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. weeknights with 3-for-1 mixed drinks and $1.50 drafts.

Robert's

3125 Calhoun St. 866-9121

Open since 1933, Robert's has relatively cheap drinks and is good for winding down on a Friday afternoon. With some of the best bloody Marys in town, the place attracts a crowd of all ages. The jukebox plays everything: rock, blues, jazz and country. Ted's Frostop is conveniently nearby to help with any munchies.

TJ Quill's

7600 Maple St. 866-5205

The jukebox here has a little country, some oldies, techno and a smattering of dance mainstream. The jeans and T-shirt atmosphere has appealed to Loyola students and other local folks since 1968. Happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday with 2-for-1 cocktails. After 8 p.m. Thursdays, ladies drink three for free.

Waldo's

7130 Freret St. 861-0236

Just off Tulane's campus, Waldo's is no stranger to party-happy patrons -- or to a variety of drink specials to keep them happy. This place is a longstanding part of the university-area bar circuit. Try the restaurant next door for late night hunger pangs.



UPSCALE LOUNGES

Finally, a victory for the more discriminating scene-sters. The following upscale lounges and clubs attract a crowd that trades blue jeans and beer for Italian suits and premium martinis. No doubt about it: they look marvelous.

Apres

709 St. Charles Ave. 566-7000

An upscale, art deco look and no shortage of martinis make Apres the poster child for the "lounge" revival that swept that city -- and the nation -- in recent years. Live music, lowlights and a swanky menu of wines by the glass make this the perfect lowkey spot to begin or end the evening.

The Bombay Club

830 Conti St. (Prince Conti Hotel) 586-0972

If fine cognac were a place, this is what it would look like. Deep, rich wood, candlelight, generous cushioned seating, impeccable service and a sophisticated crowd make the Bombay Club a sturdy escape to a more civilized time. New Orleans jazz plays Friday and Saturday nights in this British gentlemen's club atmosphere. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; ladies night is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Martini fans will find their beverage of choice for $5 during Wednesday and Thursday happy hour. Proper attire required.

Chart House

801 Chartres St. 523-2015

This upscale bar and restaurant may not be exclusive to New Orleans, but it is the only spot in town with a balcony overlooking Jackson Square. Business types and "dressy casual" tourists come here for steaks and screwdrivers.

The Columns Hotel

3811 St. Charles Ave. 899-9308

With a classy view of St. Charles Avenue and high, high ceilings, this old mansion makes a fine place to sip a highball and see and be seen. The crowd is preppie twentysomething and up. It's hard to choose between the beautiful New Orleans hotel lobby and the outdoor terrace seating.

Dominique's Lounge

1001 Toulouse St. 586-8000, Ext. 153

The casual elegance of Dominique's restaurant carries over into this upscale lounge, whose hand-painted murals and glass color the room beautifully. Nice for an after-work celebration or a sophisticated evening with friends. Live jazz at the piano bar. Valet parking is available. Domestics $2.75, house wine $5.50, and well-brand cocktail $4.25.

The Polo Lounge

300 Gravier St. (Windsor Court Hotel) 523-6000

A regally appointed bar in one of the world's premier hotels, the Polo is a place to see and be seen when you are putting on the ritz. Well-heeled locals mingle with international clientele enjoying martinis, sazeracs and premium cigars. The ventilation system in here is so fancy that your cigar virtually smokes itself and then cleans up its own mess.

The Red Room

2040 St. Charles Ave. 528-9759

That creaky junk heap that looked like something out of the Jetsons is a faint memory now. Last fall, Jonn and Peggy Spradlin painted the old Eiffel Tower restaurant red, so to speak, in order to create a lush supper club with indulgent, heavenly food (try the foie gras), sensual entertainment -- lots of twirling space -- and two massive bars around which to stand and sip attractively. The unique, bi-level space also allows for private socializing and the circular construction sets the perfect stage for the real star on the scene: the elegant, powerful color red.

Sazerac Bar

123 Baronne St. (Fairmont Hotel) 529-4733

In this sophisticated haven with a plush banquette sofa and mahogany bar, pianist Sid Norris can be heard playing his collection of classical favorites, romantic melodies and Broadway tunes. Once a month there is a wine tasting with complimentary hors d'oeuvres.

Snug Harbor

626 Frenchmen St. 949-0696

This place combines a cozy, candlelit restaurant with a smooth locals' bar and the city's premier contemporary jazz music lounge. When not sipping on a white Russian or enjoying the bistro fare, check out the famous jazz talent. Regular acts include Ellis Marsalis and Charmaine Neville. Taste tropical drinks like Neptune's monsoon, huma huma and the Snug Harbor.

The Steak Knife Bar

888 Harrison Ave. 488-8981

This swinging spot for the Boomer crowd started years ago as a neighborhood steak restaurant, but now features a big bar crowd and live jazz at 9:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. Acts include Cherie Mannino, Philip Manuel, Kim Prevost and Bill Solley, Leah Chase, Ed Peterson and Tony Dagradi. The Brandy Alexander freeze is a specialty drink. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres weeknights. Dressy attire required.

Top of the Mart

International Trade Mart 522-9795

A dressy business crowd enjoys cocktails while gazing out at scenes of the city in the largest revolving bar in North America. Cushy chairs and cocktail tables all point you toward the view, and the appetizers are satisfying. The whole experience is pretty hypnotic.

Whisky Bar

730 Common St. 525-6660

So you don't have the money to buy a ticket to New York City? Then this is the bar for you. The Whisky decor is crisp, dark and stylish. The waitresses are straight out of Pulp Fiction. And the clientele knows the importance of good grooming. The red roses in the black marble bathrooms are worth the trip alone.



SCENES

Some places have it. Some don't. And some don't even want it. A scene can be anything from a jam-packed ladies night or the newest gathering of yups and pups, but there's no denying that the following establishments can all claim to be "happening" at the moment.

Amberjack's

7306 Lakeshore Drive 282-6660

This big, two-story bar and restaurant offers a nautical theme and great view of Lake Pontchartrain. The place boasts speedy bartenders, a cheerful atmosphere and regular live music. No doubt, it's one of the best bars in town that you can access by boat.

The Bulldog

3236 Magazine St. 891-1516

You want beer? You got it here, where there are roughly 50 draft selections to choose from. The entertainment includes loud music, remote-controlled interactive TV games and lots of beer-soaked conversation. The Bulldog is right for a pre-dinner drink while waiting for your table at Semolina's next door.

Charley G's Seafood Grill

111 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie 837-6408

Dress your casual best for an evening inside this handsome, upscale bar. A lively jazz trio entertains from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday. There's piano music from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly. The grill features contemporary south Louisianian cuisine, specializing in crabcakes, duck and andouille gumbo and grilled seafood. Cigar fans are welcome. Happy hour is 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays with $1.50 domestics, $2 well brands, $2.50 house wines and 99-cent bloody Marys and screwdrivers.

Cooter Brown's

509 S. Carrollton Ave. 866-9104

High energy haven with the best beer selection in town, plus raw oysters in season, great food, darts and pool. The popular booths guarantee intimate conversation. Good for Sunday afternoons. Located at the meeting of Carrollton Avenue and River Road, in view of the levee.

Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar

5535 Tchoupitoulas St. 891-8500

Premium cigars and drinks are offered in a warm, intimate and unpretentious atmosphere. Live jazz, bebop and saloon-style piano steal the show on Thursday nights. An eclectic jukebox entertains after hours, and there's an outdsoor, tropical-themed patio. Happy hour is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. nightly with 2-for-1 drinks.

Ernst Cafe

600 S. Peters St. 525-8544

Upwardly mobiles gather in this two-story spot in the Warehouse District. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weeknights.

F&M Patio Bar

4841 Tchoupitoulas St. 895-6784

The late-night crowd at this legendary Uptown hangout gets two bars in one: a front bar with pool tables and gritty decor, and a back bar with a small kitchen and patio. If you want to catch this place at its craziest, you'd better come after midnight. Bring your dancin' shoes, 'cause the pool table's waiting.

Fleur de Lee

1032 St. Charles Ave. 588-2616

After dinner hours, this tiny establishment transforms into a hangout for the who's who of the Uptown and downtown scene. Happy hours from 5 p.m. until closing Monday and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Dress is fashionably casual.

House of Blues

225 Decatur St. 529-2583

Most people know that House of Blues combines an arty atmosphere with all the comforts of a killer sound system, powerful air-conditioner, good sight lines and full restaurant. What you may not know is that the Voodoo Bar in the back patio is a happening hotspot with no cover charge. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday in the courtyard with $1.50 longnecks and free hors d'oeuvres.

Le Bon Temps Roule

4801 Magazine St. 895-8117

Bon Temps offers live music Wednesday through Saturday. The rest of the week, two of the city's best jukeboxes play all night long. Check out the daily beer and drink specials and a big selection of burgers, quesadillas and other snacks. Happy hour is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. You can find free oysters from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.

Lucy's

701 Tchoupitoulas St. 523-8995

On weekends, this place can get chock full of Warehouse District glamour types, but the music is fun and loud. With all its intoxicating tropical decor, this is still the sort of place where you might see someone dancing on the bar. The healthy pseudo-Mexican fare makes for a great base.

Mayfair

1505 Amelia St.

The Mayfair is a psychedelic escape into a world of Mardi Gras beads hanging densely above from a low ceiling. Space is tight as it is and usually sardine-crammed with exceptionally loud people. Plus, you must squeeze around pointless obstacles like video games and put up with often ornery, slow bartenders. It's a gem.

Mustang's White Horse Saloon

3406 Williams Blvd., Kenner 443-2925

This cavernous Kenner dance hall and singles scene attracts suburban partyers by the hundreds on various theme nights. The style of music depends on the night, but the throngs remain the same.

Rocky's

3222 Magazine St. 891-5152

Tuesday night two-for-one pizza and drinks draw Uptown yuppies and starving students by the dozens. Paintings by Schmuela Berg and well-placed architectural details add to the atmosphere. Try the Sugar Busters! pizzas and the nice courtyard seating in back.


St. Joe's

5535 Magazine St.

Intentionally peeled walls, hanging crosses and massive chandeliers seem to mock the "sinning" masses that line this long, narrow space on weekends. Wow, what a conversion: from Ms. Mae's to Madonna video. Check out the relatively new annex, decorated with ornate furniture, a fountain and shots of light. The upscale Vizard's restaurant across the street can fill you up properly before or after your St. Joe's conversion.

Samuel's Avenue Pub

1628 St. Charles Ave. 581-3777

Want proof that lower St. Charles Avenue is on the rebound? Then check out this Regular Joe bar and restaurant, which regularly packs in weekend crowds. The new Superior Grill is a good neighbor for dinner or late night appetizers with a south of the border taste.

Spanky's

5243 Canal Blvd. 488-0100

Contributing to the neon strip that's sprouted up along the base of Canal Boulevard near the cemeteries, Spanky's is a softball league, bucket-of-beer kind of place. Although you'll find '70s funk cover bands here on special occasions, most nights are reserved for brews and idle chit-chat.

Turtle Bay

1119 Decatur St. 586-0563

Named after a neighborhood in New York City, this new spot offers 100 different beers, an inviting patio and satellite TV that's perfect for watching major sports events. The bar and kitchen almost never close.

Vaqueros

4938 Prytania St. 891-6441

Gambit Weekly readers are no fools; they voted Vaqueros margaritas the best in the city. A touch of tequila, the tempting aromas of fresh chiles and handrolled tortillas and soft Latin sounds will sooth your spirits after a hard day's work. Happy hour Thursday.

Vizard's

5538 Magazine St. 895-5000

After diners have polished off the genius culinary creations of chef Kevin Vizard, the drinkers invade. The round, white linen tables are great for kicking back and catching up with old buddies on the joys and bummers of being out in the real world. Racy artwork completes the exotic, polished atmosphere.



NEIGHBORHOOD BARS

Sometimes -- make that many times -- you want a bar where you can enjoy a quality drink and a conversation with pals. You don't want cigar smoke, fancy threads, scenesters or tourists. The following neighborhood hangouts, spread across the city, will fit you like a glove.

Anselmo's

3401 N. Hullen St., Metairie 889-1212

Owned by the father of rock star Phil Anselmo (Pantera), this Metairie hangout caters to the local professional crowd. Plenty of off-street parking, and there's a restaurant attached.

Apple Barrell

609 Frenchmen St. 949-9399

This cute little nook is populated by a very local crowd. Dart tourneys are a primary pastime and passionate Italian cuisine is served upstairs.

Beachcorner

4905 Canal St. 488-7357

Surrounded by historic cemeteries, this 40-year-old bar's motto is "The last living thing at the end of Canal Street." The jukebox plays a mix of oldies, classics and disco, and there's a live deejay for ladies night from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday. Pool tables, dart boards, electronic golf and lingerie shows twice weekly will keep you busy between bites of the famous Beachcorner burger. Happy hour is 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. After 8 p.m., domestics are $1.75, a glass of house wine is $3 and well-brand cocktails are $2.50.

The Breakwater Bar

8550 Pontchartrain Blvd. 283-8301

Formerly the Windjammer, the new renovation across from the West End Marina is celebrating its first birthday. Enter the outdoor patio through open French doors and dance to the sounds of top 40, mainstream dance, jazz and a live deejay Friday and Saturday. Special drinks include martinis and the Breakwater brandy brittle freeze. Happy hour is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. weeknights with complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Every night is ladies night. Domestics $2.50, glass of house wine $3.75 and well-brand cocktail $3.50.

The Club

4336 Magazine St. 895-9401

Random, funky pit stop for old'uns and the occasional brave young'uns. You might catch a rockabilly band in here if the planets are aligned just right. Better yet, the Club became home to the proprietor of Ms. Mae's after she was kicked out of her spot up the street.

Cosimo's

1201 Burgundy St. 561-9018

This is a warm, wonderful, wood-filled hangout with the nicest bartenders in the city. The place where Quarterites like to meet up at the end of the day. Geographically, this place is only blocks from Bourbon Street; aesthetically, it's worlds apart.

Dixie Tavern

3340 Canal St. 822-8268

This cherry red saloon is like a lighthouse for weary travellers at the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway. You never know who you'll find in here, but the beer's cheap and the music's loud.

Half Moon

1125 St. Mary St. 522-9919

This sparsely decorated bar at the split of Race and Magazine streets draws the alternative crowd as well as anybody prepping for a meal at Cafe Roma across the street. Good for a game of pool or just a nice strong bourbon and soda.

Harry's Corner

900 Chartres St. 524-1107

Harry's is a 24/7 haven for the world-weary and anyone wanting access to a quick drink in the Quarter at any hour. Weekend barbecues and local parties occur at normal hours.

Hong Kong

7400 Lakeshore Drive 282-1511

The lounge here offers a view of Lake Pontchartrain marina, and drink specials will entice a grown-up crowd.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe

1104 Decatur St. 592-2565

Jimmy Buffett's parrothead paradise features live music from local blues and rock artists, and there's plenty of fun island-themed food to go around. There's never a cover charge at Margaritaville, so this is a prime pit stop as you prowl the lower Quarter.


Lager's

3501 Veterans Blvd., Metairie 887-9923

Lager's is sort of the Bulldog of Metairie. The beer of the day is $2.75, and you'll get 50 cents off pints, $1 off pitchers and 2-for-1 mixed drinks during happy hour from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

Melius Bar & Cafe

1701 Lake Ave., Metairie 828-9446

Originally a French Quarter hot spot for 16 years, this suburban spread still has pool tables and dart boards to satisfy your competitive side. Happy hour is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. nightly. Other specials include $1 margaritas for ladies only and $1.50 bar doubles for everyone. After 7 p.m., domestics are $2, house wine is 50 cents and well-brand cocktails are $2.75.

Molly's at the Market

1107 Decatur St. 525-5169

This media hangout (particularly on Thursday night) is in the thick of things on lower Decatur Street, where it's the weekend just about every night of the week.

Mother's Mustache

1715 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson 828-8011

This old-fashioned spot, dating back to the '30s, features not so conservative lingerie shows from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. There's live music twice a week and a jukebox to get you through the other five. Happy hour is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. weeknights with $1.50 domestics and $1.50 bar brands. Ladies' drinks are $1 from 8 p.m. to midnight Wednesday.

Ol' Toone's Saloon

233 Decatur St. 529-3422

Down the street from the House of Blues, this fluorescent-lit bar has got a killer jukebox, a workable pool table and plenty of room to breathe. Lots of fun after hours, when service industry types come here to wind down from their shifts.

The Old Point Bar

545 Patterson St. 364-0950

Algiers Pointers band together at this newly renovated welcoming stop near the ferry on the West Bank levee. Extensive jukebox options, darts, pool and spontaneous dancing included.

Oscar's

2027 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-9540

Some like it hot at this comfortable neighborhood bar that boasts an extensive collection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. The bar also has bragging rights about its 30 imported beers and large liquor selection. The jukebox spouts modern rock. Happy hour is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. weeknights with 2-for-1 drinks. From 9 p.m. to midnight Thursday, ladies receive one complimentary drink.

Pat Gillen's

2024 Metairie Road 833-9188

This unpretentious place is the ultimate neighborhood bar. It's a major draw on St. Patrick's Day, but it's popular year round as well. Expect to see plenty of locals unwinding after a day at the office.

Port of Call

838 Esplanade Ave. 523-0120

And nautical it is, draped in netting and sea treasures under which you call "ayee matie" to the bartender. This place is a New Orleans fixture known for its monsoon, a deceptively strong red drink, and for enticing passersby with the scent of cooking hamburgers. Neighbors rely on Port of Call for libations and grilled food.

Red Eye

854 S. Peters St. 593-9393

This unpretentious, spare bar and grill -- located very near several major new hotel developments -- gets a crowd for lunch and after work with its food, eclectic jukebox and video poker machines. A consistent late-night crowd includes service industry types and music buffs from the neighboring Howlin' Wolf. Fifty cent drafts and $1 wells from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Ladies night 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday. Long necks are $1.

Rivershack Tavern

3449 River Road, Jefferson 834-4938

Home of the tacky ashtray, this very cool watering hole hosts live bands every Saturday night and a "swing night" every Wednesday. Great for smoky atmosphere and rock and blues. Nestled alongside River Road, in the shadow of the levee.

Sitting Duck

5130 Freret St. 895-1400

Hundreds of shots, plenty of beer and competent bar food combine to make this little spot a frequent stop for neighborhood regulars and the occasional frat type.

Swamp Room

5216 Veterans Memorial Blvd. 888-5242

Thanks to a renovation, this place is lighter and brighter than it used to be. Pool tables, video poker and a circular bar draw a crowd from the service industry. Drink specials galore.

Vaughan's

800 Lesseps St. 947-5562

This stomping, romping bar is smack dab in the middle of an otherwise quiet neighborhood. Local musical greats like Kermit Ruffins don't mind playing right on the cramped floor space to get on the level with the enthusiastic crowd. On music-free nights, Vaughan's is a great sipping stop.

Vic's Kangaroo Cafe

636 Tchoupitoulas St. 524-4329

Populated by Warehouse District regulars as well as visitors from around the world, this straight-shooting little hangout features an Australian theme that might make some locals nostalgic for the world's fair days. There's live blues on Thursdays and Saturdays, and you can never go wrong with Vic's signature meat pie.

Winston's

531 Metairie Road, Metairie 831-8705

Now a cozy, speakeasy setting, this '30s-era building once housed everything from a bordello to a post office. The jukebox sings an eclectic mix, from Louie Prima to Jim Morrison, but if peace and quiet is what you need, relax on the outdoor patio. Happy hour is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily with a buffet and 2-for-1 mixed drinks. Ladies night is 7 p.m. 'til close Wednesday with 2-for-1 drinks. Domestics $2, house wine $3 and well-brand cocktail $2.

Wit's Inn

141 N. Carrollton Ave. 486-1600

Big bar. Loud jukebox. Couple of pool tables. And plenty of popcorn. Add those elements to a view of the Mid-City parades during Mardi Gras and you've got a winner.



DOWNTOWN DESTINATIONS

Your district manager will be here for a night of revelry. You've got to make an impression fast. No time for out-of-the-way gems or subtlety. You need lights, sound and action -- a complete sensual assualt. More to the point, you need the French Quarter and some of downtown's more eager-to-please establishments. These ought to do the trick.

Cat's Meow

701 Bourbon St. 523-1157

Sometimes you just need that karaoke. Well, if not, you can at least watch others make complete fools of themselves. (At least they have the guts. See the paradox?) An upstairs bar and balcony provide relaxing respite from the sordid scene downstairs. Happy hour 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Chris Owens Club

500 Bourbon St. 523-6400

Chris Owens has been a local institution for years, and you'll see why when you catch her strutting her stuff in front of a Latin band. The bar offers two high-energy shows nightly, followed by disco until the wee hours. Thursday is ladies' night, and happy hours are on the weekends.



Fourth Quarter

309 Decatur St. 525-7529

This cavern of a bar sports a giant-screen TV in every corner. Downstairs, diners sit in wooden booths to chomp on massive burgers or sidle up to the looooong bar. Upstairs, an impressive collection of pool tables -- and another bar, of course -- provide the diversion.

Funky Pirate

727 Bourbon St. 523-1960

Aye aye, Captain! The wood-finished pirate decor and tropical courtyard of the 1799-era building transport you to days of yore. Blues legend Al Carson is a steady, hefty presence at 385 pounds. Happy hour is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with 2-for-1 drinks.

Hog's Breath Saloon

339 Chartres St. 522-1736

This is an upper Quarter spot with good bar food. The specialty drink here is the Hog's Snort, a tropical combination of blue curacao and fruit juices (to be consumed in an atmosphere that is casual and comfortable.) Every Saturday night, the top floor of the Hog's Breath is transformed into the swinging "Faraway Lounge." Happy hour 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Krazy Korner

640 Bourbon St. 524-3157

If you like your decor as loud as your music, and the drinks coming fast and furious, then this Bourbon Street watering hole is the hangout for you. Listen for party music from the likes of Rooster & the Chicken Hawks and the Electric Blues Band.

Michaul's

840 St. Charles Ave. 522-9282

Cajun music, food and dancing on St. Charles Avenue.

Mulate's

201 Julia St. 522-1492

This restaurant/bar features hearty fare like blackened catfish and crawfish etouffee, which will fortify you for a night of Cajun two-stepping with help from instructors.

Planet Hollywood

620 Decatur St. 522-7826

The atmosphere at this popular international chain is inspired by your favorite televison shows and films, featuring plenty of Hollywood memorabilia. The Creole-California fusion completes your glamorous experience. Domestics are $3.25, a glass of house wine is $4 and a well-brand cocktail is $3.95.

Tropical Isle

738 Toulouse St. 525-1689

721 Bourbon St. 529-4109

Home of the hand grenade, the original Tropical Isle on Toulouse has all the flair of a Caribbean vacation without the sunburn and expense. (Confirm drink special every 45 min. and Late As Usual) The Bourbon Street outpost features a spacious upstairs and a balcony. After your first hand grenade, try the tropical itch or a shark attack -- if you dare. Cover your eyes should you care to avoid the naked Mardi Gras close-ups that play nightly on the bar's big-screen televisions. Happy hour from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.



PUBS AND BREWHOUSES

Nobody intones the word "pint" better than the British. It's like frothy glasses of beer were put here on earth for big lugs with honest mugs and bad teeth. But why not spend hours working on your inflection while you perform your elbow exercises at any of the following fine beer houses?

Abita Brew Pub

72011 Holly St., Abita Springs 892-5837

In addition to a creative restaurant, this spot offers a variety of unique microbrewery beers and a gift shop featuring Abita collectibles. You'll always find the Abita brew, plus special beers from select brewers around the country.

Acadian Beer Garden

201 N. Carrollton Ave. 483-9003

This young brew pub brings new life to an old building and adds character to a steadily growing strip in Mid-City. The sudsy stuff brewed on the premises is collecting new fans daily.

Carrollton Station

8140 Willow St. 865-9190

Cozy as can be and Guinness-ready, this is a good, old spot for rootsy musical fare on weekends as well as just chillin' during the week.



Crescent City Brewhouse

527 Decatur St. 522-0571

A spacious restaurant and brew pub, this attractive establishment offers several original brews straight from the tap, and it's home to a jazz combo. The balcony upstairs is great for enjoying warm weather and people-watching. Try the beer sampler for a fun taste test. Happy hour 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, featuring 2-for-1 fresh-brewed beer, and live entertainment nightly.

Kerry Irish Pub

331 Decatur St. 527-5954

Offering live Irish and alternative folk music, the Kerry Irish Pub was once voted to have the "best Guinness in New Orleans." Try to catch a set by Dave Sharp, the former guitar player for an '80s rock group called the Alarm.

Laughing Pines Brewery & Restaurant

1808 Front St., Slidell 781-2739

This newcomer to the Northshore offers five pure, handcrafted ales and one seasonal offering, all named after local landmarks. Go for the popular brown ale and unique grilled pizzas. Live jazz every weekend.

O'Flaherty's

514 Toulouse St. 529-1317

Set in a historic 18th-century building, this pub is rollicking with Celtic music seven days a week. O'Flaherty's offers concerts and mini-fests, along with Irish dancing every Saturday night. Don't get spooked, but the courtyard here is said to be watched over by four ghosts.

Ryan's Irish Pub

241 Decatur St. 523-3500

Together with the Kerry Irish Pub and nearby O'Flaherty's, Ryan's is helping define the new "Irish Quarter." Expect plenty of suds and salutations.



CLASSICS

They're still around because they know how to do it right. You wouldn't be incorrect thinking that some of the city's oldest hangouts will be around decades after this year's batch has gone condo.


Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

941 Bourbon St. 523-0066

Stoney, cavernous and otherwordly describe the oldest bar in the city. They say pirate Jean Lafitte worked behind the scenes here, and who could blame the guy. The only light in here on most nights is provided by candles, making it very easy to conjure vivid images of this place's mysterious past (the building dates back to the 1700s) while enjoying a late-night drink or two and listening to live piano music.

Napoleon House

500 Chartres St. 524-9572

Local legend holds that this place was built as a hideout for Napoleon Bonaparte, but historians will dispute that fact. Regardless, the place gets better with age, and its dreamy, romantic atmosphere makes it arguably the best date place in the city. While visiting this national historic landmark, you can take in the mellow lighting and the old stucco walls, which are lined with paintings. The specialty drink is the Pimms Cup.

Old Absinthe House

240 Bourbon St. 523-3181

This vintage French Quarter establishment is not to be confused with the Old Absinthe Bar, which closed its doors last year. This Absinthe bar is still the wonderful respite from Bourbon craziness that it's always been. You'd have to search pretty hard to find someplace less pretentious.

Pat O'Brien's

718 St. Peters St. 525-4823

You haven't lived until you get wasted with friends in Pat O's courtyard -- and have a picture to prove it. Reigning as the founder of the hurricane, Pat O's has a flaming fountain for those who want to relax outside, while the sing-along piano lounge is the place for musical requests. A jukebox is located in the main bar, where you can always enjoy happy hour.



DANCE CLUBS

No, you're no baby-faced raver. You're a full-grown adult with real responsibilities. But that doesn't mean you don't have to get your groove on every once and a while. Visit any of the following dance clubs to perfect your latest steps.

The Bottom Line

2101 N. Claiborne Ave. 944-9600

At this multi-layered dance club, you'll hear jazz on the third floor, rap on the second floor and R&B on the first floor. "Wild Monday Night" draws the younger set, Friday's happy draws an older crowd and Saturday is a mixed bag. There's live jazz on Wendesdays.

The Gold Mine

701 Dauphine St. 586-0745

Most famous for its "flaming Dr. Pepper shots" (which only cost $2 on the weekends), the Gold Mine is a bead's throw from Bourbon Street. Sure, you may catch a few elbows on the dance floor, but once the "Dr. Pepper" kicks in, you'll be feeling no pain. If you long to move to the music of John Hughes movies and can sing "Come On Eileen" in its entirety, this is your spiritual home. Five-cent drafts on Wednesday night. Yes, that's right. Five-cent drafts.

Kenny's Key West

3012 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie 456-9500

At Kenny's, the swinging singles suburban crowd mixes and mingles to the sounds of Top 40 and dance music. There's no shortage of drink specials or enticements for the "ladies." Think mud wrestling and "Undy Gras" contests and you get the idea. Yep, that's our Kenny's. Open 24 hours every weekend.

Legends

2708 N. Hullen Dr., Metairie 887-3877

Keep the groove going all night long thanks to Legends' nightly top 40 dance tunes. The spacious, neighborhood place features two bars, a patio and dining room. Happy hour is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. weeknights. Ladies night is 5 p.m. 'til close Thursday. Domestics $2, house wine $2.50 and well-brand cocktail $2.75.

The Metropolitan

310 Howard Ave. 568-1700

The same crowd that spilled into City Lights now comes to the Metro for dancing and flirting. You'll find classic club-going types dancing to Smashmouth and doing the electric slide.


Nocello's Nightclub

3217 Melvil Dewey Drive, Metairie 834-4010

The largest nightclub in Metairie has plenty of free parking and a split personality. Nocello's combines dancing with lounge culture, making this the only spot in town to consistently find cigars and spandex in close promimity. Show bands like Bag o' Donuts play occasionally, and a deejay spins top 40 dance music while patrons enjoy pool, video poker, fooze ball and darts.

Oz

800 Bourbon St. 593-9491

Leave your inhibitions at the door and dance under strobes and manic lighting with any and everyone. Good fun 'til the sun comes up -- then its time for Clover Grill, although that's another story. Along with Parade across the street, Oz is one of the city's premier gay dance clubs. The sound and light system here is incredible.

Parade

801 Bourbon St. 529-2107

When the Bourbon Pub gets tiring, head upstairs for boogie bliss at Parade. This place holds a high-energy, high-tech dance crowd. On Sunday and Thursday enjoy free beer all night long.


Rubyfruit Jungle

640 Frenchmen St. 947-4000

The crowd here is lesbian, gay and gay-friendly -- and everyone is drawn to the wild, high-energy dance mixes. There are occasional live shows and theme nights. Located on a bustling section of Frenchmen that features Snug Harbor, PJs and Theatre Marigny. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Show night is Sunday, country dance night is Tuesday, karaoke night is Wednesday, ladies night with LaWanda Jackson is Thursday and disco nights are Friday and Saturday.

What's Next

7140 Downman Road 245-8888

A twentysomething and thirtysometing crowd comes to dance, play pool and mix and mingle at this R&B dance club. On Thursday, ladies drink free.


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